The Ordinary's $6 Niacinamide Serum Made My Dark Circles Disappear

A simple serum made a big difference.

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The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Ordinary Niacinamide

The Ordinary

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Lightens under eye circles significantly

  • Easy to use

  • Vegan, cruelty-free

  • Anti-aging

What We Don't Like
  • Made me break out (when used all over my face)

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% makes my under eye circles practically disappear for the day.


The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Ordinary Niacinamide

The Ordinary

Niacinamide is a B vitamin (specifically B3) used primarily to treat acne and dark spots, and The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum advertises itself as such. It’s to be used for reducing the appearance of acne as well as diminishing fine lines and wrinkles, minimizing pores, and evening skin tone (including fading dark spots). Oddly enough, I found it the most useful for its impact on something it doesn’t even claim to improve: dark under-eye circles. Keep scrolling for my honest review.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Best for: Acne-prone skin

Uses: Clearing acne and anti-aging (minimize fine lines)

Potential allergens: Zinc

Active ingredients: Niacinamide, Zinc

Byrdie Clean?: Yes 

Price: $6

About the brand: The Ordinary centers its brand around functional beauty at affordable price points. They prioritize honesty and integrity in cosmetics and are regarded as pioneers in the skincare world. 

About My Skin: Acne-prone, oily, minimal signs of aging

I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was a small child. I began using concealer there before beginning to wear any other makeup as a young teen, and I relied on an under-eye cover-up daily in the decades since. Like millions of others, thanks to quarantine, I no longer wear makeup often and have switched to focusing on skincare. This year I’ve loved the brightening and smoothing effects of snail mucin and vitamin C+ Retinol serum, which have drastically reduced my hormone-induced breakouts, and rose water toner has helped keep my pores tight. I’m always looking for something to reduce acne scars further, prevent wrinkles, and keep breakouts under control, so I decided to try Niacinamide. I don’t normally go for the cheapest option of products, but I was unsure that this one would do anything beyond what my current regimen accomplishes, so I was hesitant to spend much. Its main claims are preventing acne and evening skin tone.

The Feel: Thin and smooth

This product is a light serum that feels similar to snail mucin: a little slimy but dries immediately and has a vaguely silky vibe. It’s fine under makeup and should be applied before heavier serums or moisturizers. 

The Results: Circles be gone!

Within days of using this all over my face, I began to break out in small pimples around my cheeks and chin; I was worried that might happen because even though zinc is supposed to treat acne, products with it had given me pimples in the past. I immediately stopped using it all over my face and that acne disappeared within a couple of days. 

But from the first day of using it on, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the intensity of my under-eye circles. As soon as I put this on in the morning, it’s as if I’ve put on concealer. The result is more significant than a retinol cream, which I’ve noticed immediate results from but couldn’t handle the subsequent peeling and tenderness of. I’ve been using this serum every day for months now, and I’d say that my under eye circles in the morning are about half as bad as they were before I began it. Once I’ve applied it, they’re minimal enough that I don’t generally even think about applying concealer. 

The Value: Couldn’t be better

As mentioned, I chose this as a trial to see if it would be of any use. I had no idea it would have such a big impact on something it doesn’t even advertise as a use for it–though technically, under-eye circles could fall under the umbrella for evening skin tone as they are very big “dark spots.”

So, I didn’t want to spend much. All other products in this category are more costly: they range from $15 to over $100. Because I only use it under my eyes, after two months, I’ve used less than a quarter of the full ounce bottle. 

The Science: It holds up

When studied at a lower concentration of 5% for its anti-aging properties, Niacinamide produced excellent results. A 2005 report stated, "Analyses of the data revealed a variety of significant skin appearance improvement effects for topical niacinamide: reductions in fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). In addition, elasticity (as measured via cytometry) was improved. Corresponding mechanistic information is presented."  It has also been studied specifically in relation to the appearance of aging around the eyes with results noting that it has "been well-documented to reduce skin yellowing, hyperpigmentation, erythema, and blotchiness, as well as improving the epidermal barrier and reducing fine lines and wrinkles."

Similar Products: The choices are many

Final Verdict

Though it doesn’t advertise itself specifically for the reduction of under-eye circle appearance, The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc has drastically reduced the darkness of my under-eye circles. Because the zinc in it made me break out, I can’t speak to its effect on spot improvement or general wrinkle reduction. I find it incredibly worthwhile, though, since it allows me to forego makeup and not worry over how my eyes look. 


  • Product Name Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
  • Product Brand The Ordinary
  • Price $6.00
  • Weight 1 oz.
  • Ingredients Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Zinc PCA, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Xanthan gum, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

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