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Best niacinamide serums 2023: Brighten, balance and boost moisture

A hardworking skincare ingredient, niacinamide helps target a number of skin concerns in a single application

When it comes to superstar skincare ingredients, niacinamide is a brilliant all-rounder. Often overlooked in favour of heavyweights such as retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, not only does niacinamide deliver a number of skin benefits – from being anti-inflammatory, to smoothing uneven skin tone, improving the signs of ageing, and strengthening the skin’s protective barrier – it’s suitable for just about every skin type and can be used year-round, too.

So how should you add it to your routine? A serum is one of the most effective ways of reaping the benefits of niacinamide. Its low molecular weight means it will be absorbed into the deep layers of the skin, getting to work quickly.

In order to help you find the best niacinamide serum for your skin type and concerns, we’ve tested a wide range of the best available products in several price ranges. Find out which ones made it to our shortlist; but first, a guide to choosing the best product for you.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best facial serums to buy

Get La Roche-Posay's Niacinamide B10 Serum for £32

You can save on a range of La Roche Posay skincare products right now from Boots, from lotions and moisturisers to serums. The brand’s niacinamide serum, a great option for sensitive skin, is currently down from £40 to £32.

Boots Was £40 Now £32 Buy Now

Best Niacinamide Serums: At a glance

How to choose the best niacinamide serums for you

What is niacinamide and how does it benefit the skin?

“Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinamide, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin,” explains Emma Coleman, a Dermatology and Aesthetic RGN. “It works with the natural substances in your skin to help visibly minimise enlarged pores, tighten lax pores, improve uneven skin tone, soften fine lines and wrinkles, diminish dullness, and strengthen a weakened surface”. It also reduces the impact of environmental damage due to its ability to improve the skin’s barrier (its first line of defence), while it plays a role in helping skin to repair signs of past damage.

Why should we use niacinamide serum in our routine?

“Application via a serum means fast and deep absorption into the skin,” says Emma. “Niacinamide helps protect the surface of skin against moisture loss and dehydration by promoting the production of ceramides. When ceramides become depleted over time, skin is left vulnerable to all sorts of problems, from persistent patches of dry, flaky skin to increasingly becoming extra-sensitive”.

If you struggle with dry skin, topical application of niacinamide has been shown to actually boost the hydrating ability of moisturisers. “This means that the skin’s surface can better resist the moisture loss that leads to recurrent dry, tight, flaky skin,” Emma continues. “Niacinamide also works brilliantly with common moisturising ingredients such as glycerin, non-fragrant plant oils, cholesterol, sodium PCA, and sodium hyaluronate – so it’s a great add on to your routine”.

What skin type does it benefit the most?

Everyone can benefit from niacinamide in their skincare routines; but mature, dry and inflamed skins will benefit most from its ability to naturally strengthen, hydrate and plump the skin. However, Emma advises that if you have active acne or very oily skin, it’s best avoided for the time being.

How long does it take to work?

When used consistently and daily, you should start to see an improvement in your skin in around four weeks.

How we test niacinamide serums

Before we set out to test niacinamide serums, we sought out the expertise of Emma Coleman, a Dermatology and Aesthetic RGN, who offers advice on how best to use a niacinamide serum, the results to expect, and where in your routine it should be applied. Each of the serums in the roundup has been tested over a number of weeks. They’re used as part of a skincare routine, whereby we consider the overall formula and ingredients of each product, its texture, its feel on the skin, the results on application and over the course of a day.

We test niacinamide serums at a range of price points – from those you can pick up in the supermarket or local pharmacy to more premium offerings – as well as formulas for different skin types and concerns such as ageing, acne-prone and mature skins.

READ NEXT: Our round-up of the best body lotions

The niacinamide serums you can buy in 2023

1. Vitamin Injections Vitamin B Miracle Serum: Best all-round niacinamide serum

Price: £39 | Buy now from Vil SkincareIf your skin doesn’t have any specific concerns as such, but you want a serum to help to maintain its health and glow, then Vitamin Injections Vitamin B Miracle serum is a great all-rounder. It contains 10% vitamin B3 (aka niacinamide) along with other super-hydrating and calming humectants – substances that attract water – such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Its gentle yet efficacious formula is award-winning as a result of its ability to minimise open pores, repair damaged skin cells, and brighten an uneven skin tone; at its most basic, we found that it simply made our skin look and feel better. We used it in the morning after applying an AHA or retinol treatment due to its calming and hydrating qualities, but it can be used daily in the morning and evening.

Key features – Volume: 30ml; Texture: Silky clear serum; Additional ingredients: Hyaluronic acid and glycerin

Buy now from Vil Skincare

2. Trinny London Overnight Clarity serum: Best niacinamide serum for ageing

Price: £62 | Buy now from Trinny LondonTrinny London is the pared-back yet results-driven skincare line from fashion stylist Trinny Woodall. Her Overnight Clarity Serum is formulated with the vitamin A derivative retinal – not to be confused with retinol – that’s designed to renew the skin without the irritation usually associated with vitamin A. And one of the reasons this formula is better tolerated by the skin is the addition of our star ingredient, niacinamide, which helps to target congestion, hormonal breakouts, early signs of premature ageing and excess oil.

We applied it after cleansing and before our usual moisturiser twice a week and are pleased to report that it didn’t result in any irritation – just smoother, brighter skin. If your two main areas of concern are ageing and congestion, then this serum is a must-have.

Key features – Volume: 30ml; Texture: Thicker yellow-coloured serum; Additional ingredients: Retinal, glycine-bonded azelaic acid and chlorella vulgaris extract

Buy now from Trinny London

3. La Roche-Rosay Pure Niacinamide Serum: Best niacinamide serum for sensitive skin

Price: £40 | Buy now from BootsLa Roche-Posay is well known for its gentle yet effective formulations that are suitable for sensitive skin, and its Pure Niacinamide serum is excellent for those times when your skin is feeling fragile. It’s formulated specifically to hydrate and soothe the skin with hyaluronic acid, while 10% niacinamide and 5% HEPES help to even skin tone, lighten dark spots and repair the skin barrier. Over time, skin will appear clearer and feel more resilient as a result. We were already big fans of La Roche-Posay, and we’ll certainly be making space on our shelf for this complexion saviour.

Key features – Volume: 30ml; Texture: Thicker opaque serum; Additional ingredients: HEPES and hyaluronic acid

Buy now from Boots

4. BYOMA Brightening Serum: Best niacinamide serum for under £20

Price: £13 | Buy now from BootsProof that you should never judge a beauty product by its price tag, BYOMA’s Brightening Serum costs just £13 but was one of the standout serums we tested. Its powerful brightening formula claims to significantly improve skin tone and texture while reducing signs of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. It does this with a unique barrier-boosting Tri-Ceramide Complex comprising ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids working alongside niacinamide to brighten and even tone, while hyaluronic acid intensely hydrates. Applied beneath makeup in the morning, we found that this serum made a noticeable difference to our skin, leaving it dewy, bright and hydrated. Also take note of its gorgeous packaging, which makes it feel far more expensive than it is.

Key features – Volume: 30ml; Texture: Lightweight, silky serum; Additional ingredients: Tri-Ceramide Complex and hyaluronic acid

Buy now from Boots

5. Aesthetically Perfect Skin 5% Niacinamide Ceramide Serum Capsules: Best niacinamide serum for dry skin types

Price: £59 | Buy now from Aesthetically PerfectIf your skin veers towards being dry, and you like your serums to feel very silky and rich on your skin, then you’ll love Aesthetically Perfect Skin’s 5% Niacinamide Ceramide Serum Capsules. The brand’s best-seller, these shiny, royal-blue capsules hold the perfect dose of the brightening serum – enough for you to apply to your face, neck and chest. The formula is suitable for all skin types, blending strengthening niacinamide with anti-inflammatory rosemary leaf and aloe leaf extract. We applied it after cleansing in the evening, finding it particularly effective at hydrating our dry skin while calming redness and blotchiness. Its rich texture also works really well with a Gua Sha or jade roller, if you so desire.

Key features – Volume: 60 capsules (8oz); Texture: Rich transparent serum; Additional ingredients: Glycerin, rosemary leaf extract and aloe leaf juice

Buy now from Aesthetically Perfect

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