If you’ve read some of my other content on A Beauty Edit, then you know how much I love niacinamide. It’s one of my favorite skincare ingredients.
Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, and you can now find niacinamide in serums of all price points. Today, we’ll discuss the best of the best when it comes to drugstore niacinamide serums.
The best drugstore niacinamide serums utilize niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, to target multiple skin concerns. In this post, I’ll discuss niacinamide’s benefits and my top 10 picks.
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Best Drugstore Niacinamide Serums
You might be wondering why you should use niacinamide in your skincare routine.
A favorite of those with acne and oily skin, niacinamide can help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, regulate sebum production, and much more.
- brightens your skin and reduces the look of dark spots and uneven skin tone
- balances oil (sebum) production in your skin
- strengthens your skin barrier
- smoothes the look of wrinkles and fine lines, as it boosts collagen
- soothes your skin and reduces redness and skin irritation
The ten best drugstore niacinamide serums will help you achieve a brighter, more even complexion and glowing skin without breaking the bank:
1. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
One of The Ordinary’s best-selling skin care products, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is an excellent option for those with oily or blemish-prone skin.
The serum reduces the look of visible shine, dullness, dryness, textural irregularities, and signs of congestion.
This serum is enriched with 10% niacinamide plus 1% zinc PCA for its sebum-balancing benefits.
The serum is lightweight and hydrating, strengthening the skin barrier in just seven days. In a clinical study, participants saw smoother skin after twice-a-day usage for eight weeks.
The Ordinary notes that these ingredients are not acne treatments, but can be used side-by-side with acne treatments for additional skin benefits.
The main drawback of this serum is that it might irritate some complexions.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: This niacinamide serum is a perfect example of The Ordinary’s affordable price points and effective formulas. This serum does a great job of controlling oil and improving the look of acne-prone skin.
2. La Roche-Posay Niacinamide 10 Serum
La Roche-Posay Niacinamide 10 Serum is an anti-aging niacinamide serum formulated with 10% niacinamide.
The serum targets stubborn dark spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone for a brighter complexion.
Niacinamide (vitamin B-3), a water-soluble vitamin, is the main active in this serum that works to brighten dull skin and fade discoloration.
Sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid, improves skin hydration and soothes dry skin.
The serum also contains penylethyl resorcinol, also known as SymWhite 377. This active is derived from compounds found in pine trees. It is a skin lightening active that reduces melanin (pigment) production in our skin.
This face serum has a creamy texture and feels very moisturizing on my skin.
The main drawback is the price. This La Roche-Posay serum is the most expensive serum in this post.
STANDOUT-QUALITIES: I think this is one of the most hydrating niacinamide serums of the bunch, and it has a richer, thicker texture than most of the serums in this post.
If you have dehydrated or dry skin, this niacinamide serum could be a great choice.
3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Niacinamide Serum
Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Niacinamide Serum is a 10% niacinamide serum that hydrates the skin while reducing the look of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
The serum also refines the look of pores and strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier.
The fragrance-free serum also contains sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid that acts like a sponge and binds moisture to the skin.
Acetyl glucosamine, an amino acid sugar, hydrates and moisturizes while fading dark spots.
Paired with niacinamide, acetyl glucosamine helps even skin tone and texture. It may also have some wrinkle-fighting benefits.
This serum has a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly into the skin without feeling heavy or greasy.
The serum is formulated for all skin types, even sensitive skin.
The main drawback is the price. It’s pricier than some of the low cost drugstore niacinamide serums in this post (i.e., The Ordinary, Good Molecules, etc…)
STAND-OUT QUALITY: This niacinamide serum does a great job of minimizing dark spots, uneven skin tone, and other discoloration, thanks to both niacinamide and acetyl glucosamine.
4. L’Oreal 12% [Niacinamide Amino Sulfonic and Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum
L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic Acid + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum (yes, that’s a very long name!) is a niacinamide serum that is chock full of ingredients that target dark spots, post acne marks and other imperfections.
The serum contains a 12% complex of niacinamide, amino sulfonic acid, and ferulic acid.
We already know all of the amazing benefits of niacinamide for dark spots: it brightens those pesky acne scars, sun spots, and other discoloration. It also improves skin texture and tone and helps with fine lines and wrinkles.
Amino sulfonic acid gently exfoliates the skin and lifts away dead skin cells.
Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radical damage. It protects the skin from environmental stress resulting in the visible signs of aging, including hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
Sodium hyaluronate (the salt form of hyaluronic acid) boosts hydration.
The serum also contains phenylethyl resorcinol (SymWhite 377), an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the appearance of pigmentation.
Interestingly, this L’Oreal niacinamide serum contains some of the same ingredients as La Roche-Posay Niacinamide 10 Serum, including SymWhite 377 discussed above.
L’Oreal acquired La Roche-Posay in 2018, so it’s not surprising that their brands might share similar technologies.
The serum is suitable for all skin types and tones, including sensitive skin. Please note that there is a noticeable clean fragrance in the serum.
The serum texture is lightweight and doesn’t feel heavy, sticky, or tacky on the skin. It can also be used on your neck, decollete, and hands.
The main drawback is the price, which is 3-4x more expensive than some of the other niacinamide serums in this post. Also, the fragrance is quite noticeable and may be too strong for some.
STANDOUT-QUALITIES: The serum contains multiple active ingredients that target dark spots, age spots, and uneven skin tone. If you struggle with hyperpigmentation, this serum could be an excellent choice.
5. The Inkey List Niacinamide Serum
The Inkey List Niacinamide Serum reduces excess oil and redness with a 10% concentration of niacinamide.
The lightweight and thin formula is enriched with 1% hyaluronic acid for added hydration. Hyaluronic acid binds moisture to the skin, creating a healthier-looking complexion that’s both hydrated and plump.
Squalane is another moisturizing ingredient that has a lightweight oily texture. It resembles the natural sebum (oil) in our skin. It helps to lock in moisture and prevent water loss.
Allantoin from the comfrey plant is included to soothe the skin, and panthenol (pro-vitamin B-5) moisturizes and calms irritation.
One drawback is the packaging. Due to the plastic cap, the application may be a little messy.
STAND-OUT QUALITIES: This The Inkey List serum controls oil without drying out the skin and has a lightweight, comfortable texture that works well with other skin care products.
6. Beauty Pie Superdrops Brightening Niacinamide Serum
Beauty Pie Superdrops Brightening Niacinamide Serum is a 10% niacinamide serum that evens out skin tone, strengthens the skin barrier, and supports skin elasticity for a smooth and plump-looking complexion.
The serum also contains 2% Oxygeskin, a trademarked ingredient derived from the nasturtium flower. This active ingredient strengthens the skin barrier and supports optimized oxygenation for a glowing complexion.
Evermat, an ingredient ideal for combination and oily skin types, is included in the serum at a 3% concentration.
This trademarked ingredient is a complex that reduces the look of enlarged pores, making your pores look like they’ve shrunk.
Glycerin is included for moisture, and diglycerin provides long-lasting moisture while feeling comfortable on your skin.
The main drawback to this serum is that you need a Beauty Pie membership to purchase it. Read here about how Beauty Pie works.
I’ve been a member for a few years, and I think it’s worth every penny since you have access to unique and super-affordable skincare, makeup, and haircare products that would otherwise be quite expensive.
STAND-OUT QUALITIES: This Beauty Pie serum has such a lovely lightweight, almost water-like texture that I return to time and again, which helps keep my skin clear.
I’ve purchased multiple bottles of this serum as it helps to smooth my skin, reduce the look of my pores, and balance oil production. This is one of my all-time favorite niacinamide serums!
7. Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum
Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum contains 10% niacinamide to target uneven skin tone and texture, dullness, and enlarged pores.
The serum is enriched with 2% glycerin to moisturize your skin and 1% betaine, a derivative of the sugar beet, for added moisture.
With consistent use, you’ll see a reduction in the appearance of dark spots, discolorations, redness, and blemishes. It also helps reduce moisture loss due to a weakened skin barrier.
While the serum is suitable for all skin types, it is ideal for oily and combination skin.
The serum has a lightweight, non-sticky feel on the skin, absorbs quickly, and works well under makeup.
Drawbacks? Not many. Although, the formula is more basic than others in this post. The serum doesn’t contain many actives besides niacinamide, just a few moisturizing ingredients.
Also, you probably won’t see Good Molecules products at your corner drugstore, but you can easily purchase them at Ulta Beauty or Good Molecules online.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: The most noticeable quality of this Good Molecules serum and just about all Good Molecules products is their ingredient transparency.
The ingredient list offers the exact percentage of every ingredient in the serum, which is rare in the beauty industry.
It is also very budget-friendly thanks to its super low price.
8. COSRX The Niacinamide 15 Serum
COSRX The Niacinamide 15 Serum is perfect for acne prone skin, as it contains a high 15% concentration of niacinamide that targets acne, breakouts, blackheads, and whiteheads.
The serum also contains zinc PCA to reduce sebum (oil) secretion. N-Acetylglucosamine (NAG) works with niacinamide to fade hyperpigmentation.
In a clinical study, users saw a 42.7% improvement in blackheads, a 50% improvement in whiteheads, a 12.7% decrease in oiliness, and a 19.5% visible improvement in pigmentation (visible melasma and blemishes) after just four weeks.
Allantoin from the comfrey plant is also included in the serum as a skin-soothing ingredient. Trelahose is type of sugar that hydrates and moisturizes your skin.
While also one of the main benefits, the main drawback is the high 15% niacinamide concentration, which may irritate sensitive skin.
STAND-OUT QUALITIES: COSRX The Niacinamide 15 Serum stands out for its high 15% concentration of niacinamide and its ability to target acne, breakouts, blackheads, and whiteheads.
I appreciate the lightweight serum texture that doesn’t irritate my skin, even at this high concentration.
9. Revolution Skincare 15% Niacinamide Serum
Revolution Skincare 15% Niacinamide Serum helps reduce the appearance of pores and blemishes while hydrating your skin.
A 15% concentration of niacinamide helps build keratin which improves skin firmness. It also improves moisture retention and minimizes pimples, pores, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Zinc PCA has anti-acne benefits and is also a humectant that moisturizes the skin’s surface and keeps it hydrated.
The main drawback of this serum is that the high 15% niacinamide may irritate those with sensitive skin.
The good news is that Revolution Skincare also offers a 10% niacinamide serum and 20% niacinamide serum if you prefer a high niacinamide concentration.
STANDOUT-QUALITIES: Revolution Skincare delivers niacinamide formulated with potent ingredients to fight oily skin and acne.
10. Cos De Baha Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1% Serum
Cos De Baha Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1% Serum is a Korean serum formulated with 10% niacinamide to address skin concerns such as breakouts, large pores, redness, and uneven skin tone.
The serum also contains zinc PCA at 1% to control excess sebum and support niacinamide in reducing acne by keeping in check the bacteria that cause acne.
Zinc PCA is also a natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which are natural components found in the skin that keep your skin hydrated and nourished.
The most concentrated ingredient in the serum is Aloe barbadensis leaf extract from the aloe plant. This active is an anti-inflammatory that soothes and moisturizes the skin.
Sodium hyaluronate hydrates the skin, while allantoin calms irritated skin.
This face serum soothes itchy, flaky, dehydrated skin while targeting redness, sensitivity, and irritation.
The lightweight formula is easily absorbed without leaving any greasy residue, making it a great choice for oily and combination skin types.
The main drawback is availability. Cos de Baha is not a mainstream brand in the US, but it can easily be found online.
STAND-OUT QUALITIES: The serum packs several effective actives into its formula. It contains 78% organic ingredients and multiple soothing actives to calm irritated skin.
Alternatives To Niacinamide
Since niacinamide does such a great job addressing many different skin concerns, alternatives to niacinamide will depend on the skin concern you want to address:
To Brighten The Skin
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like Glycolic Acid or Lactic Acid
- Azelaic Acid
- Retinol and retinoids
- Vitamin C
- Kojic Acid
- Alpha Arbutin
- Licorice Root Extract
- N-Acetyl Glucosamine
To Treat Acne
- Salicylic Acid
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Retinol and Retinoids
- Green Tea Extract
- Tea Tree Oil
To Reduce Wrinkles and Fine Lines
- Retinol and Retinoids
- Vitamin C
- Hyaluronic Acid
To Strengthen The Skin Barrier
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Shea Butter
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
To Reduce Redness & Irritation
- Centella Asiatica Extract
- Aloe Vera
- Green Tea Extract
- Chamomile Extract
- Calendula Extract
Best Niacinamide Serums From The Drugstore
While everyone won’t agree on the best niacinamide serum, the best serum for you will be the one that works for your skin type and skin concerns.
All of the drugstore niacinamide serums in this post are affordable and effective, so it really just comes down to personal preference.
What is your favorite drugstore niacinamide serum? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!