Best niacinamide products: serums, masks and cleansers to fight acne and breakouts

·9-min read
 (Kate Somerville)
(Kate Somerville)

It may feel like everyday there’s a new ingredient dubbed as the miracle solution to all your skincare woes - and there’s certainly pros and cons of this.

Pros - you get the test and trial to find something that works for you, while cons - there’s a lot of information out there and it can get confusing.

Niacinamide may not be the easiest ingredient to say or spell but it sits in that rare category that offers noticeable, speedy results . It can be used on all skin types with no negative effects. Whether you have sensitive skin and whatever age, it offers an overhaul against breakouts, dryness and pigmentation.

This is one you’ll be telling your friends about.

What is niacinamide?

It can be found in creams, serums and cleansers as a water-based form of vitamin B. Amy Jackson, resident skin expert and therapist at explains, “Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that is a very beneficial skincare ingredient for blemished, rosacea, pigmentation and impaired barrier skins. It works as an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can calm redness, irritation and blemishes, it also reduces the transport of melanin into the skin which can target pigmentation and helps to rebuild the skin’s lipid barrier”.

What are the benefits of niacinamide? What does niacinamide do?

Have you got time to read them all? The list of benefits of this powerhouse ingredient is extensive from soothing, healing and restoring, to evening out skin’s texture, brightening, and excessive oiliness.

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at 55 Harley Street breaks it down for us into five main points:

  • Skin barrier improvement: it reduces water loss from the epidermis and increases lipids (ceramides) and proteins found in the skin barrier layer

  • Dark spots/pigmentation/age spots: studies show niacinamide reduces the appearance of hyperpigmented spots in both Asian and Caucasian skin by acting on the steps leading to melanin or pigment production.

  • Improvement in skin texture and sebum: niacinamide reduces sebum or oil production in the skin which may indirectly help with improvement of visible pore size. It can also be helpful in mild acne.

  • Environmental protection: topical niacinamide has been shown to reduce redness caused by sunlight - it is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

  • Wrinkles: studies show it may play a small role in reducing fine wrinkles

How do you use niacinamide?

Much like your typical serum, it should be applied after cleansing and toning and before your moisturiser. To minimise the steps in your skincare routine, you could also pop a few drops into your moisturiser. The ingredient is also available in masks and cleansers.

Dr Mahto adds, “Niacinamide can be found in a varying range of concentrations in skin care and is usually well-tolerated causing minimal skin irritation. Ideally look for products that contain at least 5 per cent niacinamide for best results and ensure that it features highly (top 3-5) on the ingredients’ list of a product.”

Amy Jackson also stresses that it “can be used on a daily basis as a core skincare ingredient to control outbreaks of irritation, inflammation, blemishes, redness and to aid pigmentation, barrier function and acts as an antioxidant to protect from free radicals.”

Can you use niacinamide with retinol?

Niacinamide is a great solution for those who are unable to tolerate vitamin A and can be found alongside the anti-ageing hero in some of the products below. Jackson reveals that, “Niacinamide strengthens the skin lipid barrier and controls outbreaks of inflammation, it is also beneficial for enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, dullness and congestion” so works well with retinol.

Can you use niacinamide with vitamin C?

Similarly, niacinamide and vitamin C work well together as both have brightening effects due to the fact that they are both antioxidants and so work to shield the skin from external aggressors.

Does niacinamide help with acne?

In short, yes. Niacinamide helps control excess sebum production and soothe inflamed acne skin to reduce redness. Unlike some drying formulas on the market, helps to nourish and hydrate at the same time.

See our pick of the best products with niacinamide below.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Beloved for its no nonsense approach to skincare, The Ordinary boasts efficacious products that focus on key ingredients to easily incorporate into your routine. With a stellar line-up, emphasis should be placed on the fact that this product is one of the bestsellers. For a purse-friendly price tag of just £5, it packs a real punch.

The formula contains a high concentration of Niacinamide which is rich in vitamin B3 combined with zinc salt. It calms breakouts in only a couple of uses by balancing sebum production and decongesting the skin, while encouraging repair, balance and reducing redness. The product has a lovely texture that absorbs quickly but is not great when combining with makeup so opt for nightly use.

Buy now £5.00, Space NK

The Inkey List Niacinamide

Much like The Ordinary above, The Inkey List too cuts through the beauty noise to put simplicity back into skincare. The products use as little ingredients as possible and focus on quality without a luxury price point. This iteration stars the powerhouse ingredient without throwing in any extras that could cause irritation. It tackles breakouts, reduces redness, minimises the appearance of pores and has great decongesting effects. It is combined with 1 per cent of Hyaluronic Acid for a hit of hydration. The formula is light, silky and doesn’t leave a sticky film behind.

Buy now £6.99, Cult Beauty

Paula’s Choice Clinical Niacinamide 20% Treatment

When it comes to science-led formulas that really work, few do it better than Paula’s Choice. The BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a godsend for blemish-prone skin and the Clinical Niacinamide is hot on its heels to become our favourite product. The serum has a high concentration of niacinamide that shields skin from external aggressors like UV rays, smoothing out the skin and improving firmness. It’s also extremely effective in minimising the appearance of pores. Skin looks clearer, calmer and smooth.

Buy now £47.00, Paula’s Choice

KateCeuticals Resurfacing Overnight Peel

This recent launch from Kate Somerville contains three ingredients of the most sought-after ingredients in skincare to give you the silky soft skin that you deserve. Retinol smoothes out fine lines, glycolic acid encourages cell turnover and niacinamide or vitamin B3 strengthens the skin barrier. Apply a thin layer before bed and wake up with a hydrated, firm and even complexion.

Buy now £76.00, Kate Somerville

Versed Just Breathe clarifying serum

A few drops of Versed’s Just Breathe serum is like a breath of fresh air for troubled skin. The product contains a mix of willow bark extract (which you may know as the blemish-busting salicylic acid), zinc and of course, niacinamide. On application, it soothes inflammation and any redness or blotchiness. Keep in your tool belt for when skin misbehaves.

Buy now £18.00, Boots

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

Korean skincare label Glow Recipe is front and centre of the latest K beauty trends and so it will come as no surprise that their Watermelon Glow radiance-giving formula contains niacinamide. Get the glow by applying as the last step in your skincare or even over makeup as it doubles up as a highlighter. This will help you nail the skinimalism no makeup makeup trend for a fresh complexion.

Buy now £31.00, Cult Beauty

CeraVe Foaming Cleanser

Unlike the other products on this list that are mostly serums, this cleanser incorporates niancimande for regular use. It combines the skin-clearing ingredient with nourishing and hydrating Hyaluronic Acid as well as as ceramides to protect its natural barrier. It removes makeup swiftly and easily and can be used on sensitive skin without causing any inflammation or irritation.

Buy now £14.99, Superdrug

Glossier Super Pure niacinamide + zinc serum

When your skin isn’t playing ball, bring in the big guns with Glossier’s Super Pure formula that acts as a reset button to calm, soothe and nourish. It combines five per cent of niacinamide for skin clarity and Zinc PCA to decongest pores but unlike a lot of spot-fighting formulas on the market, this won’t cause your skin to dry out or flake.

Buy now £24.00, Glossier

Farmacy Beauty 10% Niacinamide Night Mask

Niacinamide may not have the same recognition of other ingredients like retinol and vitamin C, but take it from us, it’s one you’ll want in your beauty arsenal. The ingredient is getting the attention it deserves in the new launch from Farmacy Beauty. The mask is designed to be worn overnight to fortify the skin’s moisture barrier as you doze. The hydrating and balancing formula gets to work to improve skin texture, minimise the appearance of pores and bring moisture levels up a few notches to give your complexion a boost come morning time. The ingredient line-up is clinically-led and made up of upcycled natural ingredients chosen for their efficacy.

Buy now £40.00, Cult Beauty

Sunday Riley 5 Stars Retinoid and Niacinamide Eye Serum

This supercharged serum has two of the most buzzed about beauty ingredients contained within its formulation - retinol and niacinamide - to tackle common concerns like wrinkles, stress and dark circles. Created using botanicals and science-backed methods, it balances out these actives with poppy seed extract, ceramides, olive oil and shea butter that is kind on the delicate eye area. The effects are instant. Sayonara laugh lines.

Buy now £60.00, Cult Beauty

La Roche Posay Niacinamide Pure 10 Serum

For those among us with sensitive skin, it can often be a minefield to find out which of the buzz beauty ingredients can be used without causing irritation. The likes of retinol or acids can cause redness, flakiness or drying but La Roche Posay is making it easier than ever to incorporate an equally efficacious ingredient even if you’re complexion can be easily inflamed.

Niacinamide takes a starring role in its new product. The lesser known powerhouse is one of those multi-tasking ingredients that can transform your skincare regime. It minimises the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation, can work to balance uneven tones and leaves skin with a glowy finish.

Buy now £38.00, La Roche Posay

Typology Eye Serum 5% Caffeine + 5% Niacinamide 15ml

Known for its no-nonsense formulas containing only the most essential ingredients, Typology’s products are considered and effective.

For those with dark circles and puffiness, the French brand’s serum will have your eyes looking light and bright in no time. Its winning cocktail of caffeine and niacinamide will improve blood circulation to the delicate area, as well as reduce water retention, so your peepers will feel ready for any early morning wake-up-call.

Buy now £13.20, Typology


Factoring in price and efficacy, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is hard to beat. You will notice the effects after just a few uses - calmer and decongested skin with less breakouts that just looks and feels healthier.