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6 Benefits of Niacinamide Serum for All Skin Types

Help combat dark spots and dullness with this skincare essential.
  • Wendy Rose Gould
March 01, 2024

Skincare has evolved through the decades, with new formulations hitting the shelves almost nonstop. Despite all this newness, there are a few staple ingredients that consistently find their way onto ingredient lists. Hyaluronic acid, squalene, ceramides, and niacinamide are a few of these ingredients, with the latter getting a lot of buzz recently—and for good reason.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can be found in a variety of skincare products, like moisturizers, eye creams, and even face cleansers. However, one of the best ways to incorporate this ingredient into your skincare routine is with a niacinamide serum. These concentrated formulas offer targeted benefits that can help address specific skin concerns, like dullness or dark spots.

To understand more about niacinamide’s benefits, we spoke with Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant. Ahead, she’s sharing some of the most notable benefits of niacinamide serum for your skin, and outlining why so many—regardless of skin type or skin concern—can reap the rewards of this multitasking product.

Along with highlighting some key niacinamide uses for skin, we’re also covering when and how to use niacinamide serum in your skincare routine and sharing some of our favorite serums and niacinamide skincare products to incorporate into your beauty routine.

What Is Niacinamide?

According to Dr. Henry, niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) is a form of vitamin B3 that’s known for its soothing properties and high antioxidant levels. She shares that niacinamide is a derivative of niacin, a vitamin that your body requires in order to produce energy. In skincare, niacinamide is used topically to help repair the skin’s natural barrier, brighten skin tone, and reduce excess sebum (oil), per the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

What Does Niacinamide Serum Do For Your Skin?

Dr. Henry shares that most people can enjoy niacinamide’s benefits, regardless of skin type. “It’s soothing, [and] it reduces pigmentation,” she says. “And, if you have [acne-prone] skin, it may help with that.” Individuals with sensitive skin and mature skin can also typically enjoy niacinamide’s skin benefits, as long as they choose gentle serum formulas that are suitable for their skin’s needs.

Applying niacinamide serum consistently can help address several common skin concerns. These include reducing the appearance of dark spots (including post-acne marks) and minimizing excess oiliness for a more balanced-looking complexion. This ingredient can also help skin feel calmer and appear more radiant.

6 Niacinamide Benefits for All Skin Types

So what, exactly, are the niacinamide effects you can expect when adding a serum with this ingredient to your daily routine? Ahead, we’re diving into the specific benefits of using niacinamide serum for skin.

1. Reduces the look of dark spots

When it comes to niacinamide, one of the most commonly searched questions about this ingredient is: “Does niacinamide serum help with dark spots?” If used correctly and consistently, the answer is often a resounding yes. In a study by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, niacinamide has been used as a lightening agent to help reduce the appearance of skin discolorations, such as dark spots and post-acne marks.

According to the study, after eight weeks of continued use, the positive niacinamide results were confirmed—topical niacinamide was effective at fading dark spots on the skin. For targeted skin concerns like this, Dr. Henry recommends reaching for a more concentrated formula, like a high-quality niacinamide serum.

2. Soothes redness and irritation

If you have sensitive skin that is prone to conditions such as rosacea and eczema, then you may benefit from niacinamide’s soothing properties. When used topically, this ingredient can help calm irritated skin and help visibly reduce facial redness.

This ingredient may even help with the mild irritation associated with using aggressive (but beneficial) skincare ingredients like retinol. Although retinol has several benefits for your skin, this form of vitamin A is also known for causing sensitivity, redness, and flaking as it works its magic. According to the Cleveland Clinic, layering niacinamide on top of a retinol product may even help combat that irritation.

3. Helps create a balanced-looking complexion

Individuals with oily skin know the frustration of dealing with a slick sheen on their face or congested pores that can lead to breakouts. Niacinamide may be beneficial in these cases by helping control sebum production. “It may be a bit mattifying,” Dr. Henry says. In other words, niacinamide can be a potential game-changer for anyone with oily, acne-prone skin who needs help minimizing excessive oiliness and shine.

Editor’s note: Acne-prone skin doesn’t always mean that you have oily skin, but these two skin concerns often overlap, since excessive oil on the skin can clog your pores and lead to acne.

4. Boosts hydration and helps minimize the look of fine lines

You now know that niacinamide benefits oily skin, but is niacinamide good for dry skin, too? In this case, it’s another yes for niacinamide! For those with a dry skin type, niacinamide has been shown to help restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier for a more youthful, nourished appearance.

With daily use, it can also help keep your skin looking plump and well-hydrated. It’s been shown to help limit water loss in the skin that can lead to dehydration, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). This added hydration, in turn, can help visibly soften fine lines and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, per the NCBI.

5. Reduces the appearance of large pores

Those dealing with textural issues, including large pores, can enjoy yet another complexion-enhancing niacinamide benefit. Per the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, niacinamide has been found to visibly minimize the appearance of pore size and improve the appearance of rough skin texture.

The NCBI says that with consistent use of this ingredient, you can see smoother-looking skin in as little as eight weeks. In other words, you’ll need to stay the course and dutifully apply a high-quality niacinamide serum or moisturizer daily as part of your morning and evening skincare routine.

6. Brightens the skin’s appearance

Another niacinamide benefit is that it can lead to brighter, more radiant-looking skin with continued use. When your skin’s healthy, it tends to take on that “lit from within” look that’s so covetable. Niacinamide’s ability to support the skin barrier, help regulate sebum production, and plump and hydrate skin can translate to a glowing complexion. Add in pores that appear smaller and reduced redness and you’re looking at seriously bright, even-toned skin.

When Should You Use a Niacinamide Serum in Your Skincare Routine?

“We see [niacinamide] in all sorts of skincare because it’s soothing,” says Dr. Henry. When it comes to niacinamide serums, she says you can typically use them twice daily. “You could use it at any time—day or night.” However, keep in mind that niacinamide serums can vary in their formulations, so it’s important to read the product packaging and apply only as directed. The product packaging should also tell you which skin concern the formula is designed to target.

As a reminder, Dr. Henry recommends using a concentrated serum for concerns like dark spots. If you’re using it to calm your skin and smooth its appearance, Dr. Henry says you can also incorporate a niacinamide moisturizer into your routine.

How Long Does Niacinamide Serum Take to Work?

According to the NCBI, once you’ve started a niacinamide skincare regimen, you may be able to see smoother skin in approximately eight to 12 weeks—depending on the niacinamide product. As with any skincare ingredient, you’ll want to consistently use niacinamide serum in order to enjoy its full benefits.

In general, you’ll know your niacinamide serum is working when your skin starts to show visible improvements. For example, you may notice a reduction in the appearance of dark spots, fewer dry patches, or a smoother-feeling, refined skin texture.

3 Niacinamide Serums and Moisturizers To Add to Your Skincare Routine

L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum

You can use this niacinamide serum to help minimize the appearance of dark spots and other skin discolorations. The formula features a combination of amino sulfonic and ferulic acid, which gently exfoliates and helps brighten your skin. Meanwhile, the inclusion of niacinamide results in a visible reduction of dark spots, sun spots, and post-acne marks.*

To enjoy these niacinamide serum benefits, simply apply three to four drops after cleansing and massage the serum all over your face. Always follow up with moisturizer (even if you have oily skin) and broad-spectrum SPF. We recommend layering this product with L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion for the ultimate radiance-boosting duo.
*In a clinical study over 12 weeks, expert grading of dark spots (age & sun spots and post-acne marks).

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Collagen Expert Day Moisturizer with SPF 30

This moisturizer is formulated with a dynamic duo of collagen peptides and niacinamide to help retighten and rehydrate maturing skin. With consistent use, the result is skin that feels firm and has that youthful bounce about it. Apply this moisturizer during the day to get the added benefits of broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. Skin feels rehydrated after one use, and after four weeks of continued use (once during the day), your skin will feel stronger and denser, and appear more radiant.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Pressed Night Moisturizer with Retinol + Niacinamide

If you have sensitive skin, or fancy yourself a minimalist who doesn’t want extra steps in their skincare routine, try using a balanced formulation like this nighttime moisturizer. The unique formula blends two powerful ingredients into one: retinol and niacinamide. When used consistently over time, the night cream helps visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles while resurfacing skin for improved texture and a more even-looking skin tone.

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