Ulta shoppers call this $6 bottle of Niacinamide a ‘miracle elixir’...but who should be using it?

Hannah Kramer
·5 min read
This all-in-one fixer is a hot ticket at Ulta. (Photo: Ulta)
This all-in-one fixer is a hot ticket at Ulta. (Photo: Ulta)

It’s no secret that Niacinamide is having a moment. Also known as vitamin B-3, it can be found in foods like grains, meat and fish, and is particularly popular as a diet supplement — but the ingredient’s advantages extend far beyond our plates. Dermatologists and skincare experts alike praise its wide-range of topical benefits — and even our favorite beauty brands (like Glossier, Paula’s Choice, PCA Skin and Murad) have started rolling out their own versions of the potent vitamin-in-a-bottle.

“Niacinamide is very trendy right now for overall skin health,” explains Rachel Liverman, a third-generation esthetician and founder of Glowbar in New York City. “It's really a jack of all trades product. There is also no acclimation period for the skin and it will really keep skin barrier function on point.”

We decided to give the versatile ingredient a try by opting for The Ordinary’s best-selling Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%—at just $6 a bottle. But first, we chatted up some skincare gurus to answer all of our Niacinamide questions.

What is Niacinamide?

“Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that works with natural substances in your skin,” explains Rhea Grous, aesthetics director and founder of La Suite Skincare at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “It is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient that offers multiple benefits.”

One bottle sells every 34 seconds on The Ordinary's website. (Photo: Ulta)
One bottle sells every 34 seconds on The Ordinary's website. (Photo: Ulta)

Who should be using it?

Niacinamide serum is safe for anyone to use, including those with sensitive skin. But people with certain inflammatory conditions like rosacea and acne might see the most improvement.

“Many people experiencing inflammation, whether it be intrinsic or extrinsic from environmental aggressors, hormones, rosacea, acne or dehydration, can benefit from adding Niacinamide to their skincare beauty routine,” Grous argues.

It’s especially helpful in “minimizing redness and blotchiness” that comes with these common complaints, echoes Liverman.

What benefits does Niacinamide provide?

From helping with hyperpigmentation to decongesting pores, there’s a long list of benefits. Niacinamide “helps minimize uneven pigmentation by slowing down the transfer of melanin to the upper layer of the skin,” says Grous. It also “keeps debris from getting backed up — what I like to call a traffic jam — which leads to clogged pores and or a rough and bumpy texture,” adds Grous. “When pores are filled with debris, their elasticity stretches to accommodate the real estate and thus creates what we may describe as ‘large pores.’”

Research says it boosts collagen and elastin-healthier cells, as well as prevents signs of photoaging by repairing DNA, and Niacinamide is especially useful for patients with oily skin because it keeps their glands in check.

“By keeping the skin moisturized, it helps prevent oil gland overdrive,” explains Dr. Sapna Palep, founder of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. It protects against sun damage, too, by “promoting a healthy skin barrier,” says Palep. We have also found that at 5 percent concentrations, it helps prevent against hyperpigmentation, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles and protects against oxidative stress.”

The vegan formula contains no alcohol, gluten, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens or sulfates. (Photo: Ulta)
The vegan formula contains no alcohol, gluten, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens or sulfates. (Photo: Ulta)

How can I integrate Niacinamide into my beauty routine?

Skin experts say the ingredient can be used interchangeably with other beauty products — it can even be used to complement vitamin C — but it’s most popular in serums.

“It's a one-size fits all for the entire face, neck and eyes too!” Grous asserts. “This is an ingredient that can be incorporated at any time and during any and every season.”

While the vitamin usually doesn’t cause interactions, Palep says that like any new product, those with sensitive skin should introduce it slowly.

Put to the test

The cult-favorite budget beauty brand, which launched their version of Niacinamide back in 2016, sells one of these bottles every 34 seconds on their website. It’s particularly beloved by Ulta shoppers, too.

We gave it a try for two weeks and found it particularly helpful in brightening acne scars and minimizing pores. While it did dry out the skin a bit and leave behind a sticky residue, hyperpigmentation was noticeably less visible.

One Ulta customer who has battled adult acne at 31 hailed the $6 formula as a “miracle elixir of the gods.”

“I also had severe forehead scarring from acne and major hyperpigmentation. Almost any new product I tried would cause a breakout,” she wrote, explaining that after four weeks of diligent usage her face is 90 percent healed.

Customers say it got their oily skin under control, too. “I'm acne prone and have combination to oily skin and heard great things about how Niacinamide can help control oil production and fight acne. This product has changed my skin for the better!”

Another user explained that it helped decongest her pores, which were especially irritated from wearing face masks. “This product has significantly helped my skin! I am acne prone and I have seen my pores not only shrink but the redness is reduced! Especially now with having to wear a mask this is a must!”

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