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Niacinamide is a B vitamin (specifically B3) used primarily to treat acne and dark spots, and The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum advertises itself as such. It’s to be used for reducing the appearance of acne as well as diminishing fine lines and wrinkles, minimizing pores, and evening skin tone (including fading dark spots). Oddly enough, I found it the most useful for its impact on something it doesn’t even claim to improve: dark under-eye circles. Keep scrolling for my honest review.
About My Skin: Acne-prone, oily, minimal signs of aging
I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was a small child. I began using concealer there before beginning to wear any other makeup as a young teen, and I relied on an under-eye cover-up daily in the decades since. Like millions of others, thanks to quarantine, I no longer wear makeup often and have switched to focusing on skincare. This year I’ve loved the brightening and smoothing effects of snail mucin and vitamin C+ Retinol serum, which have drastically reduced my hormone-induced breakouts, and rose water toner has helped keep my pores tight. I’m always looking for something to reduce acne scars further, prevent wrinkles, and keep breakouts under control, so I decided to try Niacinamide. I don’t normally go for the cheapest option of products, but I was unsure that this one would do anything beyond what my current regimen accomplishes, so I was hesitant to spend much. Its main claims are preventing acne and evening skin tone.
The Feel: Thin and smooth
This product is a light serum that feels similar to snail mucin: a little slimy but dries immediately and has a vaguely silky vibe. It’s fine under makeup and should be applied before heavier serums or moisturizers.
The Results: Circles be gone!
Within days of using this all over my face, I began to break out in small pimples around my cheeks and chin; I was worried that might happen because even though zinc is supposed to treat acne, products with it had given me pimples in the past. I immediately stopped using it all over my face and that acne disappeared within a couple of days.
But from the first day of using it on, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the intensity of my under-eye circles. As soon as I put this on in the morning, it’s as if I’ve put on concealer. The result is more significant than a retinol cream, which I’ve noticed immediate results from but couldn’t handle the subsequent peeling and tenderness of. I’ve been using this serum every day for months now, and I’d say that my under eye circles in the morning are about half as bad as they were before I began it. Once I’ve applied it, they’re minimal enough that I don’t generally even think about applying concealer.
The Value: Couldn’t be better
As mentioned, I chose this as a trial to see if it would be of any use. I had no idea it would have such a big impact on something it doesn’t even advertise as a use for it-though technically, under-eye circles could fall under the umbrella for evening skin tone as they are very big “dark spots.”
So, I didn’t want to spend much. All other products in this category are more costly: they range from $15 to over $100. Because I only use it under my eyes, after two months, I’ve used less than a quarter of the full ounce bottle.
The Science: It holds up
When studied at a lower concentration of 5% for its anti-aging properties, Niacinamide produced excellent results. A 2005 report stated, “Analyses of the data revealed a variety of significant skin appearance improvement effects for topical niacinamide: reductions in fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). In addition, elasticity (as measured via cytometry) was improved. Corresponding mechanistic information is presented.” It has also been studied specifically in relation to the appearance of aging around the eyes with results noting that it has “been well-documented to reduce skin yellowing, hyperpigmentation, erythema, and blotchiness, as well as improving the epidermal barrier and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.”
Similar Products: The choices are many
- Glossier Super Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum ($28): Glossier’s niacinamide weighs in at 5%, with the same Zinc PCA added.
- Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment ($88): This $88 cream boasts a formula with tranexamic acid, kojic acid, alpha arbutin, and pentapeptide too.