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The Ordinary Niacinamide review: This $7 serum helped transform my skin

This ultra-affordable serum might just become a new staple in your skincare routine.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum. Image via Instagram/Deciem.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum. Image via Instagram/Deciem.

The recipe for good skin can be difficult to nail down, and since it’s so individual there’s often a lot of trial and error involved before you find what truly works. Of course there are the basics like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated throughout the day, but finding a skincare routine that works for you can seem like a daunting task.

As someone who has been lucky enough to have avoided any severe skin issues throughout my teens and 20s, when I started inexplicably breaking out last fall I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. After hours of research online, I settled on one inexpensive serum that’s won over thousands of shoppers and happens to only cost $7. I figured even if it didn’t end up making any difference to my skin, at the cost of a single latte I’d be happy to still put it to the test.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum (shop it at Sephora)

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum (shop it at Deciem)

The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Image via Sephora.
The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Image via Sephora.

From $7 at SephoraFrom $7 at Deciem

What is niacinamide?

My research led me to The Ordinary’s The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum, a targeted serum that helps reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. As its name suggests, niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, is the serum’s star ingredient.

A powerful ingredient that reduces inflammation and improves the skin’s barrier function, it helps diminish the look of redness and blemishes, leaving skin looking smooth and healthy.

Who should use niacinamide?

According to Deciem, this lightweight serum is suitable for use on all skin types, though they do note that it is not a treatment for acne.

"For persistent acne-related conditions, we recommend speaking to your health care provider regarding treatment options. This formulation can be used alongside acne treatments if desired for added visible skin benefits," their website reads.

It can be used as part of your morning and evening skincare routine, but if you're unsure about how a new ingredient will affect your skin, you should always try a patch test on your wrist before applying anything to your face.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum. Image via Sephora.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum. Image via Sephora.

How to add niacinamide to your skincare routine

Since picking up The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum, it’s become a staple as part of my daily skincare routine. It’s one of the rare skincare products that I’ve actually gone through the entire amount and have repurchased several times.

Following cleansing and toning, it’s the first product I apply before moisturizing and applying makeup for the day. The serum has a lightweight texture that sinks into the skin quickly, but doesn’t provide much hydration on its own, so unless you already have extremely oily skin you’ll likely need to layer on a facial oil or moisturizer to lock in moisture.

That said, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the appearance of my skin’s texture since using the serum, especially on my forehead. My skin is prone to closed comedone breakouts (otherwise known as the little flesh-coloured bumps that annoyingly seem to pop up out of nowhere) but I’ve found that they’re much less frequent with consistently using the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum.

The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum is my secret to clear skin.
The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum is my secret to clear skin.

What others are saying

I’m one of many fans of The Ordinary’s affordable blemish serum, which has earned a 4.3-star rating from more than 5,000+ customer reviews.

“Yes yes yes! This product should be in everyone's bath," raved one reviewer. "It is well absorbed, the skin becomes smooth, it is good to fight redness and age spots. I have combination acne prone skin and this product works wonders!"

“I'm 66 and still plagued with breakouts and the discolouration they cause...with my first use, the discolourations were markedly reduced. I have never used a skin care product that produced such immediate results. I'm a The Ordinary fan for life now," shared another.

In addition to helping with the appearance of breakouts, shoppers have also shared that the serum has helped improve the look of acne scars and discolouration.

“I’ve been struggling with acne scars pre-covid, which got worse during the pandemic. After using [this for] more than a month, my redness and scars are slowly healing. And the ugly bumps and textures are gone, too. Im into my second bottle, hopefully will show better results.”

Some reviewers with sensitive skin noted breakouts when they began using this serum, so be sure to perform a patch test on your wrist if you're trying it out for the very first time.

The verdict

While there’s no guarantee that one product will work for every person’s skin, The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum has earned a reputation for improving the look of blemish-prone skin. Its super affordable price tag certainly makes it worth giving it a shot — and you may just wind up with your best skin yet.

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