Niacinamide was one of the first skincare products I ordered from DECIEM’s The Ordinary, and over the course of about four months, I used up a full 30 mL bottle.
The product’s full name is Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% High-Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula, and it is meant to fade blemish spots, reduce skin congestion, and brighten skin tone.
Here is DECIEM’s description of the product:
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is indicated to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. A high 10% concentration of this vitamin is supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance visible aspects of sebum activity.
Contraindications: If topical Vitamin C is used as part of skincare, it should be applied at alternate times with this formula (ideally Vitamin C in the PM and this formula in the AM). Otherwise, Niacinamide can affect integrity of pure-form Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid).
Notes: While Niacinamide and Zinc PCA reduce the look of blemishes and balance visible sebum activity, neither is a treatment for acne. For persistent acne-related conditions, we recommend the use of Benzoyl Peroxide and/or Retinoic Acid. DECIEM doesn’t recommend ongoing use of BHA such as Salicylic Acid for persistent blemishes. For temporary improvement in appearance of blemishes, Salicylic Acid would help. This formulation can be used alongside acne treatments if desired for added visible skin benefits.
Independent studies suggest Niacinamide is also an effective ingredient for brightening skin tone.
As per instructions, I did not use any Vitamin C with Niacinamide; other studies have suggested that use of these two in conjunction on the skin may not be a problem—for example, the TIA’M Vitamin C serum I am using at the moment actually contains niacinamide, as well!). However, I wasn’t introducing any Vitamin C to my skincare routine at the time I was trying out the Niacinamide, so I did follow DECIEM’s recommendation by default.
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% has a water-based formula. Here is the full ingredient list:
Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Zinc PCA, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
It is free from alcohol, oil, silicones, and nuts.
I generally used the Niacinamide after applying The Ordinary “Buffet” Serum, and followed it with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid (sometimes), a moisturizer, and a sunscreen (day), sleeping mask (night), and facial oil (night, but not that often).
The formula has a clear, gel-like texture. It spreads over the skin easily and I didn’t have any problems layering it with my other skincare products. I love the packaging of the bottle with dropper, since it makes it very easy to dispense the right amount of product.
Overall, my skin is dry/dehydrated, but I have managed to keep it more hydrated and flake-free due to a recent change in skincare routine (you can read more about it in my “Buffet” review). My other skincare concerns are hormonal acne and wrinkle prevention, since I’m approaching forty.
Now, I have a tendency to get hormonal cystic acne (got some now, thanks very much), and it usually shows up along my jawline, chin, and sometimes on my cheeks. The Niacinamide + Zinc did not appear to help with this, not that anything really does apart from drinking more water and getting more sleep.
I did not particularly notice less sebum production or pore minimization, and I did not notice any real change in the mild blemishes on my skin left by acne. However, these marks are, for the most part, the reddish type (PIE, or post-inflammatory erythema). Niacinamide is actually supposed to affect melanin distribution in the skin, which means it is more effective on what is called PIH, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, an accumulation of melanin in the skin.
Now, where did I have PIH on my skin? There wasn’t so much on my face, but I have sun spots on the backs of my hands and on my arms (I know! Bad FZ! More sunscreen needed.) So, after a month, I decided I’d try using up the rest of my Niacinamide on the back of my left hand.
Lo and behold, the sun spots faded and two rather visible spots I had on my left hand have become smaller and less brown. There are no intense spots on my right hand, but it has the same mild hyperpigmentation in some areas. I can tell that now, the hyperpigmentation is definitely less pronounced on my left, where I used the niacinamide. These changes occurred after I used the niacinamide maybe once or twice a week (when I remembered to, oops!), for about three weeks.
I will definitely have to try applying niacinamide more regularly to my left hand (and arm) to see if it makes a really obvious difference. I’ll add, however, that since paying closer attention to the sun spots on my hands and arms, I’ve been much more religious about applying sunscreen there, and not simply concentrating on my chest and neck.
As for repurchasing The Ordinary’s Niacinamide, I think I will hold off, for now. I have other Korean beauty products at the moment that include niacinamide (like COSRX Galactomyces Essence), and I’d like to take the time to try them out.
I have also noticed that after using COSRX Centella Blemish Cream, zinc definitely works wonders to heal my new, red blemishes. The 1% Zinc in The Ordinary Niacinamide did not do anything like what the Centella Cream does, so for healing, I will certainly stick with COSRX for the time being.
If you’re curious about Niacinamide for PIH, The Ordinary’s version is very inexpensive, so I would definitely recommend trying it out. For myself, I am glad I tried it—and it seemed to work well on my sun spots—but for now I am going to explore other options, of which there are many!
[Note: I purchased this product directly from Deciem’s website. I’ve also ordered their products from Well.ca and Sephora (though the latter does not carry The Ordinary).]
DECIEM The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% High-Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula contains 30 mL and retails for US/CA$5.90. The formula is free of alcohol, oil, silicone, and nuts. The company is cruelty-free† and vegan.
DECIEM was launched by Brandon Truaxe in 2013. “We decided to do 10 things at once and called our craziness DECIEM, coming from decima, the [L]atin word for 10 in a sequence.” The company is based in Toronto, ON, Canada, and currently has stores in Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, and the UK.
† While DECIEM remains Canadian and cruelty-free itself, American cosmetic giant Estée Lauder, which is not cruelty-free, bought a stake in the company in June 2017.