The vitamin that makes orange juice so nutritious also happens to be one the the most powerful players in skincare. Obviously, we’re talking vitamin C.
Apart from being your saving grace during a cold that just won’t quit, the vitamin can help brighten dark spots, even out skin tone, and support collagen production. In other words, there’s a reason why there are so many serums with Vitamin C — it’s a versatile ingredient that can work wonders for the skin.
Whether your dermatologist recommended adding one to your routine, or your friend is swearing by their vitamin C splurge and you want in on the hype, here are a few of the best out right now.
No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence
At less than $30, you can’t really beat the price of this radiance-boosting vitamin C-based serum, which promises results in two weeks.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum
Your secret to curing dull winter skin? This serum, which not only helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, but evens out your skin tone and gives it that healthy glow you’ve been missing since August.
This L-ascorbic acid-based serum delivers on warding off free radicals and the signs of aging, but it’s also made with pumpkin ferment extract and pomegranate enzyme to exfoliate dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin.
Now this is a powerful one. It’s made with vitamin C and E, as well as ferulic acid to help those two components do their jobs of neutralizing free radicals and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles way better. It also keeps working on your skin for 72 hours.
Dior just one-upped your glass of orange juice with a serum that’s made with murunga plum, a fruit that the brand claims is 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges. That, combined with AHAs and antioxidant-rich ingredients, makes this glow-boosting tonic a must-have for winter.
Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Hydrating Moisturizer
For plump skin, try Olay’s Collagen Peptide24 Moisturizer. Its lightweight formula has vitamin B3 to brighten your complexion and collagen-boosting peptides to firm skin and diminish fine lines. When the two work together, you’re looking at a hydrated, smooth complexion.
If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it’s that we need to wash our hands all the time. With hand-washing comes dry skin and the Yes to Avocado Hand Cream will fix those dehydrated, cracked hands right up. The avocado-based formula replenishes skin, and hyaluronic acid will maintain hydration.
If you didn’t get enough sleep, that’s OK because Mario Badescu’s Caffeine Eye Cream will make you look like you got a full night’s rest. The moisturizer in this tub is filled with caffeine for brightness, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and jojoba oil to help treat dryness.
Dermalogica’s Neck Fit Contour Serum is filled with firming ingredients to give you a tight, line-free neck. The list includes rye seed extract, which smooths skin, and resurrection plant to strengthen the area. It’s applied with the built-in roller bar that also gives a cooling effect.
Clinique Smart Night Clinical MD Multi-Dimensional Repair Treatment Retinol
The Clinique Smart Night Clinical MD Multi-Dimensional Repair Treatment Retinol flattens out fine lines with the power of retinol. Plus, it also has hyaluronic acid and squalane to give you a boost of hydration while you sleep.
The new Simple Instant Glow Cleansing Wipes do way more than flawlessly take off stubborn makeup. Each cloth is made with niacinamide to brighten skin and glycerin to moisturize. So once your skin is clean, it’s also glowing.
Meet the Inkey List’s first spot treatment: Succinic Acid Acne. This magical little tube is loaded with succinic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps to reduce oil levels in your skin, as well as salicylic acid to exfoliate, sulfur powder to unclog pores, and hyaluronic acid to ensure skin stays hydrated.
L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t bronze up your complexion. The L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops give fairer skin tones a subtle glow when you mix five drops of this serum made with dihydroxyacetone (a sugar that when mixed with proteins on your skin makes it tan) and hydrating hyaluronic acid with your favorite moisturizer.
Your skin’s about to be drunk in love with Drunk Elephant’s Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray. It’s a cocktail of coconut water, vitamin F, and sake extract to calm redness and hydrate the skin. Use it as a step in your skincare routine after cleansing or as a refresher during the day.
The blend of alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids in the HoliFrog Halo AHA + BHA Evening Serum is going to give you clearer skin once you start using it for a few weeks. Not to mention, this formula is packed with moisturizing oils like that of rosehip and prickly pear, so no need to worry about all of those acids drying your skin out.
It’s been called “herbal Botox” and a “natural retinol” — but does it actually work?
Bakuchiol (pronounced “buh-KOO-chee-all”) is a “naturally occurring antioxidant found in the seeds of Psoralea Corylifolia, a plant found in Eastern Asia,” explains Jesse Werner, founder of Whish, one of the first brands to incorporate the ingredient into its product offerings.
I’ve heard bakuchiol described as a “natural version of retinol” or an “herbal Botox,” so editors asked Werner if there was any truth to those claims. His answer made my highly-sensitive skin positively tingle with anticipation: “Clinical studies have confirmed that bakuchiol is a true retinol-like functional compound without the negative effects of retinol.” In other words, bakuchiol is a potential game-changer for those who struggle with sensitive or reactive skin and aren’t confident in the risk-to-reward ratio of retinol.
First, a quick refresher on retinol: A member of the retinoid family, which includes all vitamin A derivatives, it’s considered a Holy Grail ingredient for all things anti-aging and anti-acne; but even though it’s derived from natural vitamin A, the majority of retinoids are synthesized in some way. Retinol is commonly found in over-the-counter anti-aging products, and can be prescribed in higher concentrations by a dermatologist.
When applied to the skin, retinol “interacts with special retinoic acid receptors” and “initiates a biochemical cascade that leads to activation of certain genes that control collagen production, and reduction of the release of inflammatory mediators,” says Dr. Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology in New York City. The result? Smoother, clearer, younger-looking skin.
Oh, and potentially a whole lot of irritation.
Nearly all retinol users go through something called retinization: a period of about four weeks when redness, inflammation, dryness and even peeling occur while the skin adjusts to the medication. Dermatologists largely recognize this phase as temporary and safe, which is why retinol is so popular. But for some skin types, the “it-gets-worse-before-it-gets-better” functionality of retinol often ends at “it-gets-worse”. In addition to retinization, a small percentage of retinol users contract a red, scaly, itchy rash known as retinoid dermatitis.
While naturally derived ingredients aren’t always less-irritating than synthetics, the notion that bakuchiol may be a less-harsh anti-aging option is certainly an appealing one. “We were looking for the most effective ingredients to prevent and repair wrinkles, sagging skin and overall skin health. We kept coming back to retinol,” remembers Werner. “However, retinol is not natural, it’s very harsh on the skin, and it is very unstable. We searched the globe for an effective and natural retinol-like ingredient and we finally found bakuchiol.”
Bakuchiol doesn’t function in quite the same way that retinol does, but here’s the amazing thing: It offers similar results. “In one third party, 12-week clinical study, the conclusion was that retinol and bakuchiol do not have close structural similarities, yet they exhibit a similar gene expression profile especially on key anti-aging genes and proteins, which is remarkable,” explains Werner. In layman’s terms, bakuchiol visibly reduces fine lines, wrinkles and acne, and is considered a functional analog of retinol.
What’s more, the ingredient actually has some advantages over retinol, aside from simply being a natural alternative. Dr. Sadick confirms that it can be used “without any harsh side effects like irritation, flakiness and redness.” It also has photostability on its side; ulike retinol, which can break down and become less effective, it remains active even in direct sunlight.
It should be noted that bakuchi seed powder, sometimes called babchi seed powder, isn’t the same thing as bakuchiol – bakuchiol is the “compound extracted from the seeds using a solvent,” says cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski, who adds that “there’s not likely to be a downside to adding bakuchi powder to a facial mask.” He notes that “no topical treatment would compare to Botox,” but can’t deny that bakuchiol has all the makings of a natural alternative to retinol.
Bakhuchiol is actually becoming much more common at beauty retailers of late. The ingredient first started popping up in skin-care formulations back in 2014, and its popularity has only grown since then, though it’s remained somewhat under the radar and is still far from ubiquitous. If you’re curious to try out the natural alternative to retinol for yourself — and honestly, you should be — scroll through the gallery below to see some of fan-favorite formulas.
Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum
An all-in-one skin-perfecting day serum made with a natural retinol alternative that targets fine lines, wrinkles, pores, and dark spots, while instantly brightening.
REN Clean Skincare’s Bio Retinoid™ Anti-Ageing Cream minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for firmer skin. Its bio extracts moisturize your skin and help repair damaged cells. Rich in antioxidants that protect from free radicals, the formula leaves your skin looking younger and smoother.
Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer contains PlantGenius, a proprietary complex of wildcrafted and hand-cultivated botanicals grown at elevation in the mountains surrounding Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This all natural, super-hydrator melts into skin leaving a fresh, velvety finish. Ceramides and squalane help fortify the moisture barrier; vitamin C helps brighten and support skin against environmental stressors; a non-irritating bio-available retinol diminishes the appearance of fine lines. Wild actives nourish with essential vitamins and fatty acids.
First of its kind, ultra-lightweight oil corrects the look of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone & texture. This advanced formula combines three separate but synergistic Retinol technologies, including naturally-derived Biomimetic Retinol – which mimics skin’s natural processes to better receive the benefits of Retinol ¿ with nourishing Squalane Oil and patented NIA-114 technology to limit sensitivity. Plant-derived Squalane & Chia Seed oils moisturize and replenished skin with essential fatty acids. Astaxanthin & Pro-anthocyanidins, two of the most powerful antioxidants, soothe and protect dry skin.
I feel as though physical exfoliation is one of the most satisfying skin-care practices because of the instant gratification it can provide (hello, immediately refreshed skin). Not only does exfoliation feel amazing and leave skin instantly more luminous; a good face scrub paves the way for the serums and moisturizers to follow, according to board-certified dermatologist Jeannette Graf.
“Exfoliating can help skin-care products penetrate 20 percent better,” she tells Allure. But here’s a word to the wise: As with most things, there is such thing as too much of a good thing in the case of scrubbing your face. You can avoid over-exfoliation by capping your scrub sessions to a maximum of three times per week.
Whether you need something that’s extra gentle for sensitive skin or want a scrub with a little extra oomph for perpetually clogged pores, I’ve got you — and your wallet — covered. Happy scrubbing, folks.
Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
It’s not ideal to use a face scrub every day, according to dermatologists — so if you’re going to kick up your exfoliation, use the most gentle scrub possible to prevent damage to your skin barrier. The daily scrub from Cetaphil is packed with pH-balancing glycerin, so it hydrates while it sloughs away dead skin cells.
If you’re prone to acne, dullness, and hyperpigmentation, here’s a prime pick for you. The itty-bitty granules in Bioderma’s Exfoliating Gel physically exfoliate until they burst with salicylic and glycolic acid, which chemically exfoliate away impurities. With this formula, you’re getting twice the exfoliation in one product.
Dermatologists love the Best of Beauty-winning Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser from Neutrogena, and the scrub version is full of all the same clarifying ingredients, plus tiny microbeads that give an added boost of physical exfoliation.
No7 Radiant Results Revitalising Daily Face Polish
No7’s Daily Face Polish contains ginseng root, which, all by itself, comes with a multitude of skin benefits. According to dermatologists, ginseng contains all sorts of antioxidants and vitamins that prevent fine lines, acne, and even hyperpigmentation.
You can always count on an Aveeno product to be gentle on even the most sensitive skin types, and its Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub is no exception. With antioxidant soy extract, gylcerin, and jojoba oil, this scrub exfoliates just as much as it soothes and nourishes.
Just like the treatments available at Bliss Spa locations, the Micro Magic scrub will leave you feeling totally refreshed. It’s basically a gentle, at-home version of a microdermabrasion that sloughs away dirt and oil with volcanic pumice while its aloe vera soothes and de-puffs.
If sensitive skin plus physical exfoliation sounds like a recipe for disaster, let the Ultra-Fine Scrub by La Roche-Posay change your mind. Super-fine pumice particles — suspended in a cooling gel formula — provide just the right amount of grit without feeling scratchy. Plus, this stuff leaves skin with a quenched suppleness you might expect from a water-based gel moisturizer.
This L’Oréal Paris sugar scrub is everything a sugar scrub should be — but better. The Pure-Sugar Scrub is infused with not one but three different types of sugar, suspended in a creamy mixture of coconut oil and cocoa butter. The skin-softening formula isn’t overly abrasive, yet it leaves skin visibly glowing after one use. As you probably guessed by the ingredients, the formula smells like baking batter — but just like real batter, you definitely shouldn’t eat it. That said, it does doubles as an excellent lip scrub if you’re compelled to use it near your mouth.
Oily-skinned folks, listen up. The creamy white exfoliator from Simple contains rice powder to absorb excess oil, and the gentle silica particles — a replacement for microbeads — work to manually slough off dead skin, leaving you positively glowing.
Yes To Coconut Energizing Coffee 2-in-1 Scrub & Cleanser Stick
In case you prefer toting your cleansers around in stick form, consider this portable scrub by Yes to Coconut, which makes exfoliating way easier than ever. Not to mention, Yes To’s coconut and coffee combo smells amazing.
Olay Micropolishing Cleansing Infusions Facial Cleanser with Crushed Ginger
This micro-polish cleanser from Olay reminds me of formulas that are five times its price. The tiny granules feel pleasantly sandy and break down into a creamy consistency as you cleanse, leaving skin visibly glowy post-rinse. Plus, the formula has a zingy scent that smells like summer and happy days, thanks to crushed ginger and citrus.
Fun fact: This concoction from St. Ives was born after the brand asked fans which scrub they’d like to see next on shelves. This enlivening coffee and coconut combo won. Fans of the (albeit, controversial) Apricot Scrub will love how this provides the same level of super-deep exfoliation (thanks to an infusion of crushed walnut) with the added benefits of skin-softening coconut and circulation-promoting coffee.
Citrus scents in the shower are a pick-me-up as much as they are a wake-me-up. The grapefruit extract in Yes To’s citrusy scrub is naturally high in vitamin C (so it boosts collagen production and helps reduce hyperpigmentation), as well as lycopene, which naturally aids in protecting skin from UV damage.
The beaker-like nozzle of Bioré’s Charcoal Pore Minimizer makes you feel like you’re in chemistry class every time you use this black scrub. The charcoal powder pulls out oil and pollutants like a magnet, and it all rinses away with the gel.
The super-creamy formula, which features kiwi seeds and alpha-hydroxy acids (which you can read more about here), leaves your skin smoother than ever — and yet it’s astonishingly nonabrasive. The pearlescent mint-green color is so stunning!
This squalane-based balm not only nourishes dry under-eyes, but it also is packed with concentrated encapsulated retinol (which is more gentle on the sensitives skin region) to smooth the look of fine lines.
From the brand’s first foray into the curly hair category, this cloud-like cream — designed for type 4A, 4B and 4C coils — gives game-changing definition. It also contains a Healthy Curl Complex, which provides a protective, strengthening barrier around each strand.
Besides looking oh-so gorgeous on your vanity, this pretty pink potion really does pack a punch. The eco-conscious brand (this packaging is 100% recyclable through Terracycle) partnered with Harvard University to develop a patent-pending booster that’s proven to pump up your skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid and collagen.
If you’ve struggled to maintain a consistent skincare routine in 2020, the new year is the perfect time to hit refresh. One of the best products you can incorporate into your newly defined regimen is a trusty vitamin C serum, since it can tackle a variety of skincare concerns overnight. You don’t have to spend a fortune for a winning formula, either. The Truskin Vitamin C Serum has over 30,000 perfect ratings!
Why is it so popular? The potent serum claims to treat a multitude of issues, including wrinkles and fine lines, large pores, breakouts, dark spots, and dull skin — and according to reviewers, it really works. It has a jam-packed ingredient list of highly effective additives, yet remains free of harsh chemicals, synthetic colors, fragrance, sulfates, and stabilizers. Instead, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, jojoba oil, and aloe vera (to name a few) come together in one lightweight formula that can be applied on all skin types, morning and night. A ton of reviewers swear the affordable serum restored a youthful appearance to their skin with consistent use.
“I am a 43-year-old wife, mom of teen girls, and middle school math teacher,” said one shopper. “After two weeks of using this serum, my 17-year-old tells me I look like I am in my 20’s rather than 30’s. Fine lines are going away. Acne scars fading. Pigmentation evening out. Even my neck and jawline are smoother. Now my husband wants some for his ‘dad neck.’ Oh, and despite my sensitive skin, I use it on my actual eyelids without any irritation at all.”
“My search for an amazing serum is finally over,” shared another. “I just purchased my 3rd bottle and I am hooked! My skin looks flawless and I have been getting so many compliments about how great I look. My skin glows as if I just walked out of a spa treatment. A little goes a long way, the bottle usually lasts me about three-and-a-half months.”
As Instagrammable as sheet masks are, they simply aren’t intended for the unique issues associated with the skin around eyes. Sure, a well-fitted face mask might deposit a few beneficial ingredients near your eyes, but sometimes you just want to target the periorbital area — without the mess of a drippy sheet mask. So it’s no wonder that there has been a veritable eye-mask boom, leading to a much-welcomed deluge of sticky, comma-shaped patches made specifically formulated to target the dark circles, early-morning puffiness, and texture changes that happen to this especially delicate section of skin.
Whether you want an overnight option for fine lines, a quick cooling fix, or a once-a-week way to hydrate and brighten, here are the 16 best eye masks on the market for those moments when you’re looking for a little more intensity than what a daily eye cream can provide.
Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks
The gold foil of Wander Beauty’s Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks isn’t just for Instagram (though they do make for a great skin-care selfie). The precious metal actually helps retain heat so the hydrating serum doesn’t evaporate, allowing hyaluronic acid to absorb more effectively.
Talk about futuristic. The mechanics behind Circcell’s Insight Collagen Eye Treatment require you to press a fluid chamber to release an activator formula onto each patch. It’s the best way to get the most out the highly concentrated freeze-dried collagen within.
Yes To Coconut’s Energizing Coffee Super Eye Mask is made of 100 percent cotton and contains coconut extract to hydrate the delicate under-eye area, as well as coffee (hence the name) to boost circulate and reduce puffiness. Throw it on for ten minutes and you’ll see a noticeable difference once you take it off.
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask
If you’re not yet using retinol in the eye area, Shiseido’s Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask is a great place to start. The stretchy material keeps them perfectly in place for 15-minute line-reducing sessions.
Verso’s Reviving Eye Mask with Retinol contains a hydrogel formulation in its patches that allows the gentle retinol within to penetrate for optimum impact, leaving under-eye skin moisturized and de-puffed.
Patchology’s FlashPatch Restoring Night Eye Gels take advantage of the body’s natural nighttime repairing abilities by sitting firmly under the eyes while you sleep, depositing an all-star cast of smoothing and brightening ingredients, like retinol and cucumber extract.
As if de-puffing peptides didn’t make these impressive enough, the water embedded in these Skyn Iceland’s Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels is actually Icelandic glacial water. The result is a super-cooling effect to diminish the appearance of swelling.
Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask
Originally created to help heal burns, Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask are made with sheets that seal revitalizing, antioxidant-rich botanicals into the skin for intensive hydration.
Beloved by celebrities like Victoria Beckham, 111Skin’s Celestial Black Diamond Eye Mask minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crepiness with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, retinol, and peptides. After just one use, the eye area looks visibly brighter, smoother, and healthier.
Erno Laszlo’s Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask targets all your concerns: dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles, and crepiness. It does so with a powerful blend of algae extracts, vitamin B3, and soothing allantoin.
Every few years, a new “it” ingredient starts making the skin-care rounds—even if it’s not new at all. This time it’s niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that’s been a fixture in commercial cosmetic formulations and dermatologists’ offices for decades. Recently, though, it’s been popping up in all types of products as a recognizable and desirable skin-care ingredient.
But if you’re not quite sure what niacinamide is or what it’s doing in your moisturizer, you’re not alone. Here’s what you should know before adding it to your skin-care routine.
What exactly is niacinamide?
Niacinamide, which is also called nicotinamide, is one of two major forms of vitamin B3 (niacin) found in supplements (the other is nicotinic acid). It’s often touted to help manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation issues, and wrinkles. But is there any science behind those claims?
Scientists theorize that niacin (and therefore niacinamide/nicotinamide) may be effective because it’s a precursor to two super-important biochemical cofactors: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+). Both of these molecules are central to the chemical reactions that your cells—including skin cells—need to repair damage, propagate, and function normally. Many of these essential reactions can’t occur at all without NAD+, which your cells can’t make without niacinamide.
“By giving your body the precursor, the thought is that it allows your body to make more NAD+,” John G. Zampella, M.D., assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman department of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. This fuels your cells to proliferate and also allows your body to absorb and neutralize more free radicals.
Essentially, free radicals are molecules that have either lost or gained an extra electron, which makes them unstable and highly reactive. In high enough doses, they can damage healthy cells. But NAD+—courtesy of niacin (and niacinamide)—contributes an extra electron to those unpaired free radicals so they can chill out and stop wreaking havoc all over the place.
Interestingly, the same process—helping your body create more NAD+ and, therefore, repair damage—is thought to be the root of both topical and oral benefits derived from niacinamide on the skin. (Reminder: Niacinamide is just another form of niacin.) There’s also evidence that topical niacinamide can increase the production of ceramides (lipids that help maintain the skin’s protective barrier), which may contribute to its topical effects on wrinkles, fine lines, and the skin’s moisture barrier. All of this is probably why you’re seeing niacinamide listed in a bunch of skin-care products.
However, there aren’t a ton of high-quality studies looking at topical niacinamide for many cosmetic uses.
What can niacinamide actually do for you?
If niacinamide is involved in most important cell functions, then there’s nothing it can’t cure, right? Well, no—if every cellular process in our bodies could be perfected with vitamin supplements, we wouldn’t need antibiotics or radiation therapy. That said, oral and topical niacinamide may have some actual benefits for skin health:
Skin cancer prevention:
Ask a dermatologist what niacinamide does best, and the very first thing they’ll say is probably “skin cancer prevention.” In a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gave 386 patients 500mg of oral niacinamide or a placebo twice daily for 12 whole months. All the participants had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers within the previous five years and, therefore, were at a high risk for developing another skin cancer. Results showed that during the study year there were 23 percent fewer new cases of skin cancer in the group that received niacinamide (336 cancers) compared to those who got the placebo (463 cancers).
Both Dr. Zampella and Laura Ferris, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh, told SELF they frequently suggest oral niacinamide to their patients with a high risk for non-melanoma skin cancers, and cited this study as the reason why.
This doesn’t mean that two niacinamide capsules a day (which is what participants took in the study) will stave off skin cancer forever. The study focused on people who had experienced skin cancer before—not the general public. And it doesn’t tell us anything about using niacinamide to help prevent melanoma skin cancers (and the research we do have suggests it’s not super helpful for those). But if you’ve had multiple non-melanoma skin cancers in your life, it could be worth asking your dermatologist about oral niacinamide.
So, there is some evidence that oral niacinamide can be helpful for skin health in this specific situation. But is topical niacinamide helpful too?
Acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions:
Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an attractive treatment for skin conditions marked by inflammation, like acne. In fact, in two double-blind studies—one published in 2013 and the other published in 1995, both in the International Journal of Dermatology—a topical preparation of 4 percent niacinamide treated moderate acne just as well as 1 percent clindamycin (a topical antibiotic commonly prescribed to acne patients) when applied twice daily for eight weeks.
Other research suggests that a 2 percent topical niacinamide may also inhibit the production of oil, which could be beneficial to people dealing with acne. Plus, both dermatologists we talked to say that niacinamide is relatively nonirritating compared to other acne treatments, making it an especially attractive option for people with dry or sensitive skin.
In addition to topical preparations, oral niacinamide supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation associated with mild to moderate rosacea and acne, particularly when oral antibiotics aren’t an option. But according to both Dr. Zampella and Dr. Ferris, the key words here are “mild to moderate.” They advise that severe cases usually call for stronger medications like retinoids or systemic steroids in the case of acne, not vitamins.
There is also limited evidence that topical niacinamide can help repair the function of the stratum corneum, the protective outer layer of skin, which may add to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Pigmentation issues, fine lines, and wrinkles:
There are very few clinical studies on the effects of niacinamide on fine lines and wrinkles, so the evidence we have is somewhat sparse. But there are a few studies. For instance, in one study published in 2004 in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, researchers had 50 women (all white and between the ages of 40 and 60) apply a moisturizer containing 5 percent niacinamide to one half of their face and a placebo moisturizer to the other half for 12 weeks. Their results showed that the halves of their faces receiving niacinamide had significant improvements in hyperpigmentation spots, fine lines, and wrinkles compared to the control side.
Another split-face study, this one published in 2011 in Dermatology Research and Practice, found that a topical 4 percent niacinamide treatment was less effective than 4 percent hydroquinone (usually considered the gold standard) for treating melasma over eight weeks in 27 participants. Specifically, 44 percent of patients saw good-to-excellent improvement with niacinamide and 55 percent saw the same with hydroquinone. So, the niacinamide wasn’t totally ineffective—and it came with fewer side effects (present in 18 percent of participants) than the hydroquinone (present in 29 percent).
However, niacinamide is more frequently studied in combination with other topical medications—not on its own, which makes it difficult to know how effective it would be by itself. Based on the available evidence, well-studied options like prescription retinoids (and sunscreen!) or other antioxidants, like vitamin C, will probably do more for you than niacinamide if hyperpigmentation, fine lines, or wrinkles are your primary concerns. But if your skin is too sensitive to handle those other options, or you’re just looking for a gentler treatment for whatever reason, niacinamide might be a helpful alternative.
Here’s how to get started with niacinamide.
Adding topical niacinamide to your skin-care routine is simple and low risk: Buy a product that contains it, and apply as directed. Some people experience some mild irritation, which will likely go away with repeated use. (If it doesn’t, or you have any questions about what kind of side effects you’re experiencing, definitely check in with your derm to make sure you don’t end up with something more serious.)
Most major studies used topical preparations containing 2 percent to 10 percent niacinamide, so look for a product in that range if you can. Those who are looking for a moisturizer with niacinamide may want to check out CeraVe PM Face Moisturizer ($16, Ulta), and Dr. Zampella also recommends the Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum ($6, Ulta).
There isn’t a prescription version of topical niacinamide, but your dermatologist may be able to add it to topical prescriptions in a process called “compounding”. According to Dr. Ferris, if you go through a pharmacy that specializes in compounded medications, it could be cheaper than a generic. The actual cost depends on your insurance and the compounding pharmacies in your area, so be sure to ask your dermatologist for more information.
Keep in mind that while niacinamide is unlikely to hurt you, it’s not a miracle drug—if you’re thinking niacinamide is the solution to all your problems, you may be sorely disappointed. “Not everything that’s red on your face is going to be acne or rosacea,” Dr. Ferris reminds us, “so make sure you have the right diagnosis before trying to come up with a treatment plan.” A dermatologist can help you decide if niacinamide is worth trying or if there’s another option that may be better for you and your skin.
No matter how much beauty ads promise, there really is no such thing as a magical cure-all that’ll make you look like a woman who always drinks enough water and clocks eight hours of sleep each night. Even if you are that woman (secrets, please?), dark circles can still be hereditary.
However, there really is some truth to the best eye creams. No, they won’t entirely get rid of that puffiness and blueish tinge or erase wrinkles overnight, but there are a handful of options with ingredients that actually do tighten, brighten, and generally make your need for concealer a little less. Since the skin under our eyes is more delicate, targeted formulations with active ingredients like retinol (or bakuchiol), vitamin C, and caffeine can pack more pick-me-up power than your average face cream or serum.
Best Overall: Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Eye Balm
It’s not just that Tata is the queen of formulating with the cleanest ingredients—it’s that she pushes the envelope so we can have clean ingredients and clinically proven skin rejuvenation in one little bottle. This eye cream is gentle on my reactive skin and highly effective in softening lines and hydrating that thin, delicate, and previously crepey skin around my eyes. —Katey Denno, celebrity makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best Luxury: La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Eye Cream
I made it all through my 20s without undereye issues, but I swear the second I turned 30, the effects of a late-night Netflix binge (or God forbid, a night out) started to manifest on my face. And that’s when I decided it was time to call in the big guns. La Prairie’s Platinum Rare Cellular Eye Cream gets its muscle from a potent blend of peptides and hydrators to brighten, smooth, and tighten your skin. It’s basically Spanx for your eyes. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor
For someone who spends way too much time up late in front of a computer screen, this serum is like the equivalent of a cup of coffee for my eyes. It’s formulated with caffeine and green tea to jolt awake their appearance and minimize the look of dark circles and puffiness. Best $7 I ever spent. —Aimee Sy, contributor
Best for Puffiness: Sisley Paris Black Rose Eye Contour Fluid
After a few rotations around my eye socket with this mysteriously cold ceramic applicator, I was hooked. Like all of the products in the Black Rose Collection, this formula smells (no essential oils, just May Rose water) and feels amazing. Best of all, it depuffs, hydrates, and brightens and instantly makes me look more rested. —Robin Black, makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best for Tired Eyes: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
Since I’m still in my 20s, I usually just need moisture under my eyes, but when I need something more (like when I’m hungover) this is what I reach for. I love the classic Night Repair serum, and this eye treatment is just as effective. It has a cooling gel texture, and it instantly makes me look more awake, less puffy, and as if I could be the kind of girl who meditates and drinks green juice every day. I’ve even noticed that if I use this one consistently, my dark circles look slightly better (it’s a cream, not a miracle) thanks to the brand’s ChronoluxCB complex. —B.C.
Best for Dark Circles: It Cosmetics Confidence in an Eye Cream
I have pretty bad dark circles (genetics, unfortunately) and have tried everything from very expensive products to drugstore brands. It wasn’t until this one that I noticed a difference—literally, after a day of using it. It’s super lightweight and makes it look as though I hit snooze just a little longer each morning. —Azadeh Valanejad, contributor
Over the years I’ve tried various eye creams, from drugstore buys to mysterious potions I’ve picked up from the Glamour beauty closet, but Dr. Barbara Sturm’s was my first foray into a luxe product line, and man, did it not disappoint. Just a slight tap of the cream every night has made the fine skin around my eyes look tighter and more youthful. The cream feels indulgent and rich on my skin, while still having a super-light, airy consistency. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic Dr. Barbara Sturm works with, but consider me all in. —Caitlin Brody, entertainment director
Best for Fine Lines: Tatcha The Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream
Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but they’re also the first place to show signs of aging. That’s why I’ve been using eye cream since I was a teenager. But as you get older, you need different formulas, especially if you wear makeup. The key is an eye cream that will help act as a barrier so concealer and foundation won’t settle into fine lines, but will also still hydrate. I’ve found that with Tatcha’s Silk Peony, which has a unique melting texture to smooth and blur the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It contains 30% Hadasei-3, which is the brand’s signature trio of pure Japanese superfoods, including Uji Green Tea (to detoxify), Okinawa maluku algae (to help retain moisture), and protein-rich Akita rice to nourish and go on smoothly. And as with all Tatcha products, it’s cruelty-free and formulated without sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. —Jessica Radloff, West Coast editor
Best Multitasker: Glossier Bubble Wrap Eye and Lip Plumping Cream
Wrinkles aren’t my top concern yet, so when it comes to eye cream, I’m looking for something no-fuss that hydrates, plumps, and is a great base for the gobs of concealer I need to hide my sleeping habits. Bubblewrap is the answer to my prayers; if I could bathe in it, I would. It’s a cushiony eye and lip cream that has a thin yet lush texture and is packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and avocado oil. Tapped on my undereyes, it made me look more awake, refreshed, and made my concealer glide on crease-free. While it’s a fab eye cream, I’m also obsessed with it in place of lip balm at night for full, plush lips by morning. And of course, the packaging looks perfect in my medicine cabinet. —B.C.
Best Soothing: Volition Beauty Helix AM/PM Eye Gel
I’m one of the people who think eye creams are kind of B.S.—a regular light moisturizer does that trick just fine for me—but I’ve recently noticed how damn puffy my area looks. Blame it on an excess of salt and not enough water, but I started using this collagen-rich gel, which I keep in the fridge, and found it actually works to depuff and hydrate. It also promises to blur fine lines, though I don’t have those yet, but I’m planning to stick with it, mainly thanks to its powerful helix complex, an organic compound rich in allantoin, collagen, elastin, and glycolic acid. —Perrie Samotin, digital director
Best Brightening: Dermalogica Biolumin-C Eye Serum
I’ve been obsessed with finding the right treatment for the dark circles under my eyes, and this is definitely the winner. This serum doesn’t have the stinging retinol sensation that a previous eye cream had, nor does it leave my skin feeling tacky. I’ve been using it for the last two months, and the difference is noticeable. I’m already dreading the day I have to replace it. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer
Best Primer: Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Eye Base
My undereyes are regularly dry, and my concealer always creases no matter what, until I tried Bobbi Brown’s new Vitamin Enriched Eye Base. Its creamy shea butter formula means a pea-size amount is plenty to go around both eyes. I use my fingertips to gently pat this soothing primer into my skin before concealing my uninvited dark circles for a smooth canvas that never creases. —Talia Gutierrez, beauty assistant
I’ve been slowly replacing the skin-care products in my beauty routine with ones that are plant-based—and my latest fixation is Haoma’s Eye Cream. Rich in skin-brightening ingredients like yarrow, licorice, mulberry, and CBD, this balm has an airy, velvety texture that goes on smooth and absorbs in no time. I dab a pea-size amount under my eyes after cleansing, and it straightaway makes the purplish circles feel lighter and brighter. That, and it’s the perfect second step in my morning routine to trick my mind into instant “awake” mode. —Talia Abbas, commerce writer
I’ve always been a fan of Embryolisse’s skin-care products. They’re a staple in makeup artists’ kits. The same goes for this undereye stick. It’s multifunctional: It refreshes tired eyes, diminishes signs of fatigue (like puffiness), firms, is highly hydrating, and reduces the appearance of fine lines. It also brightens your undereye area and improves texture. Not to mention it’s incredibly cooling when you glide it on. I like to use it right before I put on makeup, during skin prep. —Carola Gonzalez, celebrity makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best Eye Serum: Lancôme Advanced Génifique Yeux Light Pearl Concentrate
There’s nothing I love more than popping a jade roller in the fridge and running it under my eyes in the morning to wake up. This is the eye serum equivalent. The metal applicator is cool and refreshing as you glide it on, and the gentle but tough-acting mix of caffeine, prebiotics, and vitamin E go to work to jolt life back to your undereyes. Bonus: You can use the serum on your lashes to make them look more nourished. —L.S.
I’ve tried tons of eye creams that do literally nothing, but Belif’s eye cream doesn’t have that problem: This spin-off of its moisturizer leaves my undereyes looking smooth and way less crepey within minutes. —Sarah Morse, contributor
Best Hydrating: Hada Labo Tokyo Age Correcting Eye Cream
Hada Labo makes reliably excellent skin care, and this eye cream is no different. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid, caffeine, collagen, and light-diffusing pigments. Smooth it on and it’ll blur and diminish your dark circles while giving your delicate undereye area a noticeable boost. —Sarah Wu, beauty contributor