11 Cult Favourite Drunk Elephant Skincare Products

While Drunk Elephant originally started as a skincare brand, the company has since expanded its product line into the body and makeup categories — and most recently, hair care. As always, you can rest assured that each product is designed to keep your skin (and now hair) healthy, nourished, and radiant, thanks to the innovative vitamin-, antioxidant-, and mineral-infused formulas.

There’s plenty of praise to be sung for this brand, and a long list of products to choose from. If you’re new to Drunk Elephant or already a fan and looking to try the latest launches, I’ve narrowed down several — 11, to be exact — of the top picks that I think are worthy of a spot in your routine. 

B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Applying serum before your moisturizer is one of the easiest ways to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy since many are packed with highly concentrated doses of active ingredients. The B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum features a lightweight formula containing brightening pineapple ceramide and hydrating vitamin B5. It’s also infused with sodium hyaluronate, which cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos tells Allure is “very effective for plumping lines.” 

$48 (Shop Now)

C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum

The Best of Beauty Award-winning C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum is another great option. The vitamin C- and antioxidant-rich serum repairs sun damage. It also features pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract, both of which help to dissolve dead skin cells, thus reducing the appearance of pores and overall dullness.

$80 (Shop Now)

Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

You already know the importance of wearing sunscreen daily (even indoors), but with so many options on the market, it can be challenging to narrow it down. The ultra-lightweight Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 pretty much eliminates the guesswork. It’s designed for — you guessed it — everyday wear. The editor-favorite sunscreen has won an Allure Readers’ Choice Award three consecutive years in a row, and it’s easy to see why. The creamy, silicone-free formula is ideal for even the most sensitive skin types and contains 20 percent zinc oxide (to protect the skin from harmful UV rays), as well as antioxidant-rich algae, sunflower sprout extracts, and raspberry seed oil. 

$34 (Shop Now)

A-Passioni Retinol Cream

A-Passioni Retinol Cream picked up a 2020 Best of Beauty Award after one Allure editor credited the product for reducing hyperpigmentation and breakouts. Retinol is one of the most versatile, dermatologist-lauded skin-care ingredients and can do just about anything, including brightening skin, reducing wrinkles, and minimizing breakouts. That said, it’s an all-around win for a range of skin concerns. 

$74 (Shop Now)

T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

With professional facials few and far between these days, the T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial at-home peel is a more-than-suitable substitute. It’s designed for weekly use and is formulated with 25 percent alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids — and two percent beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), otherwise known as salicylic acid. These chemical exfoliants eliminate dead skin cells and smooth texture. The creamy, non-traditional formula will leave your skin feeling fresh, clean, and rejuvenated. No wonder it won a Best of Beauty Award.

$80 (Shop Now)

Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil

Once you’ve smoothed skin over with a peel, top it off with the brand’s moisturizing Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil. It’s a pure one-ingredient oil packed with skin-restoring and vitamin E-infused marula seed oil to protect against free radicals and pollution. 

$72 (Shop Now)

Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser 

The Best of Beauty-winning Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is chock-full of soothing fruit extracts and oils including marula, baobab, and Kalahari melon seeds to keep skin moisturized and nourished. The oil-based cleansing balm also features bamboo and charcoal powders to gently exfoliate dead and dry skin.

Lippe Balm

Drunk Elephant’s Lippe Balm is especially ideal for the winter months when many of us suffer from dry, dehydrated, and chapped lips. The buttery balm is also made with moisturizing avocado oil, which is rich in fatty acids, along with mongongo oil to keep skin smooth, and hydrating peptides. 

$18 (Shop Now)

D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Bronzing Drops

For a natural-looking, all-over glow in any season, try the antioxidant-rich D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Bronzing Drops. The lightweight formula is infused with soothing cocoa extract, fine line-eliminating peptides, rejuvenating vitamin D, and vitamin F (fatty acids), the latter of which promotes a healthy skin barrier. 

$36 (Shop Now)

E-Rase Milki Micellar Water

If you’ve yet to dive into the greatness of micellar water, you’re surely missing out. The beloved, ultra-gentle cleaning format gently grabs dirt, tones skin, and removes makeup all at the same time — and all without stripping or harming the skin. The hydrating, non-irritating E-Rase Milki Micellar Water offers a milky formula with nourishing omega fatty acids. “This is a great ceramide-based micellar water that’s perfect for removing makeup pre-wash,” board-certified dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson previously told Allure.

$28 (Shop Now)

Wild Marula Tangle Spray

Knots won’t know what hit ’em when the Wild Marula Tangle Spray makes contact. The leave-in treatment works three-fold to detangle, condition, and act as a heat protectant, thanks to moisturizing sacha inchi and pracaxi seed oils. Strengthening amino acids, on the other hand, will help prevent breakage-induced dryness that can settle in during colder winter months. 

$25 (Shop Now

ALLURE article

This $12 Retinol Night Cream Is So Good, Shoppers Have Been Using It for Over A Decade

Whether you’re a 13-stepper or keep it narrowed down to the basics, every skincare routine should have a reliable night cream in its roster. After cleansing away the day, a hydrating cream is the finishing touch that works its magic while you sleep, a perk that’s safe to say both the highly invested and relaxed can get behind. 

And when that night cream is packed with anti-aging ingredients like retinol at a price of $12, Amazon shoppers say it’s worth shouting about from the rooftops. 

With hundreds of reviews praising its wrinkle-reversing and hydrating benefits, Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is one of the retailer’s overall best-sellers alongside some heavy hitters in the category of facial night creams. The hypoallergenic and fragrance-free pick is so beloved by shoppers, some say they’ve been using it for more than a decade. 

The secret to the cream’s clock-fighting power lies in its inclusion of retinol, a derivative of vitamin A that reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. “This cream works,” one reviewer shared. “I bought this cream because, for years, I have been using sunscreen on my face and not on my neck. I live in Florida, so I’ve developed droopy and wrinkled skin on my neck. Within a week of using this [cream], the appearance of my neck has greatly improved! I’ve been FaceTiming a lot with family during the quarantine, and they’ve noticed as well that my neck looks way better and less wrinkly. I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve seen an effect!” 

Even with powerful retinol in its formula, the best-selling Neutrogena cream deeply moisturizes thanks to a blend of vitamin B5 and E, which specifically work to smooth and soften skin. And since it’s oil-free, you don’t have to worry about it causing pore congestion. 

“When I woke up after the very first night of using this cream, I already noticed a dramatic difference,” another shopper said. “I’ve suffered from dermatitis on my forehead for as long as I can remember and have been trying for years to find a product to bring it down. Well, this is it. After one night I already saw my bumps go down significantly. I don’t know what it has done to my skin but I am very grateful for this product!” 

From fading dark spots to improving adult acne, this is one product you don’t want to skip!

Shop now: $12; amazon.com

INSTYLE article

The 15 Best Drugstore Moisturizers Under $20

Aside from sunscreen, moisturizer is arguably the most crucial part of any skincare routine. Whether you’re looking to banish rough patches, soothe sensitive skin, or simply to keep your hydration levels in check, the quest for the perfect formula can be frustrating, to say the least — and it can end up taking a toll on your patience and your wallet.

Although there are a lot of different moisturizers with their fair share of bells and whistles, a few characteristics should be standard. “A good moisturizer should absorb right into the skin and relieve any tightness or dryness,” New York City-based dermatologist Lokita Singh has previously told Allure. “It should be lightweight so you can’t feel it as a distinct layer on the skin.”

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Certified by the National Eczema Association, the ceramides in CeraVe Moisturizing Cream tackle dehydration, while the hyaluronic acid draws in moisture. This gentle cream, which won a 2018 Best of Beauty Award for being the best sensitive-skin moisturizer, also guarantees a huge bang for your buck because a 16-ounce jar retails for under $20.

$19 (Shop Now)

Differin Oil Control Moisturizer with Sunscreen

Think of this oil-free moisturizer as a sidekick for the Allure Best of Beauty Award-winning Differin Gel (one of the most revolutionary acne breakthroughs in years). Not only is this moisturizer noncomedogenic, but it actually absorbs excess oil. Plus, this formula contains an SPF, so it thwarts breakouts and UV rays.

$14 (Shop Now)

Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion

Cetaphil is well-loved in the skin-care community for its super-gentle formulas that are safe enough for even the most sensitive skin — and the brand’s lightweight hydrator is no exception. It’s spiked with moisture-locking hyaluronic acid and glycerin, so itchy, irritated skin doesn’t stand a chance.

$16 (Shop Now)

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer UV

I’ve already raved about the magic behind this Best of Beauty Award-winning hydrator and how it effectively moisturizes deep into the microbiome, which is the top layer of the skin’s physical barrier. But I also have to give it props for its UV protection, which is a broad-spectrum SPF 30.

$20 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream

New York City dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali recommends Neutrogena’s Bright Boost Gel Cream because of its exfoliating poly-hydroxy acids and mandelic acid, an ingredient that brings down redness and corrects pigmentation issues.

$20 (Shop Now)

Aveeno Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizer

Aveeno Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizer has earned an impressive five Best of Beauty Awards — and with good reason. It mixes together free-radical-fighting antioxidants, SPF, and soy (which dermatologists say can brighten areas of hyperpigmentation) in a lightweight lotion.

$14 (Shop Now)

Bliss What a Melon Water Jelly Hydrator

Housed in Bliss What a Melon Water Jelly Hydrator’s bright pink jar is a jelly of the same hue that feels like water as you massage it into your cheeks. The end result: skin that feels bouncy and hydrated.

$20 (Shop Now)

E.L.F. Cannabis Sativa Happy Hydration Cream

The star ingredients in E.L.F.’s rich cream are hemp oil, anti-inflammatory fatty acids, and vitamins that work to diminish the appearance of fine lines. The brand also added moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid, brightening and smoothing niacinamide, and nourishing vitamin B5 for a powerhouse blend that improves your skin’s overall appearance.

$12 (Shop Now)

Alba Botanica Hydration Sensation Gel Cream

Relieve parched skin with this lightweight cooling gel. Alba Botanica Hydration Sensation Gel Cream contains three types of hyaluronic acid, skin-coddling oils, and soothing blue lotus flower.

$15 (Shop Now)

Dove DermaSeries Dry Skin Relief Overnight Face Cream

Dove’s DermaSeries Dry Skin Relief Overnight Face Cream, which contains nourishing shea butter and glycerin, will pamper and soothe your dry skin as you sleep.

$15 (Shop Now)

Sweet Chef Superfood + Vitamins Moisture Boost

Quell dryness and and soothe distressed skin with this thick cream. Sweet Chef Superfood + Vitamins Moisture Boost blends together hyaluronic acid and kale, a “superfood,” which touts major moisturizing properties.

$19 (Shop Now)

Physicians Formula Rosé All Day Moisturizer SPF 30

Aside from moisturizing, this lightweight, oil-free lotion contains vitamin C to brighten skin and an SPF of 30 to prevent sun damage. Wear it alone or comfortably under makeup to enhance your glow.

$17 (Shop Now)

L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care

If you’re not a fan of heavy, creamy textures, you’ll love L’Oréal Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care. This liquid moisturizer, which contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and calming aloe water, soothes dry patches and leaves skin feeling soft and silky without a sticky finish.

$18 (Shop Now)

Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream

Honest Beauty’s thick, non-greasy cream sweeps on to feel cool and massages into skin to leave it bouncy and noticeably moisturized. Skin is petal-soft with zero stickiness.

$20 (Shop Now)

Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer

It may be baby-pink and smell sweet like Jolly Ranchers, but Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer is as hardworking as it is delightful. It contains sodium hyaluronate to leave skin hydrated and feeling refreshed as you apply it. The best part: It costs only $6.

$6 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

The 15 Best Pimple Patches That Help Clear Acne Overnight

What’s better than a little sticker that helps heal your zit while you sleep? (Nothing, that’s what.)

Now that everyone and their grandmother is obsessed with sheet masks, another K-beauty innovation is popping up everywhere: acne patches. Instead of popping and picking your blemishes, slap a pimple patch on top of it.

Unlike some spot treatments, the sticker won’t leave your skin dry and flaky. Most are small, circular hydrocolloid bandages, meaning they absorb fluid from the pimple, explains Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. You’ll know it’s working because you can see the process happening: The clear patch turns white and expands, and the skin (where your zit once was) flattens out and becomes redness-free. After a couple of hours (or a good night’s sleep), peel it off to see your results.

Acne stickers also have the added benefit of blocking you from aggravating skin by picking at pimples, says Elizabeth Tanzi, the founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center. This is key as “picking a pimple increases the inflammation and can slow the healing process down,” Tanzi adds. The chances of scarring and getting an infection rise, too. With all this in mind, I rounded up some of my favorite tried-and-true acne patches.

ZitSticka Killa Pimple Patch

New to the states, Australian-based skin-care brand ZitSticka’s first product is a pimple patch covered with dissolving microneedles filled with blemish-busting ingredients, like salicylic acid, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.

To use, first wipe the inflamed area with the accompanying cleansing cloth to clean it, then gently place the patch on your skin. Leave it on for at least two hours (or overnight) to bring down blemish swelling, redness, and size. Need proof? One commerce editor Lauren Swanson swears by them: “The cleansing swabs helped get rid of whiteheads for me almost immediately,” she says. “With the one-two punch of the patch, my enormous zits were gone in just one day.”

$29 (Shop Now)

Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

This K-beauty favorite has become one of the most popular acne patch picks, and its acclaim is rightly deserved. The hydrocolloid circles cling to skin no matter where you end up wearing them. Despite their staying power, they’re still easy and pain-free to peel off. They also come in three different sizes depending on what kind of coverage you need.

$5 (Shop Now)

Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots

Although most acne patches themselves provide the mechanism that helps draw out the icky stuff in zits, some — like Peter Thomas Roth’s Acne-Clear Invisible Dots — are also infused with additional blemish-busting ingredients. In these, you’ll find salicylic acid and tea tree oil, both of which are known to help clear acne, so you’re getting multiple layers of benefits.

$32 (Shop Now)

Skyn Iceland Blemish Dots

Because the Skyn Iceland Blemish Dots aren’t made with hydrocolloid technology, they won’t puff up or change colors. Instead, the paper-thin, transparent stickers adhere to skin with gel that’s infused with blemish-banishing tea tree oil and salicylic acid. They’re like a spot treatment that won’t rub away onto your pillow as you toss and turn at night.

$20 (Shop Now)

Squish Flower Power Acne Patches

Some of us want pimple patches that are indetectable; some of us want pimple patches that are adorably obvious. These are the latter. And not only are they super-cute, they’re also ideal for sensitive skin because, under their flowery facade, they provide a non-irritating way to help clear up the zits that you may not find quite as cute.

$14 (Shop Now)

C&C by Clean & Clear Over Zit Spot Patches

It’s a little tongue-in-cheek to camouflage your zit with a literal camouflage pattern. Should you want to save the colorful patches for private time, the package includes invisible patches as well. That way, you can wear these gunk-sucking hydrocolloid wonders any time you’d like.

$16 (Shop Now)

Truly CBD Acne Patches

Salicylic acid isn’t the only ingredient you might find in acne patches. It’s in these Truly patches, yes, but so is hemp seed oil. So while the patch helps draw out fluid and the salicylic acid helps exfoliate away the blemish, the cannabis helps fight the inflammation that’s making your zit redder and angrier.

$13 (Shop Now)

Dr. Jart+ Focuspot Blemish Micro Tip Patch

These are truly some of the most advanced, ambitious acne patches on the market. More than just a little zit cover, the Focuspot Blemish Micro Tip Patch is made with 65-percent hyaluronic acid “micro tips” that are infused with vitamin B3 and peptides to not only speed up the acne cycle but also help prevent scarring.

$18 (Shop Now)

Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers

My intro into acne patches came in the form of the Nexcare Acne Absorbing Covers. Because they are made by a bandage brand, they’re as heavy duty and clinical as they come. If you want to cover a lot of surface area, this pack comes with the biggest circular stickers I’ve ever used.

$4 (Shop Now)

Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots

Popular K-beauty retailer Peach & Lily has its very own acne patch product, called Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots. I believe they provide the fastest results by helping to flatten even the most bulbous of spots. The dots are also on thinner side for a hydrocolloid bandage, so you can wear them all day undetected. You can choose from a trio of sizes, including one of the smallest selections on this list.

$4 (Shop Now)

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch

If size doesn’t matter to you — for acne stickers, that is — the Mighty Patch effectively keeps you from picking at your face and helps absorb oils and pus with 36 stickers that are all the same circumference. They have a matte finish, too, so they look less obvious if you wear them with matte foundation.

$12 (Shop Now)

Peace Out Acne Healing Dots

Unlike the rest of the hydrocolloid bandages on this list, the Peace Out Acne Healing Dots are flecked with salicylic acid, for a one-two punch. While they treat skin with the classic acne-fighting ingredient, they also protect the blemish from bacteria and irritation.

$19 (Shop Now)

Alba Botanica Acnedote Pimple Patches

These little patches powerfully draw out fluids and oils from stubborn zits, not only helping to expedite the healing process by keeping skin moist but by also keeping out bacteria — including the kind on your fingers from when you’re tempted to pick. 

$8 (Shop Now)

Cosrx Clear Fit Master Patch

Fans of the classic Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patches will love the Cosrx Clear Fit Master Patch as an alternative. The South Korean brand created a slimmer, clearer option for wear during daylight hours. They are also easy to cover up with makeup, if needed.

$6 (Shop Now)

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Surface

Sometimes, a patch just doesn’t quite cut it. That’s why Hero Cosmetics crafted a larger version of its hydrocolloid-based Mighty Patch. Dubbed the Surface strip, this new treatment covers entire sections of your face (i.e. cheek, forehead, chin, etc.) to speed up the lifespan of your breakout(s).

$18 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

The Most Exciting New Skincare Products of January

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. 

$39 (Shop)  

Yes to Avocado Hand Cream

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. 

$5 (Shop)  

Mario Badescu Caffeine Eye Cream

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. 

$18 (Shop)  

Dermalogica Neck Fit Contour Serum

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. 

$82 (Shop)  

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. 

$69 (Shop)  

Simple Instant Glow Cleansing Wipes 

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.  

$5 for 25 wipes (Shop)  

The Inkey List Succinic Acid Acne Treatment

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. 

$9 (Shop)

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.

$17 (Shop)  

Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray

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. 

$42 (Shop)

Holifrog Halo AHA + BHA Evening Serum

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.   

$62 (Shop)

ALLURE article

Here’s What Niacinamide Can—and Can’t—Do for Your Skin

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?

Photo courtesy of Deciem.

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.

Photo courtesy of Reddit.

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.

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This Drugstore Secret Is the Key to Smooth and Glowy Skin

I would say the end skincare goal for pretty much all of us is healthy, smooth, and glowy skin. We’ll pay a lot of money for products from cleansers to moisturizers to serums to get there. The only hitch is that there are many paths to “good” skin, and it all depends on your skin type. The products you use for your oily skin might not exactly work on your friend with dry skin.

One skincare item that can help across the board? A good exfoliant. Now, the specific product you choose depends on your skin’s needs, but some exfoliation every now and then will help slough off dead skin cells, reveal smooth skin, and encourage skin renewal. If you have oily, acne-prone, or combination skin, it might help to exfoliate once or twice a week. For sensitive and dry skin types, however, you might be better off limiting your usage to once a week or even less frequently. Bottom line: Everyone should keep an exfoliating product on hand, no matter their skin type.

There are different types of exfoliants, too. Mechanical ones are the scrubs, sugars, and brushes out there. Chemical exfoliants contain ingredients like alpha hydroxy (glycolic and lactic), beta hydroxy (salicylic), and polyhydroxy acids. While the word “chemical” might sound scary, these products are often much gentler on the skin than the mechanical exfoliants since some of those scrubs can be irritating or harsh.

The sheer volume of exfoliating products out there can get overwhelming and can range from high-end to budget friendly. While I love the splurge-y exfoliants that really do the work, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a quality item—there are a ton of drugstore and affordable buys.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub ($5)

This exfoliating scrub is gentle enough for everyday use because it has a moisturizing soy extract and jojoba and castor oils. It’s also noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser ($7)

Neutrogena’s cleanser is both a mechanical and chemical exfoliant. It contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids to brighten the skin’s complexion and reduce the appearance of pores.

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub ($16)

With superfine granules, this scrub is okay to use on sensitive skin. It’s formulated with skin conditioners and vitamins to nourish and soften skin.

L’Oréal Revitalift Bright Reveal Facial Cleanser ($5)

L’Oréal’s daily cleanser is another mechanical and chemical exfoliant combo. It has micropearls and glycolic acid, which work to slough off dead skin cells and improve skin tone and texture.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser ($22)

CeraVe’s cleanser is a great option for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s formulated with salicylic acid to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin D to smooth and hydrate the skin.

Burt’s Bees Refining Cleanser ($9)

If retinol irritates your skin, this cleanser might give you the same benefits without any problems. It’s formulated with bakuchiol, which is a gentler, natural alternative to retinol. The cleanser will smooth wrinkles and hydrate (thanks to vitamin E).

Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub ($6)

As its name suggests, this scrub really gets deep into skin to clear pores and remove dirt, oil, and makeup. When you apply it, you’ll feel a tingly, cooling sensation, which is so refreshing.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent Toner ($24)

Formulated for acne-prone and oily skin, this toner can be used to unclog and tighten pores. It contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and castor oil to prevent any irritation or dryness.

Honest Beauty Beauty Sleep Resurfacing Serum ($28)

This is one of the more unique exfoliating options on our list since it’s a serum that works to resurface skin overnight for a glowier complexion in the morning. Ingredients include five AHAs to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Cooling Gel and Exfoliating Face Scrub ($9)

This salicylic acid scrub works hard at clearing acne and clogged pores, but it won’t leave your skin irritated since the formula is a cooling gel. It’s never been more refreshing to exfoliate!

Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Gel ($15)

Oily skin gets relief with this gel scrub. It has both mechanical and chemical exfoliants, like microbeads and glycolic and salicylic acids, to remove dead skin cells and promote cell renewal. Antioxidants, laminaria, and vitamin E work to leave the skin soothed and radiant.

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub ($23)

Formulated with rice granules and vitamins B5 and E, this scrub works for all skin types to improve dull skin. It doesn’t contain dyes or perfumes.

Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel ($20)

Here’s yet another mechanical and chemical combo. This exfoliating gel purifies pores and increases cell turnover thanks to exfoliating microspheres, salicylic acid, and zinc gluconate. It also contains spring water to soothe redness and inflammation.

Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub ($6)

This scrub not only works to unclog pores and slough off dead skin cells, but it also has acne-fighting benefits, courtesy of salicylic acid. And because it clears out dirt and oil, it can prevent future breakouts.

L’Oréal Pure-Clay Face Mask ($10)

Use this face mask up to three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes to even skin texture and leave your face looking glowy. It’s formulated with clay, red algae, and volcanic rock to exfoliate and smooth the skin’s surface.

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