If blemishes, dark spots, and excess oil are your top skin concerns, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum may be the right product for you.

However, before you actually purchase a bottle for yourself, here are all the advantages and considerations worth keeping in mind.

Key Takeaways

  • Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is incorporated into skincare products in order to treat dry skin and signs of aging.
  • Zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (aka Zinc PCA) is also used in this serum. This ingredient is a type of zinc salt that boasts anti-aging, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

The Ordinary Niacinamide

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Serum for Acne, Redness, and Oily Skin

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This multi-tasking product helps minimize blemishes and congestion while reducing redness and regulating the production of sebum.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Controlling Sebum Production and Promoting an Even Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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Niacinamide is an excellent skincare ingredient that has been shown to control sebum production, reduce redness and inflammation, minimize fine lines, and even reduce hyperpigmentation[1][2]. This product also contains zinc, which further balances sebum production and reduces inflammation.


  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


  • May cause flushing in those sensitive to niacinamide (patch test prior to using)

This product is an excellent choice for acne-prone skin. However, those currently fighting acne will also want to introduce other acne-fighting ingredients into their routine, as niacinamide on its own is not an effective treatment for minimizing breakouts.

Topical serums have been used to treat skin concerns ranging from dryness to acne [1].

Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are some of the more commonly known ingredients inside serum products today. However, niacinamide (which is a type of B3 vitamin) is another popular serum ingredient used to treat dry skin and soften down the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles [1].

Zinc PCA has also demonstrated positive impacts on skin health. These include anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-aging properties [2] [3].

Because The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum uses Zinc PCA carboxylic acid and niacinamide as hero ingredients, this product may be beneficial to those looking to ward off blotchiness and soften down signs of aging.

However, if you are not sure how your skin will respond to this serum, it's best to conduct a patch test and schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist before using it.

Product Overview

Niacinamide (at ten percent) and zinc salt (one percent) are the hero ingredients of The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum.

Niacinamide (which is a form of vitamin B3) has been incorporated into many skin care products because of its positive impacts on skin health. These benefits include hydrating the skin, softening down signs of aging, improving skin blotchiness, and correcting dullness and hyperpigmentation [4]. [5].


The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum claims to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion with continuous use.

It is also supposed to brighten the skin and balance visible aspects of sebum activity.

Key Ingredients

1. Niacinamide (10%)

Because niacinamide is generally tolerated well by all skin types, this ingredient can provide many benefits to the user. These include:

  • Improvements in the appearance of signs of aging, and the reduction of dark spots and blotchiness [4].
  • Moisturizing properties, as it has a stabilizing effect on epidermal barrier function, which prevents transepidermal water loss, and promotes an overall improvement in the moisture content of the skin's horny layer [6].
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits, which can be helpful in improving some skin conditions. These include acne and rosacea [6].
  • Protection against some skin infection-causing bacteria [7].

2. Zinc Salt of Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid(1%)

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum also incorporates Zinc PCA (at one percent) in its formula.

  • This cosmetic ingredient boasts antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties [2].
  • Zinc PCA also boasts anti-aging properties.

How to Use

  • After cleansing and drying, generously apply The Ordinary 10%+ Zinc 1% serum onto the face and neck areas.
  • Finish by layering moisturizer products (that have a thicker consistency) on top of the serum.

When to Apply

The Ordinary suggests that this serum can be used once in the morning (right before SPF application) and evening before layering heavier moisturizer products on top.

However, if this serum does cause irritation to the skin, the brand advises discontinuing the use of this product and consult with your physician or dermatologist.

Other Tips

1. Conduct A Patch Test If Your Skin Is Sensitive

Those with allergies and sensitive skin will want to conduct a patch test before using The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. Doing so can prevent unwanted allergic reactions that can occur.

To do conduct a patch test safely at home, the brand website advises applying a small amount of serum onto a cleansed part of the forearm keeping the area dry.

Proceed to leave on the serum for a complete 24 hours, and rinse it off completely the following day.

If any reaction (irritation, redness, burning, itchiness) should occur on the forearm area, it's best to discontinue using this product.

2. You Can Use Vitamin C With This Product

Although The Ordinary recommends exerting caution towards vitamin C products when using this serum, registered physician assistant-certified, Angie Seelal, RPA-C, at Advanced Dermatology PC, says both skincare ingredients are safe to use together.

"Together, niacinamide and vitamin C form a power-duo that helps address uneven skin tone, wrinkles, loss of firmness, and dullness," Seelal explains. "All skin types will see a complexion that progressively becomes more radiant, smoother, more even, and noticeably younger-looking."

What To Expect

It does take time for skincare products to start showing results. Some products (serum included) can take up to weeks to months to start working, making it wise to be consistent and patient with your use of this product.

And while the niacinamide and Zinc PCA inside this serum boast antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, be advised that this serum should not be used in lieu of acne treatment.

Instead, it's best to schedule a visit with a board-certified dermatologist to develop an acne treatment plan best suited for your needs.

What Experts Think

1. Dr. Melanie Palm, MD

"Zinc and niacinamide both possess anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial to the skin," Dr. Palm says. "Niacinamide is also a skin brightener, so it may help with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation once a skin blemish is gone.  However, it's probably best to use this as spot coverage due to the higher concentration."

2. Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco MD, DPDS 

"Niacinamide provides a broad array of improvements in the appearance of aging facial skin," Dr. Wijangco says. "It improves facial wrinkles, pigment, elasticity, and a good moisturizer of choice for those with oily skin. However, consistency is the key, as you'll need one to three months of religious skincare accompanied by healthy habits to see visible results. "

3. Angie Seelal, RPA-C

"Niacinamide is a great skincare ingredient because it is safe for all skin types to use, even aging, dry, and sensitive skin," Seelal says. It has similar effects to retinol by strengthening the skin barrier, fortifies skin from the initial start without sensitivity or irritation. For all-over anti-aging, skin-brightening, and inflammation-reducing power, turn to niacinamide. This product by The Ordinary is very lightweight and highly recommended."

4. Dr. Robyn Gmyrek, MD

"I would recommend this product, especially if you have mild acne or just acne-prone skin – without any active acne," Dr. Gmyrek says. "As always, with The Ordinary products, the name says it all, in terms of active ingredients, and the price is right. However, while the combination of niacinamide and Zinc PCA can regulate oil production, support a healthy skin barrier, and decrease inflammation, I do not feel that it is a strong enough treatment if you have acne. I would stick with retinoids, salicylic acids, alpha-hydroxy acids, and benzoyl peroxide as first-line treatment. However, this product can be used, in addition to those stronger acne ingredients, to control sebum production and calm the skin."


How do you use The Ordinary niacinamide?

This serum can be used on clean, dry skin in the morning (right before SPF application) and evening hours. Finish with a moisturizer product of your choosing.

Who should not use The Ordinary niacinamide?

While niacinamide is generally well tolerated by all skin types, those with allergies or extremely sensitive skin will want to consult with a dermatologist before using this serum.

Can The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc be used to treat acne?

No. While some cases of acne can be mild, moderate to severe cases of acne can require prescription-strength (oral and topical) products.

The Bottom Line

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% +Zinc 1% serum contains Zinc PCA and niacinamide, which can provide anti-inflammatory, brightening, and hydration benefits to the skin. This makes it a suitable product choice for those looking to keep wrinkles, discoloration, and oiliness at bay.

However, keep in mind that while niacinamide Zinc PCA can regulate oil production, support a healthy skin barrier, and decrease inflammation, it may not be a strong enough treatment if you have acne. Similarly, excess niacinamide exposure can be harmful, making it wise to only use this serum as directed by the product instructions.