[REVIEW] THE ORDINARY Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (Before and After)
Texture: Slightly viscous lightweight mucus (Yes, I’m getting creative with these descriptions, but accuracy prevails)
What you get: 30 or 60 ml
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Niacinamide 10.0%, Pentylene Glycol (Solvent + Moisturizer/Humectant), Zinc Pca 1.0%, Dimethyl Isosorbide (Solvent + Viscosity Controlling), Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum (Moisturizer/Humectant + Viscosity Controlling + Emulsion Stabilising), Xanthan Gum (Viscosity Controlling + Emulsifying + Surfactant/Cleansing + Emulsion Stabilising), Isoceteth-20 (Emulsifying + Surfactant/Cleansing), Ethoxydiglycol (Solvent + Moisturizer/Humectant + Perfuming), Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Chlorphenesin (Preservative + Antimicrobial/Antibacterial)
Niacinamide [10.0%]: Anti-aging (promotes collagen production and Ceramides synthesis) + Antioxidant (Against UV-induced photocarcinogenesis and photo immunosuppression) + Anti-inflammatory ( Possible reductions in total sebaceous creation of lipids, overproduction being one of the causes of acne) + Anti-hyperpigmentation (Inhibits Melanin pigment to reach most skin cells)
+General: Niacinamide eventually gets converted to NAD(H) and NADP(H) in the body, which both play major roles in an array of cellular pathways related to skin health and physiology, as they influence cells maturation and differentiation, inflammatory responses, and up or downregulate synthesis of skin proteins - notably: their concentration declines with age.
+Anti-aging: Supplementation of aged cell cultures with Niacinamide has shown to significantly increase total collagen secretion (+54%), protein secretion (+41%), and cell number (+20%), which all play a role in general skin health and look.
+Hydration/Skin barrier: Ceramides are a class of lipids present in the top layer of the skin, preventing it from losing moisture. Research ‘‘has shown that people who suffer from eczema, which causes redness, peeling, and flaking of the skin, and those who suffer from psoriasis, which presents with dry, itchy, thick scales on the skin, have a significant absence of ceramides in their skin.’’ Studies point to the fact that Niacinamide up-regulates ceramide production (5-fold), which significantly improves skin barrier functions, as well as hydration and moisture levels.
+Photoprotective: Dosages of Niacinamide have been shown to decrease skin cell apoptosis (programmed death, which often occurs when cells are exposed to UV-rays, which damages their DNA).
+Anti-hyperpigmentation: Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its color. It is produced in specialized skin cells called melanosome, which then transfer the pigment to keratinocytes, the cells that constitute the majority of your skin. Studies have found that when Niacinamide is applied to these cells, this transfer of pigment is significantly inhibited.
+Anti-inflammatory/Anti-acne: Clinical studies have shown that after 8 weeks of usage, 4% Niacinamide gel decreased acne in 82% of studied patients.Notably: 60% reduction of papules/pustules and 52% reduction of acne severity.
+Oil control/Anti-acne: Studies point to a reduction in triglyceride and fatty acids synthesis when Niacinamide is applied. Triglycerides constitute around 50-60% of the total sebaceous gland lipids, known as the ‘sebum’ of your skin, which gives it its oiliness when overproduced and contributes to acne-formation.
Zinc PCA [1.0%]: Anti-Acne (Normalize sebum production + Antibacterial) + Moisturizing + Potentially Anti-aging (Suppress Uva-induced collagen destruction + Increases expression of type 1 collagen), but more research is needed as this was only proven in one study, in vitro (in a test tube). ‘‘The zinc salt of l-pyrrolidone carboxylate (Zinc PCA) has long been used as a cosmetic ingredient, because of its astringent and anti-microbial properties.’’ [source]
Claims taken from theordinary.deciem.com
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is indicated to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. A high 10% concentration of this vitamin is supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance visible aspects of sebum activity. Since the only two potent ingredients in this product are Niacinamide and Zinc PCA, I've gone above and beyond in the in-depth ingredient list to make you understand how each of them is associated with its properties. If you read the in-depth part above, chances are you've gotten pretty excited with the apparent endless areas of skin problem this serum should help with, so it's essential to state the following: most studies are conducted in vitro (in a test tube), so the results you get from applying this product directly to skin cells is vastly more dramatic than the one you would get had you used another mechanism of delivery (in this case, the 89% of this serum, composed of emulsifiers, solvents, ...) that has to go through your skin barrier to penetrate your deeper skin cells. This doesn't mean that you won't see any changes in your skin; it just means the difference might not be as dramatic as you're expecting, depending on your initial skin condition. I have combination acne-prone skin with oily skin on my T-zone. Due to covid-19 and my work as a volunteer EMT, I wear N95 or FFP3 masks for long periods of time while sweating a lot, so I started getting mask acne. The higher the frequency of mask-wearing, the higher the frequency of acne on my face. I also always get random acne (due to diet or stress), as well as a period-pimple. I can confidently state that using The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% twice a day has completely gotten rid of all the pimples on my face and has made it so that I don't get any new ones. Although I didn't have severe acne when I started using it, I had pimples and textured problems, and I always got new spots every week, and this serum completely diminished that. As for my face oiliness, it's quite under control: I usually had a very oily nose, and now it just feels like any other part of my skin. Although I can't attest to people with oilier skins or more severe acne, the general opinion on youtube, blogs, and some dermatologists - as well as the studies and research made on the active ingredients - all point to the fact that it should also work on more extreme cases. Or at least be a good supplement to a routine. It is due to this oil reduction that pores appear smaller as they are less dirty and noticeable. Pore size can't magically become smaller as this would require the skin to build up elastin and collagen for the actual concavity to be less curved inwards - which this product won't do. I experienced fewer results with blemishes as I didn't feel my acne scars or hyperpigmentation got any lighter than it usually would during the testing period (1 month). For hyperpigmentation concerns, I'd stick to products with more melanin inhibiting properties like the SOME BY MI Galactomyces Pure Vitamin C Glow Serum.
[++From the brand] Contraindications: If topical Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid and/or Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid) is used as part of skincare, it should be applied at alternate times with this formula (ideally Vitamin C in the PM and this formula in the AM). Otherwise, Niacinamide can affect integrity of the Vitamin C: Although this isn’t a claim, I’ve talked about combining Niacinamide and Vitamin C in the past, so the following is interesting to note - although I would still recommend you to just follow what the brand says about its product:
Most studies concerning the combination of these two ingredients actually worn against it, as each one has pretty potent properties and might be too much to handle for your skin. These studies are old (1960’s old). Nowadays, most dermatologists don’t have an issue if you use both ingredients in combination and sometimes even recommend it, but not if you have sensitive skin [Read: Can You Use Vitamin C and Niacinamide Together? or Can Niacinamide and Vitamin C Be Used Together?]
The before and After pictures don't show a huge difference, but you just need to look at older before and afters in other skincare reviews to see how much my skin texture, health, and pores have improved. The fact that I haven't gotten any acne in 20 days is also rare and has only been achieved with the Some by Mi AHA/BHA/PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner.
This serum is one of the rare products where the claims associated with it underplay themselves. Niacinamide does almost everything you'd want an ingredient to do. And Zinc Pca has research to back up its anti-acneic claims, among other ones (see above). I'm re-iterating this because although you can find products that maintain your skin health, balance it out, and are considered preventatively anti-aging, it's hard to find these types of products that actually work with acne-prone skin. Obviously, the real star is Niacinamide here, but Zinc Pca also deserves its moment.
Going back to our star, I think the most important thing to point out is that its benefits are very similar to those of retinol, without any disadvantages like skin irritation, peeling, and sensitivity. Niacinamide's benefits can be compared to those of a lot of star ingredients, but unlike most of them, it's stable.
It won’t react to oxidation or photolysis like Vitamin C, for example. It’s rare to find an ingredient with such a broad range of proven benefits that is also ideal for working with almost all skin types, as unless you’re particularly sensitive to the ingredient itself, chances are your skin will end up loving it.
So would I recommend this product? Yes. To all skin types. Oily and acne-prone skins will reap the most benefits. But sensitive, normal, or mature skins are sure to also profit from it’s anti-aging, hydrating, skin barrier protecting, photoprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties, as these are all effects that should be sought to maintain healthy skin. Do note, however, that The Ordinary themselves make the following statement: ‘‘ While Niacinamide and Zinc PCA reduce the look of blemishes and balance visible sebum activity, neither is a treatment for acne.’’ As such, supplementing an anti-acne routine with other, more potent products is to be considered depending on your case. You can find my recommendations in this article:  Anti-Acne products that actually work + A Skincare routine. For dry skin types, or if your skin barrier is in need of some serious love, try incorporating the AXIS-Y Artichoke Intensive Skin Barrier Ampoule, as I’ve said in that review, it has amazing ingredients to repair a skin barrier, while also being very hydrating.
I'll end my written monologue with one last thing because I've seen a couple of reviews mentioning how this serum "did nothing" to their skin. Although Niacinamide has some pretty remarkable properties, it's not an ingredient that will change normal-looking skin. I don't think it made my skin look that much better, and other products have given me nicer results. But what makes this formula different is its meager irritation possibilities, the fact that it's well suited for oily and acne-prone skin types, its high concentration of potent ingredients (Niacinamide at such a high percentage isn't that common), its maintaining of good healthy skin, and its price point.
After my research on Niacinamide, although I don’t think it’s a miracle ingredient, I do believe it’s one that should be implemented in any good healthy and preventative skincare routine. If my job didn’t consist of testing out new products, I would definitely repurchase THE ORDINARY Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.
The only complaints I have about this serum are in regards to its texture, as there are a couple of things to point out:
 A lot of people have complained about it foaming up when you mix it in or spread it quickly on your skin, and there was a general trend of people recommending you "the proper way to apply this serum as to it not to foam." The foaming part comes from the serum mixing in with itself and the air when you spread it too fast. It won't change the mechanism of action of the formula, so patting it in instead of spreading it comes down to your personal choice.
 I haven't seen anyone write about this, but this is something that I've experienced: if your skin is shedding, be it from a tan, an exfoliating product, or the cold, there is a possibility of the serum sort of mixing in with these shedding dead skin cells and giving them a more pronounced look. It's nothing out of the ordinary (lol), but something to keep in mind.
 Finally, just in general, I've gotten used to nice-feeling products. The ones I tried usually have enjoyable, interesting textures. I initially thought I was going to write a bad review of this product during my first week of use because of how long it took me to get used to its texture.Basically the only thing which would make me want to use another product of the same kind is its texture. But I think that’s only because I was using it alone for about a month, so I missed the feeling of nicely-texturized products. So although there are a lot of dupes out there, If i had a full skincare routine and didn’t limit myself to 1 product per cycle, I would probably have stuck with the Ordinary, because as I always like to point out: why pay extra for the same results?
Finally, quickly (since people tend to request dupes with nicer textures), these are the dupes I found that are mentioned the most:
[16$] Naturium Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2%: This one is the same thing with probably more hydration since it has nicer hydrators like Propanediol and Sodium Hyaluronate. I’d probably still stick to The Ordinary since these are hydrating ingredients you find in almost all products on the market nowadays.
[28$] Glossier Super Pure: Contains 5% Niacinamide, which is less than The Ordinary but probably okay, since most of the studies made on this ingredient focus on concentrations around 4%. It also contains Zinc Pca, and other interesting ingredients (Propanediol, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, and general Extract, as well as Allantoin). I would like to test this one out, and based on my experience with these ingredients, I’d probably end up liking it more than The Ordinary. Still, it is essential to note that the more ‘active’ ingredients a product contains, the higher its chances of negatively interacting with sensitive skin types.
[6.99$] The Inkey List Niacinamide: 10% niacinamide and 1% hyaluronic acid, no Zinc Pca present. I don’t think this is an adequate dupe. So I wouldn’t substitute it for The Ordinary version.
Regulates sebum production
Reduces acne breakout frequency close to zero
Non-comedogenic, non-irritating ingredient list
No fragrance or colorants
Presence of high concentration of Niacinamide
Astounding price/quality ratio
Not hydrating enough - I know The Ordinary doesn’t claim this is a hydrating serum, but since Niacinamide is usually associated with this property, this is noteworthy information.
🌿Score: 5/5 ——— Although the texture and inadequate hydration of this product are cons for me, the amazing price/quality ratio and the fact that no false claims are made more than make up for it.
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