Following on from my last post on ‘Everything You Need To Know About Niacinamide’, I’ll be reviewing one of my favourite niacinamide serums – The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% & Zinc 1% Serum. Find out if I stick with it or spin for another brand! 🌈


BRAND: The Ordinary

PRODUCT:  Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Niacinamide (vitamin – best), Pentylene Glycol (texture enhancer – good), Zinc PCA (skin-conditioning – best), Dimethyl Isosorbide (solvent – good), Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum (not on PC but on Incidecoder, moisturiser, viscosity controller & emulsion stabiliser – goodie), Xanthan gum (thickener/texture enhancer – good), Isoceteth-20 (not on PC but on Incidecoder – emulsifier/surfactant – no rating), Ethoxydiglycol (solvent – good), Phenoxyethanol (preservative – good), Chlorphenesin (preservative – good)

*Ingredient info & ratings from Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary (my personal choice for ingredient ratings. However, I do use other sources as well)* 


  • Contains 10% niacinamide (high-strength)
  • Combines 1% zinc PCA
  • Water-based formula
  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol & silicone-free
  • Fragrance-free (if that’s your thing!)
  • Cruelty-free, vegan formulation
  • pH 5.5-6.5 (slightly acidic)

I’ve Got *Insert Skin Type Here* Skin, Can I use It?

As discussed in my previous blog post, niacinamide is suitable for all skin types. However, it really does come down to the formulation which you choose to use and the percentage of niacinamide in the product, as to the suitability to your skin type!

A formulation like this product is most suited to those with oily skin as it is a light serum. The percentage is also in the higher range so again, more suited to an oilier skin type. However, like always there is a caveat and that is that I have a normal skin type and I find this product perfectly suitable for me.

Although saying that, I do remember that it stung the first couple of times that I used it. However, like the careful Annie that I am, I used this twice a week for 3 weeks before using it daily. In that case I would say my skin most likely built up a tolerance to it. Now I use it every evening and I experience no stinging or irritation anymore. Definitely something to bear in mind if you have sensitive skin!


A High % Of Niacinamide

Most major studies using topical niacinamide have strengths between 2% and 10% so it’s a well researched percentage amount. To note:

  • 2% is enough to increase ceramide synthesis
  • 4% is enough to rival 1% clindamycin in the treatment of mild acne
  • 5% is effective in treating hyperpigmentation and sun exposure damage

This serum contains 10% of niacinamide which can be irritating to some skin types. If you have sensitive skin, I would say to start with a lower percentage and build up!

Helps To Combat Irritation From Stronger Ingredients

So before I introduced acids, vitamin C and retinal into my skincare routine, this point wasn’t something that I appreciated! However, once I did introduce them, I really saw how much this serum was doing for me. I experienced zero irritation from the get-go with the high concentration pure vitamin C serum and zero irritation or peeling with my retinal serum. This was surprising to me and not what I expected as I’d never used either ingredients before so my skin was very new to them!

Of course, this could be complete coincidence. Perhaps my skin is just very un-sensitive but to be honest, I doubt that – strong actives are strong actives, regardless of your skin type! However, to back up my theory, the one night I forgot to apply my niacinamide, the next day when I used my vitamin C serum, I found it definitely stung and tingled a lot more than it usually did. Again, could be coincidence but I personally don’t think so!

I also think that I helped myself by starting the niacinamide along with my CeraVe moisturiser and HA serum before introducing actives. This is because niacinamide has the ability to help strengthen the skin barrier by increasing the skin’s own production of ceramides. So, my skin barrier was most likely in good condition before using the likes of vitamin C, acids and retinal.

Addition Of Zinc PCA In The Mix

Zinc PCA is a synthetic skin-conditioning ingredient derived from zinc. The zinc part helps to normalise sebum production and limit the increase in acne-causing bacteria on the skin. This is due to zinc’s antibacterial properties. This will, in combination, help with reducing acne!

The PCA part stands for pyrrolidone carboxylic acid and it’s a key molecule in the skin that helps with hydration (it’s actually a natural moisturising factor – NMF). It’s also antimicrobial, again great for acne-prone skin.

Sinks In Quickly & Doesn’t Cause Pilling

Every time I use this serum, I’m always surprised how quickly it sinks into my skin. I like this because, I don’t know about you, but sometimes (not all the time), I just want to get on with my routine and get into bed! 🛌 Mainly on a Friday night when I’ve had too much wine…guilty!

It also doesn’t pill for me or cause products on top to pill! Whether I use it on top of my retinal or whether I use it after my cleanser and before my hyaluronic acid serum, it just does not pill! However, I have heard people say that it does for them so this is where I would say consider how much you are using? I find 3 small drops is adequate. Any more and I get the white soapy look whilst I’m rubbing it into my face. This might be the cause of the pilling – try it if that happens to you and see if it makes a difference!

Helped Clear My blackheads & Stops Breakouts In Their Tracks

So if you read my post on the CeraVe moisturiser, you’ll know that in the process of healing my damaged skin barrier, I also had an increase in blackheads. As I said in that post, I wasn’t using anything else but a cleanser and that moisturiser so, I’m really not surprised that blackheads formed!

When it came to introducing other ingredients to my newly repaired face, I was excited to try niacinamide. It definitely helped with my blackhead woes! As we’ve already talked about, it limits sebum overproduction and if you know how blackheads form, they are basically made up trapped dead skin cells and oil. So, it helped in that I didn’t get anymore blackheads than I already had but for the unplugging of the existing ones, that’s where I needed the help of an acid. Once I’d introduced salicylic acid, my blackheads cleared and the niacinamide helped to keep them at bay. They really are a blackhead busting duo for me!

I also find that if I’ve had a small breakout of spots during the day (you know, the annoying kind that are small and red with no head), once I’ve popped this serum on, it almost always stops the small spots developing into bigger ones. Of course with some spots there really is no stopping them but I would say 95% of the time, it does stop them in their tracks!


Honestly, for me there aren’t any downsides with this serum. Yes, it stung when I first used it but that’s because I went straight in with 10% strength. I had never used niacinamide before and so I’m not surprised it stung a little bit. And when I say sting, I mean a little tingle that lasted no more than 2 minutes! This only happened 2 or 3 times and then after that it went away. I was sensible with it in all fairness (for once…), I knew it was a high strength product so as I previously said, I started slowly!

The only thing I will mention (which isn’t really a downside, more an annoyance), is that The Ordinary do not advise how much to use. I find this really frustrating, it’s nice to have a guidance (I think) on how much, the people who designed this product, think you should use. So for me that would be the only downside but I suppose we do have brains, we just have to try it out ourselves and always go for less than you think initially! The product will tell you if it’s too much, you’ll see the white soapy appearance as you apply it and it will take a while to rub in fully.

How Do I Use This Product?

So, as this serum is water based, you would use this before your oil-based serums and moisturiser. The Ordinary actually just says to use this “AM and PM before your heavier creams”. They also say that using pure vitamin C is a contraindication with this serum. However, if you’ve read my previous blog on niacinamide, you will know that the evidence for pure vitamin C inactivation with the use of niacinamide is very weak

Personally, I only use this serum in the evening. I used to use it twice a day but I tried going down to once a day and didn’t feel like it affected the good results I’d seen when I was using it twice a day! Plus, I’m not going through the bottle as quickly which is a good thing!

One thing to consider however, is that this serum can help with the overproduction of sebum and so if you have oily skin, you may want to use this in the morning as well as the evening. This way you might find it keeps your oiliness at bay during the day. However, I don’t have oily skin so I can’t guarantee for you that this serum would be super effective at minimising oil production throughout the day!

So in terms of actual application, I apply 3 drops of this serum to my hand, distribute between both hands and smooth over my face. On nights that I use retinal, I apply this serum 30 minutes after using my retinal. I like to give my retinal time to sink in! 

On nights that I don’t use retinal, I apply this straight after I’ve cleansed and misted with rose water. Then I will mist, apply hyaluronic acid, mist and apply my moisturiser and finish off with facial oil (lots of misting going on but hydration is key!).

If you wanted to use this in the day with your vitamin C and acids, I would apply your acid product straight after cleansing, then mist and use your vitamin C serum and then apply your niacinamide. You may want to then follow up with your hyaluronic acid serum, moisturiser and SPF! Obviously this order can differ for everyone, depending on what kind of products/formulations you are using etc!

The Ordinary, niacinamide, zinc, serum

Gimme The Deets…

Price-wise, again like many products in The Ordinary range, it is exceptionally reasonable

30ml = £5.00
60ml = £8.90

There’s worldwide shipping on If you’re in the UK however, you need to spend over £25 to qualify for free shipping. Otherwise it costs £4.99 for the privilege of having it dropped at your door stop! Considering the very reasonable prices of The Ordinary products, I don’t begrudge them of this… 🤷🏼‍♀️

Alternatively, you can find this product currently on Feel Unique, Look Fantastic, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty.

In regards to the time you have to use the product in, once opened, it lasts 12 months. In terms of storage, it doesn’t require anything special. On your shelf with the rest of beloved skincare babies is fine!

Stick Or Spin Again?

Spin once the bottle is empty! Don’t get me wrong, this is a great serum. However, I want to try other niacinamide products from other brands and different formulations/percentages. Only then will I appreciate if this product really is the bee’s knees like I think it is! 🐝

Alternatives That I Would Try

For when the cash is rollllllling/you’ve had too much wine & splurge with a ‘who cares’ attitude 💷:

Murad Revitalixi Recovery Serum – £70 for 40ml


The middle man for when you ‘should’ be reigning in the spending 🤦🏼‍♀️: 

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster – £41 for 20ml 

Medik8 Clarity Peptides – £40 for 30ml

niacinamide, peptides

* I would have put the Glossier Super Pure Serum here also, but it’s still out of stock!*

The ones that won’t make you feel pure rage if they don’t deliver 👹:

The Inkey List Niacinamide Serum – £6.99 for 30ml

niacinamide, The Inkey List, serum

Q+A Niacinamide Daily Toner – £8 for 100ml

Revolution Skincare Niacinamide 10% & Zinc 1% Serum – £6 for 30ml

niacinamide, zinc, serum

Next time I will be telling you everything you need to know about vitamin C! One of the most transformative ingredients that I’ve used so far!

Look out for it and in the meantime leave me some comments below, I’ll always get back to you. Tell me what you think about The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% & Zinc 1% Serum. What’s your experience been with it, if you’ve tried it? Have you tried any other niacinamide products that you want to recommend? 

Love & Knowledge,

S A M A N T H A 


P.S. None of these links are affiliate links.

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  1. Natasha Holden 04/07/2020 at 16:46

    I really enjoyed this review, it’s so thorough and answers any questions you’d need! I’m looking forward to reading through more reviews!

    1. Samantha 04/07/2020 at 16:48

      Thanks so much Natasha, that means a lot and I hope that you enjoy my future reviews! Samantha x

  2. Kyra Barone 05/07/2020 at 15:45

    I’m new to all of this. V helpful. Looking forward to the vitamin C review.

    1. Samantha 06/07/2020 at 09:36

      Hi Kyra,
      So glad to hear that – thank you!
      Samantha x

  3. aman 02/12/2020 at 09:12

    This article really effective and serum also helpful


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