This Niacinamide Serum Brightened My Dull, Winter Skin Fast

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I do not like being told what to do. In fact, I have a tendency to take the entirely opposite route. I have never read an instruction manual, for example, and that’s why all of my furniture is falling apart. But there are certain people (like my mom) who I'll bend my personal stance for. Another one is beauty brand Sunday Riley, and if it tells me to "be nice" to my skin I’m going to do just that.
Sunday Riley is encouraging us to be good, both to ourselves, of course, but also to our skin, and it's all thanks to the brand's latest launch: B3 Nice 10% Niacinamide Serum. I’ve gone back and forth with niacinamide for years, as the skincare ingredient has countless benefits. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, which helps hydrate, calm and brighten skin. Niacinamide can improve excess sebum production (overly oily skin), minimise the appearance of large pores, protect the skin barrier and reduce redness, as it's also anti-inflammatory. It can be used on its own, or alongside a number of different ingredients. (Niacinamide and retinol are like the cool kids in high school who aren’t dating, but they’re not not dating. That’s how well they work together.)
For reasons I can’t explain (read: I forgot) I stopped using it in my skincare so much, having moved on to ingredients like EGF (epidermal growth factors, basically skin-strengthening proteins that encourage collagen and elastin) and ceramides (essential fats which keep skin intact and healthy). Trying out Dieux Skin’s Deliverance was my first entryway back into the niacinamide world a few months ago, and now my skin is begging for it at all times. Then came Sunday Riley with a supercharged niacinamide serum that knocked my socks off. Which is weird, because I don’t wear socks very often.
The serum is called B3 Nice because Sunday Riley — the brand founder — wanted to create a product for her 16-year-old daughter India, who has developed acne. But she wanted anyone going through the same thing to be able to use this. The great thing about niacinamide is that it's gentle (great for those with sensitive skin). Most niacinamide serums on the market range between 4-6% in concentration, but Sunday Riley’s comes in at 10%. This a number which can feel a little frightening at first. The only time I’ve seen a percentage of a similar amount is The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, so I was a little hesitant.
My skin is resilient, but in the winter time I need to treat her with kid gloves. My main concern is dull and tired-looking skin, so I wanted to combat that, as well as amp up my skin protection. I was looking kind of blotchy in the way a Black woman whose skin gets a little red can look, so I had high hopes. I started using the serum twice a week before my retinol in the evening, and my skin was in love with the combination. Often, the morning after using retinol, it can feel like there are tiny cold needles attacking my skin as it's very potent. But I didn’t find that happened here.
Then I ran out of a vitamin C serum. I used a vitamin C moisturizer for a bit, but I don’t love them, as they often feel a little harsh on my skin when used daily. So to try to counteract that issue, I started using B3 Nice a few times a week with the same vitamin C moisturizer — and baby. That was the move, at least for my skin.
The main thing I recognized was that my skin drank up this serum like water. I started using it during a stressful time and the texture on my skin was… whatever the opposite of velvet is. I don’t know what had changed in my routine, but it was begging for nourishment. Since using this serum, I feel as though the texture issues I've been experiencing have disappeared, and that any products I used alongside it are performing even better.
For example, my moisturizer. It's moisturizing and my crusty, post-retinol skin feels smoother. It’s probably a bit too early to say that my dark spots are letting up, but they’re not darkening further. B3 Nice also includes something called 'Brightenyl' (AKA diglucosyl gallic acid) but don't let the science-y name put you off. The brand says that this ingredient brightens the look of skin and soothes the signs of sensitivity. Then there are two antioxidants (trans-resveratrol and EGCG, in case you were wondering). They fight free radicals in the environment, such as smoke and pollution, which can have an effect on your skin.
I also love the color of the serum itself (a sort of milky lilac, due to the trans-resveratrol) and that it really does sink into your skin easily. There were days I had to remind myself to put moisturizer on because my skin felt so nourished.
My only issue with B3 Nice is with the packaging — it comes in a dropper form, but not an airless one, so the chances of a spill are high. As well as this, the serum is so milky that it dries rather quickly around the lid, making me wonder why a product that clearly went through several rounds of testing would go to market with packaging that would make the product crusty on the edges, and those crispy pieces affecting the final usage of the product, as they fall inside due to the open dropper and cause an exfoliating effect I'm sure the brand didn't imagine and isn't intended. As a fan of Sunday Riley's packaging and delivery systems in other products, I hope there's a plan to reconfigure the current B3 Nice's packaging to more align with the brand's other products — watch this space.
The name B3 Nice represents the reminder that we’re all human, even if we have a skin condition or certain skin gripes, and it’s important to be nice to ourselves and to others. Let me tell you: this serum lives up to that very easy request. 
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