Which Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Is Right For You?

A month or so ago, I received the newly released Paula’s Choice 20% Niacinamide Treatment. Already a huge fan of the 10% booster, I was immediately intrigued. After all, Niacinamide easily ranks among my top three favorite skincare ingredients. What made this particular product sound almost bespoke was its promise to correct the issue of enlarged pores that are also wait for it… stretched and sagging. Since 10% concentration is extremely popular, there is the possibility that some have tried it. So what is the difference between the two? And who needs it? After a few weeks of consistent use, I found this latest launch significantly more effective against the 10% OG.

Why the sudden change of heart? In a word: aging. Maybe it’s that I’m turning forty this year that my skin is responding better to products formulated to address textbook cases of enlarged pores or hyperpigmentation with the visible side effects of gravity. And a rather active social life. In order to shed some light on how the two Niacinamide products work and who will do better with which, I contacted Paula’s Choice directly with my questions. Hope these responses help you make the decision that is right for you. 

1. Are stretched/sagging pores related to aging? Would the 20% formula be more suitable for someone with more mature skin type? 30s and older?

Like many skincare concerns, age exacerbates the issue and it can continue to get worse if no proactive measures are taken. Causes of this condition include age, extensive sun damage, loss of collagen and elastin as well as excess oil production.

2. Does it mean it is twice as effective as the 10% concentration? 

It does contain twice the amount of niacinamide which means it will be more effective but as with all skincare, results may vary. If a person’s concerns are mostly around enlarged pores and uneven skin tone, the 10% strength is a great option. For those with more advanced concerns such as sagging pores, orange peel-like texture or oil-related bumps, the 20% strength is preferred. Of course, you can also alternate between them at a cadence that works best for you (it will take some experimenting). 

3. Does Niacinamide do better as part of either AM or PM routine? Or is there no difference? 

Either is fine. For daytime use, just be sure to follow with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or greater. 

4. Are there ingredients that don’t play with Niacinamide and should be avoided while using the serum? If so, which one(s)?

Some have read that you shouldn’t use niacinamide and vitamin C at the same time, but current research does not support that as true. We’ve done the research and can confirm that niacinamide plays well with all other ingredients.  

5. Are there skin types that should avoid Niacinamide altogether? 

We formulated the product for all skin types keeping in mind that as with any ingredient, each person’s response can vary. For those with a known sensitivity to vitamin B3 or with sensitive skin in general, we suggest introducing the product slowly and applying more frequently as tolerated/needed. Generally speaking, niacinamide is well tolerated by a variety of skin types. 

6. I am personally using a dropper full – am I being too wasteful, generous or overzealous in my application?

How much to use will vary from person to person whether it’s being applied all over or as a spot treatment. For a full-face application, a full dropper works. If it feels overly slick or takes a bit to dry down and absorb after application, you may be applying too much. Make note and adjust accordingly. 

7. Would the serum’s potency decrease if you were to cocktail it with either an oil another water based formula such as Hyaluronic Booster?

While there could be a minor buffering effect if you mix the serum into another product, it wouldn’t be enough to negatively impact results. In short, your skin will still benefit from the ingredient whether applying alone, layered or mixed into another item. Just don’t mix it into your sunscreen. With such an important job to do, we want to make sure you’re getting maximum protection.

10% Niacinamide Booster ($44) and 20% Niacinamide Treatment ($48) are available at paulaschoice.com

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