Good Molecules: Niacinamide Brightening Toner

Good Molecules: Niacinamide Brightening Toner



Cover: Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner

If you know The Ordinary, then you've likely heard about Good Molecules.

The idea of Good Molecules is simple: Effective skincare at a fair price. The ingredients used are backed by research. The formulas are simple and effective.

One of their best-selling products is the Niacinamide Brightening Toner. It is supposed to fade hyperpigmentation (acts brightening) and enlarged pores. Is it worth a try? Let's have a look...

Btw, here's the full ingredient breakdown of the Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner.

What is hyperpigmentation? What does 'skin brightening' mean?

Hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition where patches of the skin become darker in color than the rest of the skin.

It can affect lighter and darker skin tones.

Common factors causing hyperpigmentation are hormonal changes, excessive UV exposure, or inflammation.

These factors cause melanocytes, i.e., cells located in deeper skin layers, to produce more pigments - namely melanin. The pigment melanin is then transferred to upper skin layers. The result is hyperpigmentation, aka dark patches.

Brightening skin means making it more radiant and even. This includes fading hyperpigmentation.

Forms of hyperpigmentation

Well-known forms of pigmentation are:

Melasma is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. The dark spots can take the form of a mask. This is why melasma is also known as the 'pregnancy mask'.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammations. They're known as dark spots after pimples.

Sunspots are caused by excessive sunbathing or sunburn. Avoid them by using sun protection.

Treatment of hyperpigmentation

There are two ways to treat hyperpigmentation:

  • ❯ Stop the overproduction of the pigment melanin in deeper skin layers.
  • ❯ Prevent the transfer of melanin upwards to the upmost skin layers.

Treating hyperpigmentation takes time. It can take from 4 to 8 weeks to see visible skin improvements. The reason: changes in deep skin layers are necessary - this takes time.

Why does the Niacinamide Toner from Good Molecules brighten skin, aka fades hyperpigmentation?

The main goal of the Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner is to lighten the complexion. The toner contains several ingredients that are supposed to achieve this result:


Niacinamide is also known as vitamin B3. It is an excellent multi-tasker.

One of its benefits is lightening hyperpigmentation. Studies show that Niacinamide lightens skin by preventing the transfer of melanin to the upmost skin layers.

Another benefit of Niacinamide is its ability to balance sebum production. This property is not only beneficial for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin but also for enlarged pores.

Generally, the size of your pores is genetically determined. BUT, some factors may enlarge the pores 'unnaturally', such as overactive sebum production. Since Niacinamide has balancing effects on sebum production, it can help with enlarged pores.

Some other benefits of Niacinamide are:

  • ❯ Anti-inflammatory properties
  • ❯ Acts as antioxidant
  • ❯ Has a positive effect on the skin barrier (increases synthesis of ceramides).


Arbutin is a very well-researched ingredient that has been widely used to fade hyperpigmentation for decades.

It helps with hyperpigmentation by stopping the overproduction of the pigment melanin in deeper skin layers.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has suggested concentrations of α-arbutin up to 2% in face creams and up to 0.5% in body lotions.

The Brightening Toner by Good Molecules contains 2% Arbutin. So everything is safe ;)

Btw, Arbutin is a derivative of Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is another excellent brightening ingredient. Compared to Arbutin, it's more irritating.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract

Licorice Root Extract is another well-known antioxidant that can also help with hyperpigmentation.

The main active component of the Licorice Root Extract is called Glabridin.

Licorice Root Extract can lighten skin by regulating melanin production. Additionally, it shows anti-inflammatory properties.

Note, however, that the ingredient is less researched than the ones mentioned above. Also, the concentration of licorice extract in the toner is only 0.1%. This isn't particularly high and won't have a big impact on your skin/ hyperpigmentation.  

3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid

3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is a derivative of ascorbic acid, aka Vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants and great for anti-aging.

The downside of ascorbic acid is that it's an unstable ingredient. It likely reacts with air and therefore becomes less potent. Furthermore, it can cause skin reactions like burning, tingling, stinging, or dryness.

That's why there are derivatives, such as 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.

When it comes to 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, studies show some brightening properties. The ingredient also has anti-aging properties (acts as an antioxidant).

Note, however, that the ingredient is less researched than ascorbic acid. Also, the concentration of 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is only 0.1%. This concentration won't have a big impact on your skin/ hyperpigmentation.

Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner: Ingredient List

As shown in the section above, most of the brightening effects are likely because of Arbutin and Niacinamide. Niacinamide is also responsible for reducing the size of the pores.

Here is the full ingredient list:

Water (83.2%) | Glycerin (6.7%) | Niacinamide (3.0%) | 1,2-Hexanediol (2.2%) | Arbutin (2.0%) | Propanediol (2.0%) | Betaine (0.5%) | Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (0.1%) | 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (0.1%) | Ethylhexylglycerin (0.1%) | Carbomer (0.06%) | Tromethamine (0.04%) | Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate (0.02%) | Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Extract (35 Ppm) | Sodium Hyaluronate (15 Ppm) | Dextrin (15 Ppm)

What do we think?

Good Molecules' Niacinamide Brightening Toner is a very potent product. It contains several (well-researched) ingredients.

Most of the skin brightening benefits are due to the ingredients Arbutin and Niacinamide. The product does what it promises.

The product is:

  • ❯ Alcohol-Free
  • ❯ Fragrance-Free
  • ❯ Oil-Free
  • ❯ Safe For Fungal Acne
  • ❯ Vegan
  • ❯ Cruelty-Free.

And that's why we love this product even more ;)

To sum up...

The Niacinamide Brightening Toner by Good Molecules is definitely worth a try.

If your skin is sensitive, you might experience some irritation (2% Arbutin is a lot!). So introduce it slowly into your routine.

Since the toner is quite potent, it's totally fine to skip a serum. Decide what works for you and your skin!

Here's the full ingredient breakdown of the Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner. Remember to help others by reviewing the product :)


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International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research | Apr - Jun 2021 | Vol 13 | Issue 2. Alpha Arbutin as a Skin Lightening Agent: A Review