Niacinamide (NIA) is an amide form of vitamin B3 which is used in cosmetic formulations to improve various skin conditions and it has also been shown to increase stratum corneum thickness following repeated application. In this study, three doses (5, 20 and 50 μL per cm2) of two NIA containing oil-in-water skin barrier-mimetic formulations were evaluated in silicone membrane and porcine ear skin and compared with a commercial control formulation. Permeation studies were conducted over 24 h in Franz cells and at the end of the experiment membranes were washed and niacinamide was extracted. For the three doses, retention or deposition of NIA was generally higher in porcine skin compared with silicone membrane, consistent with the hydrophilic nature of the active. Despite the control containing a higher amount of active, comparable amounts of NIA were deposited in skin for all formulations for all doses; total skin absorption values (permeation and retention) of NIA were also comparable across all formulations. For infinite (50 μL) and finite (5 μL) doses the absolute permeation of NIA from the control formulation was significantly higher in porcine skin compared with both test formulations. This likely reflects differences in formulation components and/or presence of skin penetration enhancers in the formulations. Higher permeation for the 50 and 20 μL dose was also evident in porcine skin compared with silicone membrane but the opposite is the case for the finite dose. The findings point to the critical importance of dose and occlusion when evaluating topical formulations in vitro and also the likelihood of exaggerated effects of excipients on permeation at infinite and pseudo-finite dose applications.