October 3, 2022


For First-Rate Health

The Best Vitamin C Serums To Buy Right Now

Next to retinol, no ingredient reigns supreme in the skincare world like vitamin C. And it’s no wonder—the all-star ingredient can do everything from brightening the skin to eliminating dark spots, ultimately making for a clearer, more even-toned complexion. While vitamin C can be found in a range of skincare products—from cleansers to moisturizers—you’ll reap the most benefits from a vitamin C serum.

That’s because serums are highly concentrated (more than moisturizers) and are meant to stay on your skin for a long period of time (unlike cleansers, which are rinsed off). Therefore, in an effort to help you on your journey toward brighter and healthier skin, I’ve rounded up 12 of the best vitamin C serums on the market right now. Keep reading to learn what they are. – Great Stocking Stuffers….

1. Vitamin C Serum by Blu Atlas

If you’re not treating your skin to vitamin C often, you’re doing it a disservice. Your skin will forgive you, though, if you pick up Blu Atlas’ Vitamin C serum right now. Vitamin C is a wonder of nature, which works to even out skin tones and reduce free radicals. With this luxurious serum, you can say goodbye to those hard-to-fix dark spots. What’s more, this Blu Atlas serum also has vitamin E, which helps hydrate your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. To give your skin an added boost, the apple, tangerine, and orange extracts help prevent any future damage from taking hold. By using only 100{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} natural ingredients, Blu Atlas’ vitamin C serum will leave your skin feeling as strong as Mother Nature herself.

2. SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic® with 15{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} L-ascorbic acid

An aesthetician favorite for a reason, this professional-grade serum combines 15 percent pure vitamin C with 0.5 percent ferulic acid. The two work in harmony to combat environmental damage, which can lead to skin dryness and dullness, as well as loss of elasticity. Skin is left better protected against free radicals, chemical toxins in the air and UVA/UVB-related oxidative damage, all things that can contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, photoaging and sun spots. Can you say #winning?

3. La Roche-Posay 10{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} Pure Vitamin C Serum

La Roche-Posay purifying vitamin C serum formula is ideal for sensitive skin. The brand took an impressive approach to their serum by mixing 10 percent pure vitamin C with salicylic acid to clear acne, refine skin texture, brighten up the complexion and significantly reduce the appearance of those pesky fine lines and wrinkles. It’s like an acne treatment for your skin, but much less harsh (and way more brightening). And, unlike other vitamin C serums that can have a foul smell, this one boasts a luxurious scent. In other words, you’ll actually want to apply it to your skin.

4. The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} + HA Spheres 2{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9}

There’s nothing ordinary about The Ordinary vitamin C serum. In fact, it contains a 23 percent concentration of pure vitamin C that’s actually stable since the product has no water (meaning it won’t go bad with daily use and will remain effective for a longer period of time). Not only does this formula tackle skin dullness, but over time it can reduce any evidence of aging (yep, even crow’s feet and those laugh lines). Use it as part of your nightly skincare regimen and you’ll wake up with brighter skin. Guaranteed.

5. Kiehl’s Since 1851 Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Correcting Serum

Dark spots? Banished. Whether they’re a result of pesky breakouts or too much time in the sun, dark spots and marks can take a toll on the evenness of your skin. Which is precisely why we think Kiehl’s really hit the nail on the head with this correcting serum, as it fights dark spots, hyperpigmentation and post-breakout marks. Though vitamin C is the star of the show here, the white birch extract and peony extract deserve an honorable mention since they aid in evening out the skin tone and protecting against free radical damage. The only caveat to this product is that because the bottle is clear, you’ll want to make extra sure that you store it tucked away in a dark area away from sunlight or direct heat. This way, it will have a longer shelf life and will be less likely to oxidize and break down.

6. Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Brightening Serum

If you’re a multi-tasker at heart, we bet you’ll love a multi-tasking skincare product. This formula from Perricone MD rises to the occasion: It evens out skin tone and discoloration, combats signs of aging and imparts a natural radiance to the skin. But the best part about this serum is that it’s formulated to be used on the face, eyes and lips for a brighter, line-free complexion. Don’t you love it when you can use things for more than one purpose?

7. Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C™ Vitamin C Targeted Spot Brightener

We remain impressed by Peter Thomas Roth’s vitamin C serum. This targeted brightener has a thicker consistency than many others, but it made the cut for its ability to tackle everything from uneven texture to pesky dark spots. It does so by using 10 percent THD ascorbate, which the brand says is 50 times more powerful than traditional vitamin C. Needless to say, if you have scarring leftover from a breakout, this is your key to clear skin.

8. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum

If you find serums too watery, try this one from Dr. Dennis Gross, which has more of a gel consistency yet remains virtually weightless on the skin. All skin types will benefit from this potent formula, but especially those struggling with loss of firmness in addition to hyperpigmentation. That’s all thanks to the collagen amino acids found in the formula, which support the fibers in the skin as collagen production naturally declines as the skin ages. And while it doesn’t have a heavily fragranced pleasant scent like you’re used to in skincare products, this means the product’s active ingredient—3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid—is potent and ready to make a difference in your skin.

9. Kate Somerville +Retinol Vita C Power Serum

Beautiful things happen when the worlds of retinol and vitamin C collide. Though we’re often told not to mix the two, Kate Somerville has a different plan. This serum, which should be used at night, expertly fuses two of skincare’s most iconic ingredients for an efficacious formula that doesn’t miss a beat. It’s a winning combination that results in illuminated skin, more even texture and more firmness. And, with the addition of plant extracts and antioxidants, you won’t have to worry about premature aging at the hands of free radicals and environmental toxins. You’ll wake up to an impressively brighter, more even complexion. Think of it like a power nap—but for your skin.

10. Farmacy Very Cherry Bright 15{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} Clean Vitamin C Serum with Acerola Cherry

Farmacy proves that vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are worthy of being the next power couple. This formula contains four types of vitamin C, including acerola cherry extract, dubbed one of the richest sources of natural vitamin C in the world. Best part? Most vitamin C serums on the market are notorious for being sticky, tacky and generally a nuisance on the skin, but this one is incredibly comfortable and doesn’t leave a residue. On top of this, it’s helpful at lightening up dark spots.

11. Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C Skinclarity Brightening Serum

Harnessing the radiance-inducing properties of blue algae and spirulina-derived vitamin C, this serum from Algenist also reduces pore size, rejuvenates tired skin and helps clear up blemishes. Your skin won’t be dehydrated post-application, either; in fact, you’ll notice quite the opposite—an increase in moisture. On top of this, if you have skin that’s prone to irritation, you’ll find comfort in the fact that this formula is free of parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mineral oil and other potentially harmful ingredients.

12. Renee Rouleau Vitamin C & E Treatment

If you’re new to the world of vitamin C, let skincare magician Renee Rouleau let you in on a trick. The celebrity aesthetician formulated this vitamin C treatment with vitamin E to provide double the protective antioxidant benefits. Using both lipid- and water-soluble forms of vitamin C, the formula has the ability to penetrate the deepest layer of skin for ultimate free radical protection and maximum brightening results. Over time, with consistent use, post-acne breakout scars will fade, as will discoloration from the sun. Aptly dubbed a “glow in a bottle,” this treatment means you’ll wake up to brighter skin come morning.

The benefits of vitamin C in skincare?

Ingesting vitamin C isn’t known to bring on the same skincare results as topical vitamin C products. That being said, vitamin C in skincare products is brimming with benefits that improve overall tone, texture and radiance. Here are a few of its benefits:

Antioxidant: For one, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. The main purpose of an antioxidant is to protect the skin from free-radical damage, which refers to UVA/UVB damage from the sun’s rays, as well as daily aggressors you’ll find in the air like chemicals from gas, pollution and general toxins. All of these can contribute to a duller complexion, dark spots, hyperpigmentation and more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidants like vitamin C, however, work to protect the skin from free-radical damage by neutralizing them.

Anti-aging: Vitamin C is also an excellent ingredient to use if you’re looking to increase collagen and elastic production, which can aid in keeping the skin looking plumper, firmer and more youthful. As we age, our skin’s collagen and elastin production decline. This means fine lines begin to form, paving the way for deep-set wrinkles. Vitamin C, when used consistently, can help delay these signs of aging and promote a more youthful-looking appearance.

Skin lightener: If you have dark spots, hyperpigmentation or a generally uneven skin tone, vitamin C has the unique ability to slow down your skin’s natural melanin production, which in turn makes for brighter, clearer, more even skin. Skincare buffs who use vitamin C on the regular swear by the ingredients ability to make the skin radiant even after just one use, but we recommend using it consistently to reap its full benefits.

What should you look for in a vitamin C serum?

Look for vitamin C serums that use ascorbic acid (also known as L-ascorbic acid), which is the most stable and efficacious form of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an extremely reactive ingredient, which means it can oxidize and lose its potent properties when it has been exposed to light, heat or air. For this reason, it’s important to find a formula that is housed in a dark (not clear) bottle with airtight packaging. If you do find a formula you love but that is in a clear bottle, make sure you store it properly.

Formula-wise, vitamin C is extremely effective when it’s combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E and ferulic acid, as this can serve as dual protection against free radicals. If you’re looking for a serum that also has anti-aging benefits, look for vitamin C serums that combine the star ingredient with retinol, peptides and tea extracts.

How to store vitamin C serum:

Though your vitamin C serum should already be in a dark bottle, the way you store it is equally important. Since vitamin C serums can lose its effectiveness it’s best to tuck them away in a cool, dark place rather than leave them sitting on your bathroom countertop. * Be mindful to remember, vitamin C can break down in the presence of light, heat and air. You’ll know your product has gone bad if it has turned yellow or brown, or if it has an unusual smell. In this case, the product is no longer effective, so toss it and move on to the next.

Vitamin C serum use:

Most vitamin C serums come in a dropper bottle. Apply two to three drops of product to the palms of your hands, rub the formula between your palms, and begin patting—rather than rubbing—into your skin. Make sure to apply the product in an even layer, and use light pressure to avoid overzealous application (and thus irritation). It’s important to use a patting motion when applying serums to ensure the product penetrates the skin rather than just sitting on top of it. In terms of which step to apply your vitamin C serum in, think of it as the filler of a sandwich. You’ll want to first cleanse your skin thoroughly, spritz on a toner, and then apply your serum, followed by a moisturizer. Since serums are thinner in consistency than moisturizers, you’ll want to apply them first to allow for better penetration. Your serum won’t be able to absorb into the skin if it’s applied on top of a thick moisturizer.

Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it’s best to apply any serums containing it during the morning. This is because, while not a replacement for SPF, vitamin C can fend off premature aging from the sun’s rays. That being said, because vitamin C becomes less potent as it is exposed to light, it’s best to let the serum absorb fully into your skin before stepping outside. If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, you can also dilute your vitamin C serum in your moisturizer to extend its shelf life. Simply apply one drop into your moisturizer and apply them together onto your skin. Be sure to research the best vitamin C serums, as higher-quality offerings will both last longer and produce the best results.

What concentration of vitamin C should you use?

Vitamin C comes in all levels of concentrations, and you’ll want to use the right one for your specific skin type. You’ll find vitamin C products ranging from 5 percent all the way up to 30 percent—but how do you know which is best for you? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your skin leans dry or sensitive, opt for a lower concentration of vitamin C (in the 5 to 10 percent range) to avoid irritating your skin. If you’re not prone to sensitivity, you can go for a higher percentage, but in general, it’s best to stick to vitamin C serums that don’t go above 25 percent, as this can result in irritation for any skin type—especially if you’re applying it twice a day.

When you shouldn’t use vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a highly potent active ingredient and may pose some irritation to those with sensitive skin types. If this is you, it’s best to conduct a patch test before applying the entire serum onto your face. To do a patch test, simply apply a small amount of product to your inner forearm, wait 24 hours, and if no reaction occurs, you can proceed with applying it to your face. If a reaction does occur, immediately wipe off the formula and discontinue use.

It’s also important to note that vitamin C shouldn’t be mixed with certain ingredients. One of those is benzoyl peroxide, which can oxidize vitamin C and render it useless. Also, vitamin C shouldn’t be mixed with retinol in the same skincare routine (for example, you shouldn’t use both vitamin C and retinol as part of your morning skincare routine). More to my point. you can use them both separately—for instance, vitamin C during the day and retinol at night. This is because the two cancel each other out. If you’re using exfoliating acids such as AHAs and BHAs, be wary if you have sensitive skin, as this can cause some serious irritation. Make sure to read the ingredient label of the other products in your skincare routine to ensure they won’t interact with your vitamin C serum.

Can you still use a vitamin C serum once it’s oxidized?

If your serum has turned brown or yellow, this means it has oxidized. This could be from poor storage or packaging. Generally speaking, it takes about three months for a vitamin C serum to oxidize if using it daily, but this could happen sooner, especially if you’re constantly exposing it to air. While there haven’t been any studies saying that using an oxidized vitamin C serum can harm the skin, if your product has turned in color, it’s probably not going to be as effective as it would be if it were clear. Essentially, the product will lose its strength and won’t protect your skin from free radical damage or environmental toxins, leaving your skin more susceptible to photo aging and daily aggressors. Think of it like a browned apple—though it won’t harm you, it probably won’t taste as fresh.

Can I DIY my own vitamin C serum? If you find vitamin C serums to be out of your budget (let’s be real, the prices can get high), you can make your own version at home. All you need is a vitamin C powder, filtered water, vitamin E oil and aloe vera gel. In a small bowl, mix equal parts vitamin C powder with filtered water and whisk until smooth and the powder has dissolved. Then mix in a few drops of vitamin E oil and one tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Pour the mixture into a dark amber-colored bottle (avoid using a clear bottle, as this can oxidize the serum), and store in a cool, dark place. If you notice a funky smell or the color changing, it’s time to toss your DIY creation. The beauty of making your own vitamin C serum is that you can customize your level of concentration for maximum results tailored to you and your skin concerns. For example, if you want a higher concentration of vitamin C, you can opt to use more powder. If you have sensitive skin, you can use a lesser amount of vitamin C. And while the vitamin E oil is optional, experts agree that vitamin C works best when paired with other antioxidants, so you may as well add it to your DIY serum.