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If you're interested in skincare, then you'll know that there’s no shortage of serums addressing any and all complexion concerns. And if you've spent any time researching the most effective skincare ingredients, you'll already be aware that Vitamin C is a true superstar. Not only does it reduce hyperpigmentation, even skin tone, and brighten complexion, but it also increases collagen production, reduces wrinkles, and even protects against pollution and other free radicals.
When looking for a vitamin C serum, there are a few things you should know. First of all, the most common type of vitamin C you'll find in the ingredients list is L-ascorbic acid, and you'll want to look out for a concentration between 10-20 percent. (Those with sensitive skin should go with a lower concentration.) There are other vitamin C derivatives, such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which are all combinations of vitamin C and other ingredients to make it more stable. Also, take note that the acid must be formulated at pH levels less than 3.5 to enter the skin.
Unlike other serums, vitamin C needs to be packaged correctly in order to be effective. Exposure to air, light, and heat can damage your serum, so you'll want one that comes in a dark bottle, preferably with a dropper for delivery. Finally, remember the golden rule of vitamin C: always wear sunscreen!
Here, the best vitamin C serums that will give your skin a natural glow.
This serum is one of the most loved, most well-known vitamin C serums of all time. The combination of 15 percent L-ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and ferulic acid makes it extremely effective at protecting skin from free radical damage. It's expensive, but worth it once you see firsthand how well it smooths fine lines and wrinkles and evens skin tone. Plus, once absorbed into the skin it'll stay active for 72 hours, so you can skip application days.
A potential pitfall of vitamin C is that its potency can cause irritation. For sensitive skin, another great drugstore find is CeraVe's serum. In this formula, 10 percent vitamin C concentration is combined with three types of ceramides, or fatty acids, that help maintain a strong, healthy skin barrier.
The formula is also fragrance-free—another major boon since fragrance is a common skin irritant. It's also non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to stress about clogged pores. As with most skin care products, it's best to start gradually. Start by using every other day, slowly increasing the frequency to daily use as your skin acclimates.
This drugstore find may be wallet-friendly, but don't let the price tag fool you—it easily rivals many of its luxe counterparts. The dermatologist-approved serum boasts a special formulation with a 10 percent concentration of pure Vitamin C, which is considered on the lower end and therefore ideal for those with sensitive skin.
Though the formula is notable, the packaging also goes a step further for the user. Water, air, and heat can degrade your serum, so this formula is made without water and comes in a special metal tube so there's no UV exposure. The product's design also blocks contact with the metal's outside lining and guarantees little serum exposure to oxygen while you're doing your skin care routine.
Generally speaking, any type of vitamin C product will be beneficial for fading discoloration, as it interferes with tyrosinase, an enzyme that’s necessary for the production of melanin. But if you’re dealing with particularly stubborn spots or dark marks, reach for this serum.
It contains a whopping 20 percent concentration of L-ascorbic acid, the most potent version of vitamin C available, in an encapsulated delivery system to ensure stability. It’s paired with EGCG, the active component in green tea that works synergistically with vitamin C for maximum results.
Vitamin C may not be the first ingredient you think of when you think of acne-fighters, but it’s worth adding to your complexion-clearing arsenal since it can help clear up acne scars. This particular pick is a good choice for acne-prone skin since it contains vitamin C and salicylic acid, a well-known zit-zapper that's good for dissolving oil and unclogging pores. It's a great choice if you're looking to combat breakouts, wrinkles, and dark spots.
The vitamin C in this fan-favorite serum is part of an antioxidant complex. It’s combined with ferulic acid and vitamin E, a potent trio that works synergistically to fight free radicals that can cause lines, sagging skin, or spots. It's also a great pick for all skin types. Two added ingredients (pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract) are ideal for oily skin, working as chemical exfoliants to dissolve dead skin cells and minimize the look of prominent pores.
This brand only makes serums, offering a lineup that's been carefully curated to target specific complexion concerns. The Brightener has a minimal ingredient list that consists of water, a 20 percent concentration of a stabilized form of vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid wins major points in the moisturizing department because it's a humectant, meaning it attracts water to and traps it in the skin. It's both hydrating and brightening, making it a perfect dry skin serum option.
The 5 percent concentration of vitamin C in this serum is about the lowest concentration you can get without being totally ineffective, so it's a good one for those with sensitive skin. It’s paired with Centella asiatica, a botanical ingredient also called gotu kola, that's known for its excellent soothing abilities and ability to minimize irritation, plus it's fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
Vitamin C on its own isn’t known for being an exfoliant, but you can combine it with an exfoliating ingredient to get the same effect. This formula contains polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) that are gentler than their alphahydroxy counterparts, but still effectively exfoliate. It also includes banana powder-inspired pigments (a yellow-hued powder used by pro makeup artists to counteract dullness instantly) to help your skin glow immediately.
Collagen is one of the primary proteins responsible for keeping skin smooth, firm, and youthful. We lose collagen as we age, making it worth seeking out in anti-aging formulas like this one. This serum contains amino acids, which speed up skin cell renewal and stimulate collagen production, while vitamin C smooths out fine lines and wrinkles. Rounding out the ingredient line-up are additional antioxidants like niacinamide, a B vitamin that moisturizes and improves skin health.