There are a lot of different vitamin C serums on the market, and it can be overwhelming to determine the best vitamin C serum for you. Let’s talk about why you need to use a vitamin C serum in the first place; plus, get our recommendations for vitamin C serums for each skin type and concern.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: A vitamin C serum can help to even skin tone, minimize the look of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
Good to Know: Pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) can be too harsh for those with sensitive skin. Instead look for a serum that uses a gentler form of vitamin C, such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
Recommended Products: Nectar of the C Vitamin C Serum.
Vitamin C Serum Benefits
Vitamin C is naturally present in our skin, supporting healthy skin with antioxidant protection against photodamage caused by UV rays. It also stimulates collagen synthesis, keeping our skin firm and youthful. As we age, our skin produces less vitamin C, so it’s important to add it topically to help reduce signs of aging. A vitamin C serum is the most concentrated form of the antioxidant that can be topically applied, which is why it is a recommended step in your skincare routine.
So, what exactly does vitamin C do for you? Vitamin C helps to minimize the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. It also helps to even skin tone, improve texture, and protect your skin from environmental stressors due to its antioxidant properties. In other words, it’s kind of a big deal.
1. Best Overall Vitamin C Serum
Fleur & Bee: Nectar of the C Vitamin C Serum
If your main concern is evening skin tone and texture, then the most important ingredient in the formula is vitamin C. More specifically– the form it is delivered in, how it works on your skin and how effective it is. Ideally, 10-15% vitamin C will be very effective, yet less likely to irritate your skin.
Our recommendation: Fleur & Bee's Nectar of the C vitamin C serum is a lightweight serum that includes the gentler, more stable vitamin C derivative: sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It also includes vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and organic jojoba to nourish, hydrate and target skin tone and texture, making it the perfect addition to your skin care regimen. Plus, this serum is clean (meaning it’s free of toxins and harmful ingredients), vegan and cruelty free.
2. Best Vitamin C Serum for Sensitive Skin
Biossance: Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
If you have sensitive skin, you may be nervous to try a vitamin C serum. Higher concentrations of vitamin C can be potentially irritating, but there are alternatives if you’re sensitive.
Most vitamin C serums use pure vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, but there are gentler, more stable derivatives available that are just as effective. Look for a serum that uses either sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl palmitate, or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate with a concentration of no more than 15% vitamin C.
Our recommendation: Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil contains only a handful of ingredients, making it ideal for those who have sensitive skin. Squalane is lightweight and moisturizing and allows for excellent delivery of vitamin C into the skin, while rose oil soothes.
3. Best Vitamin C Serum for Oily Skin
Tata Harper: Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum
Most Vitamin C serums are designed to address skin tone and texture, not oiliness, so look for serums that include extra ingredients to help balance your skin’s natural oils. These ingredients can include natural toners like rose oil, witch hazel and tea tree or exfoliating ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids.
Our recommendation: This Tata Harper Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum is specifically designed for oily skin combining lactic acid and glycolic acid to exfoliate, white willow bark to cleanse, and vitamin C to protect.
4. Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin
Ole Henriksen: Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
Similar to oily skin, you want to look for serums that provide purifying properties without stripping your skin of its natural oils.
Our recommendation: Ole Henriksen’s Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum, which includes polyhydroxy acids to help exfoliate and cleanse dead skin cells, plus hyaluronic acid to provide hydration that will help balance your skin’s natural oils.
5. Best Vitamin C Serum for Dry Skin
Josie Maran: Argan Bright Skin Vitamin C Serum
A vitamin C serum is not meant to replace your moisturizer, but if you have dry skin, it can be beneficial to look for a serum that includes ultra hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, or argan oil.
Our recommendation: Josie Maran Argan Bright Skin Vitamin C Serum is specifically designed for dry skin. Argan oil is full of antioxidants and fatty acids to provide moisture to dry, thirsty skin.
6. Best Vitamin C Serum for Combination Skin
Glow Recipe: Pineapple-C Brightening Serum
If you have combination skin, some areas of your face are dry, while other areas feel greasy or oily. Look for extra ingredients to help balance your natural oils, such as hyaluronic acid.
Our recommendation: Glow Recipe’s Pineapple-C Brightening Serum is a lightweight serum that includes hyaluronic acid to balance oils, chamomile to soothe, and pineapple juice to exfoliate.
7. Best Vitamin C Serum for Glowing Skin
Volition Beauty: Strawberry-C Brightening Serum
Everyone is after that sought after skin glow. One of the major causes of dull skin is uneven skin tone, so a vitamin C serum can play a huge part in getting your glow back.
Our recommendation: Volition Beauty Strawberry-C Brightening Serum, which uses vitamin C derived from strawberries (move over oranges!), and kakadu plum to help brighten and even skin tone.
8. Best Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum
Tacha: Violet C Brightening Serum
A good vitamin C serum can help minimize the look of the most common signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. On its own, vitamin C is a super beneficial anti-aging ingredient, but if you combine it with alpha hydroxy acids, you’ll reveal smoother, brighter skin. AHAs are water-soluble acids derived from sugary fruits that help rid of dead skin cells on the surface and make way for newer and more even skin.
Our recommendation: Tacha’s Violet C Brightening Serum offers a high dosage of vitamin C (20%) plus 10% AHA derived from fruit to exfoliate dull skin, thus working to diminish the appearance of dark spots and fine lines.
9. Best Organic Vitamin C Serum
Éminence Organic Skin Care: Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum
Finding a serum that uses quality organic ingredients can be tough, but where your ingredients come from can be just as important as the ingredients themselves.
Our recommendation: Éminence Organic Skin Care Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum is a botanical based serum that gets its vitamin C from lemon and grapefruit. The brand also grows its own certified organic ingredients on its own farm in Hungary.
10. Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serum
Derma E: Vitamin C Concentrated Serum
Many drugstores are starting to stock quality, effective, and natural skin care products. You’re not just stuck with the main brands that use toxic ingredients and test on animals.
Our recommendation: Derma E’s Vitamin C Concentrated Serum. All Derma E’s products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and don’t contain parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Plus, you can find it at the drugstore!
Finding the Right Serum for You
Your friend may rave about her favorite vitamin C serum, but that same miracle serum may not perform the same miracle for you. Knowing which ingredients to look for based on your skin type will help find your own miracle serum.
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