The 10 Best Vitamin C Serums
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in December of 2017. When it comes to skincare, vitamin C is one of the most effective ingredients you can add to your routine. This powerful antioxidant can brightens and firm, promote collagen production to fight wrinkles and fine lines, and can even boost the protection against damage from harmful UV rays provided by your sunscreen. It's also a great treatment for hyperpigmentation and dark spots. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 18, 2020:
One of our main priorities during this latest update was maintaining the balance we had between concentrations, and so we added another potent option with Serumtologie Anti-Aging, which joins the likes of Obagi Professional, Drunk Elephant C-Firma, and Sunday Riley C.E.O. This selection features a high amount of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a variant of vitamin C that tends to be less irritating than the more popular l-ascorbic acid, a more active derivative.
One thing we noticed was that our list heavily featured higher-end options, which is great for those who are prepared to invest in their skincare, but not ideal if you're on a budget or just looking to try one of these serums out to see how it affects you. To remedy that, we added the aforementioned Serumtologie brand and TruSkin Naturals Facial, two affordably-priced choices that provide results for many. TruSkin Naturals is also mostly organic and free of tons of synthetic additives, making it a solid choice for those with sensitive skin.
While vitamin C has been proven to be effectual against UVA and UVB damage in addition to acting as an antioxidant and promoting collagen production, it's still crucial that you use a daily facial sunscreen for it to work properly. It's also important to remember that everyone's skin is different and some serums might not work for you as well as others. Be sure to patch test before full application so you can ensure you're not allergic to any ingredients.
June 25, 2019:
First and foremost, it's important to note that vitamin C serums are formulated at a low pH and can cause irritation and flaking at first, especially in higher concentrations. It's a good idea to start with a serum that has a lower percentage of vitamin C and work your way up to the stronger stuff, especially if you have sensitive skin. Also remember that in order to see the best possible results, wearing sunscreen daily is a must.
That being said, vitamin C is an incredibly beneficial ingredient that can help to both prevent and repair damage from the sun and other environmental stressors. If you're looking to treat existing issues, like hyperpigmentation and dark spots, you'll likely get the best results with a serum that has a 10-15% concentration. Both Drunk Elephant C-Firma and SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic combine 15% l-ascorbic acid with ferulic acid and vitamin E, which help to enhance vitamin C's effectiveness. Drunk Elephant's formula also includes fruit enzymes for exfoliation, and it has a pH of 3.3 - 3.5, which makes it less irritating than many other high-concentration serums. Sunday Riley C.E.O. is another 15% formula that uses a highly stable and oil-soluble form of vitamin C to penetrate deep into skin. It also contains a phytosterol complex to reduce redness and saccharide isomerate to strengthen your moisture barrier and minimize the appearance of pores.
If you're on a budget, Mad Hippie is an affordable option made entirely with natural ingredients. It uses a stabilized form of vitamin C to reduce the risk of oxidation, plus konjac root to soften and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump. Klairs Freshly Juiced is also inexpensive and quite gentle, making it a good choice for those with sensitive skin or who are new to vitamin C. With a concentration of 5%, it's great as a preventative anti-aging treatment, but may not be strong enough to treat hyperpigmentation or acne scars.
True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster Vitamin C can break down when exposed to heat, liquid, oxygen, or light. That's why some skin obsessives look to its powdered form, which is more resistant and thought to retain more of its benefits than what's used in serums and lotions. This booster from True Botanicals never loses its potency when stored properly and is combined with the antioxidant ferulic acid for additional skin-boosting abilities. You can apply it by mixing a small amount with water or serum. truebotanicals.com
Volition Strawberry-C With an ingredient list that sounds good enough to eat, this brightening formula includes strawberry fruit and seed extract, Kakadu plum, and cucumber water to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while reducing redness and excess oil. It also boosts hydration with hyaluronic acid. volitionbeauty.com
SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic As its name implies, SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic uses a powerful combination of ferulic acid, ascorbic acid, and vitamin E to attack the visible signs of aging. It sinks deep into your skin, where it can't be rubbed or washed off, and remains effective for 72 hours. It's also clinically proven to reduce combined oxidative damage from UV, ozone, and diesel exhaust. skinceuticals.com