As a kid, you were probably told to drink orange juice because vitamin C keeps you healthy. The same idea applies to your skin as an adult. Vitamin C is a powerhouse ingredient, leaving skin looking brighter and tighter. It improves everything from skin texture to tone, and targets inflammation as well as hyper pigmentation.
Using vitamin C topically helps skin look glowing and luminous, as if you regularly get eight hours of sleep. Vitamin C helps build collagen as well, which leads to firmer skin, and reduces the appearance of fine lines. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect the face from harmful free radicals.
Before you add vitamin C to your skincare regimen, there are a few things to keep in mind. The body doesn’t produce vitamin C; it has to be absorbed through food or applied topically to the skin. Vitamin C based products come in gels, creams, oils and powders. One of the best forms of vitamin C is a serum, which is lightweight and can be layered under moisturizer.
To boost the benefit of a vitamin C serum, l-ascorbic acid (another name for vitamin C) is often combined with hyaluronic acid to add hydration, as well as ferulic acid, which extends the life and effectiveness of vitamin C.
As with many beauty ingredients, vitamin C breaks down when exposed to water and oxygen, and products can become less effective over time. Try to choose serums packaged in dark bottles. Some companies have tackled this by offering a powdered vitamin C, which is always fresh and activated by adding water.
Read the label carefully to see how much pure vitamin C- usually listed as L-Ascorbic Acid- the product contains. Some products with high concentrations can irritate the skin so start with a lower dose and build up to a higher formula.
5 Vitamin C Serum Benefits
The star ingredient in any vitamin C serum is a high dose of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for good skin health working to promote new collagen growth, visibly reduce the signs of age in the skin, and protect the skin from environmental damage and premature aging. And because your skin does not naturally produce vitamin C, a vitamin C serum is the perfect way to get all of these powerful vitamin benefits.
- Vitamin C serum helps protect skin from sun damage. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and in a vitamin C serum, those powers work to protect the skin from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun. A vitamin C serum can also help to strengthen your skin, enabling its defense against environmental stressors and agitators. For the best protection, be sure to combine a vitamin C serum with a sunscreen as it is not intended to replace your traditional sunscreen options.
- Vitamin C serum helps to heal skin. A good vitamin C serum can help to accelerate the skin’s ability to heal itself. This is especially great for helping to common skin conditions like acne scarring and sunburn. A vitamin C serum can provide a bit of relief from burning and itching and can even help to reduce the appearance of redness in the skin.
- Vitamin C serum helps stimulate collagen production. One of the reasons that vitamin C serums are a common anti-aging skincare favorite is because they have the ability to promote collagen production. Collagen is an essential protein in your skin that decreases with age causing the skin to lose its firmness and elasticity. With a vitamin C serum, increased collagen production can help to reduce the appearance fine lines and wrinkles leaving you with naturally youthful appearing skin.
- Vitamin C serum helps reduce skin discoloration. You’ll typically find that many natural based dark spot healing creams are infused with vitamin C. That’s because vitamin C is great for helping fade skin discoloration. With the high concentration that is infused in a vitamin C serum, it is able to target stubborn skin discolorations like redness, hyperpigmentation, and under-eye circles.
- Vitamin C serum helps to brighten the complexion. Right alongside with reducing skin discolorations, vitamin C serums help to even and brighten the complexion. The high dose of this known brightener helps to make the skin look more radiant and healthy. A good vitamin C serum will not only brighten the complexion but give your skin an overall more rejuvenated glow.
Here’s a look at some of the best vitamin C serums available at drugstores and department stores.
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
Think of this product as an everyday essential to add to your beauty routine. The Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum is a powerful cocktail of antioxidants, containing 15% pure vitamin C to brighten skin and target wrinkles; 1% vitamin E to neutralize free radicals; and 0.5% ferulic acid to boost the power of vitamins C and E. Apply only in the morning.
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
Ole Henriksen has been a longtime fan of harnessing the power of vitamin C. The cult classic Ole Henriksen Truth Serum contains True-C Complex, a stabilized version of vitamin C. The serum helps to reverse the signs of aging and brighten skin. The addition of collagen works to improve elasticity, and the serum is also deeply hydrating, thanks to aloe juice and orange and green tea extracts. The lightweight formula has a light citrusy scent.
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
The cute, almost child-like packaging on Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum belies the powerful anti-aging beauty product within the bottle. This serum contains a blend of antioxidants to fight the signs of aging and brighten skin. It has a high concentrations of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is a stable version of vitamin C that doesn’t oxidize. Ferulic acid and vitamin E work in tandem with vitamin C to boost its brightening powers, while hyaluronic acid adds moisture to skin. Konjac root powder from an Asian flower softens and smooths the face, while grapefruit works its magic by gentle exfoliation.
Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Mario Badescu’s lightweight serum is packed with 7.5% vitamin C, which helps to improve skin texture and reduce the signs of aging. The addition of sodium hyaluronate and collagen smooth and moisturize skin, leaving it looking glowing. Add few drops to the skin before applying moisturizer.
Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum
Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum goes beyond what an average vitamin C serum can do, and is ideal for anyone with dry, oily, or combination skin. The Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum contains a powerful mix of antioxidants, l-ascorbic (vitamin C) along with ferulic acids and vitamin E. The result? The serum helps reverse the effect of free radicals while reducing the appearance of dark spots and fine lines. Pumpkin extract and pomegranate enzyme work to exfoliate dead surface skin cells, while skin is also left hydrated thanks to hyaluronic acid and marula oil.
Derma-E Vitamin C
Available at drugstores, Derma-E Vitamin C serum contains soothing and nourishing ingredients such as aloe, green tea leaf extract and vitamin E along with powerhouse vitamin C. The serum adds moisture to dehydrated skin, and also helps correct uneven pigmentation and free radical damage. Apply the serum in the morning and evening before adding moisturizer.
Sunday Riley CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum
What makes this Vitamin C serum stand out from the pack? Sunday Riley CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum contains tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, known as the gold standard of vitamin C as it is oil soluble and stable. This lightweight serum smells citrusy and also contains glycolic acid to exfoliate skin, as well as saccharide isomerate extract, which targets pores. The result? Clearer, brighter skin with a refined texture.
True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster
One of the most effective ways to use vitamin C is in powder form, as it can degrade when exposed to air and light. True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster is a powder vitamin C that should be mixed with a serum. It also contains ferulic acid, a plant antioxidant that is particularly effective when combined with vitamin C.
TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum
This affordable drugstore serum has become a bit of a cult favorite. TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum is plant-based, and free of synthetic additives and fragrances so it’s ideal for sensitive skin. It is packed with powerhouse vitamin C, along with hydrating hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and jojoba oil. The addition of witch hazel gives the serum anti-inflammatory properties. Wait until the serum is fully absorbed before applying moisturizer.
Obagi Professional-C Serum
If your face is feeling parched, and well, not as glowy as you’d like, pick up a bottle of Obagi Professional-C Serum. It’s available in three different strengths of vitamin C, all the way up to 20%, which is best for normal to oily skin. Apply 5-7 drops to the face and neck and let the vitamin C serum be fully absorbed to get the full, skin smoothing benefits. Skin is left feeling moisturized thanks to hyaluronic acid.
Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C
Clinique has come up with an ingenious way to deliver vitamin C in one of its most potent forms. Since vitamin C degrades when exposed to air and light, Clinique offers it in a seven day system with two components. First, mix the powdered cleanser with water to activate and apply to the skin for one minute before rinsing. The next step is a moisturizer booster – press a button, and vitamin C powder is combined into a cream loaded with mulberry root, molasses and salicylic acid emulsion. Think of it as a one-two punch against the signs of aging.
Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate
This wildly popular vitamin C serum from Kiehl’s contains two types of vitamin C- 10.5%l L-Ascorbic acid, as well as 2% ascorbyl glucoside, a vitamin C derivative that activates once absorbed into the upper layers of the skin. The cocktail helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while also improving skin texture and radiance. Hyaluronic acid helps add more moisture to the skin.
DermaDoctor Kakadu C
The secret sauce in this potent serum is kakadu plum, a fruit grown in northern Australia that is rich in vitamin C as well as antioxidants. The DermaDoctor Kakudu C is a lightweight serum containing 20 percent stabilized vitamin C, along with ferulic acid and vitamin E. The potent combination is ideal for smoothing out skin tone and texture, and protecting against free radicals.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent C Power Serum
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Serum contains the powerhouse ingredient THD ascorbate, a version of vitamin C that is highly stable and 50 times more potent than traditional vitamin C. The serum is packed with 20% vitamin C, along with two powerful antioxidants: vitamin E and ferulic acid. The result? A rich, moisturizing serum that improves fine lines, brightens skin tone and helps to firm the skin. Skin will be left looking smooth and dewy.
The Best of the Best
Formulyst Active Serum – Vitamin B, C, E, Ferulic + Niacinamide
A few drops of this potent serum help protect the skin and give it a healthy looking glow. Formulyst’s supercharged serum shields skin from environmental damage and contains a blend of antioxidants as well as vitamins. The key ingredients are vitamins B, C, E and ferulic acid, as well as niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, which helps boost skin’s immunity and regulates oil flow.
Advanced Dermatology Vitamin C, E, B & Ferulic Serum
Looking for brighter and tighter skin? Pick up a bottle of Advanced Dermatology’s serum, which is packed with multiple gold-standard ingredients. Advanced Dermatology Vitamin C, E, B & Ferulic Serum contains 20% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) – one of the highest concentrations available on the market. But what makes this serum different is that is uses a highly stable form of vitamin C that will not oxidize over time, meaning it will not lose its effectiveness. It is also packed with the antioxidants vitamin E, which help to block free radicals, and vitamin B to lock in moisture. Ferulic acid boosts the effectiveness of vitamin C. The result? Glowing skin and a reduction of age spots and fine lines.