One of the most frequently asked beauty questions my friends text me is “what kind of face serum should I be using?!” And you know what I always say? One with vitamin C. It’s one of the few skincare ingredients that really, truly works for all skin types and tones—and virtually every dermatologist I’ve spoken with agrees. “Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants out there when it comes to brightening skin and preventing fine lines and wrinkles,” says dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD. And if that sounds too good to be true, buckle up, because there’s more.
What does vitamin C serum do for your skin?
Applied in the morning on clean, dry skin, vitamin C helps prevent free-radical damage from things like UV and pollution to keep your skin healthy and glowy. It also inhibits the production of excess melanin in your skin, which, in turn, helps prevent and fade acne scars, melasma, and dark spots. Not only that (told you to brace yourself) but it also smooths fine lines and wrinkles over time, thanks to its ability to boost collagen production too. Wild, right?
Now you know why literally everyone—including yours truly—is obsessed with vitamin C, please hop on the bandwagon with us and try one of these 27 best vitamin C serums, below.
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Best Vitamin C Serum with SPF
Supergoop! Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF 40 Sunscreen Serum
Your best defense against UV damage is wearing SPF, but adding vitamin C serum to the mix can actually help boost its efficacy. I always recommend layering vitamin C with SPF 30 (minimum!), or you can use a formula that combines the two, says Dr. Marchbein. Try Supergoop’s SPF 40 serum, which contains multiple antioxidants, including vitamin C.
Best Vitamin C Serum for All Skin Types
Hyper Skin Hyper Clear Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum
Everyone—no matter your skin type or skin tone—can use this brightening face serum. It’s filled with 15 percent vitamin C, turmeric, kojic acid, and fruit enzymes which work together to dramatically fade dark spots and old acne scars.
Best Vitamin C Serum Capsules
Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair 20% Vitamin C Serum
These single-use capsules aren’t just clutch for weekends away. The squishy shell protects the vitamin C that’s inside from light and air to keep it super potent (light and air oxidize vitamin C and reduce its efficacy, which is why any vitamin C in a jar is usually ineffective after a few uses). Just twist off the top and squeeze the serum onto your skin.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne-Prone Skin
SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF
This innovative acne-fighting serum with vitamin C and ferulic acid helps clear up skin two ways. First, salicylic acid and silymarin extract prevent breakouts by clearing out your pores and minimizing excess oil production. And second, the vitamin C and ferulic acid help fade the appearance of dark marks and scars from old pimples.
Best Clean Vitamin C Serum
Klur Brilliant Light
A combo of 20 percent vitamin C, rosehip seed, and vitamin E work together in this clean, ethically-made face serum to protect skin from future damage and correct signs of existing damage (like dark spots and uneven texture) too.
Best Multitasking Vitamin C Serum
Epi.Logic by Dr. Jeanniton Daily Dose
You only need a few drops of this potent vitamin c serum to get serious skin brightening and smoothing results. It combines 15 percent vitamin C, ferulic acid, vitamin E, niacinamide, vitamin B5, and, hyaluronic acid to smooth lines, fade spots, and brighten your overall skin tone.
Best Inexpensive Vitamin C Serum
The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C and EGF Brightening Serum
At just $15, this is the least expensive vitamin C serum on the list—but it’s by no means the least potent. The formula combines 15 percent ascorbyl glucoside (a stable form of vitamin C) with plant-based epidermal growth factors to fade dark spots and marks and minimize lines and rough texture.
Best Exfoliating Vitamin C Serum
Murad Vitamin C Glycolic Brightening Serum
This powerful serum combines vitamin C with glycolic acid (a potent AHA that helps boost cell turnover and get rid of dead skin cells) to make your dark spots lighter, your pores smaller, and your skin surface smoother and more even. I mean, what’s not to love?
Best Smoothing Vitamin C Serum
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
If you like the idea of combining vitamin C with an exfoliating acid, but your skin is on the sensitive side, pls allow me to introduce you to this mild exfoliating vitamin C serum. In addition to vitamin C, it uses PHAs (a gentle class of exfoliating acids) to give you the smoothest skin of your GD life.
Best All-Natural Vitamin C Serum
Farmacy Very Cherry Bright 15% Clean Vitamin C Serum
If you’re into green skincare, this vitamin C serum is for you. First, the formula is made without questionable ingredients (like parabens, silicones, or synthetic dyes and fragrances). Second, it combines 15 percent vitamin C with brightening cherry extract to effectively fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Best Plumping Vitamin C Serum
Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Serum
Plump your fine lines and brighten your skin tone all at once with this multitasking vitamin C serum. The hard-working combo of vitamin C, licorice root extract, peptides, and glycerin work together to stimulate collagen, hydrate, and fade excess pigment.
Best Glow-Boosting Vitamin C Serum
Sephora Collection Ultra Glow Serum
You know that super-healthy, wide-awake look your skin gets after a few days of clean eating and good sleep? This vitamin C serum gives you the same effect with way less annoyance. It is lightweight and fast-absorbing and boosts radiance and skin elasticity thanks to vitamin C and firming peptides.
Best Spot-Fading Vitamin C Serum
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Before you splurge on a pricey peel or a laser treatment, give this brightening vitamin C serum a try. The blend of vitamin C, kojic acid, and lactic acid are ideal for fading melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from old breakouts and sun damage. Used twice a day for four weeks, 88 percent of in-house testers said their hyperpigmentation had started to fade. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
Best Brightening Vitamin C Serum
Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum 20% Vitamin C + 10% AHA
Sure, all vitamin C serums will brighten your skin to some extent, but this one really goes the extra mile thanks to its added dose of exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids. These acids dissolve the glue that holds together your skin-dulling dead skin cells, leaving your skin super bright and glowy as hell.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Daytime
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum
This vitamin C serum with 15 percent L-ascorbic acid (aka the good stuff) is free from skin irritants (like synthetic fragrances or dyes, drying alcohols, and essential oils) so it’s safe for sensitive skin types. Apply it to clean skin each morning as the first step in your skincare routine.
Best Hydrating Vitamin C Serum
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Serum
This vitamin C serum is packed with 30 percent THD ascorbate (a slightly more stable form of vitamin C), 3 percent vitamin E (anti-inflammatory), 2 percent ferulic acid (boosts the efficacy of vitamin C), and hyaluronic acid (plumping and hydrating). Basically, your face will stay hydrated and dewy all day long, while also fighting dark spots. Magical, right?
Best Lightweight Vitamin C Serum
Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Brightening Serum
Vitamin C serums tend to sit on top of the skin and feel a little sticky (hey, perfect skin requires sacrifices), but not this one from Glow Recipe. The brightening pineapple-juice-and-vitamin-C blend legit feels like water on your skin, so you won’t even know it’s on your face.
Best Firming Vitamin C Serum
Allies of Skin Vitamin C 35% Collagen Rebuilding Serum
If your skin is too sensitive for retinol but you still want the tightening and smoothing benefits, try this collagen-boosting vitamin C serum. It uses two different types of vitamin C to help repair and rebuild collagen—a protein that is naturally found in skin and is responsible for skin firmness and plumpness.
Best Organic Vitamin C Serum
Ursa Major Brighten Up Vitamin-C Serum
This vitamin C serum is proof that you can get really impressive results from a green formula. It’s made with natural and organic ingredients that help brighten your skin tone, improve your skin texture, and combat free-radical damage too.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Dark Circles
Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Brightening Eye Serum
Those dark circles under your eyes? Help lessen their appearance with this vitamin C eye serum. With continued use, it’ll brighten and thicken the skin under your eyes (vitamin C boosts collagen), which will make the blue-ish blood vessels underneath your skin (i.e., your dark circles) less visible.
Best Oil-Based Vitamin C Serum
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil
Okay, so vitamin C face oil isn’t really a serum, but it’s just as potent, so I’ll make an exception. In addition to its major level of vitamin C, this serum also contains turmeric and evening primrose to brighten, hydrate, soften, and most important, reduce redness in your skin. Use it as the last step in your skincare routine on top of your moisturizer.
Best Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum
Biopelle Tensage Antioxidant Defense Serum
Seeing fine lines and wrinkles? Grab a bottle of this vitamin C serum before making that Botox appointment. It contains a powerful blend of anti-aging growth factors, glycolic acid, niacinamide, and you guessed it, vitamin C. Together, these ingredients can smooth the look of lines and improve skin texture too.
Best Customizable Vitamin C Serum
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster
You don’t have to switch up your existing skincare routine just to incorporate some vitamin C. Mix a few drops of this vitamin C booster serum into your daily moisturizer or SPF (IMO, it blends perfectly with cream-based formulas) to give your skin some added protection against UV damage and pollution.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Blue Light
Dermalogica Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum
That computer, tablet, or iPhone you’re reading on right now? It’s emitting blue light, which is proven to trigger free radical damage in your skin, which, in turn, accelerates skin aging. Crazy, huh? And because I know you’re not going to quit using the internet, grab a bottle of this vitamin-C serum, which is designed to combat the effects of blue light while brightening and protecting your face.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Sensitive Skin
Is Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+
If you’re dealing with rosacea or chronic redness, this calming vitamin-C serum is about to be your new go-to, thanks to its added vitamin E (a natural anti-inflammatory and skin soother). Use it every other morning on clean, dry skin if your skin is ultra sensitive.
Best Dermatologist-Loved Vitamin C Serum
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
Ask any dermatologist which vitamin-C serum they both recommend to patients and personally use, and I guarantee you they’ll say it’s this one from SkinCeuticals. The serum contains L-ascorbic acid (one of the most stable, well-studied forms of vitamin C) and vitamin E and ferulic acid, which boosts the efficacy of the vitamin C. And, very cool fact: The formula stays active for 72 hours after you dab it on, even after washing your face.
Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serum
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 10% Pure Vitamin C Concentrate
You don’t need to spend a ton of money or hit up some fancy med spa to find a vitamin C serum that gives good results. This drugstore option was developed with the help of dermatologists and was shown to smooth fine lines and brighten overall skin tone within the first two weeks of continued use, according to in-house clinical studies.
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