Stress, late nights, pollution, extreme sun exposure, and a poor diet – all these can leave your skin looking drab, prone to signs of premature aging and acne.
While there are lots of anti-aging and anti-acne products in the market, there’s this one important ingredient that’s been hogging the spotlight lately due to its amazing efficacy – the good ol’ vitamin C.
As a kid, I remember how my parents would buy me oranges and various berries whenever I was sick. They said these fruits are rich in vitamin C and could help my immune system recover from illness faster (especially cough and colds).
Who would’ve thought this vitamin would offer more than just an immune system boost?
In this article, we’ll get to know more about how vitamin C benefits the skin and how finding the best vitamin C serum for face can help you achieve brighter, younger and more even skin tone.
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- Why Is Vitamin C Important?
- What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin C?
- Can All Skin Types Use Vitamin C Serum?
- When To Use Vitamin C Serum?
- How To Use Vitamin C Serum?
- Best Vitamin C Serum (My Favorite)
- Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serum for Face
- Best Vitamin C Serum for Face and Neck
- Best Vitamin C Serum for Sensitive Skin
- Best Vitamin C Serum for Dry Skin
- Best Vitamin C Serum for Combination Skin
- Best Vitamin C Serum for Dark Skin
- Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Scars
- Best Organic Vitamin C Serum for Face with Hyaluronic Acid
- Top 3 Best Vitamin C Serums for Older Skin
- Putting it All Together
Why Is Vitamin C Important?
Even more importantly, what does vitamin C do for your face?
Vitamin C is an important vitamin and antioxidant that protects your skin from free radicals and facilitates tissue repair and growth all throughout the body.
It plays an important role during collagen production by holding the cells together.
Without it, our body wouldn’t be able to produce and store collagen which allows free radicals (from sources such as pollution, radiation, food, and alcohol) to build up and speed the aging process and degeneration of healthy cells.
What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin C?
Being an antioxidant and part of the collagen synthesis, adding vitamin C-rich products in your beauty routine can give you the following benefits:
Brighter- Looking Skin
Vitamin C can help inhibit melanin production to give you a brighter, more glowing skin.
Vitamin C improves healthy cells replacement and regeneration. Which, simply put, means that Vitamin C helps give a more evened out skin tone, helps lighten dark sports, even marks left by pimples.
Protects and Repairs Sun Damage
Vitamin C helps plump up your skin to protect it from UV rays and sun damage.
However, this does not mean that you should skip your daily SPF. Vitamin C serums are best paired with sunblock!
Firms and Plumps Up Skin
Plumping? Do I really need that? Yes! Vitamin C can help improve the appearance of eye bags, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties can aid in protecting the skin against harmful free radicals which is the number one cause of premature aging. It also helps increase collagen production and help rebuild damaged collagen bundles.
The result? Plumper and younger looking skin.
Can All Skin Types Use Vitamin C Serum?
Not all vitamin C serums are created equal.
As vitamin C is considered to be an acid which can oxidize quickly when placed into a non-acidic environment (such as in serum solution or simply plain exposure to water or air), manufacturers add certain derivatives such as phosphates and palmitates to help stabilize and increase its shelf life.
Derivatives, along with where vitamin C was sourced (organically or chemically), can make it work differently across a myriad of skin tones and skin concerns.
Types of Vitamin C
Let’s get to know the different types of vitamin C and which ones will work for you:
1. Ascorbyl Palmitate
A stable kind of vitamin C created by combining ascorbic and palmitic acids. The addition of the latter improves its skin absorbency and makes it efficient on a neutral pH.
With that being said, ascorbyl palmitate is great for older skin as it can effectively protect skin from damage caused by free radicals and encourage collagen production to visibly improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
2. L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA)
An unstable but very active kind of vitamin C. It is highly potent and can also be irritating in high doses especially for people with sensitive skin.
If you have normal to oily skin and want a highly effective vitamin C serum, this is your best bet.
3. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)
Compared to the LAA, MAP is less powerful kind of vitamin C.
This water-soluble vitamin C is more stable in water and doesn’t degrade easily making it gentler and less irritating choice for people with dry or sensitive skin.
4. Ascorbic Glucosamine
A powerful combination of active skin brighteners, L-Ascorbic acid, and Glucosamine, this kind of vitamin C derivative is perfect for people with hyperpigmentation or dark spots.
A stable kind of vitamin C that is oil-soluble, meaning it can be absorbed quickly into the skin compared to other types of derivatives of vitamin C.
It’s great for any skin type or skin concerns as it is effective yet gentler even for people who are vitamin C resistant.
5. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
A far more stable type of vitamin C compared to LAA and ascorbyl palmitate. This vitamin C derivative can withstand light and air without losing its efficacy making its shelf life longer than that of ascorbic palmitate.
It’s best for people who have dull skin and for those who want to have an additional layer of protection against free radicals.
When To Use Vitamin C Serum?
I know many of y’all are wondering whether it is more effective to apply vitamin C serums at night or maybe twice a day (morning and night).
This depends on the brand and formulation.
Stronger formulas require to be applied once a day while milder formulas are safe to be applied twice daily.
Keep in mind to apply your serum after cleansing and toning. You can use your fave moisturizer right after your serum but never before.
We’re aiming for efficient absorption and having your skin in a clean slate sans any oils or moisturizers can help the vitamin C penetrate your skin faster to do its magic!
How To Use Vitamin C Serum?
Well, the even more frequently asked question is – how much do you actually need?
- After cleansing and toning your face, pump a pea-sized amount of serum on your palm. Using your ring finger, gently dab this onto your forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck.
- Evenly distribute the product by massaging it onto your skin in a circular motion. Go easy around your eye area, a gentle yet quick tapping using both your ring fingers is recommended for such a sensitive part.
- Finish off by tapping the product using your hands to aid its absorption (a secret I learned from Koreans!).
Now that we know how this miracle vitamin helps our skin and what type of vitamin C best suits your skin tone, you probably want to know which vitamin C serum for face is the best brand or what is the best organic vitamin C serum for face.
Well, I got your back as always! Below are my top recommendations based on skin type and skin concerns. Check them out!
Best Vitamin C Serum (My Favorite)
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
This award-winning serum is surely a crowd favorite and it’s easy to understand why.
It’s made with Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a very stable type of vitamin C and amazing ingredients like vitamin E, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid. Together, they create a powerful anti-aging elixir that will surely brighten and firm up your skin sans the irritation.
- Made with Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate for maximum efficacy and absorbency.
- Combines the power of vitamin E, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid.
- Great for all skin types.
- Can be used twice daily.
- Vitamin C percentage is not mentioned in the box. To be safe, never apply too much product.
Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serum for Face
TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face
Want to go as natural as can be without spending much? This TruSkin vitamin C serum will be your holy grail.
Made with Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, plant-derived hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E, you’ll wake up to a brighter, more even toned, poreless skin each and every day.
It’s like reversing the signs of aging while protecting your skin from new damage! Nothing to lose here except the signs of skin aging!
- Good price point.
- Made with Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate for maximum efficacy and absorbency.
- Contains active plant-based ingredients such as aloe, witch hazel, jojoba oil, Gotu Kola, wildcrafted horsetail, dandelion, and geranium.
- Active plant-based ingredients may be harsh for people with acne prone or sensitive skin. Always do a patch test prior to using it on your face.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Face and Neck
SkinCeuticals Vitamin C E Ferulic Bottle
Our face and neck are known to be the most sun-exposed body parts. This makes them prone to premature aging.
SkinCeuticals C e Ferulic serum aims to address the damage caused by UVA/UVB rays by improving collagen production and increasing healthy cells turnover to repair the skin.
Being well absorbed into the skin and packed with staying power, this serum can effectively protect you from free radicals including UVA/UVB rays.
It’ll be your sunscreen’s new best friend!
- Made with L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA) which is a highly potent type of vitamin C.
- Has vitamin E and Ferulic Acid which triples the antioxidant power of vitamin C.
- Offers excellent protection against UVA/UVB rays.
- Quickly absorbed by the skin and can’t be washed or rubbed off making it a perfect product to use before applying sunscreen.
- Expensive AF.
- LAAs can be very strong for people with oily, acne prone or sensitive skin. Always do a patch test prior to using it on your face.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Sensitive Skin
Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum 22 by Serumtologie
This Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum 22 by Serumtologie offers a high concentration of vitamin C to stimulate collagen production and deliver an effective anti-aging treatment even for people with sensitive skin.
Made with 100% vegan ingredients, you can be assured there are no harmful chemicals or additives that may cause skin irritation.
It also absorbs into the skin really well and won’t clog the pores when layered with other skin products.
- Good price point.
- Made with 22% vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate) and 100% vegan ingredients.
- Can be used day and night.
- Great for sensitive or acne prone skin.
- Inconsistent consistency.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Dry Skin
Obagi Professional-C Serum
This Obagi serum offers a safe concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid to provide dry skin a glowing, anti-aging boost without any signs of dryness (like skin tightening and flaking).
Made with a few humble ingredients, this may seem like a simple, straightforward product but it’s highly effective in brightening, calming and retaining the skin’s moisture, making it a perfect choice for people with dry or sensitive skin.
- Made with 10% vitamin C (LAA)
- Brightens skin while retaining its moisture.
- Effectively minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.
- Safe for dry or sensitive skin.
- Steep price point.
- Does not offer UVA/UVB protection.
- Uses Propylene Glycol which is a kind of mineral oil. Though these may help seal in moisture, some people may be allergic to it.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Combination Skin
Cosmedica Vitamin C Serum
Combination skin is the hardest to deal with in terms of finding the best vitamin C serum. With Cosmedica Vitamin C Serum, your combination skin will feel like it met its perfect match.
Made with a high concentration of Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, this serum is potent yet gentle and easily absorbed by the skin. It won’t leave your T-Zone looking like an oily mess nor leave the rest of your face dry and flaky.
Combined with 3 other powerful antioxidants, your skin will surely feel fresh and glowing while visibly improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Super affordable.
- Made with 20% vitamin C (Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate) for fast absorption and efficiency.
- Contains vitamin E, ferulic and hyaluronic acid.
- Vegan and cruelty-free.
- Paraben and alcohol-free.
- Safe to use twice a day.
- Great for all skin types.
- Inconsistent consistency.
- Not a fan of its scent.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Dark Skin
SkinMedica Vitamin C+E Complex
Want to recover from darkening and damage caused by extreme sun exposure? This SkinMedica serum will help nurse your skin back to health.
Its powerful combination of vitamins C and E helps repair skin damage and improve its tone and texture all while protecting it from future damage caused by prolonged exposure to UVA/UVB rays.
Whether you’re a tanning fanatic or naturally have deep skin tone, an added layer of protection is a great way to prolong your skin’s youthfulness.
- Made with Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate.
- Has added vitamin E for more antioxidant power.
- Improves skin tone and texture.
- Brightens skin for a youthful glow.
- Great for all skin types.
- Can only be used once (and preferably in the morning).
Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Scars
The Ordinary Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Bothered by pesky spots left behind by acne, insect bites or even chickenpox? The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution may just be the extraordinary scar eraser you’ve been looking for.
This light serum is super potent in brightening and repairing damaged skin and discolorations caused by scars.
Made without fillers, you can be assured that all you’ll be getting is vitamin C goodness without irritation from harsh ingredients.
- Made with Ascorbyl Glucoside.
- Improves the appearance of scars.
- Fades dark spots and evens out skin tone.
- Brightens the skin.
- Has a sticky texture.
- Leaves a shiny film on the skin.
Best Organic Vitamin C Serum for Face with Hyaluronic Acid
InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
Can you use hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serum together? Eco babes, rejoice! There’s no need to buy two different products with this InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum.
It combines the brightening powers of vitamin C and soothing moisturization of hyaluronic acid along with other purely organic and natural ingredients to create the serum of your dreams.
No harmful chemicals were added to ensure a safe formula with less skin irritations. Effectively improves the appearance of dark undereye circles, fine lines, and wrinkles with continued use.
- Amazing price.
- Made with 20% vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate)
- Contains ferulic and hyaluronic acids, plus plant-derived stem cells and Sea Buckthorn Oil to protect and nourish the skin.
- Made without parabens, SLS/SLES, mineral oil, petroleum, and other harsh synthetic chemicals.
- Triggers hoarding. You’ll surely love it that you’d want to buy more, ya’ know, just in case you run out of it. 😉
Top 3 Best Vitamin C Serums for Older Skin
Vichy LiftActiv 15% Pure Vitamin C Serum
This Vichy LiftActive serum is made with pure, stabilized vitamin C sans the use of derivatives.
It’s vitamin C in its cleanest and most potent form, perfect for taking some years off your face.
Paired with hyaluronic acid to moisturize the skin and plump up dehydrated cells, your skin will bounce back to life and appear more radiant, even toned, smoother and firmer.
- Made with 15% vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid).
- Has added Hyaluronic acid for moisture retention.
- Makes skin more radiant, even toned and smoother.
- Allergy tested.
- Non-sticky or greasy formula.
- Absorbs well.
- As it is using a pure, stabilized form of vitamin C, repeated exposure to oxygen may change its color.
- May not be recommended for people with sensitive skin as pure ascorbic acid may be harsh for their skin.
40 Carrots Vitamin Serum
Carrot power! This 40 Carrots serum is one of a kind. It combines vitamin C, carotene, and retinol to transform tired and aging skin.
Made with pure ascorbic acid and mostly natural ingredients, this serum effectively brightens and firms up the skin, minimizes pores and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Looking 30 in your 50s could soon be a reality and not just a dream.
- Powered by carrots and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
- Retinol-rich to regenerate aging skin.
- Less irritating compared to the prescription form.
- Works well on tired or aging skin.
- May not be recommended for people with sensitive skin as pure ascorbic acid and retinol may be too harsh for sensitive skin.
- Contains peanut oil, so veer away from this product if you’re allergic.
BioBare Vitamin C B E, and Ferulic Serum
This anti-aging powerhouse combines the power of known antioxidants: vitamins B, C, and E, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid to offer effective protection against external factors that may hasten skin aging.
The formula is absorbed well into the skin and leaves it feeling silky soft and well moisturized.
With continued use, you’ll notice a visible difference in your skin’s tone and texture as well as a visible reduction in your fine lines and wrinkles.
- Made with 20% vitamin C (LAA).
- Packed with vitamins B, E, ferulic and hyaluronic acid.
- Effectively brightens skin for a youthful glow.
- Retains moisture well without the greasy or sticky feel.
- Along with sunscreen, this can offer amazing UVA/UVB protection.
- FDA Approved and cruelty-free.
- Quite expensive.
Putting it All Together
The best vitamin C serum for face mainly depends on your skin type and the skin problem you wish to address. The recommendations above should give you an idea of products to look for based on these two considerations.
No matter how much skin benefits vitamin C can offer, it is still an acid that may come in varying strengths and derivatives to keep it stable and more potent.
Acids may cause irritation especially for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
To avoid getting flare-ups, always test the serum on a small patch of skin before using it on a larger (and highly visible) area such as your face.
Which serum caught your attention? Have you tried any of the products mentioned above?
Share your experience in using vitamin C serums as well as any questions or comments you have regarding this article. Cya on my next article!