Vitamin C is a powerhouse skincare ingredient that can make skin look brighter, tighter and more glowy. “Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants for the skin. Topical vitamin C, also known as a vitamin C serum, has been shown in studies to fight free radicals, prevent damage from sun and environmental pollution, brighten the skin, and stimulate collagen production,” said Dr. Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “I recommend daily or twice daily use of topical vitamin C to help protect your skin throughout the day. Regular use of vitamin C is effective for anti-aging and to help restore radiance into the skin. Once a person begins to use vitamin C regularly, they should see results in a few weeks.”
Best vitamin C serum for face
While the best vitamin C serum for your face will depend on your individual needs, there are a few things to look for in a top-notch vitamin C serum. For maximum results, you’ll want to look for a concentration of between 10 and 20%, and it’s a good idea to look for a serum with L-ascorbic acid, which is an antioxidant and high-quality form of vitamin C. Price point doesn’t always reflect quality, so look opt for the vitamin C serum that works best for your budget.
When is the best time to apply vitamin C serums?
Dr. Chang says vitamin C can be used once or twice daily, but she recommends twice daily for maximum benefits. “If used in serum or essence forms, it should be applied after cleansing and before your thicker moisturizers and creams,” she explains.
Worried you might break out? While this is always a possibility, Dr. Chang said even those with sensitive skin tend to benefit from vitamin C. “It’s great for all skin types, including extra sensitive skin, as it protects against environmental pollutants and other potential irritants,” she explains. But before applying any new skincare product to your full face, Dr. Chang recommends using a test spot to the forearm or neck to make sure you are not sensitive to one or more of its ingredients: “Allergic reactions or irritation can present with redness, swelling, blisters, itching, burning, and/or heat in the area of application.”
So, how long does it take for vitamin C serums to work? According to Dr. Salar Parvini, chief science officer at the holistic health club and co-founder of Saffron & Sage skincare line, you’ll most likely see and feel results immediately in the form of tighter, firmer skin. “Over the longer term, you’ll see less splotches and discolorations on your skin (more even skin tone) as well as less wrinkles and fine lines,” Dr. Parvini added. “That takes one to thee skin cycles (a skin cycle is 28 days). Vitamin C is a necessary compound to make good, healthy new collagen.”
Here’s a breakdown of the 12 best vitamin C face serums:
Avalon Organics new Vitamin C Radiance Serum is powered by vitamin C, triple-C complex, kakadu plum, licorice root, and milk thistle. This formula is suitable for sensitive skin and is dermatologist-tested. ($29.99, Amazon.com).
DERMADoctor Kakadu 20% Vitamin C Serum ticks all the boxes for those with sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic, dye and fragrance free and noncomedogenic—meaning it won’t clog your pores. It also boasts 20% vitamin C, so it will get the job done. ($95.00, dermadoctor.com)
Lightspeed Hydra Glow C Serum by Free Agent Skincare offers clinical strength vitamin C hydrating treatment serum formulated with BV-OSC Vitamin C that helps boost collagen levels. ($95.00, )
Royal C Overnight Cellular Repair Oil by Lovinah, features vitamin C and Bakuchiol, a gentle, plant-based alternative to retinol that’s great for overnight treatments. ($145.00, )
Epionce’s Intense Defense Serum is an anti-aging serum that derives its vitamin content through botanical (and not synthetic) sources of vitamins A, B, C, D and E for healthier-looking skin. ($115.00, )
Nourish Hydrating & Firming Serum is a multipurpose vitamin and mineral serum that contains a high concentration of pure hyaluronic acid, plus is high in vitamins B3, B5, & C. This combo should help rebuild healthy collagen, prevent wrinkles, even out skin tone and treat dark spots. ($88.00, ).
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Odacité Private Collection An Autumn On The World is a concentrate of the latest advancement in vitamin C, meaning the formulation is more stabilized and will give you more consistent results. It also contains skin-loving ingredients, including acai, passion fruit, wild carrot and more. ($165.00, )
Best drugstore vitamin c serums
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum with Konjac Root, Hyaluronic Acid, and Ferulic Acid is a mix of natural antioxidants and active essential ingredients. ($27.00, Amazon.com)
What’s the best vitamin C serum with ascorbic acid?
No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance contains 5% pure vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, which acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping protect cells form free radicals. ($24.99, us.no7beauty.com)
Pure C from Steiger Skin Care is a brightening and hydrating Vitamin C serum with stabilized L-Ascorbic Acid and vitamins A and E, which according to double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Jacob Steiger, help “to achieve improved skin texture and tone, resulting in healthier-looking skin.” ($120.00, )