The Best Vitamin C Serums of 2018

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

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.

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  1. TDR

    3 Different Types of Vitamin C
    – L ascorbic acid – A pure form of vitamin C. The only vitamin C we recommend for application on the face. It is the most potent form of vitamin C. Recommended in concentrations of 15-20%
    – Ascorbyl Palmitate (also know as vitamin C ester) – Considered less irritating than L ascorbic acid, however, studies suggest there is also less antioxidant activity. It is much less potent than L ascorbic acid.
    – Sodium ascorbyl phosphate – A newer derivative of Vitamin C. Very stable and less irritating. More studies are needed.

  2. TDR

    Here’s a list of Vitamin C products not included above:

    OZ Naturals Vitamin C Serum 20 with Hyaluronic Acid
    Amara Organics Vitamin C for Face 20% With Hyaluronic Acid
    Instanatural Vitamin C Serum
    Advanced Clinicals Vitamin C Anti-aging Serum for Dark Spots
    Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Serum + Vitamin E
    Lumirance Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum
    KLAIRS Freshly Juiced Vitamic C Serum
    OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum
    Radha Beauty Vitamin C Serum
    goPure Vitamin C Serum
    Serumtologie C Serum 22
    Oliology Vitamin C Serum
    100% Pure Vitamin C Serum
    Art Naturals Enhanced Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid
    Ganique Paris Vitamin C Serum
    Foxbrim Vitamin C Serum for Face,
    40 Carrots Carrot + C Vitamin Face Serum
    Serumtologie C Serum 22
    Lumirance Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum
    Noche Y Dia Night and Day Vitamin C Revitalizing Concentrate Serum
    Medyskin Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum
    Vitamin C Serum Eve Hansen Facelift
    emerginC vitamin C serum
    Mint Pear C Your Youth
    Nature’s Truth Professional Strength Hyaluronic Acid Serum

  3. Happy Now

    I am using it for my hands mostly as there is nothing natural out there for the hands than this. I make my own and just mix regular water with Vitamin C powder and some vegetable glycerine. I read you should store the mixture in a dark bottle, which I do. Don’t use a dropper bottle as the oil seem to degrade the rubber over time. I apply the mixture 3 times a day to the back of my hands to get rid of veins and freckles! Three times a day would be as follows: after a morning shower, after washing hands, and before going to bed. It seems to be temporary as I have been doing this for almost two months and keep on needing to do it three times a day for the veins, but the freckles have faded some..

    • TDR

      Vitamin C serums are typically used on the face and décolletage and are sought after for their highly concentrated addition of vitamin C. Although commonly used by women with mature skin, a vitamin C serum can be introduced into your skincare routine at any age to experience its effects on the health, look, and feel of your skin. If you’re especially interested in natural-based skincare products, a vitamin C serum is perfect, delivering all of the anti-aging benefits you desire with natural ingredients.

  4. Mary

    I have been making and using my own vitamin C serum for a couple of weeks now but cant see much improvement. I make 1 teaspoon of the vitamin c to 4 teaspoons of distilled water. Why do you think I haven’t seen any results, is the mixture to weak or have I not used it long enough.

  5. Anonymous

    Since I cannot afford the expense Vitamin C Serum, I decided to make my own. It is all natural, safe, odorless and works great. I’ve shared it with a few friends to she what they think about it. Since Vitamin C looses its strength, I only make a week’s supply for each week. It’s worth it to get it right. If my friends are pleased with their results, I will continue making it for them and charge them a small fee that makes it affordable for those of us who are not rich. So far, I’m happy with it.

  6. CiCi

    I love vitamin C! Home-made vitamin c is cheaper but is not stabilized and can only be used for about 1 week. Recently I’ve been using Super Brightening Vitamin C Serum from Joyal Beauty and I like it! My skin becomes soft and radiant after using it. I’d love to try the number 1 product you mentioned here next time. I always love to try new; but I could not google the serum you mentioned, I only find this at Amazon: Lancer Dermatology Vitamin C 10% Cream W L-Ascorbic Acid. Is this the related brand?

  7. Nara

    Anyone knows how many times a day do I have to use the vitamin c?
    So far I started with 10% and in 3 weeks I see the results and I apply it only before bed


    • TDR

      For all the benefits that vitamin C serums can provide to the skin, they are actually pretty simple to incorporate into your daily skincare routine. Always follow the standard directions of the actual vitamin C serum you choose, however, most of them will work similarly.

      A little of a vitamin C serum goes a long way and most of them are packaged in a classic dropper bottle. Apply a few drops of vitamin C serum to skin that has been cleansed and toned. You’ll want to make sure that the vitamin C serum has had a chance to dry completely before moving onto other steps in your skincare routine or your makeup application. You can apply a vitamin C serum once or twice a day depending on your personal preference and how your skin responds.

      Look for products in airless bottles. Vitamin C is an excellent preservative, but other ingredients will not last long when exploded to air.

  8. Dana

    I’ve been using an organic vitamin C serum by Amara Organics. It’s got vitamin E and hyaluronic acid in it too. It’s a very nice product and inexpensive compared to many of the other brands out there.

  9. Kelly

    @ED, all the doctors that I’ve seen talk about vitamin c say that taking it orally does nothing and you need to apply it to your face for any real results this includes the pill pushing Dr. Oz.

  10. Tash

    I highly recommend Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum. It contains vitamin c and other vitamins and minerals to help protect the skin during the day. One of my favorite skin care products. You cant but it online as you need to have a skin care consultation before they will sell it to you.

    • TDR

      The SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum contains antioxidant vitamins C and E along with the addition of ferulic acid giving it another dose of protection against environmental damage. With this formulation, the SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum is known and celebrated for protecting the skin. And with its vitamin C concentration, the SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum provides the normal benefits like reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and working to approve the appearance of the skin overall.

      Another option is Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is most celebrated. This vitamin C serum is tailored to improve the complexion by working to brighten the skin and balancing the skin tone. The Drunk Elephant vitamin C serum is packed not only with skin brightening vitamin C but also with ferulic acid which helps to repair sun damaged skin. You’ll also find this vitamin C serum infused with a number of other skin beneficial ingredients like hydrating plant extracts, extra antioxidants for protection, and even peptides to really help rejuvenate and revitalize the skin. The most notable attribute of this vitamin C serum has to be its promise that it will continue to work up to three days after your initial application.

      Also, take a look at the Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%. This is your standard vitamin C serum that contains the L-ascorbic acid at the desired percentage. While there is nothing really spectacular about this vitamin C serum, it is the standard of how a truly effective vitamin C serum should work for anti-aging skincare. The Obagi vitamin C serum offers supreme antioxidant protection and gets deep into skin to stimulate collagen and elastin productions.

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