Best Vitamin C Serums for Glowing Skin, According to Dermatologists

If you want healthy, glowing skin, you should probably be using a vitamin C serum. Yes, the antioxidant is that universal and that important when it comes to your complexion.

Vitamin C helps produce collagen (which keeps skin firm and reduces the appearance of wrinkles), and protects skin from sun damage and dark spots, Between these varied functions, the majority of folks can benefit from having vitamin C in their skincare routine.” (One caveat: Super strong serums may be irritating if you have highly sensitive skin or just had a peel.)

On top of that, vitamin C has a brightening effect, which leaves your complexion looking radiant. Like all antioxidants, vitamin C works by neutralizing free radicals (a type of molecule in your body) that cause damage to your cells—but unlike other antioxidants, vitamin C is very well studied and, in general, well tolerated at high potencies, allowing for max impact.

 

 

How to choose and use the best vitamin C serum

Go for pure vitamin C: Your product should say ‘L-ascorbic acid’ (a.k.a. pure vitamin C) on the label,ascorbic acid mixes well with other forms of vitamin C, too, like ascorbyl glucoside and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. They feed out the vitamin C at different rates, allowing long-term protection with less irritation, she adds.

Spot standout ingredients: The perfect vitamin C serum has additional antioxidants, like green tea polyphenols, vitamin E, or ferulic acid. “Products that contain L-ascorbic acid along with other antioxidants offer the most protection against skin damage because there are lots of different types of free radicals that break down collagen,” Dr. Germain says. It’s a little like food: “You don’t want to eat only one thing, even if that one thing is healthy.”

Look for A+ packaging: Vitamin C is the diva of the skincare world, meaning it’s super unstable and loses its power if you store it in a well-lit, humid place (like in your bathroom!). “Any vitamin C product that turns brown or discolored is breaking down and should be returned,” says Dr. Germain. This is why you’ll often see vitamin C serums in dark or opaque bottles.

Still, there are so many different vitamin C serums to choose from, so which one should you use? Don’t stress, we asked dermatologists for their favorites to make the search a little easier. Apply one of these vitamin C serums in the morning after cleansing—but before sunscreen (yes, you still need sunscreen!)—for the best results.

 

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

🍊BEST OVERALL

This serum is a derm favorite, thanks to its combo of 15% pure vitamin C, 1% vitamin E, and 0.5% ferulic acid, a medley that boosts the efficacy of vitamin C eightfold, research suggests. “This is far and away the best product and the one I recommend most frequently,” says Dr. Hirsch. Once absorbed, it can’t be rubbed off, so you can use it with SPF.

 

 

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

🍊BEST VALUE

If your skin is prone to irritation, look no further than this nourishing 10% vitamin C serum, which features essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin B5 to hydrate and soothe the skin. It’s also noncomedogenic (so it won’t clog pores) and fragrance-free for a simple formula that effectively boosts radiance.

 

L’Oreal Revitalift 10% Pure Vitamin C Concentrate

🍊RAVE REVIEWS

This 10% vitamin C concentrate sinks deeply into skin to reduce wrinkles and boost overall radiance, making it a great base underneath makeup. Free of fragrances, parabens, dyes, and mineral oil, the sensitive skin-friendly formula will only cost you about $20. The air-tight tube also helps preserve the product.

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Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair 20% Vitamin C Serum Capsules

This rich serum comes in single-dose, biodegradable capsule to limit the amount of product being put on the skin at one time” so you apply the perfect amount, explains. The capsule also helps maintain the potency and efficacy of the highly sensitive vitamin C by shielding it from air and UV light.

 

$24.99

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Olay Regenerist MAX Tone Serum

This unique product feels more like a lotion-serum hybrid, and deeply hydrates the skin with a rich, non-greasy formula that leaves the skin visibly glowing and smooth. A stable form of vitamin C brightens and protects, while niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) soothes irritation, tames oil production, and calms redness.

sephora.com

$22.00

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Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C

Add a few drops of this fragrance-free vitamin C serum to your moisturizer and slather it on all at the same time, Dr. Chapas says, so it’s easy to incorporate into your skincare regimen. No need to worry about feeling dry, as it contains hydrating glycerin, dimethicone, and squalane. Thanks to its addition of salicylic acid, those with acne-prone skin will love this option.

 

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