4 Best Vitamin C Serums

4 Best Vitamin C Serums

16
Hours
Researched
82
Products
Evaluated

After 16 hours of research evaluating 82 products, we picked TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum as our top choice.

Most of you are missing the most important step in your skin care routine -using a Vitamin C serum. 

Here's why:

Our face tolerates some pretty tough stuff. Years of wearing makeup everyday, being out in the sun, and getting older can really take a toll on your skin.

According to the National Institute on Aging, over time, skin changes. It becomes thinner, loses fat, and no longer looks as smooth as it once did. But, there are things you can do to make it feel and look better. The most important thing is using the best Vitamin C serum under your moisturizer

Why should you use a Vitamin C serum? 

The Vitamin C benefits are endless but here are just a few:

  • Stops aging and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles
  • Repairs damage from the sun
  • Fades dark spots, acne scars, and sun damage
  • Brights your skin and makes it glow
  • Makes your skin firmer and younger

Want to know the best part?

We did the research and picked the very best Vitamin C serums so you don’t have to. We spent hours reading beauty reviews and comparing prices to give you the most trusted list below. Now, get glowing.

Why trust us: Faveable has spent thousands of hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing products to come up with carefully selected lists trusted by millions of consumers since 2013.

4 Best Vitamin C Serums

  • 4. DRUNK ELEPHANT C-Firma™ Day Serum
  • 3. Serumtologie Vitamin C Serum 22
  • 2. Skinceuticals C E FERULIC® Vitamin C serum
  • 1. TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum

Best Vitamin C Serum for Oily Skin

#4

DRUNK ELEPHANT C-Firma™ Day Serum

Best Vitamin C Serum for Oily Skin: DRUNK ELEPHANT C-Firma™ Day Serum
76 % Editor Score
80 % User Score
110 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Brighter and more even skin tone 
  • Will fade dark spots and acne scars
  • Makeup goes on perfectly after so you can wear it during the day

A super-potent vitamin C day serum packed with a powerful antioxidant complex, essential nutrients, fruit enzymes, and a chronopeptide. Formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or fragrances. 

This product has a not-so-pleasant smell. The good news is, it doesn't linger for long. And, it doesn't have any harmful fragrances so you can feel good about that. 

Who's it for? This Vitamin C serum is formulated with ascrobic acid, which provides the best results for those with oily skin. Those with sensitive or dry skin should consider another serum with sodium ascorbyl phosphate which is less irritating. 

Texture and application: The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum has a lightweight texture that soaks in and dries quickly after applying. The runny consistency is smooth and glides over your skin with ease. It doesn't feel sticky at all, which is a good thing when you want to use it during the day. This product has no added fragrance too, so any scent you may smell is completely natural from the products. 

The Drunk Elephant bottle has a pump, which is nice for controlling the amount that comes out. Unfortunately it is made out of plastic, which isn't the best for protecting the serum. The good news is it's not transparent so light can't get through. 

Ingredients: The Vitamin C in this formula is in the form of L-ascorbic acid which is the purest form. And, it has 15% of it. Only highly concentrated formulas with 10% or more are effective, so this one is legit. On top of that, the C-Firma has a PH level of 3.3. For Vitamin C serums to penetrate the skin effectively they need to have a PH level lower than 3.5%.

Other main ingredients in this product include pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract that dissolve the dead skin cells. Rest assured, there are no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or fragrances to be found either. 

Price: The $80 price is high for 1 fluid ounce, but this one is totally worth it. Not to mention, a little goes a long way. One pump of product is more than enough to cover your entire face. So, it will last you several months or more.

Best Vitamin C Serum for Dry and Sensitive Skin

#3

Serumtologie Vitamin C Serum 22

Best Vitamin C Serum for Dry and Sensitive Skin: Serumtologie Vitamin C Serum 22
82 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
219 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Gentle on the skin and won't cause irritation
  • Will plump up your skin and make it glow 
  • Brighter and smoother results within a month

An all natural, safe, vegan serum containing 22% Vitamin C. 

May cause mild breakouts for those of you with combination or oily skin. 

Who's it for? This Vitamin C serum contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate (the water soluable form of ascorbic acid) which makes this a lot less irritating than most serums. So if you have sensitive skin, this is the serum you want to be using.

And, because this serum contains moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera and jojoba oil, its great for those with dry skin, too. 

Ingredients: Vitamin C typically comes in the form of ascrobic acid. However, this can be extremely irritating to those with sensitive skin. The Serumtologie serum contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate instead. This ingredient is just as good, just a bit watered down which is why there's 22% of it. 

We love this product because it is packed full of beneficial ingredients. This stuff contains 5% hyaluronic acid, 1% ferulic acid, and 1% Vitamin E. As a bonus, it contains aloe vera leaf and jojoba oil for moisture.

To make things even better, it contains no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or dyes. It's made in the USA, vegan, and not tested on animals, too. 

Texture and application: The Serumtologie Vitamin C serum has a luxurious light and smooth texture that we can't get enough of. The color of the serum varies from clear to milky white, which is exactly the color it should be.

But what really sets this product apart from the rest is the cobalt blue dropper bottle. Amber or blue bottles actually protect the serum from light. Brands with transparent bottles are cheaper and give the serum a shorter shelf life. 

Price: Since most quality Vitamin C serums cost somewhere in the $20-$100 range, we think $35 for an all-natural product is a steal. The price reflected is for the 1.15 fl ounce jar. We think that is a great price for this serum -- well worth the investment.

Best Vitamin C Serum Splurge

#2

Skinceuticals C E FERULIC® Vitamin C serum

Best Vitamin C Serum Splurge: Skinceuticals C E FERULIC® Vitamin C serum
89 % Editor Score
88 % User Score
171 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Prevents the signs of aging and sun damage
  • Will diminish fine lines and wrinkles
  • Worth the money for smoother, softer skin

A daytime vitamin C serum that delivers advanced environmental protection and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reverses loss of firmness, and brightens skin's complexion.

This serum dries somewhat tacky and stays sticky on the skin. So, it's best to use at night when you are not planning on wearing makeup. 

Who's it for? This intensely effective Vitamin C serum is made for those with normal to oily skin. Because the formula has L-ascorbic acid, it will most likely be too irritating for those with sensitive and dry skin. 

Ingredients: The Skinceuticals formula is so effective, they actually have a patent on it. What we do know, is that it is water based, has 15% Vitamin C in the form of L-ascorbic acid, 0.5% Ferulic acid, and 1% Vitamin E. Other main ingredients include glycerin and hyaluronate. Rest assured, there are no parabens, dyes, or fragrances to be found. 

This product has no added fragrance so, unfortunately it doesn't smell like roses. In fact, some say this product has a metallic smell to it. 

Texture and application: The Skinceuticals Vitamin C serum is a lightweight, oil-free, smooth serum. Once absorbed, the Vitamin C is effective for 72 hours. Now that's a dream. 

It comes in an amber dropper bottle that is made of pure glass. We wouldn't expect anything less from Skinceuticals. 

Price: It's hard to find a Vitamin C serum that actually works miracles. So we think for a best-selling product that does just that, it's worth every penny. Not to mention, this product is effective for so long, you only need to apply it once a day.

Best Overall Vitamin C Serum

#1

TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum

Best Overall Vitamin C Serum: TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum
95 % Editor Score
94 % User Score
1,416 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Your skin will look flawless and have a glowing finish
  • Diminishes the appearance of fine lines
  • Age spots, sun spots, dark spots, and acne scars will vanish

A 98% natural, 72% organic, and cruelty-free serum that transforms every skin type.

A few said this serum made them breakout. However, you can receive a full money back guarantee if this happens to you. 

Who's it for? This best overall is designed for all skin types but we found it perfect for women with combination skin and sensitive skin because of the sodium ascorbyl phosphate (dilluted Vitamin C). 

Ingredients: Three main ingredients can be found in this serum: sodium ascorbyl phosphate (Vitamin C), hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin E. When Vitamin C is paired with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E, it becomes stable and long-lasting.

Other main ingredients include organic aloe vera, dandelion, and jojoba oil. It is certified free of parabens, phthalates, GMOs, sodium lauryl sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil, artificial colors and fragrances, and is properly pH balanced for effectiveness, too.

Texture and application: The texture of the TruSkin Vitamin C Serum is thin, lightweight, and fluid. It absorbs quickly and leaves behind no oily residue. And, it’s surprisingly lightweight for what it achieves. Also, TruSkin's products are not tested on animals, and that feels good too, doesn’t it?

This plant based formula naturally ranges in color from almost clear to somewhat cloudy from batch to batch. TruSkin Naturals chooses not to hide these natural variations with artificial colors or dyes to ensure the formula is kept as pure as possible and because the appearance of the serum has no impact on the effectiveness of the formula.

The amber colored, glass dropper bottle is the best out there. The screw top dropper allows you to perfectly apply the desired amount. While the dark, amber protects the serum from light. 

Price: $20 for the 1-ounce bottle is a dream. And, the bigger 2-ounce bottle is an even better deal at $35.

The best part is, if you decide that this serum is not for you, you have a full 3 months to send an email for a 100% money back refund with no questions asked (you don't even have to return the bottle). So, theres no reason not to give this product a try. 

Vitamin C Serum Buying Guide

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. It’s not only good when consumed in food, but it’s also beneficial when applied to the skin.

At the risk of sounding like an overused marketing tagline, Vitamin C really is an all-rounder. It’s amazing for all skin types, and people of all ages will greatly benefit from using it topically. As a well-researched and established skincare ingredient, it’s far from being a skincare fad in the vein of 24K gold masks and snail mucin.

If you’re unsure about using a Vitamin C serum into your skincare routine, this guide should seal the deal. We’ll also explore all the different forms of this potent-yet-sensitive vitamin to help you make the right choice!

What Does Vitamin C Do for Your Skin?

  • It supports skin health and elasticity. Vitamin C stimulates collagen production. As you may already know, collagen is responsible for maintaining your skin’s strength and elasticity. Your body’s collagen levels deplete with age, sun exposure, and smoking. Taking Vitamin C orally and using a Vitamin C serum will help ensure that your skin has all the collagen it needs, leading to plumper and smoother skin—something we all DEFINITELY want.
  • It helps fight the signs of aging. As your skin’s elasticity improves, you’ll obviously be less prone to fine lines and wrinkles. On top of that, Vitamin C, being an excellent antioxidant, helps fight free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for cellular damage, which accelerates skin aging.

  • It prevents sunburn. Did you know that Vitamin C increases the effectiveness of sunscreen? It’s amazing at preventing sunburn, so don’t skip your Vitamin C serum in the morning!
  • It lightens hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C serums are excellent for lightening hyperpigmentation—whether it’s from sun damage or a reaction to a bad product. If you’re struggling with dark spots and an uneven skin tone, regularly applying a Vitamin C serum will help.
  • It helps erase acne marks. Fighting acne is already difficult in itself. But even after you successfully conquer breakouts, you’re left to deal with unsightly acne marks. That being said, incorporating Vitamin C serum in your daily skincare routine helps speed up the process of fading these dark spots.
  • It brightens your skin. We’re all after “that glow.” A bright complexion simply stands out from the crowd, and Vitamin C can help you achieve that.

What to Consider When Shopping for a Vitamin C Serum

We’re all guilty of getting swayed by fancy packaging and to-die-for scents at some point in our lives, but these obviously speak nothing of a product’s effectiveness.

When it comes to Vitamin C serums—where there is a plethora of formulas and concentrations to choose from—being a sensible, rational buyer is more important than ever. So what, exactly, are the things to consider when buying the right serum for you?

The form of Vitamin C used in the formula. There are various forms of Vitamin C that are being used in serums nowadays. You’ll usually see names like L-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and ascorbyl palmitate, among others. Some forms are better at certain aspects than others, so make sure to do your homework! Check out the next section to know more.

The concentration. Vitamin C serums come in a wide range of concentrations—usually between 3 to 20 percent. The higher the concentration, the more potent it will be. Before you get trigger-happy, however, note that high-percentage serums can cause irritation on sensitive skin. As such, it’s better to start off with 10% or less if you’re new to the Vitamin C game.

Effective and protective packaging. I’m not talking about fancy colors and elegant labels here. Vitamin C is inherently sensitive to light and is prone to oxidation, especially in L-ascorbic acid form. This is why choosing a product that’s been thoughtfully packaged is crucial.

Go for serums in opaque and airtight bottles. Translucent amber or blue bottles are fine, too.

Accompanying ingredients. Vitamin C is already amazing on its own, and picking a serum that only has this specific vitamin for an active component will already do a lot of great things for your skin.

However, you can also choose to go for products with added ingredients that help enhance Vitamin C’s skin-saving effects. Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and ferulic acid are some examples of helpful henchmen.

The price point. If you’ve been window shopping for quite a while now, you’ll notice that Vitamin C serums are, in general, pricier than many other skincare products. It’s only fitting given that this vitamin is highly sensitive to light and easily oxidizes (and is, therefore, trickier to package and handle) and that serums are usually more expensive because of their higher concentration.

That said, Vitamin C serums come in a wide range of price points. You’re probably going to find something that will suit your budget—although you’re likely going to have to compromise on a thing or two if you want to spend less.

The product’s pH. Vitamin C is at its most stable at acidic pH levels. Ideally, your serum should have a pH of around 3.5 or less for it to remain effective for weeks after the date of purchase.

Vitamin C and Its Derivatives

Vitamin C comes in various forms. There’s L-Ascorbic Acid, which is the naturally-occurring form of Vitamin C, and there are also derivatives. For the uninitiated, derivatives are a form of Vitamin C with an added component that helps prevent degradation and promote stability.

While there really isn’t a definitive answer to what the best form of Vitamin C is, you should know that each has its own pros and cons.

  • L-Ascorbic Acid: Also referred to as LAA, L-ascorbic acid is the most researched form of Vitamin C. It’s widely regarded as the most potent form, but it’s also the least stable and is irritating at higher concentrations.
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: These are water-based Vitamin C derivatives that are great for newbies and people with sensitive skin. These forms, while not the most potent, are more stable and less irritating than LAA.
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate: If you’re looking for an oil-based Vitamin C product, go for one that contains ascorbyl palmitate. This fat-soluble derivative isn’t as effective as ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl palmitate, or magnesium palmitate, but it is stable and non-irritating.

The Best Vitamin C Serum for Your Skin Type

If you have normal or oily skin, you should be able to comfortably use L-ascorbic acid. If you don’t have to deal with sensitivity, you can enjoy the wonderful benefits of this pure and potent form.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, go for the gentler derivatives. We recommend either sodium ascorbyl phosphate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate because these water-based derivatives are gentler than LAA and more effective than ascorbyl palmitate. However, if you absolutely must use an oil-based formula, ascorbyl palmitate is the way to go.

The Best Time to Apply Vitamin C Serum

Although your instinct may tell you that Vitamin C serums are best applied at night, the opposite is actually true. Remember that Vitamin C helps prevent sunburn and boosts the effectiveness of sunscreen, so applying it as a part of your morning skin care routine is ideal. It goes without saying that using SPF is essential, too.

What’s more, you’re usually exposed to more free radicals during the daytime, so you’ll get more use out of Vitamin C’s free radical-neutralizing effects in the AM.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use Vitamin C before bedtime! Applying twice a day is fine—well, actually, it’s great. Just be mindful of whether or not it will jive well with your nighttime products. As you will learn in the next section, some ingredients don’t sit well with Vitamin C.

What NOT to Use with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is awesome, but there are certain ingredients that don't work well with it. To make sure you’re protected from irritation, check out the following guidelines:

  • Avoid using a high-concentration Vitamin C serum with skincare products that contain exfoliating acids. Some examples are glycolic, lactic, salicylic, and mandelic acid. Use them on separate days to avoid irritating your skin. You may also opt to use acids at night and Vitamin C during the daytime.
  • Likewise, avoid applying Vitamin C and retinol at the same time.
  • Some people have reported experiencing skin flushing when using Vitamin C and niacinamide. This, however, is on a case-to-case basis. If you’re a fan of both ingredients (you should be, TBH), try using them together once to see if you can get away with it.

More Vitamin C Tips

  • If you’re new to Vitamin C, start with low-concentration serums and work your way up. Ideally, you should avoid pure LAA (yes, even if your skin is oily) and stick to a 1.5% to 3% derivative for the first month.

  • Apply your Vitamin C serum right after cleansing and toning your face. You want all the actives to be directly absorbed by your skin, and layering a serum on top of heavier products like moisturizers and lotions will affect absorption.
  • Wait for your serum to fully absorb before proceeding to the next step in your skincare routine. Otherwise, you might end up diluting the Vitamin C with the next product you apply.
  • Avoid colored products. You should stick to a serum that is either white or colorless. White with a tinge of yellow or orange is fine, too. As Vitamin C oxidizes, it turns yellow—and the darker it becomes, the more oxidized the product already is. Needless to say, buying a colored product will make it difficult for you to see signs of oxidation for yourself.

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Article Staff

Marina is a California girl and former Idaho resident who is currently living her best life in the Seattle area with her husband and newborn baby. She has a BA in Journalism from Boise State University, as well as a M.Ed from Western Washington University.

Marina has a passion for running, hiking, brunching and, of course, all things home decor. When she isn’t writing, Marina loves to be with family and friends, preferably in the outdoors.

Marina covers everything from health and beauty to babies and women. If the product is in one of these categories, she's likely tried it. For all beauty + mom advice, she's your go-to girl. Want to be friends? Follow her on Instagram: @mrswiersma

Editor Jenna Holtz
Researcher Ronnie Langston
Art Director Cherry Barbacena

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4 Best Vitamin C Serums

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