The best vitamin C serums are the backbone of any good skincare routine. Stat. Vitamin C is an incredibly potent ingredient that can not only aid in skin brightening but minimise inflammation, dryness, the appearance of dark spots caused by sun damage, hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Oh, and it has antioxidant properties that make it effective for fighting the effects of pollution and other environmental aggressors that your delicate skin has to face every single day.
Basically: there’s very good reason why vitamin C is among the most searched-for skincare ingredients of all time – and while you can get your fill of vitamin C through skincare products like moisturisers and toners, dermatology experts agree that vitamin C serums reign supreme as the most effective.
Of course, there are several types of vitamin C – from tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbyl to ascorbyl glucoside – and many vitamin C face serums also contain a mix of other helpful ingredients such as vitamin E, glycerin, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and retinol. It can be a tad confusing. But fret not: below is everything you need to know, plus an edit of tried and tested vitamin C serums by the likes of La Roche-Posay, Drunk Elephant, L'Oreal and The Inkey List. Brighter skin, incoming.
Best vitamin C serums at a glance:
- Best vitamin C serum overall: Medik8 C-Tetra Serum, £39, Medik8
- Best vitamin C serum (runner-up): Violet-C Brightening Serum, WAS £86 NOW £68.80, Tatcha
- Best for dark spots: Biossance Squalane and Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum, £50, Cult Beauty
- Best for brightening: Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum, £82, LookFantastic
- Best with lactic acid: Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C + Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum, £88, Space NK
And no, it's not as gimmicky as it sounds.
Can I use vitamin C serum everyday?
Yes, you can. In fact, it's advised. When you use vitamin C products on a daily basis, you can expect to see a brightening of your skin texture and a reduction in acne scars. Skin looks glowy, dark circles appear reduced and your complexion will be protected from pollution. Just make sure you select the best formulation for your skin type (more on that below).
As for where the vitamin C serums fit into your existing skincare regime? You'll want to apply it after cleansing to clean and dry skin, in the morning and at night (or just in the morning, depending on the form of vitamin C and potency you choose). Follow your vitamin C serum with your favourite moisturiser and face sunscreen or SPF during the day, and a night cream in the evening. This will seal the serum and hydrate your complexion further.
Who should not use vitamin C serum?
There are a few skin types which might wish to steer clear. Case in point: those with rosacea. Using a vitamin C serum may cause unwanted irritation and breakouts.
Which vitamin C serum is the best?
Though - in theory - most people can introduce a vitamin C serum for face to their routine, there are a few things to consider when it comes to shopping for them.
Vitamin C is available in a number of concentrations, from 5% through to 30%, and it depends on your skin type as to the potency you should go for. Generally speaking, we'd recommend products that contain between 10-15% potency as being the most universal.
Vitamin C is highly effective in its pure form, but it's notoriously unstable due to the fact that it can reduce in effectiveness with exposure to oxygen, light, water and high pH. This makes it hard to formulate. With that in mind, while it is a hero ingredient, its properties are difficult to stabilise — so if you can, opt for something a little more expensive and something housed in a darker bottle (they'll block light so it doesn’t oxidize and keep your product working well for longer).
Consider your skin type, too. If you have oily skin, look for "ascorbic acid" on the label. If you have dry skin, look for vitamin C serums which also include moisturising ingredients like (everyone's favourite) hyaluronic acid. If you have acne-prone skin, salicylic acid is tough on blemishes. Make a beeline for the La Roche Posay Pure Vitamin C Serum.
Scroll down for our full edit of the very best vitamin C serums to brighten your skin…
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