There's a whole lot more to vitamin C than your morning glass of orange juice—the powerful ingredient is great for your skin, too. Inside the body, this potent vitamin keeps us healthy by boosting our immune systems and fighting off the cold that’s been going around the office. But when applied topically, it can be just as beneficial in keeping our skin clear, bright, and happy. With boast-worthy qualities like the ability to stimulate collagen production, brighten skin, and fight wrinkles, it’s no surprise that brands everywhere are opting to make vitamin C a core ingredient in their products.
But with so many vitamin C serums out on the market, how are you supposed to choose the best one? There are some key things to be aware of when choosing your skin’s new best friend. Vitamin C, like any other antioxidant, is notorious for destabilizing when it gets warm, so be sure to choose a product that’s housed in dark-colored glass packaging to keep it potent and protected from sun exposure. And, as Craig Kraffert, MD, board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte, warns, vitamin C isn’t compatible with all ingredients, like those containing AHAs. “Vitamin C is very pH sensitive, and mixing it with AHAs tends to substantially diminish its delivery within the skin,” he explains. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of our picks to help get you started. Keep scrolling for our list of favorite vitamin C serums!
True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster ($90)
This booster works with any water-based serum to add the benefits of vitamin C to your skin routine. This makes it a great option that’s versatile and customizable. And, as an added bonus, it comes in a finely-grained powder, which helps promote stability until you're ready to use it.
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($72)
Ole Henriksen was one of the original advocates of vitamin C usage in skincare after learning about the powerful effects it had on the immune system. This anti-aging serum is packed with vitamin C and collagen, which work together to brighten, firm, and hydrate skin all day.
40 Carrots Carrot + C Vitamin Serum ($14)
This serum pairs vitamin C with carotene to help recharge stressed skin and impart a soft glow. Vitamin A helps decrease signs of aging while brightening skin tone overall. We love that this serum proves that effective vitamin C products don’t have to be expensive.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($163)
A beauty editor favorite, this serum uses a patented blend of vitamins C, E, and ferulic acid to brighten and even skin texture while fighting sun damage. The three antioxidants work together to boost the efficacy of one another, so rest assured that this serum is well worth the high price tag.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80)
This serum is unique in that it is formulated to remain effective for a minimum of 72 hours, so your skin will be treated to defense against environmental stressors and damaging free radicals long after your day is done. It even hydrates while dissolving dead skin cells, resulting in a reduced appearance of dark spots and wrinkles.
Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C ($77)
Clinique is the latest brand to put vitamin C at the forefront of a new product. This new daily booster contains pure vitamin C at a 10% concentration to help brighten and rejuvenate skin. Add two drops from the air-tight, protective packaging to your moisturizer for a simple and easy update to your skincare routine.
Avalon Organics Vitamin C Vitality Facial Serum ($15)
This drugstore-pick is great because it houses a powerful vitamin C serum in an air-tight container, so potency is never compromised. It helps stimulate cellular renewal while providing defense against photo-aging (the aging of skin caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun).
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum ($78)
Invigorating and rejuvenating, this serum pairs vitamin C with collagen, amino acids, and a proprietary energy complex that recharges skin so you can see visible improvement in firmness and dark spots over time. Massage it into skin before moisturizing to lock in the potency of vitamin C and encourage a brightening effect for your complexion.
Dr. Brandt Skincare Power Dose Vitamin C ($69)
This tri-blend concentrate of natural and stabilized vitamin C delivers results quickly. With a 20% concentration of the powerful antioxidant—the highest that skin can absorb—the serum helps protect against free radicals while improving skin’s clarity and texture.
Up next, check out these perfect skincare pairings that will help you get the most out of your products.