The Best Vitamin C Serums and How to Use Them to Really Boost Your Skincare Routine

Vitamin C serum is one of the best things you could add to your skincare routine, no matter your skin type. So in this article, we will show you everything you want to know on what vitamin C is good for and how you can choose the best vitamin C serum for your skin type and your specific needs.

Why vitamin C? As we all know, we can use all the help we can get, especially as the years go by and the skin becomes dull and loses elasticity. This is where a vitamin C serum can come in handy, as it brightens, improves skin texture and has anti-aging properties.

The active ingredient is a powerful antioxidant with countless benefits for your skin, and many remarkable anti-aging properties. It’s also key to maintaining a smooth, even, and glowing complexion it’s great for practically every skin type, it’s hydrating, it’s brightening, so it helps reduce hyperpigmentation. So winner-winner, chicken-dinner when it comes to vitamin C!

Best vitamin C serums

What can a vitamin C serum do for your skin?

Vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant that has many benefits for our body in general. When it comes to skincare, you get the best results by applying it topically (meaning directly on the skin, in the form of a vitamin C serum), as there is little evidence that supplements do anything for the skin.

The main vitamin c serum benefits come from that antioxidant property – basically, the ingredient fights free radicals that cause aging and sagging skin. That is an essential tool to have in your everyday skincare routine, as it is the primary concern for general appearance, for most of us.

Women our age need to boost their antioxidants and ingredients that help prevent time signs. But vitamin c serum benefits don’t stop there – it also helps with dark circles, spots from sun damage or acne, and overall brightness and skin texture.

Types of vitamin C for every skin

When it comes to vitamin C for skin, there are a few options out there, and they vary in the form used in the product, texture, and pH levels. Below, we will explain all that you need to know when trying to choose the best vitamin c serum to suit your specific needs.

L-ascorbic acid – great for normal to oily skin

L-ascorbic acid (or ascorbic acid) is the pure form of this particular vitamin. This is the most potent one that you can find in vitamin C serums. Still, the problem is that it’s an unstable ingredient – when exposed to air, light, and higher temperatures, it oxidizes and loses its properties. It also needs a very low pH level to penetrate the skin, but that means the overall formula will be more irritating for us.

When choosing the right product, try to find those vitamin C serums that come in an airtight container, opaque or dark in color and keep it in the fridge. This will help to maintain your product more fresh and stable for longer.

Another great idea is to look for products formulated with vitamin E (an antioxidant that helps stabilize it) and Ferulic acid (that lowers the pH enough for the product to be effective).

To have visible results for your skin, go for something with 8-10% concentration and slowly go up to a 20% one. When using active ingredients, always try to build up your skin tolerance slowly otherwise, you may find it causes irritation, redness, or purging (small bumps). And that is something we don’t want, as it disrupts the skin’s natural balance and barrier.

An example of a product with L-ascorbic acid is:

Vitamin C forms for dry or sensitive skin

There are many other options out there that have the advantage of being more stable and come in gentler formulas. But they are also less potent because they have to convert to ascorbic acid within the skin, and that is something to keep in mind, when choosing the best vitamin C moisturizer or serum for you.

These forms are often more suitable for a sensitive or dry skin, as it tends to be more reactive and with less tolerance for strong active ingredients. Here are some of these forms explained and a few examples of products:

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is one of the most stable forms of vitamin C out there. It has excellent soothing properties, making it an excellent option if you have sensitive skin.

Here is a product where you can find the mentioned ingredient:

Ascorbyl glucoside – a very stable form of vitamin C that is very promising in recent studies. It seems to have brightening, collagen boosting, and antioxidant benefits but comes within a gentler formula.

Check out these two products with a formula based on ascorbyl glucoside:

The inkey list 15 vitamin C EGF brightening serum

the ordinary vitamin c serum

Ascorbyl palmitate – this option is fat soluble, so it comes in more creamy products (moisturizers, rather than vitamin C serums). The formulas are usually milder and can easily be used by those of us with more reactive skin. But they do deliver on the brightening aspect that we all crave.

This would be an example that contains the ingredient as mentioned above:

intraceuticals vitamin c serum

The Best Vitamin C Serums

There are many options out there in all price ranges, concentrations, and formulas. When wanting to choose the best vitamin C serum for you, it may be daunting, given the vast options. But worry not, we’ve put together a small guide that we hope will inspire you to make an informed choice.

Good Molecules – Niacinamide Brightening Toner

This is a light toner tThis light toner has niacinamide, vitamin C, arbutin, and licorice root. So it really packs a punch of great ingredients that help a lot with that brightening and glowing effect we all want. The combination of the two main ingredients, vitamin C and niacinamide, also means the product reduces enlarged pores, giving the skin a more even overall look.

I like to use it right after I cleanse my skin since it is a lightweight toner and absorbs quickly. So it’s excellent as the first step in my routine.

This is the most affordable product on our list with great value for money. So it’s a perfect option, especially if you are on a budget. From here, we go on the more pricey side.

Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner:

The Best Vitamin C Serums

Womaness Fountain of Glow Vitamin C Facial Treatment

This product is on the lower side of concentration, having an 8% vitamin C, so it’s a good option when you’re just starting out on this ingredient. It comes in a dropper, so you can put a few drops in your hands and apply them anywhere you have discoloration (face, neck, chest, or hands).

It has plant-derived squalane that gives it an emollient effect. Plus, of course, you get all of the benefits from a vitamin C serum, like a more bright and even complexion, while being on the more gentle and moisturizing side.

The product is free from phthalates, formaldehyde, sulfates, artificial colors, parabens, mineral oils. And it’s still a pretty affordable option, at $21.99.

Womaness Fountain of Glow Vitamin C Facial Treatment:

The Best Vitamin C Serums

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

TThe following product comes from a company I love, founded by Tiffany Masterson, a fellow Houstonian. It combines 15% L-ascorbic acid with 1% vitamin E and 0.5 Ferulic acid, which helps stabilize the main ingredient.

What’s more, the packaging also keeps the product fresher for longer – it comes with a two-part container, which features a powder and a separate liquid. So you pour the liquid into the powder, then shake, shake, shake, until all is well dissolved.

I can feel a very hydrating effect with this one and it helps to smooth and remove the dead skin cells from the surface I can feel a very hydrating effect with this one, and it helps to smooth and remove the dead skin cells from the complexion’s surface. Maybe it’s not the best idea underneath your makeup because it doesn’t absorb as well as others. But you can use it as part of your nightly routine. It helps with photodamage and leaves a more luminous and bright complexion.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

The Best Vitamin C Serums

Ultra C Firming Serum

This next product has pure L-ascorbic acid in a 10% concentration, combined with two strong peptides – micro elastin aThis next product has pure L-ascorbic acid in a 10% concentration, combined with two potent peptides – micro elastin and micro collagen, that help with the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. If you are just introducing a vitamin C serum to your skincare routine, this one might be a good milder option since it has a lower concentration.

It has a lighter texture that I can feel absorbing almost immediately, so it’s very good to use in the morning, underneath makeup. It has an anti-aging effect, not only because of that vitamin C but also because of the peptides. So it targets wrinkles and gives you a more firm aspect to your complexion. This product is an excellent value for money, even if on the pricier side.

Ultra C Firming Serum:

The Best Vitamin C Serums

Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum

Last but not least, one of my favorite vitamin C serums comes from Sunday Riley. It is a very powerful product with a form of vitamin C called THD ascorbate, at a 15% concentration.

It targets wrinkles and that dull aspect that we all want to reverse. The product can also fade those dark spots quickly and protect your skin from further photodamage.

It has a more creamy texture, so it’s not at all oily, and it stands well under makeup if you apply it in the morning. This is the most expensive of the products that I’ve tried here, but it’s cruelty-free, soy-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, all the frees you want.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum:

best vitamin c serums

Other popular vitamin C serums and creams to keep in mind

There are some other popular vitamin C products out there that are worth mentioning. We haven’t gotten to try them out yet, but you’ll get all the updates here as we get to them.

Timeless 20% Vitamin C+E Ferulic Acid Serum - this is a cult favorite and we’ve heard it gives great results:

Paula's choice vitamin C serum

Dermalogica BioLumin C vitamin C serum

The benefits of using Vitamin C for the skin

We’ve put together a list of the leading vitamin C properties and benefits to give you an idea of what you can get out of using this great ingredient.

Antioxidant properties

Vitamin C serums contain a powerful antioxidant – meaning an ingredient that can prevent and repair the damage caused by free radicals. The lather forms through a natural process within the skin or outside environment – pollution and UV rays. Vitamin C has an excellent capacity to reverse the damage from these free radicals, and the benefits for our skin are many.

Boosts the photoprotection of your SPF

Vitamin C serums do not have sunscreen properties, of course. What they do have is the ability to fight the damage that UV rays can cause when in contact with the skin – such as aging, breaking of the collagen and elastin structures. That drives our skin to lose elasticity and that plump and fresh look that we all yearn for.

That’s why it’s a great idea to layer a vitamin C serum with sunscreen every morning – to give your skin the best protection from the effects of the UV rays. This can also reduce the risk of sunburn, but bear in mind that limiting sun exposure is very important regardless.

Boosts collagen production

As stated above, one of the damaging effects of sun rays is that it breaks down the cell structures that keep our skin looking young and fresh. Of course, that is a process that naturally occurs with time as we age. But things like sun exposure, smoking, or other unhealthy habits can accelerate that very much, causing premature aging.

Vitamin C benefits for skin include reversing this damage and protecting that significant collagen production that keeps us looking plump and firm.

Reduces Hyperpigmentation

AA vitamin C serum is also beneficial for those of us concerned about dark spots. These can come from the natural aging process, sun damage (also known as melasma), or acne (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). These problems give the skin a more uneven look, causing us to be more self-conscious of our general appearance.

This is where a vitamin C moisturizer or serum can deliver a great result, as it helps to reduce the aspect of those oh-so-annoying spots. What is more, it has an overall brightening effect that will further improve the general look of your complexion.

Lightens dark circles

We all know that dark circles are that one thing that can make us look more tired and dull. They are generally a result We all know that dark circles are the one thing that can make us look more tired and dull. They are generally a result of inflammation, water retention, not enough sleep, our genes, or just hyperpigmentation.

A vitamin C moisturizer can be very beneficial for this unique area, as it lightens and helps with overall brightness. Just be sure to choose a more gentle one, as this is a very sensitive area, easily prone to irritation.

Reduces the Appearance of wrinkles/ fine lines

Again, when it comes to wrinkles and fine lines, we have to go back to that ever-damaging sun exposure. This is an essential factor, causing a particular inflammation within the skin and the breakage of elastin and collagen fibers; these are the ones that hold the structure and the firmness of our skin.

The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is very much linked to this process. So vitamin C serum benefits include reversing this damage and helping our skin to look younger for as long as possible.

How to Use Vitamin C and Introduce It in Your Skincare Routine

When introducing a vitamin C serum in your skincare routine, there are a few general guidelines that you should know. Like with any other active ingredient, it’s vital to test your product first, then introduce it slowly to your regime.

That can mean alternating days at first and just once a day; you can build slowly to every day and even twice a day application. But bear in mind other products that may interfere and that too much too soon can cause irritation.

Always remember that vitamin C serums are not just for the face – you can use them anywhere you have uneven skin or spots, like the neck and chest area or on your hands.

When is the best time to use a vitamin C serum?

As stated above, you can get a significant effect by pairing vitamin C serums with sunscreen to get those antioxidant benefits. So if having to choose, it’s best to apply it in the mornings.

Exactly when you use it in your routine depends on a few factors, like texture and other products. When it comes to layering, keep in mind that you should generally start with the lighter products first (like toners, watery or gel-like serums) and build up to moisturizers and more emollient products (if needed). When it comes to your morning routine, the sunscreen lotion has to be your last layer (before makeup or powder, of course).

When introducing a new product to your skincare routine, it is always important to know any restrictions or interactions with other products.

Vitamin C and retinol

It is a good idea not to apply them simultaneously, especially at first or if you have more sensitive skin. Since vitamin C is best used with your sunscreen, keep it for mornings, and use retinol at night (this ingredient is unstable to light, so better do it at night anyway). Of course, you can also use vitamin C in the evenings, but in that case, just alternate nights with retinol.

Stay tuned for our upcoming guide on the best retinol creams – get all the know-how about the products and how to use them for maximum results.

Niacinamide and vitamin C

There is another myth out there saying that niacinamide and vitamin C should not be layered within the exact moment of the day. The chance of those two react with each other is very slim, so go ahead and use them as you wish.

Closing toughts

When used right, vitamin C serums can have great results for your skin, giving it a better texture and an overall glow that we all strive for. So it’s safe to say there is something out there for everyone!

Please check out our recommended products and let us know your thoughts. There is no better time to boost your skincare routine with a vitamin C serum than today!