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A vitamin C serum is a facial skin care product made to deliver a high dose of vitamin C. As with other face serums, the skin absorbs vitamin C serum quickly, and it may offer a range of benefits to skin health.

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Skin typically has high levels of vitamin C, which helps form collagen and protect the skin from antioxidants.

While the positive impact of nutritional vitamin C on skin health is well established, there is not the same amount of evidence to support the benefits of applying vitamin C directly to the skin.

However, some studies show promising results, and there is widespread interest in using products like vitamin C face serum to prevent and minimize the effects of aging and sun-related skin damage.

The benefits of applying vitamin C to the skin include:

Learn more about the potential benefits of vitamin C serums here.

A vitamin C concentration of at least 8% is necessary for the product to be biologically effective. Experts say the best vitamin C serum should have a concentration of 10–20%.

A person should choose a product that its ingredients are compatible with their skin type:

When choosing a serum, people should also consider factors such as their budget, whether the packaging is sustainable or recyclable, and customer reviews.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for sustainable packaging: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum

  • Skin type: normal, dry, combination, and oily
  • Dosage: 15% vitamin C
  • Size: 28 millilitres (ml)
  • Price: $78

The manufacturer claims this face serum reduces the signs of aging and skin damage by dissolving dead cells and hydrating the skin.

It has 15% vitamin C potency, with a composition of 15% l-ascorbic acid, 0.5% ferulic acid, and 1% vitamin E. It has a pH of 2.5.

This product:

  • is free from fragrance, colorants, essential oils, and silicones
  • is vegan
  • is cruelty-free
  • comes in recyclable packaging

Users will need to prepare the serum by mixing two components into a vial and shaking. Further instructions are available on the website.

The serum should be applied in the morning and it stays active on the skin for up to three days.

Best for oily skin: PCA Skin C-Quench Antioxidant Serum

  • Skin type: oily
  • Main ingredients: vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, botanical actives, and stem cells actives
  • Size: 29.5ml
  • Price: $120

The manufacturer, PCA Skin, claims this serum hydrates and strengthens the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

The product is free of:

  • parabens
  • artificial fragrances
  • dyes

People with oily skin who may have problems with acne can apply it twice a day.

Learn about reducing oily skin here.

Best for noncomedogenic: RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Daily

  • Skin type: dry
  • Main ingredients: 10% concentration of vitamin C, plus peptides, antioxidants, and hydrators
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $32.99

RoC claims this product can improve skin tone, texture, elasticity, and brightness while reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

This serum is free from parabens and noncomedogenic.

People can use this serum daily, in the morning or evening.

Learn more about noncomedogenic skincare here.

Best gluten-free: The Ordinary Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network (ELAN)

  • Skin type: dry, normal, and combination
  • Main ingredients: 30% of vitamin C, and also selenium and zinc
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $42

Made by The Ordinary, this face serum claims to improve skin tone, boost collagen production, and protect the skin from further damage.

This product is:

  • free from alcohol, oil, water, and silicone
  • gluten-free
  • vegan and cruelty-free
  • packed in recyclable materials

The manufacturer recommends evening application and doing a patch test before use.

Best for all skin types: Skin Authority Super-C Serum

  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Main ingredients: 20% of vitamin C with antioxidants
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $109

Skin Authority claims this product may help firm, tone, brighten, and protect the skin, while fading discolored skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines.

The brand offers a skin coaching service for personalized skin care recommendations.

Skin Authority states that its products are:

  • free from parabens, added dyes, added perfumes, and microbeads
  • cruelty-free
  • packaged sustainably

The brand is also committed to renewable energy.

Best low cost: CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Main ingredients: 10% of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and ceramides
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $17.95

CeraVe claims this serum helps to even out skin tone, improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and protect the skin.

The serum is:

  • free from parabens and fragrances
  • noncomedogenic, meaning it will not block pores
  • allergy-tested

It is suitable for daily use for all skin types, including sensitive skin and acne-prone skin.

Best for sensitive skin: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

  • Skin type: dry, normal, combination, and sensitive
  • Main ingredients: 15% of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $166

SkinCeuticals claims this face serum protects the skin from environmental damage such as UV rays, ozone, and diesel exhaust.

It is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Other features include:

  • a paraben-free formula
  • suitable for post-laser use
  • pharmaceutical-grade ingredients

SkinCeuticals recommends applying this serum daily in the morning.

Learn about moisturizers for sensitive skin here.

Best for dark spots: Rose Ingleton MD Complexion Brightening Booster

  • Skin type: sensitive, oily, and dry
  • Main ingredients: vitamin C and niacinamide
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $70

The manufacturer claims this serum gives users a radiant glow as it retexturizes and brightens discolored, damaged skin.

It combines citric, malic, and lactic acid with peptides to create a product that supports the skin without clogging pores.

Products are free from:

  • parabens, phthalates, and sulfates
  • fragrance
  • mineral oil
  • animal by-products
  • synthetic dyes
  • formaldehyde releasers.

Learn more about treating dark spots here.

Best for skin damage signs: Klur Brilliant Light

  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Main ingredients: 20% of vitamin C, E, and rosehip seeds
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $88

Klur claims this product can help repair multiple signs of skin damage while protecting the skin.

This rapidly absorbed facial serum has a 20% concentration of vitamin C, vitamin E, and rosehip seeds. It is suitable for all skin types.

All Klur products are:

  • free from animal ingredients
  • free from fillers, synthetic fragrances, or artificial dyes
  • not tested on animals
  • recyclable amber-lead-free glass

People can use the serum once every other day, though it is safe to use daily.

Best organic: Éminence Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum

  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Main ingredients: stabilized vitamin C, vitamin C salt, botanical ferulic acid, and hydrolyzed botanical hyaluronic acid
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $110

The manufacturer claims this vitamin C serum brightens and firms the skin while minimizing redness and signs of aging, such as wrinkles.

Its ingredients include stabilized vitamin C, plant-sourced ferulic acid, and natural antioxidants.

Éminence states that its:

  • ingredients are organic
  • manufacturing process is in line with sustainable practices
  • products are free from parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and propylene glycol
  • products are also cruelty-free

The serum is suitable for all skin types, and people can use it once or twice a day.

Best for wrinkles: L’Oréal 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

  • Skin type: sensitive
  • Main ingredients: 10% of vitamin C
  • Size: 30ml
  • Price: $29.99

L’Oréal claims this vitamin C serum can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin appearance overall.

Formulated without:

  • fragrance
  • mineral oil
  • water
  • dyes

The face serum is sold in an air-tight tube to protect and maximize the effectiveness of the vitamin C content, which has a potency of 10%.

This serum is suitable for all skin types.

Research shows that vitamin C serum is generally safe, though there is a risk of reactions to concentrated ingredients.

Vitamin C can cause skin discoloration in people with sensitive skin or allergies.

People should introduce new skin care products into their routine gradually, patch testing a small amount on clean skin before using on a larger area or the face. Start with lower concentration options.

They can use vitamin C serum alongside other skin care products. However, people should be careful about combinations of vitamin C and:

People should stop using a product if they experience adverse skin reactions, such as itchiness, redness, discoloration, or tingling.

A facial serum is not a moisturizer. Serum should be applied after cleansing and allowed to dry completely. After it has dried, apply moisturizer.

Learn about the risks of too much vitamin C here.

Individuals interested in buying vitamin C serums can have a look at the FAQs below:

How should a person use vitamin C?

People should test a few drops of a new vitamin C serum on their inner arm for a few days to see if the serum causes any irritation.

Vitamin C serum is concentrated, which means a few drops or one pump from the container is usually enough to cover the whole face and neck. People should use caution when applying vitamin C around the eyes.

A facial serum is not a moisturizer. Serum should be applied after cleansing and allowed to dry completely. After it has dried, apply moisturizer.

How often should people use vitamin c serum?

A person can use a vitamin C serum every day, after cleansing and before moisturizing their skin. However, some companies also suggest using the product once every other day.

The AAD states that individuals should avoid trying a new product every week to treat acne. It may take some time until they see improvements, so they may have to use a product for 6-8 weeks.

How does vitamin C compare to other types of serum?

Manufacturers formulate a range of face serums to address specific skin concerns. Vitamin C face serum addresses different aspects of skin care than the following products:

  • Retinol serum: Skin care products made from natural or synthetic vitamin A or retinoids. Retinol may help improve skin firmness, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and minimize dark spots. In some people, they can cause irritation, inflammation, stinging, and flaking skin. Learn more about retinols here.
  • Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid may help the skin retain moisture. Studies show it can reduce the depth of wrinkles and improve skin elasticity and firmness.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): AHAs, often made from natural products such as sugar cane or fruits, may help hydrate the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells, making the skin feel smoother.
  • Peptides: Peptide derivatives, from chains of amino acids, are used in some face serums to stimulate deep levels of skin tissue. A 2020 study reports they may help reduce wrinkles.

Vitamin C is an important factor in promoting skin health when used nutritionally. Benefits claimed for vitamin C face serum include skin brightening, firming, toning, reducing redness and discoloration, and minimizing signs of aging skin, such as wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin C serums also reportedly help protect the skin from further damage.

People interested in vitamin C serum can choose from a range of options. Individuals should consider their unique skin care needs and how a new product will fit into their routine.