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Skin typically has high levels of vitamin C, where it plays an important role in forming collagen and protecting 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.

Research shows that vitamin C serum is generally safe, but individuals should always use caution when dealing with concentrated products like face serums.

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.

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.

Learn about the risks of too much vitamin C here.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum

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. It is vegan and not tested on animals, and the packaging is recyclable.

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.

At the time of publishing, this product sells on the manufacturer’s website for $78.

PCA Skin C-Quench Antioxidant Serum

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

It contains vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, botanical actives, and stem cell actives.

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

At the time of publishing, this sells on the manufacturer’s website for $110.

RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Daily

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

Active ingredients include a 10% concentration of vitamin C, plus peptides, antioxidants, and hydrators. This serum is free from parabens.

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

At the time of publishing, this sells on the manufacturer’s website for $32.99.

The Ordinary Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network (ELAN)

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

It has a vitamin C concentration of 30% and also contains selenium and zinc.

This product is free from alcohol, oil, water, and silicone. It is also vegan and cruelty-free. The packaging is recyclable.

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

At the time of publishing, this sells on the manufacturer’s website for $42.

Skin Authority Super-C Serum

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.

This serum contains a 20% concentration of vitamin C, plus other antioxidants. The brand offers a skin coaching service for personalized skin care recommendations.

Skin Authority products are free from parabens, added dyes, added perfumes, and microbeads. The products are also cruelty-free. The company claims it is committed to renewable energy and sustainable packaging.

At the time of publishing, this sells on the manufacturer’s website for $99.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

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

It contains a 10% concentration of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and ceramides.

The serum is free from parabens and fragrances and is non-comedogenic, meaning it will not block pores and is suitable for people who experience acne. It is suitable for daily use for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

At the time of publishing, this product has a manufacturer’s recommended retail price of $21.99.

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

SkinCeuticals claims this face serum protects the skin from environmental damage by UV rays, ozone, and diesel exhaust. It may also brighten the skin, improve firmness, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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

SkinCeuticals recommends applying this serum daily in the morning.

At the time of publishing, this sells on the manufacturer’s website for $166.

Rose Ingleton MD Complexion Brightening Booster

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

At the time of publishing, this product sells on the manufacturer’s website for $70.

Klur Brilliant Light

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 and not tested on animals.

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

At the time of publishing, this product sells on the manufacturer’s website for $88.

Éminence Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum

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 it uses organic ingredients and sustainable practices during manufacturing. Its products are free from parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and propylene glycol. They are also cruelty-free.

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

At the time of publishing, this product sells on the manufacturer’s website for $110.

L’Oréal 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

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

Formulated without fragrance, mineral oil, or water, 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.

At the time of publishing, this sells on the manufacturer’s website for $29.99.

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.