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

This article lists the best vitamin C serums a person can consider, discusses the benefits of vitamin C for the skin, and answers some frequently asked questions.

A quick look at the best vitamin C serums:

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products that list all ingredients.
  • Skin concerns: Where appropriate, MNT selects products that target a specific skin concern, such as dryness, oiliness, or aging.
  • Safety: MNT chooses products that contain ingredients safe for topical use.
  • Reputable: MNT selects products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

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
  • Dose: 15% vitamin C
  • Size: 0.87 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Shelf life (once opened): 6 months
  • Price: around $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.

The company writes this product is free from fragrance, colorants, essential oils, and silicones. It also writes that it is vegan, cruelty-free, and comes in recyclable packaging.

Users prepare the serum by mixing two components into a vial and shaking. Drunk Elephant states it then stays fresh for 6 months. Further instructions are available on the website.

However, there is a risk that users will not mix the product correctly and some users note that it is difficult to mix.

The serum should be applied in the morning, and it stays active on the skin for up to 3 days.

A person can order the C-Firma Fresh Day Serum online for around $78.

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: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: not stated
  • Price: around $120

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

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

The product is free of parabens, artificial fragrances, and dyes. However, it contains alcohol and witch hazel, which can be irritating.

It also contains orange and grapefruit peel oils, which can be sensitizing, especially for people with sensitive skin.

A person can order the PCA Skin C-Quench Antioxidant Serum online for around $120.

Learn about reducing oily skin here.

Best for noncomedogenic: RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Daily Serum

  • Skin type: dry
  • Main ingredients: 10% concentration of vitamin C, plus peptides, antioxidants, and hydrators
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: not stated
  • Price: around $32

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

The company writes that a person may see results within 1–4 weeks.

Plus, according to the company’s description, this serum is free from parabens and is noncomedogenic.

However, it contains fragrance, fruit extracts, and limonene, which may not be suitable for some people.

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

Learn more about noncomedogenic skin care here.

A person can order the RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Daily serum online for around $32.

Best for high-strength vitamin C: NIOD Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network (ELAN)

  • Skin type: dry, balanced, and combination
  • Main ingredients: 30% of vitamin C, selenium, and zinc
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: 6 months
  • Price: around $42

NIOD is a company by Deciem, the same parent company that owns the popular skin care brand The Ordinary.

This face serum claims to improve skin tone, boost collagen production, and protect the skin from further damage.

The manufacturer states this product is free from alcohol, oil, water, and silicone. It is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. NIOD delivers it in recyclable packaging.

According to the company, the ethylated version of l-ascorbic acid is better than most other forms of vitamin C. It uses the pure form of l-ascorbic acid but does so in a patent-pending stabilization compound.

This reportedly prevents the vitamin C from oxidizing so that all of the vitamin C in the formula can be delivered to the skin.

This may make this product better for delivering higher amounts of vitamin C. It is also a more affordable option compared with other brands.

The manufacturer recommends a person applies this serum in the evening and does a patch test before use.

A person can order NIOD Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network serum online for around $42.

Best low cost: CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

  • Skin type: all
  • Main ingredients: 10% of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and ceramides
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: 6 months
  • Price: around $20

CeraVe claims this serum helps to even out skin tone, improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and protect the skin. It writes that its products are developed with dermatologists.

The serum is free from parabens and fragrances. The company tests it for people with allergies and says it is noncomedogenic, meaning it will not block pores.

One advantage of CeraVe products is that they contain ceramides to help rebuild the skin barrier.

Other positives include the addition of cholesterol, dimethicone, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and moisturize the skin.

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

One of the most affordable options, a person can order the CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum online for around $20.

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

  • Skin type: dry, balanced, combination, and sensitive
  • Main ingredients: 15% of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: 6 months
  • Price: around $195

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 and pharmaceutical-grade ingredients. The company says that this product also suits those treating their skin after laser procedures.

SkinCeuticals has a patent for its formula and says that a 2013 16-week study proved that this product can increase firmness and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, the website does not provide a link to this study and its results may be subject to bias.

SkinCeuticals recommends applying this serum daily in the morning.

This product is not suitable for small budgets.

A person can order the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum for around $195.

Learn more about moisturizers for sensitive skin.

Best for dark spots: Rose Ingleton MD Complexion Brightening Booster

  • Skin type: sensitive, oily, and dry
  • Main ingredients: vitamin C and niacinamide
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: Not stated
  • Price: around $70

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

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

The company writes its products are free from parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, and sulfates. They are also vegan and cruelty-free.

However, it includes fruit extracts such as orange and lemon, making them potentially irritating to those with sensitive skin.

The company recommends a person applies 3–4 drops to clean skin in the morning or evening.

A person can order the Complexion Brightening Booster online for around $70.

Learn more about treating dark spots here.

Best for skin damage signs: Klur Brilliant Light

  • Skin type: all
  • Main ingredients: 20% of vitamin C, E, and rosehip seeds
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: Not stated
  • Price: around $88

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

This facial serum is designed to absorb quickly and has a 20% concentration of vitamin C, vitamin E, and rosehip seeds. It also contains the humectant aloe vera.

The company says that it suits all skin types.

However, this product contains four different types of carrier oils, which may not be suitable for people with oily skin.

Klur writes that its products are free from animal ingredients, fillers, synthetic fragrances, or artificial dyes. The company also claims it does not test on animals and uses recyclable lead-free glass packaging.

Klur recommends a person uses 1–2 pumps on clean, damp skin every other day or night until they see results.

A person can order the Brilliant Light serum online for around $88.

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

  • Skin type: all
  • Main ingredients: 16% stabilized vitamin C, vitamin C salt, botanical ferulic acid, and hydrolyzed botanical hyaluronic acid
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: Not stated
  • Price: around $118

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 the ingredients are organic. The products are cruelty-free and free from parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and propylene glycol.

However, people with sensitive skin may not find the formula’s lemon and grapefruit oils suitable.

The company recommends this serum for all skin types, and people can use it once or twice per day.

A person can order this Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum online for around $118.

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

  • Skin type: sensitive
  • Main ingredients: 10% of vitamin C
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: 6 months
  • Price: around $16

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

The company makes it without fragrance, mineral oils, dyes, or water.

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

Some reviewers point out that it can separate into a watery and an oily base. However, many reviewers state that it makes skin smoother and brighter.

The company writes this serum is suitable for all skin types. The user may see results within 2–4 weeks.

A person can order the L’Oreal Paris Pure Vitamin C Serum online for around $16.

Best for brighter skin: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

  • Skin type: all
  • Main ingredients: 15% vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid
  • Size: 0.67 fl oz
  • Shelf life: 3 months
  • Price: around $55

Paula’s Choice offers a range of vitamin C products. The C15 contains a vitamin C concentration of 15%.

The brand also sells a 25% concentration for people with stubborn blemishes.

The C15 booster contains glycerin, panthenol, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and protect the skin.

The company writes it has a lightweight, fluid texture that may suit those with oily skin.

This product comes in a smaller size than many other serums. Additionally, some reviewers say they found it irritated their skin.

However, many other reviews write that it effectively reduced the appearance of sunspots and felt lightweight on the skin.

Paula’s Choice recommends using it twice daily and combining it with sunscreen during the day.

A person can order the C15 Super Booster online for around $55. There is also the option to get this product replenished regularly, which offers a 15% discount.

Best for no residue: Glossier Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum

  • Skin type: all
  • Main ingredients: 5% vitamin C, propanediol, dimethicone, and glycerin
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: 12 months
  • Price: around $29

This product contains a 5% vitamin C derivative called magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP). Glossier claims it will not oxidize or degrade in the bottle, which is a problem with many vitamin C products.

The MAP content reportedly aims to improve the appearance of dark spots and the magnesium PCA hydrates the skin.

Glossier claims this product is cruelty-free and contains no fragrances. It also has shea butter and carrier oils.

This product is relatively inexpensive compared to other popular brands, and the company says this serum leaves no filmy residue on the skin after use.

Glossier recommends applying 3–4 drops after cleansing.

This serum is formulated to suit all skin types, but some buyers point out they had acne breakouts or rashes after using it. As such, people with sensitive skin may not find this product suitable.

A person can order the Glossier Super Glow serum online for around $29.

Best with sunscreen: Supergoop! Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF

  • Skin type: all
  • Main ingredients: 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, glycerin, avobenzone, and homosalate
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: not stated
  • Price: around $46

This product contains niacinamide to improve skin tone, fade pigmentation, and keep the skin looking smooth.

The company sells it in a spray bottle, which can be easier to apply over larger areas of skin than with pipettes, which many products use.

The brand claims it formulates this serum without fragrances and essential oils.

One advantage of this product is that it contains an SPF 40 sunscreen that can protect against UVA and UVB rays. However, its UVA protection only includes avobenzone.

The company writes that vitamin C “burns off” under sun exposure, so adding SPF to the formula preserves the benefits of vitamin C on the skin.

People who want stronger sun protection should consider using another sunscreen that offers a wider scope of protection.

Supergoop! writes this vitamin C serum suits all skin types.

A person can order the Supergoop! Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF online for around $46.

Best for dry skin: Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Serum

  • Skin type: dry
  • Main ingredients: 20% THD ascorbate, vitamin E, ferulic acid
  • Size: 1 fl oz
  • Shelf life: Not stated
  • Price: around $105

This serum from Peter Thomas Roth combines 20% vitamin C from THD ascorbate with vitamin E and ferulic acid.

The brand claims this type of vitamin C is 50 times more powerful than traditional vitamin C. It aims to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.

It also aims to help the appearance of dehydrated skin. It does not contain fragrance so it may be suitable for people with dry, sensitive skin.

The 3% vitamin E and 2% ferulic acid is included to act as an antioxidant.

The company recommends a person applies this serum twice a day on the face and neck.

A person can order the Potent-C Power Serum online for around $105.

The table below compares each product for ingredients, price, and more.

Skin typeVitamin C
source
Vitamin C
%
Size
(fl oz)
Price
Drunk Elephantalll-ascorbic acid15%0.87around $78
PCA Skinoilyl-ascorbic acidnot stated1around $120
RoCdry3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid10%1around $32
NIODdry,
combination
ethylated l-ascorbic acid30%1around $42
CeraVealll-ascorbic acid10%1around $20
SkinCeuticalsdry,
sensitive
l-ascorbic acid15%1around $195
Rose Ingleton MDsensitive

oily

dry
tetrahexyldecyl
ascorbate
not stated1around $70
Klurallsodium ascorbyl phosphate20%1around $88
Éminencealll-ascorbic acid and
sodium ascorbyl phosphate
16%1around $118
L’Oréalsensitivel-ascorbic acid10%1around $16
Paula’s Choicealll-ascorbic acid15%0.67around $55
Glossierallmagnesium
ascorbyl phosphate
5%1around $29
Supergoop!all3-O-ethyl
ascorbic acid
not stated1around $46
Peter Thomas RothdryTHD ascorbate20%1around $105

Experts say the best vitamin C serum should have at least 10% concentration.

A person should choose a product containing ingredients that 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.

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

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.

A 2017 study points out that the form of vitamin C with the most research, l-ascorbic acid, is not a stable molecule. This makes it difficult to prevent oxidization and penetrate 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.

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

2018 research notes that vitamin C is important for skin health. It helps form the skin barrier, stimulates collagen, and helps to work against skin oxidation.

The authors also write that balanced skin needs high concentrations of vitamin C. However, people should gradually introduce new skin care products into their routine, patch testing a small amount on clean skin before using it on a larger area or the face. A person may also wish to start with lower concentration options.

People can also use vitamin C serum alongside other skin care products. A person should speak with a dermatologist to check that any combinations of products are safe and will be effective.

This is because some ingredients can change how well vitamin C works.

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

Learn more about the risks of too much vitamin C.

Below are answers to some top frequently asked questions:

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. This is called a patch test.

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?

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

The American Academy of Dermatology Association states that individuals should avoid trying a new product each 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 serums: These include 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 retinol here.
  • Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid may help the skin retain moisture. It can also improve facial wrinkles and folds.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): AHAs, often coming 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.

Potential benefits of 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.