Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for overall health. It is vital for tissue repair and immune health, as well as the production of collagen, the main building block of skin. Adequate vitamin C intake is therefore especially important to maintaining a healthy, youthful complexion. While our main source of vitamin C is dietary, the skin-boosting benefits of this super nutrient are even greater when it is applied topically.
In its collagen-boosting capacity, vitamin C combats fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. It is also a powerful antioxidant that brightens skin tone and protects from environmental stressors. These are just a few of the numerous powers of vitamin C. This miracle vitamin is best applied in the form of a serum for maximum potency and results.
We have reviewed and compiled a list of the 28 best vitamin C serums of 2022 so that you can enjoy the dramatic rejuvenating effects of this powerhouse skincare ingredient.
Courtesy of Blu Atlas
Hands down the best vitamin C serum available, this targeted brightening serum features a blend of natural ingredients that minimize the appearance of dark spots for smoother, more even-toned skin. Mulberry root extract, aloe vera, and vitamin C deliver powerful antioxidants that calm, repair, and fortify the skin, while boosting collagen production for a healthier and more radiant glow.
Say goodbye to uneven and dull skin with this all-natural formula. Blu Atlas products are made of clean ingredients and are suitable for all skin types.
2. Drunk Elephant | C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum
Courtesy of Sephora
Next up, we have this potent serum from clean skincare brand Drunk Elephant. This brightening formula features a powerful blend of antioxidants, including an impressive 15 % vitamin C, as well as Vitamin E and ferulic acid, which visibly firm and even out the skin tone. Meanwhile, fruit acids and plant peptides gently exfoliate and fortify the skin, while oil-free emollients provide deep, firming hydration.
This lightweight formula is oil-free, fast-absorbing, and ideal for all skin types.
3. The Inkey List | Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Cult Beauty
This ultra-affordable and concentrated serum is made with a whopping 30% vitamin C to brighten and smooth even the dullest complexions. Delivered in a luxurious, creamy formula, it makes an excellent smoothing base for makeup application, while protecting the skin from harmful free radicals throughout the day.
The Inkey List’s products are clean, free of harmful synthetic chemicals, and gentle enough for all skin types.
4. Fresh | Vitamin Nectar Glow Juice Antioxidant Face Serum
Courtesy of Cult Beauty
This lightweight yet powerful formula restores your skin to full luster with an active blend of vitamins, fruit extracts, and antioxidants. Skin-loving vitamins C, E, and B5 brighten, nourish, and hydrate, while beta-carotene and chicory root juice strengthen and protect for an energizing radiance boost.
Fresh products are all-natural and ideal for daily use. Suitable for all skin types.
5. Sunday Riley | C.E.O. 15 Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Courtesy of Sephora
This transformative serum illuminates the complexion using superstar ingredient THD ascorbate, a highly effective form of vitamin C that rapidly penetrates the skin for maximum results. Combined with soothing phytosterols that combat redness and pore-minimizing saccharide isomerate extract, this best-selling formula visibly reduces the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles, and other signs of aging in a flash!
It is fast-absorbing, great for all skin types, and suitable for daily use.
6. Mad Hippie | Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of iHerb
This multi-tasking serum fades discoloration and reduces the appearance of wrinkles with a powerful mix of active, plant-derived ingredients. Antioxidant vitamins C and E brighten and protect, while konjac root powder and hyaluronic acid nourish and hydrate for an instant firming and plumping effect. Sage and chamomile tone and calm the skin for a fully revitalized complexion that is radiant, youthful, and healthier than before.
This serum is recommended for normal to oily skin. Mad Hippie products are all-natural and sustainably sourced.
7. Algenist | Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum
Courtesy of Space NK
Combining powerful vitamin C derivatives with nutritious microalgae oil, this serum visibly reduces the appearance of age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. Ideal for even the most fragile aging skin, this formula also features plant-derived collagen to firm, condition, and restore healthy skin texture.
This high-performance treatment is guaranteed to reveal brighter, smoother, and more resilient skin after only ten days of use.
8. Peter Thomas Roth | Potent-C™ Vitamin C Power Serum
Courtesy of Sephora
This turbo-charged vitamin C serum delivers a mega-dose of brightening antioxidant action for firmer and more radiant skin. THD ascorbate, an ultra-potent form of vitamin C, is fortified with additional antioxidants vitamin E and ferulic acid for serious skin rejuvenation.
This rich, hydrating formula is free of parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrance, and is safe for all skin types. Apply it twice daily for maximum results.
9. The Ordinary | Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
Courtesy of The Ordinary
This cost-effective serum is a simple yet effective brightening treatment from clinically backed brand The Ordinary. It combines pure vitamin C with synthetic skin-brightener Alpha Arbutin in a water-free formulation to preserve the stability and effectiveness of its active ingredients.
Vegan and free of synthetic additives, this product is safely recommended for daily use.
10. Bliss | Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen Protecting & Brightening Serum
Courtesy of Ulta Beauty
Spa-grade clean skincare brand Bliss brings you this high-performance serum that delivers a gentle yet effective form of vitamin C to brighten and even out skin tone. This formula also delivers plant peptides and emollients that boost skin elasticity, combating fine lines and wrinkles with transformative results.
Brighten and smooth your skin with this paraben-free addition to your skincare lineup, suitable for daily use and all skin types.
11. Olehenriksen | Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Olehenriksen
This serum from premium botanical brand Olehenriksen brightens, firms, and hydrates with concentrated vitamin C and gentle exfoliants. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin E hydrate, nourish, and fortify the skin, while reflective pigments provide an instant glow.
Visibly fade dark spots and improve skin texture with this powerful multi-acid treatment. Be sure to wear sunscreen when using this product, as it can increase photosensitivity.
12. Tarte | Youth or Dare Multi-Acid & C-Serum
Courtesy of Sephora
Brighten, exfoliate, and hydrate with this infusion of vitamin C and glycolic acid from Tarte, a cult favorite among natural brand enthusiasts. Bioavailable vitamin C boosts skin radiance and collagen production, while glycolic acid increases cell turnover for faster results. Your skin is nourished and hydrated with hyaluronic acid and apple extract for a dramatic anti-aging effect.
Treat your skin with this high-performance natural offering. Tarte products are vegan, gluten-free, and free of harmful synthetic additives.
13. Kate Somerville | +Retinol Vita C Power Serum
Courtesy of Kate Somerville
With its anti-aging power combo of retinol and vitamin C, this supercharged night serum helps brighten and smooth uneven skin texture, boosting firmness, tone, and elasticity. Retinol combats fine lines, while vitamin C illuminates as you sleep. This formula also features soothing botanical extracts, protective antioxidants, and ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid to counteract retinol’s potential drying effects.
Because this serum is highly active, experts recommend starting with applying it every other night, working your way up to nightly use.
14. Vichy | LiftActiv Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector
Courtesy of Vichy
This clinical-strength vitamin C serum delivers fast results, proven to visibly brighten and firm the skin in as little as 10 days. Suitable for all skin types, this fragrance-free formula features hyaluronic acid for plumping hydration that counteracts fine lines, boosting elasticity and radiance. The lightweight consistency enables rapid absorption with a non-greasy finish, so you can comfortably wear it day or night.
Reveal smooth, radiant skin with this fragrance-free treatment, ideal for all skin types.
15. Avya Skincare | Anti-Aging Power Serum
Courtesy of Amazon
Drawing on ayurvedic botanical principle, Avya brings you this powerful serum featuring a signature blend of antioxidant superstars turmeric, neem, and peony that soothe and firm the skin. Pure, micro-encapsulated Vitamin C brightens, while Vitamins A, B5, and E boost cell turnover to actively resurface the skin.
This advanced brightening formula is free of parabens, phthalates, and allergens. It is dermatologically tested and safe for daily use.
16. Josie Maran | Argan Bright Skin Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Target
This serum features fast-absorbing vitamin C and 100% pure argan oil to brighten, firm, and smooth the skin while reducing the appearance of dark spots. The stabilized form of vitamin C delivers maximum benefits without skin irritation, while antioxidant-rich argan oil detoxifies, protects, and nourishes with plumping omega fatty acids. The luxurious, all-natural formula is topped off with rejuvenating botanical extracts of marshmallow root, licorice root, and rice bran for maximum luminosity and lift.
Apply this treatment in the morning before your SPF for best results. Josie Maran products are vegan and free of synthetic fragrances.
17. Dr. Dennis Gross | C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Amazon
This lightweight gel serum combines the most stable and bioavailable form of vitamin C with a proprietary energy complex and collagen amino acids for complete skin rejuvenation. Say goodbye to fine lines, dark spots, and dullness with potent natural ingredients backed by cutting-edge clinical research and expertise. Carefully combined ingredients work to boost your skin’s natural repair process for rapid and long-lasting results.
You are guaranteed to see major skin improvement in as little as 21 days.
18. Kiehl’s | Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Kiehl’s
This potent vitamin C serum, formulated with 12.5 % vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, visibly reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots while improving skin texture. It contains 2% ascorbyl glucoside, a gentle form of vitamin C that boosts the skin’s natural collagen production and brightens skin tone without irritation.
Free of artificial dyes, alcohol, and other harmful synthetic additives, this top-selling anti-aging formula is ideal for all skin types.
19. Glow Recipe | Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
Courtesy of Cult Beauty
This lightweight formula is packed with five forms of vitamin C, including time-released encapsulated vitamin C, and works to visibly erase dark spots over time while preventing new ones from forming. Detoxifying and resurfacing guava, and tranexamic and ferulic acids partner with vitamin E and peptides for a smooth, glowing finish.
Target multiple signs of aging and environmental damage with this heavy-hitting treatment, inspired by the latest innovations in South Korean skincare.
20. Tatcha | Violet-C Brightening Serum
Courtesy of Tatcha
This gentle yet effective vitamin C serum contains a combination of powerful antioxidants and fruit-derived alpha-hydroxy acids that work to improve the appearance of aging, dull skin. The unique blend of both fast-acting and long-lasting vitamin C derivates provides instant radiance and ongoing antioxidant protection. Prize extracts of Japanese Angelica Root and beautyberry further diminish scars and hyperpigmentation to reveal a youthful glow.
Tatcha guarantees visible results in as little as one week of use.
21. BioBare | Vitamin C, B, E & Ferulic Serum
Courtesy of BioBare
You are on your way to a healthier, more radiant complexion with this multi-tasking serum. This luxurious blend of vitamins C, B, E, and ferulic acid works to boost collagen production while hydrating and toning for visibly younger-looking skin. Full of natural antioxidants, this moisture-rich serum defends against free radical damage and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles to reveal a radically revitalized appearance.
This product offers clinically-proven, rapid results and is safe for all skin types.
22. RoC | Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Vitamin C
Courtesy of RoC
Give your skin a boost with this multi-action serum, which combines a potent 10% vitamin C with high-performance humectants, restorative peptides, and protective antioxidants for brightening, anti-aging results. The non-irritating formula is clinically proven to even and firm the skin in as little as four weeks.
Luxury-grade but affordable, you can’t go wrong with this paraben-free and dermatologist-recommended treatment.
23. Mario Badescu | Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Douglas
This ultra-light nighttime formula combines collagen-boosting antioxidants with a powerful humectant to smooth, nourish, and illuminate the skin. The fast-absorbing serum remedies dullness and visible wrinkles with the antioxidant powers of vitamin C, while sodium hyaluronate delivers deep, restorative hydration.
All-natural and suitable for all skin types, this formula is still active enough that experts recommend starting use every other night.
24. Plantkos | Phyto Triple C Serum
Courtesy of Thirteen Lune
Next up is this brightening and hydrating serum from Plantkos that delivers three forms of vitamin c combined with a proprietary blend of Ayurvedic herbs and hyaluronic acid for dramatic rejuvenation. Powerful antioxidants diminish hyperpigmentation and accelerate collagen production while preventing damage from environmental stressors.
This calming, restorative formula is free of harmful synthetic ingredients.
25. La Roche-Posay | 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of La Roche-Posay
This concentrated, allergy-tested serum features 10% vitamin C and exfoliating salicylic acid to brighten, smooth, and refine aging skin. Soothing peptides and emollients balance the skin’s moisture and elasticity, while the brand’s exclusive Thermal Spring Water nourishes dermal tissue with trace elements, antioxidants, and minerals.
This non-comedogenic, oil-free treatment is an ideal anti-aging powerhouse for all skin types.
26. Beauty Stat | Universal C Skin Refiner
Courtesy of Cult Beauty
This powerful serum packs 20% vitamin C, moisturizing squalane derived from olive seeds, and tartaric acid to stabilize the skin’s pH for optimal product absorption. Together, these ingredients work to boost collagen production, even tone, soothe inflammation, and leave the skin looking plump and radiant. The patented delivery system for pure vitamin C enables continuous use without degradation, gradually diminishing fine lines, dark spots, and wrinkles.
27. TruSKin Naturals | Vitamin C Serum
Courtesy of Glamour
This clean and affordable brightening serum is a favorite among beauty insiders. Made with 20% pure vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E, this plant-powered formula reduces the appearance of dark spots and redness while firming up fine lines and wrinkles. Potent botanicals such as witch hazel, aloe vera, and jojoba provide nourishing, hydrating protection.
Users of all skin types are sure to love this advanced, fragrance-free product.
28. Revision Skincare | C+ Correcting Complex 30%
Courtesy of Top Care Store
Discover a brighter, more even skin tone with this potent vitamin C serum that heals the skin of free radical damage and protects from further harm. The unique prebiotic technology supports your skin’s natural regenerative processes, delivering a radiantly healthy complexion.
Oil-free and non-comedogenic, this high-performance serum is recommended for all skin types and guarantees rapid results.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also called L-ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that is required for the growth and maintenance of the tissues that make up the body. Humans don’t produce this molecule on our own, so it is necessary to obtain it from external sources. This nutrient is especially important in the production of collagen, which builds connective tissues such as skin and joints.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means that it helps to neutralize tissue damage due to environmental pollutants. When faced with environmental aggressors, the body produces molecules called free radicals that have a damaging effect on its cellular structures, leading to disease and visible signs of aging. Because vitamin C counteracts the harmful effects of free radicals, it is a crucial anti-aging and immune-boosting nutrient.
Vitamin C deficiencies are associated with many health problems, and it is important to consult your doctor if you suspect that you may be lacking this nutrient. Low vitamin C symptoms range from depression to joint pain. Superficial indicators include dull, uneven skin tone and visible or rapid signs of aging.
Dietary sources of vitamin C include many fruits, vegetables, and targeted supplements. You may be wondering why you need a topical vitamin C treatment when you have so many dietary options. This brings us to our next question!
What does vitamin C do for your skin when applied topically?
The molecular structure of vitamin C is water-soluble and highly unstable, meaning that it degenerates and loses potency quickly and easily. While a high dietary intake of vitamin C is important to reap its full immune-boosting and organ-building benefits, studies have shown that when it comes to seeing the full benefits for your skin, you are better off applying vitamin C topically. In other words, the full beauty-unlocking potential of vitamin C can get lost in your digestive tract before it reaches your skin.
So, adding vitamin C into your skincare routine is an important step to reveal your best complexion. Topical application of vitamin C has been shown to have the following skin benefits:
- Aids collagen synthesis to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and scars.
- Fades age spots and hyperpigmentation, while protecting against further UVA/UVB damage.
- Restores healthy moisture levels.
- Prevents acne and soothes inflammation.
- Brightens the complexion and smooths skin texture.
As you can see, topical vitamin C works to counteract and prevent visible signs of aging, inflammation, and congestion. While this miracle ingredient can be delivered to your skin in many forms, from face wash to eye cream, a targeted serum is the most potent and effective delivery system.
Which vitamin C serum is best for me?
When weighing your vitamin C serum options, there are a few things to consider. As we mentioned above, vitamin C is a tricky molecule that can decompose easily. To overcome this, scientists have isolated numerous vitamin C derivatives that last longer and have greater bioavailability for human consumption and supplementation. In skincare products, there are several main types of vitamin C that have different benefits. You will want to choose a product that has the right type and delivery of vitamin C for your skincare concerns.
Here are some of the most popular types of vitamin c and their basic skincare functions:
Ascorbic acid aka L-ascorbic acid
This is the most common form of vitamin C found in skincare products. It is bioactive, which means that it can penetrate the skin, which is great for counteracting the all-around effects of aging. Be sure to choose ascorbic acid serums with the right pH for your skin type (less than 4 for normal skin, 5-7 for sensitive skin) to avoid irritation. If you are battling dark spots, choose the right concentration of ascorbic acid for your concern (10% for mild pigmentation, 15%-20% for more severe). Serums with this form are best for normal and oily skin types, as they may be too harsh on dry skin.
Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD ascorbate)
This type is similar L-Acetate, but oil-soluble and so more stable and capable of penetrating the skin more effectively. Skincare experts are just starting to study this form, and it is considered an emerging technology. Many of the latest skincare brands tout this as a breakthrough in skincare.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate
This form of vitamin C still packs a major anti-aging punch, but it is considered milder than pure vitamin C. It doesn’t become bioactive until application, meaning that it can be less irritating and a better option for those with sensitive skin.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP)
This is the most stable vitamin C form and is known for its hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits. It is ideal for acne-prone skin due to its high antioxidant activity and is the best option for fading acne scars. Make sure that your MAP serum is water-based for optimal absorption.
This form of vitamin C plays the most active role in collagen synthesis and antioxidant functions such as repair and prevention of free radical damage, including diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. Also a more hydrating option, this form is usually found in pH neutral serums and is ideal for those with dry skin.
Great vitamin C serums feature not just the best forms of vitamin C, but the best combinations of complementary ingredients.
Here are a few to look out for when selecting the best vitamin C serum for your skin type.
Vitamins E & B5
Research has shown that the antioxidant power of vitamin C is boosted when it is paired with other antioxidants for a synergistic effect. Both vitamins E & B5 are powerful antioxidants that combat visible signs of aging, such as UV damage, discoloration, and inflammation, working in harmony with vitamin C. B5 is often listed as panthenol on ingredient labels.
This turbo-charged humectant draws plumping moisture into the skin, working to counteract not only dryness but fine lines and wrinkles. This is a common pairing with vitamin C for good reason, as it boosts vitamin C’s firming effects while preventing overdrying due to the antioxidant’s exfoliating activity.
Other honorable mentions that combine well with vitamin C include: niacinamide (vitamin B5), brightening acids (glycolic, lactic, phytic), green tea extract, and aloe vera.
Be sure to avoid synthetic additives, fragrances, and dyes, which can all damage the skin.