What are the best vitamin C serums?
Vitamin C is an antiaging superstar that fights wrinkles, boosts collagen and brightens the complexion – when used right.
Like all divas, vitamin C is finicky AF. If the pH is too high, it won’t work. If the pH is too low, it will irritate skin. If it’s used alone or is housed in a see-through packaging, it’ll go bad quickly…
No wonder most brands don’t bother using it – or worse, put just a drop of vitamin C in their lotions and potions to trick you into thinking you’re using an antiaging serum… and then you wonder why it doesn’t work!
So what makes a good vitamin C serum?
- High doses of vitamin C: It’s true 3% vitamin C works too but unless your skin is that sensitive, why not go higher?
- Effective pH: It must allow vitamin C to penetrate skin without drying it out.
- Protective packaging: Opaque tubes and bottles that protect vitamin C from oxidation (the process that spoils it and makes it ineffective).
- Support system: That’s vitamin E and ferulic acid, two antioxidants that have been shown time and time again to make vitamin C last longer, be more effective, and boost photo protection.
Instead, I don’t care about price. Sure, I love a good bargain like everyone else, but vitamin C is one of the few skincare products I’m willing to pay more for.
In my book, something’s worth it if it works and vitamin C works, ya know what I mean? But if you’re on a budget, fret not. There are good vitamin C serums that don’t break the bank out there. Phew!
So, what are the best vitamin C serums? Here are my fave picks:
- Best Luxury Vitamin C Serum: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00)
- Best Vitamin C Serum For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49.00)
- Best Vitamin C Serum For Antiaging: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00)
- Best Vitamin C Serum For Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00)
- Best Vitamin C Serum For Oily Skin: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($33.99)
Best Luxury Vitamin C Serum: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00)
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is one of the most duped skincare products of all time. You totally don’t need to get the original version. I’m sharing options below that provide the same benefits for less than half the price. But it was the first serum to combine vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with its BFFs vitamin E and ferulic acid and I want to give it credit for that. Its lightweight texture is suitable for all skin types, bar maybe sensitive (high doses of vitamin C can irritate your skin).
Available at: Dermstore and Skinstore
Related: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ferulic Acid
Struggling to put together an anti-aging skincare routine that really reduces the look of wrinkles and gives your skin a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):
Best Vitamin C Serum For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49.00)
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster features the same winning combination as Skinceuticals CE Ferulic – that’s 15% ascorbic acid, 1% vitamin E and 0.5% ferulic acid – at a similar pH… and a fraction of the cost. Plus, it’s loaded with humectants that attract and bind water to the skin to soften its texture and brighten the complexion. It’s also my fave dupe for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. Now it’s winter, my dryish skin really appreciates the little moisture boost.
Available at: Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
Related: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster: Which One Is Better?
Best Vitamin C Serum For Antiaging: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00)
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum has a slightly sticky texture that can feel too heavy on oily skin. But if you can put up with it, it’s totally worth it. Like other Skinceuticals Ce Ferulic dupes, it has the right combo of ascorbic acid, vitamin E and ferulic acid at an effective pH that can deliver vitamin C into the skin, fight free radicals and fade away dark spots. But it’s also loaded with antioxidants, like green tea and licorice extract, to prevent wrinkles. Plus, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and marula oil to moisturize. P.S. The gold hue is due to the anti-irritants in the formula. It’s not a sign vitamin C has already gone bad!
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
Related: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum Full Review
Best Vitamin C Serum For Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00)
Ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C) is the most effective form of vitamin C, but it’s also the most irritating. If you have sensitive skin, you’re better with a derivative of vitamin C. Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum has two: magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, an oil-soluble derivative that penetrates skin better than other forms of vitamin C (yes, including ascorbic acid!). Plus, it’s loaded with every antioxidant you can think of to help you fight premature wrinkles.
Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
Related: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Which One Is Better?
Best Vitamin C Serum For Oily Skin: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($33.99)
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum uses a derivate of vitamin C, too. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, to be exact. It’s a stable form of vitamin C that’s better known for its ability to treat acne. But it still fights wrinkles, brightens the complexion and all those things vitamin C is supposed to do. It still has vitamin E and ferulic acid to make vitamin C even more effective. And it has its fair share of antioxidants to prevent even more wrinkles. It’s suitable for all skin type, but oily skin will like it the most.
Available at: iHerb and Ulta
Related: Is Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate The Best Vitamin C Derivative?