Harper's Bazaar posted "20 Best Vitamin C Serums for Brighter, Healthier-Looking Skin" To prevent degradation, Visha Skincare founder, Dr. Patel, advises keeping serums in containers that keep out air and light. And, while Vitamin C can boost sunblock, it can also exacerbate skin irritation if used with too many other ingredients.
Your beauty routine isn't complete without one of these expert-backed picks.
While cleansing and moisturizing are undoubtedly the backbone of any good skincare routine, a great routine begins with the application of one of the best vitamin C serums. The ultra-popular antioxidant protects skin from free radicals (like UV rays and pollution), stimulates collagen production, and lifts away dark spots by inhibiting melanin, revealing glowy, bright skin.
Vitamin C derivatives in skincare can be finicky, and not just any ordinary serum will deliver the kind of results you're after. "Vitamin C is notoriously unstable," Robert Finney, a board-certified dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in NYC tells BAZAAR.com. "And although you can find many cheap options, you can’t always be confident that they're formulated in a way that renders the product effective."
One way to maintain the integrity of your serum of choice is to make sure it's packaged and stored properly. "Vitamin C easily degrades in oxygen and sunlight," Dr. Purvisha Patel, a board-certified dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology and founder of Visha Skincare says. Therefore, your vitamin C should there be kept in an opaque, airtight container.
BEST FOR MATURE SKIN
- TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face
- TruSkin Naturals
- Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
MAKES SKIN GLOWY
- CC Me Vitamin C + Niacinamide Serum
BEST FOR HYPERPIGMENTATION
- Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
BEST FOR PLUMPING SKIN
- Truth Serum
- Ole Henriksen
In addition to finding the right serum formulation for you, it's also important to keep in mind that vitamin C is available in a number of concentrations depending on your skin's needs, ranging from five percent all the way to 30 percent. Most serums are also designed with darker packaging to block light absorption and keep your product of choice effective. To help you narrow down the best of the best vitamin C serums, we've rounded up a few beloved picks from top brands like SkinCeuticals, Biossance , and Ole Henriksen worth adding to your daily routine. Each of these best-sellers contain effective formulas that are beloved by dermatologists, skincare experts, and beauty editors alike. Here, 24 coveted serums for the ultimate glow to apply each and every morning under your favorite sunscreen.
BEST FOR MATURE SKIN
TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face
- Prime Delivery
Over 100,000 Amazon shopper reviews (yes, you read that number right) all come to one conclusion: This is one of the best vitamin C serums you can get with two-day delivery—and at less than $20 bucks.
"I love, love, love, this stuff! I use it as a base morning and evening. It definitely helps to smooth the skin, and I noticed the difference within a couple of days. I'm on the autoship option for this product, and I'll never go a day without putting it on. It really makes a difference in my complexion." —Lisa P.
Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
- Antioxidant-rich formula
This vitamin-packed serum also contains cermaides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin B5 to keep skin hydrated, plump, and healthy in addition to boosting your natural glow.
"It's hard to find a serum with L-asorbic vitamin C that's affordable. This one hits all the right boxes, and feels amazing on my face." —Rachel
MAKES SKIN GLOWY
CC Me Vitamin C + Niacinamide Serum
Here's a popular serum that has over 800 Sephora customer reviews, and combines two types of vitamin C with niacinamide to brighten skin while enhancing its glow. Plus, it also includes squalane as a main ingredient for added hydration.
"I am obsessed with this. Makes such a big difference in my skin's appearance! I love to put it on before bed with a fresh face because I wake up and my skin just glows. It has worked better than so many other products and excellent when used in combination with my other favorites in my routine. It produces an even skin tone and skin looking healthy, soft, and supple." —Seaofgreen
BEST FOR HYPERPIGMENTATION
Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
- Aborbs well
While vitamin C is known for its ability to help boost collagen and elastin, it also works to help brighten skin. This serum goes a step further with white shiitake mushroom and licorice root extract to specifically target stubborn dark spots.
"I was looking to incorporate a vitamin c into my routine to help with my acne scars, and this stuff is insanely good! I received a mini size to test out and one pump goes a long way. After about three weeks, I noticed my forehead and cheek scars were less visible, my overall skin texture improved, and my face was glowing! I have sensitive skin and this didn't make it purge or breakout. I'm so happy with this product." —Jessicah78
BEST FOR PLUMPING SKIN
- Great for dehydrated skin
This coveted vitamin C serum absorbs quickly, and has a pleasant, citrusy scent, unlike some harsher serums.
"I’m turning 30 and starting to get fine lines and this has genuinely made a difference in my skin—really helps minimize the appearance of fine lines when used consistently. I was surprise at how well it works. Definitely will repurchase." —Kellyemc
10% Pure Vitamin C Serum
- Airtight packaging
This concentrate eradicates dullness with a potent dose of with vitamin C, and is available right at the drugstore.
"I’ve tried many vitamin C serums, but this is the best. You only need a small amount: It’s warming without burning. I have very sensitive skin, so I was worried about a reaction but nothing but glowing smooth skin. I only use this in the morning and a hydrologic serum at night by the ordinary. Since I haven’t had a reaction and such amazing results, I’ll add this to my night routine. Just make sure you wear a sunscreen." —Carina K.
BEST WATERLESS VITAMIN C SERUM
10% Waterless Vitamin C Serum
- Contains 10 percent L-ascorbic acid
This oil- and water-free serum contains 10 percent L-ascorbic acid to brighten, firm, and smooth your complexion, and uses upcycled tangerine peel and sugar beet for a more supple finish.
"This stuff is great! Due to being waterless, it feels almost like an oil but doesn’t sit on your skin like one—it absorbs right in! Leaves my skin looking and feeling great." —Melanie
VERY POTENT FORMULA
Obagi System Professional-C 20% Vitamin C Serum
- Doesn't dry out skin
- Might experience tingling
With a 20 percent vitamin C formulation, this elixir is potent, so keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Pat it on in the morning when you're ready for serious, derm-level skin-brightening results from your own bathroom counter.
"I use Obagi Medial Professional-C Serum 20% daily—it's the best part of my skin routine. It keeps my skin plump and bright. If you have never used the 20 percent strength, I recommend you start with the 10 percent and then work up to 20 percent. This is a truly great product that I will not go without." —Diana
BEST SPLURGE PICK
C E Ferulic
- Great for addressing fine lines
- Has a strong scent
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is consistently a user, editor, and dermatologist favorite. The combo of vitamins and ferulic acid instantly gives skin back its glow, and the results speak for themselves.
"I never believed in 'holy grail' products until I started using C E Ferulic. Literally within days, the improvement in my complexion was obvious. I can't remember my skin being so smooth, even, and soft since before puberty. I am in my mid-thirties and have been using this for over a year now and I constantly get compliments on my skin, and remarks from old friends on how young I still look. Of all the expensive products I've tried or even ones I still use, this is the one that hands down, no questions, is worth every penny and makes an undeniable difference. Please, never ever ever change the formula!" —Kyhm86
BEST FOR RESURFACING
Violet-C Brightening Serum 20% Vitamin C + 10% AHA
- Smooths skin
The vitamin C in this natural serum is supported by 10 percent AHA fruit acids to help gently exfoliate, boosting the skin-glowing results.
"I love this product. I have sensitive skin and use it in the morning and at night. It has helped reduce my hyperpigmentation and makes my skin look plump and hydrated. The price is steep but I have not found another vitamins C serum that compares to this." —Ajgomckib
BEST FOR ALL SKIN TYPES
Universal C Skin Refiner
- Good for day or night
Here's a popular vitamin C product that falls somewhere between a serum and a cream. The unique fragrance-free formula feels like a plush gel with tiny granules of encapsulated L-Ascorbic acid (the most potent form of vitamin C) that absorbs right into skin. Paired with EGCG (the active in green tea), squalane, and exfoliating tartaric acid, this genius formula will deliver brighter, smoother skin faster than most other vitamin C products out there.
BEST FOR SMOOTHING TEXTURE
C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
- Great for mature skin types
Use this serum once a day for a week and tell us your skin doesn't look fresh and plump—like you just got a facial.
"This is one of the best vitamin C serums I have ever tried. Just after two days of using it, my skin's texture improved, and I had a natural radiant glow to my skin. If you're trying to decide between this serum and another, I highly recommend you try this one!" —CAlvarez711
Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
This serum combines guava, tranexamic and ferulic acids, plus vitamin C to improve the texture of dull skin. It also happens to be vegan and especially effective at reducing the appearance of dark spots.
"[This serum] worked within weeks of daily use on my age spots, which are less pigmented. It also revealed a smoother, brighter complexion [all around]!" —Linda S.
MOST VERSATILE VITAMIN C SERUM
C15 Super Booster
Whether you decide to add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer or use it on its own, this coveted serum from the experts at Paula's Choice makes it simple to revitalize dull skin.
"I have sensitive, acne-prone skin. This vitamin C has helped so much with my hyperpigmentation. It has greatly improved my skin tone and texture. It hasn't caused any irritation or breakouts while using. It may be a little expensive, but I'm willing to pay more for a high quality product that I know will deliver results. I plan on using this for a long time, can't wait to see how my skin continues to improve! Would recommend for anyone interested in finding a great vitamin C serum!" —Melody
BEST TO EVEN TONE
All Bright C Serum
- Absorbs quickly
This powerhouse serum features two forms of vitamin C as well as turmeric and camu camu to aid in brightening.
"My favorite product!! Freshens my face every morning and makes a noticeable difference in softness." —Ciara W.
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Nova 15% Vitamin C and Turmeric Brightening Serum
- Gentle formula
- Strong scent
With 15 percent THD vitamin C, this serum is best for addressing overall dullness in the skin as well as improving the look of hyperpigmentation over time. Although it does initially have a scent from the turmeric, it eventually dissipates and doesn’t include any added fragrance.
BEST VITAMIN C SERUM FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN
Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum
In addition to reducing the appearance of dark spots, this powerful and top-rated vitamin C serum is also oil-free, making it an ideal choice for both combination and acne-prone skin.
"The results are amazing! I’ve never seen another product work as well as this one. My skin has never looked this healthy before. This serum is a must have! Especially if you struggle with hyperpigmentation." —Maizerie
BEST FOR DRY SKIN
Vitamin C Serum
- Hydrating Formula
Vitamin C on its own is an amazing antioxidant. However, this serum from Skin Laundry takes it one step further, combining the brightening qualities of alpha arbutin along with endimoist 4HA, a combination of four types of hyaluronic acid that maintain moisture and curb inflammation.
BEST FOR SUN PROTECTION
Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF 40 Sunscreen Serum
- Light texture
- Shouldn't mix with other serums
If fading dark spots is top of mind, then sunscreen is even more of essential than usual. SPF 40 in this serum allows the vitamin C to be even more effective in brightening and evening skin tone.
"This product has given me exactly what I wanted. If you don’t want a glowy look, don’t buy this. I use this as my first step after cleansing, followed with moisturizer, then glow screen. It gives me the perfect dewy, natural look I’m going for. I have normal to dry skin. It has also helped even my skin tone. I’ve had acne through my mid-twenties and this is definitely helping me recover from that." —KLFisher
Brighten Up Vitamin C Serum
Here's a best-selling and deeply hydrating vitamin C serum that Credo Beauty customers are raving about, which uses natural ingredients like rose hip oil and aloe for supreme moisture.
"This serum is amazing: it goes on really light, smells wonderful, and I have already noticed a difference in my skin! I love that this product is 100 percent natural and it pairs really well with the Ursa Major Gold Hour Cream. Winning combo!" —Jessica K.
Frequently Asked Questions:.
What does vitamin C do?
It's known for its brightening qualities. In addition, "Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that prevents free radicals from breaking down collagen and elastin," explains Patel. "It can also help decrease pigment production."
When is the best time to apply a vitamin C serum?
According to our experts, the best time to apply a vitamin C serum is in the morning on clean, dry skin before using at least an SPF 30. Patel notes, "Vitamin C helps to compound the protection of your SPF.”
What products should you avoid when using a vitamin C serum?
Some ingredients don't play well with it. "Using too many products with exfoliating agents, such as AHAs, retinol, and vitamin C all at once can make the skin peel and lead to sensitivity. Using only one active ingredient at a time helps minimize this," explains Patel. If you're concerned about using products with these ingredients, try using them at night, and vitamin C in the morning.