While you may have heard people mention Vitamin C serums before, you’re probably not completely familiar with what they are and how they work.
That’s understandable, since vitamin C serums are a type of product that was not widely talked about until recently. They are, however, rapidly becoming incredibly popular and more widely used, and we feel that knowing about these serums is important for you.
To help you better understand both what a vitamin C serum is and why it might be a good idea for you to try one, we’ve put together this article to explain the benefits and drawbacks of vitamin C serums, along with a list of our top ten best Vitamin C serums and why we think that they’re the best choices on the market.
What Are Vitamin C Serums?
Vitamin C serums are health and beauty products that are primarily used to promote healthy skin and help with rejuvenating your face; essentially, a vitamin C serum is an anti-aging product.
There have been a wide variety of clinical trials done to assess the effectiveness of vitamin C serums, and the overall agreement among experts is that vitamin C serums are proven to help reverse skin damage, help slow down the aging process, and help improve the appearance of wrinkles.
Vitamin C serums are topical products, meaning that they are applied directly to your skin. Most serums come in bottled form and have eye droppers to help apply the right amount of serum to your skin.
Benefits of Vitamin C Serum
- One of the most important benefits of using a vitamin C serum is that doing so promotes collagen production in your cells. Collagen is what gives our skin it’s elasticity and firmness, so any product that helps encourage collagen production is important if you want to keep your skin looking youthful.
- Many vitamin C serums also help provide protection from sun damage and UV rays. Do be careful, however: a vitamin C serum is not a substitute for a proper SPF sunscreen, it simply helps supplement your UV protection.
- Vitamin C serums can also help reserve or lessen skin discoloration or hyper-pigmentation (a condition where darker patches of skin form as a result of melanin build-up), since some of them act as natural bleaching agents.
- Vitamin C serums can also help reverse the effects of sun damage on your skin, particularly wrinkles, fine lines, and discoloration. They can also be very useful in helping to reduce age spots and those pesky dark circles under your eyes.
- Depending on the individual formulas and ingredients, there are also vitamin C serums that will help guard your skin from damaging free radicals like air pollutants and cigarette smoke.
- A good enough vitamin C serum can also help reverse damage done to your skin from chlorine; this is an especially helpful quality given that chlorine is present in almost all water now and can otherwise be harmful to the health of your skin.
- There is also some evidence to suggest that applying vitamin C serum to cuts and scrapes helps speed up the healing process because of how beneficial it is for your skin. These types of serums can also help your skin retain moisture and stay soft.
As you can see, there are a great many positives to using a vitamin C serum on your skin. Of course, there is no guarantee that you will personally experience each and every positive effect, but even so there is no denying that the potential benefits are incredible.
Drawbacks of Vitamin C Serum
As with any health and beauty product, there are unfortunately downsides that sometimes go hand-in-hand with any potential benefits and vitamin C serums are regrettably no exception to this.
- One of the main negative side effects from using a vitamin C serum is itching and redness; this typically happens because of the serum’s higher levels of acidity (courtesy of a low pH balance) and how this tends to irritate more sensitive skin types. There are even a few cases where the acidity caused chemical burns, but this type of reaction is very rare.
- Some vitamin c serums can also trigger acne breakouts, thanks to the extra ingredients placed within the serums to help them last longer and be more effective.
- There is also the possibility of having an allergic reaction to a vitamin C serum, depending on what the serum in question contains. While a mild reaction can consist of irritated skin, a rash, or red raised bumps, a more severe allergic reaction is possible and could be dangerous.
If you are unsure about whether or not you might have an allergic reaction to the vitamin C serum you have chosen, we highly recommend testing out a very tiny amount of the serum on a small patch of skin to see whether it is safe for you to use or not. You should also consider consulting your doctor if you have any serious concerns.
Also, it is extremely important that your vitamin C serum is stored in an airtight and opaque container; long term exposure to air and light can have a negative effect on the serum and render the active ingredients inert and useless.
How to Choose the Best Vitamin C Serum
It’s very important to choose a Vitamin C serum that is of high-quality, with a formula that will help promote skin health and regeneration.
In general, it’s also important to start off easy when beginning a skincare regimen that involves vitamin C serums. For your first serum, try something with a lower concentration that isn’t as strong, in order to help minimize the chances of a negative reaction.
But aside from all of that, there are some important factors to consider when shopping for the best vitamin C serum. Here are the five things that we think are most important to remember:
- Ingredients – What chemicals and oils your vitamin C serum contains is of course the most important factor to consider. Ascorbic acid is considered the best possible ingredient in a serum, but hyaluronic acid and ferulic acid are also considered good ingredients. Try to find a serum that contains antioxidants as well, such as vitamins A or E.
- pH level – Products with different pH levels will have different effects on your skin. A serum containing ascorbic acid in particular can become unstable if the formula is at too high of a pH level, so try to find serums that have lower pH levels; the general consensus is that anything 3.5 or lower is ideal depending on personal preference and skin sensitivity.
- Intensity/Potency – How much of a concentration of vitamin C a serum contains can also impact how effective it is. A serum that has a vitamin C concentration twenty percent or more will almost definitely have a faster and more noticeable impact than something with a lesser concentration.
Make sure to factor in your own skin type as well when considering the potency of a serum; if you have sensitive skin we suggest getting a less intense serum that will be gentler on your skin.
- Packaging – As mentioned previously, make sure that any serum you buy is stored in an opaque and airtight container; a serum stored in any other type of container will rendered ineffective over time due to air and light exposure. Quite frankly, purchasing a serum in any sort of substandard container would be a waste of money.
- Price – Of course, the price of a vitamin C serum is also an important factor to consider when you’re out shopping. Be mindful, however, that a more expensive serum is not necessarily a better one. The ingredients, pH level, and potency are the most important factors, and there are plenty of effective serums you can buy without spending too much money.
10 Best Vitamin C Serum Reviews 2022
Even with the information we’ve provided for you, selecting a serum that’s right for you might still be a challenge.
To help you narrow down your options, we’ve listed what we consider to be the top ten best vitamin C serums currently available and also provided you with some useful information about their individual benefits and drawbacks.
1. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic – A High Quality Serum
The SkinCeuticals brand is the leading company when it comes to vitamin C serums, and the specialized formula they use in their products is widely considered to be one of the most effective on the market.
This product’s main ingredient is ascorbic acid, along with smaller amounts of ferulic acid and vitamin E, and it has a low pH at 2.5, so it’s quite beneficial with minimal risk of aggravating your skin.
It’s typically a good match for any skin type, and once it’s been applied there’s no danger of it being washed off so you can safely use it in tandem with sunscreen or other facial products. It also has built-in UVA & UVB protection of its own, and is packed with helpful antioxidants.
That being said, being the most popular product has an obvious downside: it’s typically much more expensive than similar serums made by lesser known companies. If you’re trying to keep to a smaller budget when shopping for a vitamin C serum, this particular product is probably not the right choice for you.
2. Obagi Professional-C Vitamin C Serum – Best for Sensitive Skin and Potency Options
This brand of vitamin C serum is popular for being an excellent choice for those of us with slightly more sensitive skin. The main ingredient in this serum is ascorbic acid, one of the most ideal primary ingredients in an effective vitamin C serum.
It also comes in different levels of potency. The lowest percentage of vitamin C available is 10%, and the highest possible concentration currently available is 20% (with the middle concentration being 15%).
This product is also better at penetrating your skin than other similar serums, making it more effective at moisturizing and rejuvenating your cells.
The primary downside to this particular serum is that while it is cheaper than more high-end products it is still considerably more expensive than other serums.
3. Monica’s Beauty Vitamin C Facial Serum – An Organically Sourced high-concentration Serum
This particular serum has a concentration of 20% vitamin C and its main ingredient is hyaluronic acid; it also contains vitamin E, organic aloe, and a variety of other helpful plant extracts (such as dandelion, jojoba, and horsetail oils).
Additionally, the hyaluronic acid comes from an organic botanic source, making it a nice more natural option when compared to other more chemical-heavy options. It’s also made entirely in the United States and is cruelty-free (meaning that no animals were harmed at all during the testing process).
This product also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you’re not satisfied with the serum’s effectiveness you can return it for a full refund.
One of the main downsides to this particular serum is that it tends to dry very quickly, so you need to be fast when applying it to your face, or else it will dry before you have it smoothed out across your skin.
4. SkinMedica Vitamin C and E Complex – Best Choice for a Long-lasting Serum
The main ingredient of this product is ascorbic acid, and it also contains tocopherol, a natural and oil-soluble form of vitamin E, as well as some stabilizing agents to make the vitamins as effective as possible.
This particular serum is a good choice if you want a product that will gradually provide vitamin C and E for your skin throughout the day. Thanks to the specially designed formula, this serum will last all day long and help protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals.
This serum is also recommended fairly frequently by dermatologists and is more affordable than other similar products, making it a good choice if you want a good quality vitamin C serum without spending too much money.
There have been a few customer reports about redness or itchy skin after trying the product for the first time, so make sure to test the product out on a smaller patch of skin before applying it to your entire face, just to be sure that you won’t have an allergic reaction.
Additionally, there have been reports of the serum arriving expired after purchase. This serum is normally a plain white color, so if you receive a package that has yellow or otherwise discolored cream in it, we advise you to return it immediately: discolored serum means that it has expired and needs to be replaced.
5. OZNaturals Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum – A Serum Free of Harmful Chemicals
This serum has a vitamin C concentration of 20% and also a pH of 6.8, which is notably higher than most other vitamin C serums. Its primary two ingredients are sodium ascorbyl phosphate and hyaluronic acid, and it also contains vitamin E, and additional chemicals to enhance its effectiveness.
This serum is a bit thicker than others, and can feel heavier on your skin in comparison. It also currently comes in an orange color which might turn some people off, although there are rumors of the company re-evaluating their formula in order to create a light-weight product with a slightly more natural color.
The most outstanding positive quality of this product is that the serum (like almost all products made by the OZNaturals company) is made to incredibly high standards and contain no harmful synthetic chemicals, no sulfates, no parabens, no petrochemicals, and no phthalates.
There seem to be very few drawbacks for this particular product other than inconsistent pricing depending upon which store or online retailer you purchase it from. There are, however, a handful of reports from customers that the formula might have been tweaked recently, resulting in more frequent negative reactions to the product, such as dry and flaking skin.
That being said, the majority of customers are still highly satisfied with the product; there is just a slightly increased chance of decreased effectiveness in certain cases that we wanted you to be aware of before purchasing this product.
6. Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum 22 by Serumtologie – A High Concentration of Vitamin
This particular serum is quite popular and has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C at 22%, and has a pH of 6.5, making it one of the strongest serums currently available on the market.
Its primary ingredient is sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and it also contains hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid, and vitamin E. This serum can be used by people of all skin types and is also reasonably priced, making it an excellent selection for the average person.
Additionally, this serum contains no harmful chemicals, synthetic dyes, artificial aromas, or genetically-modified ingredients and is also never tested on animals during the production process.
Is it important for us to mention that the color of this product may vary because of how almost all of the ingredients are naturally sourced; this natural sourcing means that the quality and color of the ingredients varies depending on the climate in their country of origin and the corresponding time of year as well.
The main downside to this product is that it’s not recommended for those with more sensitive skin. Because of the high concentration of vitamin C and similarly high pH level, this product can cause redness, dryness, and itchiness for people with sensitive skin, so we advise trying a less intense product if you are among that group of people.
7. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster – Best for Wrinkle Treatment
This serum is very popular for its incredibly effective collagen-boosting effects, which help to promote skin health and also assist in preventing and reversing wrinkles. It also contains aloe vera to help revitalize and moisturize your skin.
Other positive qualities of this product include how lightweight it feels on your skin compared to other products that can sometimes feel too thick or too greasy and how it has the secondary effect of hydrating your skin.
The downsides of this product are fairly mild but worth noting: because it contains silicon to give it a longer shelf life, this serum can cause acne or other skin breakouts to occur. Additionally, the potency is very low; the serum’s vitamin C concentration is only around one point five percent.
Also, the serum is artificially colored to have a pale orange pigment, and comes packaged in a clear bottle (Remember: any container that is not opaque can reduce effectiveness).
All in all, this is a good choice if you want a reasonably priced serum to help with wrinkles and keeping your skin adequately hydrated.