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The Best Vitamin C Serums for Brighter, Tighter Skin

Dermatologists consider Vitamin C "one of the greatest anti-agers nature has produced." So why aren't you using it?

vitamin c serums
Designed by Michael Stillwell

Skincare devotees and dermatologists have long extolled the virtues of products containing Vitamin C. And now that serums packed with the antioxidant are available from nearly every major beauty brand—and at every price point—you have no excuse not to use one. Why?

“Vitamin C is one of the greatest anti-agers nature has produced,” says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross. “After you apply a Vitamin C treatment product, such as a serum, you’ll see a radiant sheen to the skin. And with long term use, it helps to build collagen and firmness.”

Here are 18 expert and editor-approved Vitamin C serums, plus tips from dermatologists about how to incorporate them into your skincare routine.

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Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate
'kiehl''s' kiehls.com

"Vitamin C sucks up the free radicals that can lead to aging and skin cancer caused by ultraviolet light," explains Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara. "Think of it as 'Pac-Man' eating those little pellets."

Vitamin C Serum
Mario Badescu nordstrom.com

Vitamin C serums have both instantaneous and long-term effects. Immediately after applying, your skin will have a radiant sheen, and with continued use—after about four to six weeks—you'll notice an an overall improvement in skin tone and hyperpigmentation. 

Vitamin C Serum
Mad Hippie amazon.com

"Not all Vitamin C serums are created equal," says Dr. Gohara. "The concentration and consistency varies from product to product."

LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum

A potent 15% pure vitamin C concentration combined with hyaluronic acid ensures that after less than 10 days time, skin will look brighter and feel bouncier. Bonus: it's fragrance free for those who are sensitive to scent. 

C E Ferulic
SkinCeuticals dermstore.com

This SkinCeuticals serum has been around since long before vitamin C serums became a must-have for every product line. According to its many devotees, there's a reason it hasn't gone out of style—its blend of 15 percent vitamin C, with vitamin E and ferulic acid, which work together to fend off free radical damage. 

Truth Serum
Ole Henriksen sephora.com

"One of the keys to maximizing the benefits of any product in your daily skincare regimen is to apply products with a thinner consistency before the thicker more creamy ones," advises Dr. Gross.

Flavo-C Ultraglican Ampoules
Isdin Isdinceutics Isdin.com

"This is my favorite Vitamin C formulation right now," says Dr. Heidi Waldorf of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics. "Because it comes in ampoules, the product remains active until ready you're ready to use it. The special cap can be closed to protect the serum left in the ampule from oxidizing for 24 hours." Each ampule contains enough for two applications.

C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
Dr. Dennis Gross nordstrom.com

“Serums contain the most potent dose of ingredients to tackle your skincare concern. You would be doing your skin a disservice not to use one," says Dr. Gross.

Kakadu C Serum
DERMAdoctor sephora.com

DERMAdoctor went the extra mile with its vitamin C serum, mixing in vitamin E, ferulic acid in the hopes of increasing the star ingredient's effectiveness. Best of all, a portion of the profits benefit an Australian charity, which helps the Aboriginal community leverage the native kakadu plum (which contains 55 times the vitamin C of an orange) into economic opportunities.

Grapefruit Vitamin C Booster
Yes To target.com

Products containing Vitamin C help protect the skin from the effects of pollution, cigarette smoke, and ultraviolet light. But Dr. Waldorf warns that Vitamin C is not a sunscreen. "It doesn’t absorb the light—it just helps reduce the damage that occurs in skin cells from ultraviolet light," she says.

C15 Super Booster
Paula's Choice paulaschoice.com

This product, formulated specifically to combat signs of aging as well as brightening skin tone, contains a highly concentrated form of vitamin C, plus some antioxidants and other skin-replenishing ingredients for good measure. 

Rescue Serum
Joanna Vargas net-a-porter.com

Vitamin C-packed serums—as opposed to other Vitamin C products—are particularly effective because they deliver a high concentration of active ingredients to the skin, explains Dr. Waldorf. Also, they absorb easily and can be applied under or over a lotion or cream without feeling sticky or slick.

Vitamin C + E Complex
SkinMedica dermstore.com

The combination of Vitamin C and E "prove that two vitamins are better than one," says Dr. Gohara. "Both work synergistically to provide rejuvenating benefits to the skin, such as improved skin tone, smoother texture, and increased firmness."

Vitamin-C Juice Cleanser
pixi pixibeauty.com

Pack a two-for-one punch while you cleanse with this vitamin c infused micellar water (a great morning option, if we do say so ourselves). Bonus: the formulation also includes ferulic acid and probiotics to protect your skin barrier and help your skin fight off free-radical damage. 

Vitamin C 35% Collagen Rebuilding Serum, 30ml
Allies of Skin net-a-porter.com

This serum is very potent and waterless — which means you don't have to worry about oxidization.  With daily use it will pack a serious punch in fighting wrinkles, dark spots and pigmentation.  

Vitamin C + E Serum
No B.S. amazon.com

This serum promises everything you want—vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, pomegranate, green tea—and none of the B.S. (meaning bad stuff, of course). 

Vitamin C Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
OZNaturals amazon.com
$17.95 (46% off)

Though the serums do have myriad benefits, Dr. Waldorf warns that Vitamin C "is not a magic wand" and should be used in conjunction with a full skincare regimen, including sunscreen.

Anti-Aging Repair Serum
Dr. Loretta dermstore.com

"Vitamin C has been shown to help regulate the synthesis of collagen, speed cell turnover, and reduce the appearance of some new pigmentation which translates into better texture, color, radiance," says Dr. Waldorf.

C-Firma Day Serum
Drunk Elephant sephora.com

Though some experts say that Vitamin C serums can be used either in the morning or at night, Dr. Gohara generally advises applying it before you start your day. "It’s the first thing to hit my face after I get out of the shower," she says. "It's best to use in the AM because it fights off free radical damage caused by UV light."

Designed by Michael Stillwell

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