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These Are the Best Vitamin C Serums for Your Glowiest Skin Ever (As Chosen By Ipsters and Editors)

Photo by Anastasiia Burlakova/Getty Images

It’s no secret that vitamin C is the G.O.A.T. of skin-brightening and tightening ingredients. Besides being a go-to remedy for the common cold (and a fun throwback to that 2000s graduation soundtrack), vitamin C itself is an antioxidant-packed powerhouse that can halt free radical damage, help fade fine lines, lighten up acne scars, boost collagen production, and level up your skin’s radiance. We’re talking about giving your skin a major glow-up. Studies show that when applied topically, vitamin C can help improve skin texture, wrinkling, roughness, and bolster collagen production (yup, all of that!). 

About the Expert:

Juwon Ajayi is a licensed aesthetician based in NYC and Lagos, Nigeria. She is the owner of The Glow By Juju.
NYC-based esthetician Bryce Anthony has a passion for self-care through aesthetics. With a treatment room opening in early 2021, Anthony is dedicated to helping clients feel beautiful in their skin.

Ok, now that you’re sold, what’s the best way to incorporate this good-for-skin ingredient into your daily ritual? Vitamin C serum, baby! Vitamin C serums penetrate into your skin easily, delivering a potent dose of the ingredient. They also play well with a plethora of other beneficial ingredients, like vitamin E (which helps stabilize vitamin C) and ferulic acid (which lowers the pH level so it doesn't throw your skin off balance). 

So how do you use and choose a vitamin C serum?

“If you’re using a daytime vitamin C serum, it should always be applied after cleansing, toning, and hydrating the skin—but always before applying your SPF so your skin can truly soak it in,” says Juwon Ajayi, a licensed aesthetician based in NYC and Lagos. And as it turns out, there are benefits to using a vitamin C serum both during the day and at night. “Applying vitamin C during the day can be a game changer because its antioxidant powers can help your skin fight against free radicals and pollutants. Applying vitamin C at night in conjunction with other products can give it a chance to work its magic while your body undergoes its natural renewal process,” Ajayi says.

When it comes to picking out a vitamin C serum,  NYC-based esthetician and skincare pro Bryce Anthony says that the biggest rules of thumb are packaging and percentage. “Packaging is very important! It should (preferably) be in a tight, dark bottle to protect against air and light exposure,” says Anthony. Air and light exposure are two factors that can break down the benefits of your serum. As far as vitamin C serum percentages, they can range from as low as 5% to a potent 30%. But before you run straight for the strong stuff, Anthony advises starting low and slow (especially if you have sensitive skin). “With any active, you want to slowly introduce it into your routine, starting with two to three times a week, then working your way to daily use.”

Now that you're a total pro on what this ingredient can do and what to look for, here are 20 vitamin C serums (adored by yours truly) that you’ll want to add into your routine ASAP.

1. Best Overall Brightener: BEAUTYSTAT Universal C Skin Refiner

BEAUTYSTAT Universal C Skin Refiner

Consider this award-winning serum a one-way ticket to your glowiest skin ever. Created by a cosmetic chemist, the gel-cream formula contains a whopping 20% (!) of L-ascorbic acid. “L-ascorbic acid is considered the gold standard of vitamin C and the most researched and effective form,” says Anthony. Basically, it works. Squalane and green tea extract are also added to help hydrate and refine your skin's texture—which makes for a serum that definitely deserves a spot on your skincare shelf.

2. Best for Dry Skin: VITABRID C12 Vitamin C Dual Drop Serum

VITABRID C12 Vitamin C Dual Drop Serum

If vitamin C is the gold star for brightening, then hyaluronic acid is considered the same for hydration. Put them together, and you have a holy grail serum for dry, dull skin. This Ipster-loved serum contains a stabilized vitamin C blend (containing our fave L-ascorbic acid!), peptides, and a Hyaluronic Acid Triple Complex that sinks into thirsty skin. A few drops of this vitamin C serum each day, and you’ll be on your way to brighter, firmer, and more hydrated skin.

As Ipster julia_namenek writes, “This is incredible! It has an almost syrupy consistency in the bottle but immediately melts into the skin. My skin instantly looked hydrated, smooth, and flawless. Instantly. This is one of the few things I've ever gotten that I will be buying another bottle of when it runs out (I have new product-itis haha)...It's that good.”

3. Best Ingredient List: JUICE BEAUTY Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum

JUICE BEAUTY Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum

This serum boasts an impressive list of all organic, antioxidant-packed ingredients like resveratrol-rich grapeseed oil, evening primrose, and vitamin C. Antioxidants can help fend off free radical damage and strengthen the effects of your SPF—so it's best to apply your vitamin C serums in the morning before sunscreen to get maximum protection from UV and blue light. Why? “They work synergistically to combat free radical damage and UV light throughout the day,” says Anthony, adding that they do not replace (big emphasis here) your SPF. Lucky for you, this ultra-light gel formula will melt instantly into skin so you can apply your sun protection without any annoying sticky or tacky feeling.

4. Best for Anti-Aging: GOLDFADEN MD Brightening Elixir

GOLDFADEN MD Brightening Elixir

Remember when we mentioned how much vitamin C loves being combined with vitamin E or ferulic acid? Well, this dermatologist-developed serum contains all three. These potent actives are pros when it comes to fading discoloration or smoothing fine lines, but in order to get the results you crave, you’ll want to stay consistent with your use. “Something like vitamin C can start to show signs of brightening and overall radiance within the first couple weeks of use, whereas something like breaking down stubborn hyperpigmentation could take a few months,” Anthony clarifies. Don’t worry, the results will be so worth the effort.

5. Best Packaging: NEOGEN DERMALOGY Real Vita C Serum


This serum’s tinted bottle protects its 22% sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a gentler, stable form of vitamin C that is a fab alternative for those with sensitive skin who still want to get on the vitamin C train. Plus, it hosts a cocktail of fruit-derived extracts (lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine), niacinamide, and collagen to plump and revitalize your skin.

“I was hesitant to try this serum because vitamin C can sting a little on my skin, but this formula is beautiful. It doesn’t burn, it’s brightening, and not oily. I use a few drops as my last a.m. step prior to moisturizer,” writes Ipster jessica_woodson_wade.

6. Best for Oily Skin: 111SKIN Vitamin C Brightening Booster

111SKIN Vitamin C Brightening Booster

Dark spots got you down? Sun damage and aging can make them hard to avoid, but this serum can help shed some light on discoloration. This ultra-luxe face serum is super lightweight (oily types, rejoice!) and is formulated to work for all skin types. In addition to vitamin C, it also features nourishing licorice root while helps to even out the complexion.

"I love this product so much," writes one Ipster. "It's super lightweight and it feels so lovely on my skin. It has a light scent, but it goes away very quickly. Two drops are all I need! Plus, this isn't greasy!"

7. Best for Sensitive Skin: SUNDAY RILEY C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum

SUNDAY RILEY C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum

With a 15% vitamin C percentage, you know this best-seller means business. The fast-absorbing formula visibly balances out stubborn hyperpigmentation and minimizes the appearance of pores. The high percentage of the hero ingredient is complemented by phytosterols and saccharide isomerate extract, which work together to reduce any redness or sensitivity, making it safe for all skin types. With just a few drops, you’ll notice a brighter, more even skin tone.

"Love the brand and I'm seeing a noticeable difference now that I've been using it for a few months," writes Ipster Dravensgift.

8. Best Nourishing Serum: DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

 DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Two major bullets on our vitamin C serum wishlist are a stabilized formula and a high concentration of our hero ingredient. DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum has both. In addition to vitamin C, this formula also features nourishing green tea extract, soothing aloe vera, and always hydrating hyaluronic acid. Smooth a few drops around your face and neck morning and night for a radiant, allover glow.

"Loved it so much that it was gone in two weeks," one Ipster writes. "And I used it as directed! Perfect consistency and it left my skin feeling supple and not one bit greasy."

9. Best for Extra Glow: MURAD Multi-Vitamin Infusion Oil

MURAD Multi-Vitamin Infusion Oil

With a formula that features vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and F, this facial oil is like a multivitamin for your skin. It's gentle enough to use twice a day and comes with a broad range of benefits. Expect it to help brighten and even skin tone, fight free radicals, hydrate dry skin, and diminish signs of aging. It's so effective that 96% of users noticed healthier, more radiant skin after just four weeks.

"I wasn’t sure about using an oil product on my naturally oily skin, but wow," one Ipster writes. "My skin felt and looked amazing! I’ve incorporated this oil into my daily skincare regime and will continue to use it." 

10. Best for Vitamin C Newbies: MINTPEAR Vitamin C Serum

MINTPEAR Vitamin C Serum

True to its cheeky tagline, this serum really does help you "C your youth"—well, your youthful skin at least. This potent serum comes with a whopping 25% vitamin C dose to put those firming, anti-aging benefits into overdrive. All-natural ingredients like aloe vera, thyme extract, vitamin E, and chamomile extract play well with the star of the show to soothe and moisturize.

“It really worked on the wrinkles and dark circles under my eyes!” one Ipster wrote.

11. Best for Fading Dark Spots: MURAD Rapid Age Spot and Skin Lightening Serum

MURAD Rapid Age Spot and Skin Lightening Serum

Dark spots can be a huge headache when trying to achieve an even tone and texture, but this serum is here to help. This lightweight but powerful formula is powered by 2% hydroquinone (the highest potency of this skin-lightener available without a prescription) and a combo of vitamin C and glycolic acid to help fade melasma, freckles, sun spots, age spots, uneven skin tone, and even acne scars. Suffice to say, this serum means business when it comes to visible results.

12. Best Antioxidant Boost: PURLISSE BEAUTY Brightening Serum

PURLISSE BEAUTY Brightening Serum

After a season of dry air and cold temps, dead skin cells and dehydration can build up to create a lackluster complexion. Enter this antioxidant-rich serum from PURLISSE. The powerful formula is packed with nine plant extracts—including its namesake blue lotus extract—which act as a powerful antioxidant punch to amp up radiance and protect against environmental damage.

13. Best Targeted Treatment: SWEET CHEF Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot

SWEET CHEF Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot
Courtesy of SWEET CHEF

Acne scars and hyperpigmentation, you’ve met your match. This brightening ginger serum shot provides a crazy-powerful dose of antioxidant-rich ginger and potent vitamin C to leave you with a naturally hydrated and radiant complexion. 

14. Best for All Skin Types: THE ORGANIC PHARMACY Stabilised Vitamin C Serum

THE ORGANIC PHARMACY Stabilised Vitamin C Serum

Sensitive skin? Acne prone? Just seeing red? This potent formula is suitable for all skin types, enabling it to serve up all the benefits of powerful vitamin C, minus any irritation. Just apply one full dropper onto damp skin after cleansing and toning, and pat gently over your face, neck, and décolleté. 

15. Best Barely-There Feel: JULES & ESTHER Vitamin C + E Facial Serum

JULES & ESTHER Vitamin C + E Facial Serum
Courtesy of JULES & ESTHER

This lightweight, botanical-based serum keeps skin hydrated while reducing signs of aging. Packed with potent natural and organic ingredients, it hydrates, evens skin tone, and minimizes wrinkles. Smooth, radiant, and healthy skin is just a few silky drops away.

“I love the orange scent! It felt nice and lightweight! It was nicely refreshing and I felt MY skin wasn't dry when using it. It isn't a rich heavy duty serum compared to others,” one Ipster wrote.

16. Best Bang for Your Buck: GLOW ON 5TH Skincare Headband and Simply Glowing Vitamin C Serum Set

GLOW ON 5TH Skincare Headband and Simply Glowing Vitamin C Serum Set

The lightweight serum in this set is formulated to help reduce the appearance of textured skin and bring out your best natural glow with vitamin C and licorice root. The best part? It comes with a super plush headband designed to keep your hair away from your face, so you can enjoy your skincare routine without a single fuss.

“I love this serum! My skin feels so light and soft. I don't feel complete without it anymore! The headband is also really cute and helpful for those times when you're focusing on your skin!” one Ipster sys.

17. Best Texture Ever: WANDER BEAUTY Sight C-er Vitamin C Concentrate

WANDER BEAUTY Sight C-er Vitamin C Concentrate

If we combined the texture of our favorite serum and face lotion, this baby would be their love child. This lightweight, quick-to-absorb formula does it all. It brightens, evens tone and texture, stimulates collagen production, fights free radicals, and keeps skin hydrated and healthy around the clock. Bottom line: We’re obsessed. Can ya tell?

18. Best Radiance Booster: TATCHA Violet C Brightening Serum

TATCHA Violet C Brightening Serum
Courtesy of TATCHA

Heads up: This potent brightener has got not one, but two (that’s right, two!) forms of vitamin C in it that are stabilized by Japanese beautyberry for your brightest complexion ever. The fast-acting form of vitamin C in it works to early signs of aging, support surface cell turnover and hydrating, and plump the skin. A longer-acting version then helps minimize lingering damage caused by free radicals.

19. Best Hydrating and Brightening Serum: GLOSSIER Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum

GLOSSIER Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum
Courtesy of GLOSSIER

So long, dull skin. Hello, glow! This potion provides all the brightening benefits that vitamin C has to offer, plus a hefty dose of hydration thanks to magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (aka MAP), which helps replenish missing moisture. The result is healthy-looking skin that’s dewy and bright.

20. Best Tone-Correcting Two-Fer: SONÄGE SKINCARE Skin Tone Correcting Duo

SONÄGE SKINCARE Skin Tone Correcting Duo

This vitamin C serum + moisturizer combo takes glow goals to new levels. The High Impact Vitamin C Serum is a lightweight water-based vitamin C serum that supports collagen production, boosting elasticity, preventing sagging, and also helping to fade the appearance of dark spots and even skin tone. We love it paired with Botanica Souffle Creme, a light, fluffy moisturizer packed with a garden’s worth of botanicals for a healthy, radiant complexion.

“I use this everyday and my skin looks amazing,” one Ipster says.

Want the scoop on more good-for-skin ingredients? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
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Article Last Updated July 24, 2023 12:00 AM