Of all the skin care ingredients currently popular on the beauty market, vitamin C is part of an elite group of dominant actives. It’s long been a go-to for people of all ages seeking to improve the look, feel and overall health of their skin, enthusiastically recommended by both dermatologists and skin care devotees alike. This multitasking, versatile ingredient comes in various forms, including creams, masks and more. But the most popular vehicle for this effective skin care ingredient is a vitamin C serum.
Serums are a great way to deliver high-powered, active ingredients straight to the skin for maximum absorption and effectiveness. You can layer a vitamin C serum underneath your daytime moisturizer and sunscreen and let it work its magic as you go about your business.
Vitamin C is a very well-studied skin care ingredient. Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist at Sperling Dermatology in New York and New Jersey, previously told HuffPost that the reason this ingredient is so effective is that vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin against oxidative damage, thereby helping to improve skin texture and tone.
This holy grail antioxidant is known to help to brighten the skin, repair damage and fight other typical signs of aging, like uneven skin tone and fine lines or wrinkles. But not all vitamin C serums are made equally. You may think that the higher the percentage, the more potent a serum may be, but that’s not actually the case. While a higher percentage of pure vitamin C can make a difference, it’s also important that it’s balanced with other ingredients that will not only stabilize it, but help to enhance its effects while keeping skin healthy and supple.
Below, we’ve rounded up a selection of dermatologist- and reviewer-approved vitamin C serums. They’re available at a range of price points from retailers like Amazon, Sephora and more. Snag the one that best fits your budget and skin’s needs.
HuffPost receives a share from retailers on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
iS Clinical Super Serum Advance
Sr. Shopping Writer Lourdes Uribe is absolutely devoted to this powerful vitamin C serum
. Her esthetician recommended adding it to her lineup, and now she can’t imagine her skin without it. It's an oil-based vitamin C-rich serum that not only has the potential to help reduce typical signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage, but can help to reduce scarring as well. While it costs a pretty penny, she thinks it’s absolutely worth it. A little goes a long way, making it less of a financial burden than one might imagine. It’s definitely worth the splurge.Promising review:
"Love this stuff. It might be a tad expensive, but it has done wonders for my skin to even it out and make it so smooth. Lines seem to have almost vanished (I’m 57). I have sensitive skin and this was not harsh, nor did it break out my skin. VERY happy with this product and would recommend this to anyone with sensitive skin who wants their skin to feel soft and look radiant. I get SO many compliments on my skin. Have been using for 5 months and will continue to do so.” — Kindle customer
Tatcha Violet-C Brightening serum
This serum has an very high 20% concentration of vitamin C, plus mild fruit AHAs to act as gentle exfoliators and Japanese Angelica root extract that softens, smooths and helps to counterbalance and enhance the effects of vitamin C.Promising review:
"This is the only serum I’ve ever used during the day that truly makes a difference. I have really sensitive skin but I can use this everyday and I actually see my skin brighter, smoother, less redness and over all improvement. I used the whole bottle before writing a review but honestly 2 weeks in I saw noticeable results. I’m scared to switch to any other vitamin c serum now!" — iz95
Dr. Dennis Gross 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright serum
There are tons of vitamin C serums on the market, but this pick previously recommended
by Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist
in New York, is a powerful, effective option for anyone looking to amp up their routine. It can help tackle sun damage, dark spots, lines, dullness and more.
"Vitamin C serums neutralize the free oxygen radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that can damage cellular structures like DNA, lipids, and proteins. Used on a regular basis, they can also help brighten skin and reduce the appearance of sunspots," Camp said.Promising review
: "Road to clear skin. I agree that this product have a strong scent but it goes away after applying moisturizer. However this is one of the best vitamins c I’ve used. It’s been 1 month, my dark spots are fading quickly. Make sure to use sunscreen. This product works! Won’t stop buying." — Jaiivee
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic acid serum
If you're into skin care, you've likely heard people sing the praises of this cult-favorite serum, and with good reason. The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum has been hailed by dermatologists
for its ability to help lighten fine lines, firm skin, provide environmental protection and brighten a dull complexion. The stabilized formulation means all ingredients are working at the peak of their powers, in tandem with each other.Promising reviews:
"I have tried many vitamin c serums and keep coming back to this one. It’s been highly effective on my skin, and while it’s pricey the results have been well worth it. One thing I have especially noticed is that it helps fade my acne scars pretty quickly." — GG
"When I first bought this, I was so apprehensive because of the price. But it really is amazing! You have to use it consistently for a few weeks to see the results, but it’s worth it. My skin has never looked better. A little goes a long way, so the price is worth it." — Emma
Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30%
This award-winning serum from Revision Skincare is an excellent way to get smooth, glowy and even skin. It helps to support the skin's natural production of vitamins C and E and can help to correct the effects of sun damage and free radicals.Promising review:
"I found my miracle. It really works for me! For years like I mean forever I have been searching for the right product. I have very sensitive skin and I suffer from hyperpigmentation. I even went to a dermatologist and nothing worked. I saw this on Instagram and I thought to give it a try. It was very expensive but I was desperate. And now I don’t regret it. I bought the facial wash and I apply this treatment every night. The amazing thing is that, I saw the difference within a week. Now I am slowly buying other products and would create a routinely regimen for my face." — Verified user
Paula's Choice C15 Vitamin C Super Booster
This powerful serum from Paula's Choice is formulated with 15% vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid and peptides that can help to fade away sun damage and hyperpigmentation as well as post-acne scarring while moisturizing and smoothing the skin.Promising reviews
: "Products gives a good glow, notice a difference when I forget to apply in the morning. I have very sensitive skin and this product does not irritate my skin at all. Apply a SPF after, always." — tdkh
"Great addition to skincare routine. This is my first time using vitamin C and it’s been almost three weeks since I started. I have dry skin and adding this to my everyday routine has been a game changer. My skin looks brighter and looks/ feels smoother." — gigiatsephora
Maelove Glow Maker antioxidant serum
Considered by many skin care enthusiasts to be an affordable alternative to SkinCeuticals' cult-fave serum above, this option from Maelove is full of vitamins C and E, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid. It provides long-lasting hydration as well as all the benefits that come along with a powerful vitamin C serum.Promising reviews
: "So many c serums out there, but Maelove is wonderful. I stopped using SkinCeuticals. Maelove is less expensive and the serum does give me a clean tight glow." — Kay B
"My derm recommended this product and even he was impressed! Works just as well if not better than that very expensive brand we all know. I'm thrilled that I found maelove!!" — Erica M
"Glowing skin. I love the texture! I noticed my skin looked a lot more alive, less dull and brightened within a couple of days. I use this consistently every morning after I wash my face." — Danielle K
Kiehl's vitamin C eye serum
Don't sleep on the power of eye serums! Camp is also fan of this particular antioxidant-rich option from Kiehl's, which is as hydrating as it is effective at improving the look of lines and discoloration.
"Eye creams and serums maintain and help prevent the delicate skin around the eyes from showing your true age," Camp told us previously. "Products with vitamin C or retinol are effective for encouraging collagen production and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles."Promising reviews
: "Perfect Hydrating and Moisturizing Serum. This is the perfect serum for me because prepares my skin to put on my eye cream. It is so hydrating and moisturizing. Love it and I wish I had found it before. I don't have dark circles, so I don't know about this matter." — Zabrina
The Inkey List 15% vitamin C and EGF serum
Ideal for sensitive skin or those who are only just beginning to dabble in active ingredients, this serum from The Inkey List is as powerful and effective as it is gentle. Vitamin C and plant-derived epidermal growth factors can help smooth, brighten and tighten the appearance of skin.Promising review
: "Wonderful for Brightening. I have very sensitive skin, and have tried countless vitamin c serums. This is the only one that doesn’t burn when I apply, and leave my skin covered in red bumps. My skin looks brighter since I’ve started using this, and more plump. I feel like I can get away with wearing way less makeup on a daily basis since starting this." — miaaaa96
U Beauty Resurfacing Compound
If you're more interested in a powerful blend as opposed to a serum that is primarily focused on vitamin C, try this compound from U Beauty. It fights free radicals, sun damage, dullness and more with both retinol and vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, mandelic acid and much more to leave skin soft, smooth and vibrant. It's definitely a significant splurge, but reviewers say it's worth it.Promising review
: "I've been using so many products on my skin for years to help with redness, pores, texture, fine lines... You name it and nothing has ever come close to this resurfacing compound!!!! It has everything you need in one bottle. The price is definitely worth it without having to get Botox or pricey fillers!!" — Angel B
Glow Recipe Guava vitamin C dark spot serum
Looking for a silky, gel-like serum that won't feel heavy or sticky but is still full of all the aforementioned doctor-recommended ingredients? You might want to give this Glow Recipe serum a shot. It's formulated with five kinds of vitamin C, guava, tranexamic acid
and ferulic acid that can leave skin more glowy and even.Promising review
: "I wear this everyday, my face looks brighter, healthier and I can tell its made a big difference on my skin. I have acne prone skin and lots of sun damage. Which helped both. Only thing that needs to improve is the bottle of the serum. By the time I'm done with it I have to take out the pump and hit the bottle on my hand lol. same goes with the eye guava eye serum bottle." — Jaqueline G.
Ilia C Beyond Triple serum SPF 40
I had to throw this pick into the mix myself, because it's perfect for those just starting to dip their toes into skin care. It's a multitasking serum that is full of delicious active ingredients recommended by dermatologists, like vitamin C and niacinamide, while also functioning as both an SPF and a foundation, adding a touch of color to the skin.Promising review
: "One of my favorite Ilia Products. I love subbing this out for the Super Serum Skin Tint a couple of times a week, especially during the summer or on days when I just want very light coverage. It gives your skin a glowy radiance and an extra dose of vitamin C. A little goes a long way. I find that when I wear Beyond C, I end up wearing less make-up because it provides such a natural, healthy and fresh look. I just combine it with brow gel and lip oil. It also saves me from needing a vitamin C serum those days!" — Summer
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh day serum
You really can't go wrong with Drunk Elephant. The brand uses high-quality ingredients that users love, regardless of which product it might be. This serum includes vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E, all of which balance each other out and can improve uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles and brighten the skin while fighting free-radicals.Promising review
: "My absolute favorite. I love this serum so much! My skin feels so much nicer after I use it! If you’re looking for a product that makes your skin feel smooth, firmer, and add a glow then this is amazing! (Great for anyone)." — smstew
Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
I'm a huge Sunday Riley
lover and it's not surprising to me that this serum is a fan favorite. This powerful and high-quality vitamin C serum was specifically formulated to target dark spots, signs of aging and more, leaving skin smooth and soft. Glycolic acid, a BHA, provides chemical exfoliation while stabilizing the vitamin C, refining and supporting the skin's luminosity.Promising review
: "I purchased the smaller size to try this out, and decided to purchase the regular size. My skin responds really well to this product. It doesn't sting and makes my skin appear refreshed and hydrated. More like a lightweight lotion than a serum, in my opinion, but I really like that about it." — Meena
First Aid Beauty 10% vitamin C brightening serum
Perfect for people with sensitive skin or for someone who wants to start with a lower dosage, this 10% vitamin C serum includes vitamin E to soften the skin and squalane to deeply hydrate and soften.Promising reviews
: "I've been using this product for a month now, and OMG hello bright skin! My skin has never looked so bright & glowy! This is a MUST HAVE in your collection! My sensitive skin needs gentle products, and FAB is my joy grail skin, body & haircare brand!" — makeupandmomlif
"Love this serum. It’s so light and soaks in right away. Lays great under moisturizer and makeup! Skin instantly looks brighter!" — Bri092918