The 14 Best Vitamin C Serums for Younger, Brighter Skin

Want your smoothest skin ever? Try any of these 14.

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Dermatologists and beauty bloggers rave about vitamin C serums, and it's no wonder they're so popular. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates collagen production and helps to reduce signs of aging by repairing the damage done by free radicals and the sun. It can even help to protect against future damage (though it's no substitute for sunscreen). The result: brighter and firmer skin, fewer fine lines and wrinkles, and a more even skin tone.

"It's good for everyone" to include vitamin C in their regimen, says Arielle Nagler, MD, dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. She recommends applying it daily. "There is some good evidence that long-term use of vitamin C topically, even more so that taking it orally, is associated with improved skin texture and quality," she continues. Fortunately, it's potent stuff, so you only need a few drops for each application.

There are a lot of different serums to choose from, each with different concentrations and even variants of vitamin C. This can make finding the right one for you just a little bit confusing. It's all about finding a compromise between a high level of vitamin C to boost the production of collagen, but not too much that it brings on redness and irritation. Debra Jaliman, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, tells Health via email that she recommends serums with concentrations of 10% to 15%.

And if you're wondering why there are so many different derivatives of vitamin C, it's because they've been produced to make it more stable and less likely to irritate the skin. Common ones to look out for include ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

It's important to stay consistent with your vitamin C regimen, because that's when you'll see the best results. And don't worry if you notice some light tingling or redness upon your first few applications—it's normal with the potent ingredient. If irritation persists, though, you should let your derm know.

Read on for vitamin C serums that come personally recommended by dermatologists and beauty editors.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

face serum
Courtesy of SkinCeuticals

This serum is recommended by Lisa DeSantis, Health deputy beauty director. It may be on the pricier side, but this powerful antioxidant serum will do wonders for your face. It combines 15% ascorbic acid and vitamin E with ferulic acid to help brighten the skin and reduce visible signs of aging. Ferulic acid is a good ingredient to look out for—in addition to being a potent antioxidant and containing some impressive anti-aging properties, it can help to stabilize the vitamin C. Meaning it's better for both your skin and wallet, since your bottle will stay potent for longer.

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

vit C SEO update
Amazon

In terms of sheer number of reviews, TruSkin's vitamin C serum comes out on top. Just over 59,000 people declare it worth a five-star rating on Amazon, where it's the site's best-selling face serum, period. The love stems from a formula packed with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, wrinkle-reducing vitamin E, pore-shrinking witch hazel, and jojoba oil, all of which make for a brightening force to be reckoned with. "Two weeks of using this serum, and my 17-year-old tells me I look like I am in my 20s rather than 30s," wrote an Amazon reviewer. "Fine lines are going away. Acne scars fading. Pigmentation evening out. Even my neck and jawline are smoother."

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

face serum
Courtesy of Sephora

Beat uneven skin tone and dullness with Drunk Elephant's vitamin C serum, another personal favorite of DeSantis. It contains 15% ascorbic acid, along with a potent formula of antioxidants, essential nutrients, and fruit enzymes. Customers flock to it for a reason: Within three weeks, results are undeniable. "My hyperpigmentation and wrinkles are starting to fade, and my skin is getting brighter," one person wrote of the serum, which comes with mix-in vitamin C powder for maximum freshness. "It leaves my skin feeling smooth, soft, and firmer."

Mad Hippie Vitamin C

face serum
Courtesy of Amazon

Get your glow back with this vitamin C serum from Mad Hippie, which is recommended by Dr. Jaliman. The gentle formula combines sodium ascorbyl phosphate at 10% with vitamin E to deliver strong results, evening skin tone and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Jaliman's faith is well-placed: The formula has raked in over 4,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, where shoppers say in their reviews that it smoothed out their lines, took away their sun damage, and cleared up their skin.

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Anti-Aging Collagen Booster

face serum
Courtesy of Sephora

Say goodbye to fine lines and wrinkles with Henriksen's vitamin C serum, another recommendation from Dr. Jaliman. In addition to vitamin C (in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate at 10%), it contains glycerin and hyaluronic acid to moisturize and aloe to soothe the skin. Green tea extract helps protect the skin against free radical damage, culminating in a find that shoppers stick with for 13 years.

Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster With Pure Vitamin C 10%

face serum
Courtesy of Sephora

This vitamin C booster plays well with other skincare products in your routine, although considering it contains hydrating squalane, firming peptides, and tightening caffeine, you might not need anything else. Just press the button to release the vitamin C before each use. You can mix it in with your moisturizer twice daily for super brightening results, which customers say show up quickly. "I saw almost immediate improvement with my dark spots and skin texture," said a Sephora reviewer.

Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate

face serum
Courtesy of Kiehl's

This vitamin C serum has been a fan favorite for years (at one point, a bottle sold every minute around the world). But the brand updated its formula to include super hydrating hyaluronic acid and even higher levels of vitamin C at 12.5% to deliver faster, better results. Per one shopper, the serum's effects rival more invasive treatments: "This stuff is literally Botox in a bottle," they wrote on Sephora's website. "It has smoothed out my wrinkles!"

Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Treatment Serum

vit C SEO update
Sephora

This is a newer entrant to the world of vitamin C serums, but with Glow Recipe's track record, it's no wonder the formula is already garnering raves. No less than five forms of vitamin C coalesce in the bottle, along with brightening tranexamic acid and antioxidants from guava extract and seed oil. Firming peptides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E are also in the mix. "In less than a week, I can honestly say this is the quickest I've ever noticed results from any skincare product," said a Sephora reviewer.

Hyper Skin Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum

vit C SEO update
Sephora

This brand is an editor darling, and regular shoppers are just as enamored with the serum. Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and kojic acid reduce dark spots like lightning that also moisturizes everything it touches. Absent? Stickiness, oiliness, and fragrance for the scent-sensitive. If you've tried a few brightening serums and weren't impressed with the results, reviewers write that this one is a foolproof option that can surface changes within a month.

DermaDoctor Kakadu C 20% Vitamin C Serum With Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E

face serum
Courtesy of Amazon

The same brand that gave us one of our all-time favorite keratosis pilaris treatments also delivers a powerful vitamin C serum. This formula is packed with 20% stabilized vitamin C from Australian Kadaku plum (which the brand says has 55 times the vitamin C of an orange), as well as ferulic acid and vitamin E. The combination has Amazon shoppers effusive about their skin, claiming it's brighter, glowing, and "so much firmer." Best of all, they say results only take two weeks to appear.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

face serum
Courtesy of Amazon

If you're a skincare fanatic, you may have already fallen in love with Sunday Riley's best-selling Good Genes serum. But don't overlook the brand's vitamin C serum, which also has a huge following. Vitamin C from 15% tetrahexyldecyl ​​​ascorbate brightens, while glycolic acid gently exfoliates to prevent dead skin cells from accumulating. Amazon reviewers can't say enough good things about the effect on their dark spots—it's "definitely worth the price," one person wrote, especially considering a bottle lasts them at least six months.

Paula's Choice Boost C15 Super Booster 15% Vitamins C & E and Ferulic Acid

face serum
Courtesy of Paula's Choice

This is another great vitamin C booster, meaning you can use it on its own or add a pump into your moisturizer. The formula is highly concentrated with 15% pure vitamin C as well as soothing peptides, ferulic acid, and vitamin E. If you have sensitive skin, this is a fantastic find; shoppers in the same boat write that it doesn't burn at all, yet lightens their hyperpigmentation with alacrity. "I could noticeably tell how much more dull my skin looked without it," one shopper wrote on the brand's website. "I had two people ask me if I was wearing makeup today because my skin looked so glowy and bright (spoiler alert: I was just wearing this and moisturizer)."

Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Targeted Spot Brightener

face serum
Courtesy of Sephora

Stubborn dark spots or old acne scars? Try this powerful vitamin C spot corrector to target and lighten them. In addition to vitamin C from tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, it contains other brighteners like gwennis and angelys, plus aloe vera to soothe. The brand's overall vitamin C serum is also beloved, but this targeted treatment excels at taking on those really tough-to-budge marks. "Best product I've ever used. I've never written a review before, but this product has worked so incredibly well and so incredibly quickly that I had to share," wrote a Sephora customer of its effect on hyperpigmentation.

Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum 20% Vitamin C + 10% AHA

face serum
Courtesy of Tatcha

A potent blend of 20% vitamin C and 10% AHAs resurfaces skin and leaves you with a more even-toned complexion. With the sleek orange-pink bottle by their side, users say they feel "so much more confident" about their skin. Breakouts are no more—one person said it's more gentle and effective than any prescription they've tried—and it reduces wrinkles, too. "After two weeks, my skin looks 70% smoother and clearer," wrote a fan in their 30s. "Hyperpigmentation is significantly lighter, and my fine wrinkles are basically non-existent."

RELATED: The 11 Best Anti-Aging Night Creams, According to Dermatologists

Updated by
Rosie McCall
Rosie McCall is a news reporter with a focus on health and sciences. Rosie was previously an editorial assistant at Health Magazine, and then went on to report on health and science news at publications like IFLScience and Newsweek.
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Kathleen Felton
Kathleen Felton is a writer, editor, and content strategist with several years of experience working in digital media. She is an expert in health, pregnancy, and women's lifestyle.
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