Top 13 Best Vitamin C Serums for Face (Buying Guide)

Saying that finding the best vitamin C serum is an easy task would be a complete lie.

I don’t know if there’s any other niche of the beauty market that’s more overflowed with products. Although the ones for moisturizers and sunscreens and anti-aging in general and other types of serums are not easy to navigate either.

Or maybe it feels that way to me since it literally took me weeks to research and write this post. And then another few weeks to update it since I wasn’t completely satisfied with my choices for the best vitamin C serums.

My enjoyment and absolute love for vitamin C serums started when I was about 25 years old, as I became more aware of how harmful environmental factors were (UV rays and pollution) and, I guess, I became aware that I’m getting older and I need to put more work into my skin.

Which also made me discover that I started developing some very fine lines under my eyes. I’ve been battling those fine lines ever since. Which made my endeavor of writing a post on how to get rid of under eye wrinkles quite enjoyable.

best vitamin c serum for face

With all that being said, this article will focus on:

  • vitamin C serums ingredients: pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) and its derivatives
  • how to choose the best vitamin C serum for you
  • the awesome benefits
  • how to use it
  • is it good for those suffering from acne and breakouts?
  • my top 13 choices for the best vitamin C serums – I want to cover all budgets and needs, even if you don’t have too much money to spend, I trust that you will be able to enjoy the benefits of such a serum
  • and a few other impressive skincare products that are not serums but contain vitamin C derivatives

There’s just one more thing I have to make clear:

I apply my vitamin C serum in the morning, followed by a moisturizer.

Before leaving the house, you must apply a sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF. You should do that every day of the year, whether it’s cloudy or snowing or the sun is brightly shining.

Don’t forget about the neck and chest area.

Vitamin C Serums Ingredients: Pure Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) and Vitamin C Derivatives

When it comes to the topical formulations of vitamin C in skincare, there are just two groups:

  • one group is represented only by L-ascorbic acid
  • and the rest is formed by vitamin C derivatives

It basically comes down to serums containing:

  • L-ascorbic acid, which is the pure form of vitamin C and is water-soluble, it has shown the most benefits to the skin and is the most studied
  • a vitamin C derivative/a bunch of derivatives – they have various, hard-to-pronounce names, we’ll talk a bit about each of them
  • or a combination of pure vitamin C and derivatives (like the Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum)

Among the best vitamin C serums reviewed in this post, you will find various types of serums:

  • those that contain just L-ascorbic acid in various concentrations (10%, 15%, 20% being the highest)
  • those that include a combination of L-ascorbic acid and vitamin C derivatives
  • a special one that includes 15% of a derivative (no pure vitamin C)
  • another special one that combines two seldom heard of derivatives with AHAs (acids that exfoliate dead skin cells)
  • the antioxidants serums, as expensive as they are impressive, those that are more than just a simple vitamin C serum, that combine vitamins, C, A, and E

Vitamin C can be used in its pure form and it’s called ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid. It is the most powerful form.

The derivatives are pretty great, too. They have their own set of properties and awesome benefits.

When it comes to these derivatives there’s a lot of chemistry involved but I’ll try to sum up everything for you because we’re all interested in how good these derivatives are for our skin not the complicated explanations on why they’re so good.

1. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD Ascorbate)

Is oil-soluble, it penetrates the skin more efficiently.

It’s very effective in combination with other derivatives and retinol, those combinations offer enhanced effectiveness in stimulating collagen production and overall protection from sun damage and the environment.

It’s an impressive derivative because it’s lipid-soluble and it can penetrate the dermis for stimulating collagen production and it’s less irritating, making it very good for sensitive skin.


It’s the one that might equal L-ascorbic acid in its benefits.

2. Ascorbyl Palmitate

Is another lipid-soluble Vitamin C derivative, which means that it penetrates the skin more easily where it can deliver the benefits of using this vitamin with all its amazing anti-aging and skin protection abilities.

3. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)

MAP is less potent than L-ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C), is water-soluble, and is especially known for its skin brightening benefits.

If a serum has just MAP on its own without any other derivative or L-ascorbic acid, I wouldn’t get too excited about it.

4. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP)

This is a relatively new derivative of vitamin C, not a lot is known about this one.

It’s a stable water-soluble form and, besides being an antioxidant and bringing all those benefits, SAP has also shown a real talent in preventing and treating acne.

It’s also more stable than MAP.

The serums that contain L-ascorbic acid must have a ph of around 2.0 to 3.0, that’s the ideal number.

The ones with derivatives like SAP should have an ideal ph of 7.0.

But that’s an information that you probably won’t find about any serum or maybe I haven’t looked enough to discover it.


The other ingredients that make up a serum are just as important, you need to pay attention to those too, even though I always feel like I need a chemistry degree for most of them.

How to Choose the Best Vitamin C Serum

There are just a few tips that I want to share with you on how to choose the best vitamin C serum for face.

Tip 1: Look for L-Ascorbic Acid (Pure Vitamin C)

L-ascorbic acid is the pure form of vitamin C but it’s also unstable. It can oxidize when exposed to water/air very quickly.

It’s also water-soluble – some serums might have difficulty with delivering the optimal concentration into the dermis.

That’s why people are willing to pay quite a lot of money on a best vitamin C serum, to ensure that they’re not applying a product that does absolutely nothing for their skin.

And some are outrageously expensive.


Since it’s pure vitamin C, it’s also the one with the most benefits. And the most studied one.

As this study tells us, a combination of L-ascorbic acid, zinc sulfate, and L-tyrosine can be the optimal formulation for:

  • preventing photodamage (changes that occur after prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays – vitamin C protects against both in equal measure)
  • restoring the damage done by UV rays
  • and postponing skin aging because it stimulates collagen synthesis

A best vitamin C serum that includes this exact combination is the Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum. I will review it more in-depth in this post, if I’ve made you curious.

Even so,

Vitamin C derivatives have been garnering more attention. Especially tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which is much more stable and oil-soluble, it penetrates the dermis without any difficulty.

Tip 2: Vitamin C Concentration

Besides searching for the words L-ascorbic acid on the list of ingredients, the concentration is important, too:

  • higher percentages of 15% or 20% are the numbers to look for as long as you can afford a pretty high price
  • if you have a limited budget, a 10% concentration is perfect (like the CeraVe serum, which is also featured in this post on finding the best vitamin C serums)

A range between 8 to 20% produces the best results without irritating the skin.

That’s why,

If you have really sensitive skin, it’s best to start with a lower concentration. Don’t pick one with 20% concentration as your first best vitamin C serum.

Tip 3: The Alternatives to L-Ascorbic Acid

I don’t think that there are that many serums out there who feature just a vitamin C derivative.

In case you end up being interested in one, I just have one piece of advice:

If it’s a combination of derivatives and not just one derivative in a list full of other ingredients that you can’t even spell let alone know what they are, then I think it has the potential of being a good choice.

There are wonderful exceptions, as well, like:

  • Sunday Riley C.E.O. with 15% THD ascorbate
  • and Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum with 20% vitamin C but made up of two derivatives that are not usually heard of: bis-glyceryl ascorbate and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate

Tip 3: Make Sure you Have a Quality Product

There’s a very simple way in which you can easily tell if you have the right product or not.

It’s based on the color of the serum.


The liquid should be a very pale yellow. And there shouldn’t be any smell, it’s nearly odorless.

When it’s exposed to heat and light, the oxidation kicks in, which in time turns the very pale yellow liquid into a darker yellow and ultimately orange.

That’s why the bottle is colored.

It’s also recommended to store your serums in a cool and dry place, the fridge is the most frequent storage place.

In the bathroom there’s always a variance in temperature and humidity, which can decrease the benefits of this skin care product and they can alter the concentration levels.

Tip 4: Shelf life

Once the bottle is opened, it would be best to use it within 3 months.

Considering that the bottles usually measure 1 fluid oz (30 ml), I doubt that a serum would last much longer than that.

You don’t have to count the months, just don’t use it if the color turns brown.

Vitamin C Skin Benefits

benefits of vitamin c serums for face

I’m still amazed by the many benefits brought by a good vitamin C serum. I’ve experienced so many throughout so many years of using one.

Let’s see what makes vitamin C serums so popular that we hear so much talk about them.

First of all,

Vitamin C is an antioxidant.

Antioxidants are an essential part of any skincare routine, whether you’re concerned with revitalizing your dull complexion, protecting the skin against environmental factors (sun damage, pollution, cigarette smoke), fading acne-scars, calming the skin, or you’re focused on an anti-aging routine.

Antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, retinol, green tea) make the skin look healthy and plump, protecting against future wrinkles and diminishing fine lines.

There’s no better way to prevent wrinkles, except having a really healthy diet.

And I’ve just summed up the main vitamin C benefits.

Let’s enumerate these vitamin C benefits so we get an even clearer picture:

  • protection against both UVB and UVA rays – that’s one of its main benefits, vitamin C has the immense ability to protect us against photodamage (it can lead to premature aging)
  • brightening skin agent
  • protection against the environment, provides protection against city pollution
  • it fights pigmentation and dullness, it can be combined with other agents like soy and liquorice for a better depigmentation effect
  • it inhibits the overproduction of melanin
  • it also protects the skin against certain types of radiation (like infrared) that a sunscreen can’t
  • more even skin tone
  • reduction in collagen breakdown and increased collagen production
  • tighter firmer skin
  • youthful appearance
  • smooth soft skin

UVB rays are responsible for causing skin cancer since they attack the superficial layers of the skin, while UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, causing skin aging and wrinkling by destroying collagen and elastin.

It is highly important to combine your vitamin C serum with a sunscreen to make a shield against any harmful factors.

I also started using it for my acne scars.

It has healing properties and it has definitely helped my skin in its healing process.

Time is always a factor when it comes to scars but, before using a serum I have spent plenty of money on creams that were made specifically for skin healing and scars fading and, it always seemed that they made my breakouts even worse.

Smokers have also been found to have low levels of vitamin C in the dermis. You should definitely take notice of that. I know I have.

How to Use a Vitamin C Serum

The natural conclusion is that you should definitely apply a vitamin C serum before leaving the house or in the morning. Unless the instructions on the bottle tell you otherwise.

You can follow that with your usual moisturizer and then sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF.

Whatever you do, don’t forget about sunscreen.

A combination of sunscreen and the best vitamin C serum is guaranteed to keep your skin safe from sun damage and pollution.

You should never skip it as part of your morning routine.

A vitamin C serum can be part of your night routine, as well, but don’t rely solely on it. Most of us prefer using a retinol cream/serum in the evening (increases collage production, bolsters skin elasticity, fights breakouts, and lightens up spots caused by sun exposure).


You can use vitamin C in the morning for its lovely protection benefits and for a brightened youthful appearance and you can choose a stronger ingredient for fighting wrinkles in the evening.

Is a Vitamin C Serum Good for Acne-Prone Skin?

The simple answer is: definitely yes.

That’s a frequent question from people suffering from breakouts and one that I understand perfectly.

After all,

It’s what I also wondered when I first considered buying my first bottle.

Can a Vitamin C serum cause breakouts?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Acne is an inflammatory disease, which means that a very good serum, with the right combination of ingredients can actually benefit those with acne-prone skin.

Since it’s a brightening agent, it will also lighten up the dark spots left after acne clears.

As you’re going to see,

There is a healing serum formulated with vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants (retinol, vitamin E) that’s created for people fighting all forms of acne.

Most serums work well for all skin types.

It has actually helped with my breakouts and my acne scars have definitely faded with continuous use.

I also have sensitive skin and I haven’t suffered from any irritation, either.

13 Best Vitamin C Serums for All Budgets

Among these 13 serums, there are a few moderately priced, quite affordable for everyone, and some that I would only buy in my dreams.

But what matters is that they’re all very good, serving a wide array of needs and budgets.

1. Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum, 1 oz – The Overall Best Vitamin C Serum

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What makes the Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum so special that I had to include it first on my list for the best vitamin C serum?

It’s the combination of just 3 ingredients:

  • pure L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • tyrosine
  • zinc sulphate

It’s the exact combination that I talked to you above, mentioned in a study for its increased effectiveness.

It was described as the optimal formulation for photodamage protection, treating photodamage, and increasing collagen synthesis.

Besides that killer combination, the list of ingredients is completed by grape skin extract, hyaluronic acid, and bioflavanoids (which are also potent antioxidants).

The Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum is an anti-aging serum that promises to dramatically reduce the visible signs of aging through continuous use, the improvement can be see after 8-12 weeks daily use.

Those who do try this impressive best vitamin C serum usually end up becoming faithful users that have no desire to try another.

It’s also the first topical ascorbic acid formulation to be successfully commercialized, being released in 1991. It seems that it took a while until all the others caught on.

It’s not recommended for extremely sensitive skin. Otherwise, it works for all skin types. Follow it up with a moisturizer and sunscreen.

The caveat to all that awesomeness with anti-aging benefits? The very high price.

2. Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30%, 1 oz – The Improved Version of a Best Vitamin C Serum

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We’ve already talked about one of the most expensive best vitamin C serums.

But not even that expensive one has a price that comes close to the Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30%.

What’s the deal?

Simply described, it’s an exclusive antioxidant blend.

Who is this skincare product for?

Everyone who can afford it. It’s recommended for all skin types.

And what exactly is it?

  • tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate – vitamin C derivative
  • MelaPATH™ technology – a patent-pending technology that helps fight free radical damage caused by blue light from electronic devices, brightens and evens skin tone, supports skin’s natural production of vitamin C&E, and improves the appearance of fine lines
  • sodium carboxymethyl beta-glucan – supports the microbiome
  • diglucosyl gallic acid – harnesses the power of the microbiome
  • vitamin E

It’s a special one, that’s for sure.

3. iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus, 1 oz – Healing, Anti-Acne, Anti-Aging Antioxidants Serum

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About in the same price range as the above Revision serum, this time we have another serum full of all sorts of powerful antioxidants.

It has all the coveted antioxidants: vitamin C, A, and E:

  • L-ascorbic acid
  • bioflavonoids
  • retinol – another powerful antioxidant that’s used both for treating and preventing acne and for a youthful look
  • vitamin E
  • olive leaf extract
  • zinc sulfate – anti-inflammatory
  • mushroom extract
  • arbutin- – brightening agent and sun protection

The iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus is meant for exactly what its name suggests: to treat acne, rosacea, contact dermatitis and even insect bites.

Since it’s such a powerful blend of antioxidants, it also works for aging skin and for reversing sun damage.

It’s such a complex skincare product, much more than a best vitamin C serum, so much more.

It’s great for hypersensitive skin, for those suffering from all forms of acne, including cystic acne.

4. CeraVe Vitamin C Serum, 1 oz – Cheapest Best Vitamin C Serum


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I’m completely sure that this serum from CeraVe is the best option for those with a really limited budget.

It doesn’t get more affordable than this when it comes to such quality.

You’ll understand once I talk about its ingredients:

  • 10% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, which is the most potent form of vitamin C) – the 10% is a very nice concentration for this price range, good for sensitive skin, and we get pure vitamin C, which is fantastic
  • 3 essential ceramides for strengthening the skin barrier and help it retain moisture
  • hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate)
  • Vitamin B5 (panthenol) – fantastic for its moisturizing and healing properties

From my point of view, this is a perfect list of ingredients. The pure vitamin C in a good concentration is what wins me over and makes me want to recommend this product to absolutely everyone.

It’s described as a brightening serum but, with continuous use, it also has the potential to minimize the appearance of fine lines, and it will make your skin feel so soft.

Those with sensitive skin will be amazed and those wanting to prevent sun damage will have a winner in this CeraVe serum.

Simply put: a high quality product that many dermatologists recommend.

It’s also fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic, and perfect for all skin types.

It should be your first choice when looking for a cheap best vitamin C serum.

5. Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum, 1.7 oz – Pure Vitamin C + So Many Derivatives

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The Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum is definitely a bit unusual.

You’ll see what I mean if you compare the review for this one with my other best vitamin C serum reviews.

I actually like this one a lot.

It’s a bit atypical, which is very good.

You can find so many serums that have the same ingredients, only the brand differs but otherwise they’re all copies of each other.

That’s not the case with the Image Skincare serum.


It doesn’t look like your typical serum, there’s no dark color bottle.

This one looks more like an eye cream.


The list of ingredients is surprising, and that’s what matters:

  • tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
  • L-ascorbic acid the pure vitamin C form
  • magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP)
  • ascorbyl palmitate
  • vitamin E
  • and hyaluronic acid

Other ingredients include antioxidants, like grape seed extract, algae extract, and green tea.

We can describe this anti-aging best vitamin C serum from Image like this: antioxidants on top of antioxidants. Plus vitamin C in almost all its forms – pure and 3 derivatives.

Even though there’s no mention of percentages as it’s the case with the others, having so many forms of vitamin C in a serum is still something incredible.

It’s why I’m so excited about including it among my selection of the best vitamin C serums.

It’s perfect for all skin types, whether you’re acne-prone, have dry skin, sensitive skin, or you are post-treatment or you have sun-damaged skin.


The tube measures 1.7 fl oz (50 ml) instead of the typical 1 fl oz.

It’s a bit expensive but a very good product, you would be totally satisfied with it.

Image Skincare has an entire line constructed around vitamin C and its extended benefits.

There’s a facial cleanser, a repair cream with ceramides for irritated and dry skin, an intense moisturizer, an eye recovery gel, and even an enzyme mask for rosacea-prone skin.

All these skin care products are just as good as this serum, Image Skincare is definitely a brand that takes skin care seriously, even though their prices are not the most accessible.

6. Paula’s Choice BOOST C15 Super Booster, 0.67 oz – The Less Expensive Alternative to SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

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Paula’s Choice BOOST C15 Super Booster is an expensive best vitamin C serum, considering that it doesn’t even measure 1 oz.

I’m used to eye creams being sold in tiny 0.5 oz tubes but I can’t get used to serums being sold in bottles smaller than 1 oz since they’re for the whole face, neck, and chest area.

This Paula’s Choice vitamin C serum will be gone before you know it.

There, I’m done with my complaints, now let’s talk about ingredients, that will appease me:

  • 15% L-ascorbic acid – that’s indeed a high concentration, a very potent one
  • vitamin E helps slow down the aging process, great moisturizer, and strengthens the skin’s barrier
  • ferulic acid
  • hyaluronic acid
  • panthenol (vitamin B5)


Paula’s Choice vitamin C serum closely resembles the famous SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic but at a much lower price.

It is considered that, by adding the vitamin E and the ferulic acid, the L-ascorbic acid becomes more stable for longer and is capable of penetrating deeply into the skin.

That’s a good enough reason to consider this serum as a great option.


They could have sold it in a 1 oz bottle like all the other best vitamin C serums.

7. La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Salicylic Acid, 1 oz

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This La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Salicylic Acid falls into the category of more affordable serums.

Not as cheap as the CeraVe but still reasonably priced.

I’ve never had a bad experience with La Roche-Posay, although I have tried some of their products and they didn’t perform exactly as they claimed.


That’s not the case with the La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Salicylic Acid. It’s well worth the money.

It’s always so difficult choosing the best vitamin C serums for a lower budget because there are so many of them and I only want to include the best.

I want only the highest quality without having to pay $100 for it or more. That’s not easy at all.

Which is why I’m so happy that I discovered this one.

Let’s talk about what makes it so good:

  • 10% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) – it seems that’s the standard percentage for affordable serums but it’s still very good
  • hyaluronic acid
  • salicylic acid – very good against blackheads and whiteheads, it removes dead skin cells, and helps prevent clogged pores
  • neurosensine – a dipeptide that reduces sensations of discomfort, as far as I’m aware it’s something unique to La Roche-Posay

Normally, you wouldn’t expect to find vitamin C combined with salicylic acid. It’s definitely not a skincare ingredient combination that comes out too often but it’s a surprisingly pleasant.

The ingredients sound perfect and are suitable for all skin types.

It’s also paraben-free and non-comedogenic/oil-free.

It does contain fragrance.

As La Roche-Posay claims, this is a serum for those concerned about fine lines and wrinkles and for a brighter more uniform skin tone. It will also offer protection against environmental factors.

8. Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%, 1 oz – High Concentration Best Vitamin C Serum

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There’s no doubt about it:

The Obagi Professional-C Serum 20% is a very good skin care product. Impressive might be a better one-word description.

But it’s also 6 times more expensive than cheap best vitamin C serums, like the one from CeraVe.

The first question that popes into my mind is “Why?” and then, “Is it actually worth all that impressive amount of money?”.

Well, it’s cheaper than the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, one of the most talked about, mentioned in all the lists serum.


I don’t have that kind of money lying around and it’s an amount that I only consider spending on clothes. At least, clothes last a lot more than 3-4 months.

I already have my answer.

But, my answer is not your answer. I’ll let you reach your own conclusions.

I chose to include the Obagi Professional-C Serum because it intrigues me in all the good ways, if I forget about the price tag.

The ingredients are beautiful in their simplicity:

  • 20% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) – the highest percentage, only the best for this amount of money
  • hyaluronic acid

The list of ingredients is incredibly small.

The focus is on delivering a high concentration of pure vitamin C to the skin.

It’s incredibly strong. Some users end up using it every other day, some daily.

And they all praise it for the changes that they had noticed in their appearance: visibly brightened skin, faded brown spots in just a few weeks, praise for working with eczema and dry skin, disappeared fine lines, the impression of smaller pores (pore size is genetic, they can’t actually be made smaller but certain skincare products create that illusion).

Those who can afford it, end up stopping their search for the best vitamin C serum when they try the Obagi Professional-C Serum.

At a cheaper price but not by much, they also have one with 10% concentration.

9. PCA SKIN C&E Advanced Serum with Vitamins C&E for Anti-Aging/Dark Spots, 1 oz – Collection of Antioxidants

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At first glance, one would think that the PCA SKIN C&E Advanced Serum is nothing special.

But PCA SKIN is a brand known for absolutely impressive skincare products and this C&E serum is no exception.

They just trick us with that normal white tube and simple black writing.

I have two reasons for reviewing this PCA SKIN C&E serum immediately after the Obagi: they have the same 20% concentration and almost identical prices.

Even so,

This is more than a best vitamin C serum. It’s an antioxidant marvel:

  • 20% L-ascorbic acid
  • 5% vitamin E
  • 1% hexylresorcinol – age-fighting brightening agent that promotes an even skin tone
  • 1% silymarin – powerful antioxidant with calming, anti-inflammatory, brightening benefits

It works for all skin types, including sensitive skin since it penetrates deep below the surface to promote a healthy glow, minimize the appearance of fine lines, and retain moisture into the skin.

10. Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum, 1 oz – 20% Vitamin C + 10% AHA Serum for Acne Scars and Dark Spots

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Before actually talking about what it does, let me tell you that the bottle looks so awesome. Really pretty.

Now, let’s move on to the most serious talk. And this serum is serious.

Unlike the other best vitamin C serums that are applied immediately after cleansing in the morning, this Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum should be used in the evening.

That’s because of all the acids that it contains in such a high concentration, 10% AHA is quite a serious concentration for a chemical exfoliator. It’s supposed to be used in the evening because AHAs increase skin’s sensitivity to sun.

Apply it immediately after cleansing in the evening and then a moisturizer. And use sunscreen during the day.

The good news is that you can use this one as a 2-in-1 product: a best vitamin C serum and a best chemical exfoliator.

It fights against fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, dullness, uneven texture, post-acne scarring.

There are more than a few surprises revealed in the list of ingredients:

  • 20% vitamin C but we encounter 2 derivatives that I haven’t come across before: bis-glyceryl ascorbate (moisturizing ascorbic acid derivative, basically a moisturizing antioxidant) and the very impressive ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (oil-soluble, stable vitamin C derivative, appreciated for its brightening properties)
  • Japanese beautyberry – stabilizes the vitamin C derivatives and increases their effectiveness
  • 10% fruit AHAs: apple, grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, hawthorn, and jujube extracts and juices
  • Japanese angelica root – fights hyperpigmentation and post-acne scarring

It works for all skin types.

11. StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten & Correct Vitamin C Serum, 1 oz – Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum

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StriVectin is all about anti-aging.

If you want a best vitamin C serum that’s really designed for fine lines and wrinkles and costs under $100, this is your answer. This serum is what you should consider buying.


Because it combines vitamin C and retinol.

Not a lot of serums do that even though these two vitamins and antioxidants work well together.


What I really like about the StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten & Correct Vitamin C Serum is that it can be used during the day just like all the other vitamin C serums.

Just apply your usual moisturizer after and sunscreen before leaving the house.

StriVectin has some really awesome anti-wrinkles skin care products.

This one is no different:

  • sodium ascorbyl phosphate SAP is a newer form of vitamin C but it has shown great promises in the fight against acne
  • L-ascorbic acid – although no concentration is provided, there still are two forms of vitamin C
  • acerola cherry extract for its richness in natural vitamin C
  • the smooth youthful skin part is also handled by the second antioxidant: retinol boosted by NIA-114 (it’s their own form of Niacin/Vitamin B3, strengthens the skin barrier and supercharges the impact of other ingredients, in this case retinol)
  • hyaluronic acid
  • and a bunch of extracts, green tea extract among them

If your focus is on anti-aging skin care products, this is absolutely the serum for you.

12. Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum, 1 oz

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Sunday Riley is one of the brands that have decided to forgo L–ascorbic acid and go fully on a vitamin C derivative instead.

One in a very high concentration.

They have made a best vitamin C serum with 15% THD ascorbate (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate).

Another thing that sets it apart is the milk-like consistency, which is easily absorbed by the skin. It’s not heavy at all and it will leave the skin feeling light but completely hydrated.

This serum is for all skin types but those with sensitive skin will love it for its hydrating and calming abilities.

As we talked above, THD ascorbate is more stable, oil-soluble so it easily penetrates the dermis, and it’s even considered to match the abilities of L–ascorbic acid.

It has the same age-fighting, environmental protection, brightening properties, which make this one very popular. But it’s also really expensive.

The rest of the ingredients complete the innovative mix for which I appreciate Sunday Riley:

  • phytosterols complex – reduces the redness caused by skin’s sensitivity
  • saccharide isomerate extract – makes pores look smaller, reinforces the skin’s moisture to give it a smooth, youthful look
  • glycolic acid – an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid, powerful chemical exfoliator) that keeps the pH of this serum in the right zone, you will be getting maximum effectiveness throughout the months that you’ll be using it

13. Vitamin C Serum by L’Oreal Paris, 1 oz

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This is another cheap best vitamin C serum. A top recommendation that you should immediately pay attention to and a very nice way to conclude this search.

With this one, L’Oreal Paris has created the perfect product for people with limited budgets that still want to nourish and protect their skin.

It’s the perfect alternative to the above CeraVe, mentioned right at the top. Their prices are extremely close.

What does this Vitamin C Serum by L’Oreal Paris offer?

  • 10% L-ascorbic acid – another good concentration of pure vitamin C
  • hyaluronic acid

And that’s about it. Simple and to the point.

I still prefer the CeraVe serum because it has more complex ingredients that also strengthen the skin’s barrier but not everyone’s me so, I decided to include the L’Oreal, too.

Other Skincare Products with Vitamin C

If you don’t have the budget for a best vitamin C serum or you’re not sure that a serum is the best option for you, there are other ways to incorporate this antioxidant into your routine.

I’m going to introduce you to a few products that contain a vitamin C derivative besides other fantastic ingredients.

They’re really great, take a look.

1. EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer, 1.7 oz – Moisturizer with Vitamin C

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Should this EltaMD AM face moisturizer be included among the best vitamin C serums?

Not exactly because this is not a serum at all. It’s a moisturizer.

And a vitamin C derivative it’s not even among the star ingredients but it does contain a derivative of this wonderful vitamin.

It’s nourishing and even helps with fine lines and wrinkles.


It’s a fantastic skin care product with a pretty affordable price tag.

If you want a moisturizer to go with your favorite vitamin C serum or you simply can’t decide on a serum but still want something deeply moisturizing and nourishing, the EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer is your answer for sure.

It says AM but you can use in the PM, too. No reason not to.

And it won’t break the bank.

This manufacturer has a fantastic sunscreen, one of the best and this moisturizer is just as wonderful.

The ingredients for the EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer are definitely enticing:

  • niacinamide for improved skin tone, strengthened skin barrier, and the illusion of smaller pores – good for rosacea, acne, wrinkles, and pigmentation issues
  • willow bark extracts – a natural source of salicylic acid, aids in cell regeneration, great for targeting fine lines and wrinkles
  • hyaluronic acid for keeping the skin moisturized, smooth and plump
  • ascorbyl palmitate – the vitamin C derivative, although it’s not as powerful as the L-ascorbic acid, it still has anti-aging and skin protection properties

This one is appropriate for all skin types. It’s oil-free and fragrance-free.

Whether you have oily skin, dry sensitive skin or are acne-prone this is the moisturizer for a youthful healthy look.

2. Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, 1 0z – Best Oil with Vitamin C

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Let’s first talk about the fact that this is an oil not a serum.

What does that mean?

Absolutely nothing besides the fact that it’s fantastic. It can even be used by those with oily skin.

All skin types will react great to it, including acne-prone.

It’s completely natural, I’m sure that will appeal to some people, as long as they don’t mind the high price.

Squalane is the basis for all the products from Biossance. More precisely, this is 100% sugarcane-derived squalane.

And it’s described as the skin’s best moisturizer, improving elasticity, without clogging up pores.

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is the vitamin C derivative that they use because it’s oil-soluble, a very impressive derivative, which might be just as effective as L-ascorbic acid.

The other ingredients are rose extract and chios crystal oil for providing firmness to the skin.

And that’s about it, all natural.

3. TULA Probiotic Purifying Face Cleanser, 6.7 oz – Best Cleanser with Vitamin C

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We have a moisturizer and an oil with vitamin C but what about a cleanser?

This facial cleanser from TULA is affordable, it works for all skin types, and it’s especially loved by those suffering from breakouts.

Those with dry skin can use this facial cleanser as often as they want without having their skin dry out.

This cleanser deeply cleanses and nourishes the skin as the same time. It does exactly what it should do without impacting the skin in any negative way.

It will last about half a year, used twice daily. Cleansers are such an essential part of our skin routine, the foundation, don’t skip this step no matter what.

You can skip on applying a serum but never skip on cleansing your face twice daily.

I cleanse my face by using circular motions that also provide a nice message. For more tips, check out my post on face washing tips.

So, what’s so special about the TULA Probiotic Purifying Face Cleanser that I had to absolutely talk about it?

It contains:

  • the probiotics that TULA is world-famous for
  • lactic acid is the perfect natural exfoliator for removing dead skin cells, milder than glycolic acid but still as good, it naturally cleanses and exfoliates to reveal healthy, radiant looking skin
  • chicory root with its anti-inflammatory properties for soothing and calming the skin but, most importantly, it boosts collagen production for firmer skin
  • turmeric root a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory capabilities
  • blueberries famously rich in antioxidants, mentioned in any article for a healthier younger-looking skin
  • ascorbyl palmitate the vitamin C derivative that gives me the excuse necessary for including a cleanser among all these serums

Another facial cleanser that contains a vitamin C derivative is the iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, although it’s a lot more expensive than the TULA Probiotic Purifying Face Cleanser.

And with that, I think we’ve reached the end of this very long post on the best vitamin C serums and their benefits, whether we’re talking about a cheap serum or a very expensive one.