The best of a bright bunch: The top 10 Vitamin C serums for every skin type
These vitamin C serums will leave you looking like someone turned on a lightbulb inside you
I can’t believe it’s already March – which means autumn leaves, cooler weather and seeing Easter eggs at the supermarket. It also means our skin has been through the best (and worst) of it over summer. Around this time of year, issues like uneven skin tone, Hyperpigmentation, sensitivity and generally dull skin tends to be common, as our skin cells deal with the fallout of sun damage, less humidity, and – if you were anything like me – probably a bit too much sugar and alcohol.
That’s where vitamin C comes in. This incredibly powerful antioxidant should be a staple in every skincare routine. Vitamin C can reverse existing damage caused by environmental factors like UV rays and pollution, as well as brighten a lacklustre complexion. But like all good things in life, it isn’t doesn’t come easy: Vitamin C is notoriously unstable, can oxidize (i.e. turn brown) quickly and stronger serums can also feel uncomfortably tingly on sensitive skin. It’s also the reason why many products veer on the expensive side, because a lot of investment goes into making a formula that’s both suitable for your skin and shelf-stable. With that said, vitamin C can be a game changer for your skin, and these days there are also some excellent serums to make for a comfortable wear on even the most sensitive among us. We’ve compiled a list of the best vitamin C for every skin type and concern below. Summer damage? Never knew her.
BEST ALL-ROUNDER: My Signature C Source from TIA’M
Nothing short of a K-Beauty icon, My Signature C Source from TIA’M is the rebranded OST20. Called the ‘facial in a bottle’, it’s formulated with a 20% concentration of ascorbic acid as well as skincare goodies hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and vitamin E. Suitable for most skin types, it pretty much does it all – mildly exfoliate, fade acne scars, heal sun damage and smoothen out texture. The only downfall? It’s slightly sticky on application, but if you can get past that, it’ll leave you with seriously brighter skin. Don’t forget to store this product in the fridge and away from sunlight, so that it lasts longer.
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop from Dear, Klairs
The Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop from K-Beauty powerhouse Dear, Klairs was made for sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic, cooling and infused with soothing Centella Asiatica, it’s formulated with a gentle 5% concentration of stabilized vitamin C. It’s still enough to make your skin noticeably brighter and healthier, asthis review by skincare guru Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam fame states.
BEST FOR ANTI-AGEING BENEFITS: Vitamin C Ampoule from SVR Laboratories
The Vitamin C Ampoule from SVR Laboratories not only contains 17% pure vitamin C (equivalent to 20% in an optimized form), but also includes anti-ageing goodies like hyaluronic acid, Pullulan, Evodia Rutaecarpa extracts. The latter stimulates the skin’s microcirculation and acts as an anti-inflammatory, while Pullulan is a rather magical natural extract that provides an instant tightening effect on the skin. The serum is only slightly more viscous than water, but feels more moisturizing on the skin (perhaps due to the addition of glycerin). The best part? The Vitamin C Ampoule is so effective, it takes just 7 days to boost collagen production. 97% of users report a luminous complexion and reduced signs of fatigue after 28 days of use. If your skin is on the sensitive side, you might find this a little tingly at first – it is a very high concentration of vitamin C, after all. If that’s the case, try mixing it in with your moisturizer first, or introducing it gradually into your routine.
BEST FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN: The Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum from iUNIK
Looking for a vitamin C serum that’ll also soothe acne-inflamed skin? Look no further than the Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum from iUNIK. This popular serum combines vitamin C-rich sea buckthorn (12%), propolis (70%), and niacinamide, to render your skin even-toned and glowing. Why is this serum so awesome? Well, propolis is an acne-fighting powerhouse. Not only does it contain brightening and antioxidant properties (providing similar free-radical protection to vitamin C), but it is also anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal! This makes it an excellent ingredient to ward off and heal various types of congestion, including fungal and bacterial acne. We also dig the super-silky texture, that dries without a hint of tackiness.
BEST FOR HYPERPIGMENTATION: Clairial Radiance Serum from SVR Laboratories
This dermatologist-recommended serum is dedicated to fixing hyperpigmentation, and boy does it deliver. In fact, it’s been clinically proven to visibly reduce brown spots and hyperpigmentation within just two weeks. The Clairial Radiance Serum includes a cocktail of 10% vitamin C, plankton extract, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and a ferulic acid derivative. This unique blend is known as SVR’s proprietary depigmenting complex. It’ll even work to undo summer damage and help fade older blemishes. Best of all, it’s gentle on the skin, making it a great candidate for sensitive types.
BEST FOR COMBINATION SKIN: Dermalogy Real Vita C Serum from Neogen
Oily T-zone but dry U-zone? Give Dermalogy Real Vita C Serum a try. This cult-favourite Goldilocks serum isn’t drying, nor will it leave your skin feeling greasy – it’s juuust right! This powerful brightening serum contains a potent 22% concentration of Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, which is a stable form of vitamin C. Along with niacinamide, it'll work wonders to fade acne scars, remove blemishes and treat hyperpigmentation. The formula also includes panthenol and hydrolyzed collagen work to soothe the parched parts of your skin. Meanwhile Coptis Japonica extract defends your skin from fibroblast damage (which can visibly impact pore size).
BEST FOR OILY SKIN: Pure Vitamin C 21.5% Advanced Serum from By Wishtrend
If you have oily skin, the bestselling 21.5% Vitamin C advanced Serum from By Wishtrend is BAE. It’s fairly strong, boasting a 21.5% concentration of ascorbic acid as well as 70% sea buckthorn water (which is naturally rich in vitamin C). It also contains a slate of nourishing ingredients such as panthenol, allantoin and sodium hyaluronate to balance out the strength of this product. Nonetheless, we’d avoid applying this on fragile or sensitized skin. However, if you have hardy, oily skin with visible pores, this will give you the smooth, re-texturized and bright skin of your dreams. We love that it’s also a feasible choice for those with Malassezia-related skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis (as very few high concentration vitamin C serums are). To avoid this product oxidizing, use as soon as it’s open, and store in the fridge.
BEST FOR dry skin: All Day Vitamin Brightening & Balancing Facial Serum from Jumiso
We like to call this highly concentrated shot of 86.14% Sea Buckthorn extract and 20,000 ppm of niacinamide the 'glow-maker'! Not only does Jumiso’s All Day Vitamin Brightening & Balancing Facial Serum go further than a standard vitamin C product (thanks to the additions of vitamins A, B, D, E and K), but it also feels like a cool splash of water on parched skin. The hydration comes from the glycerin (third on the ingredients list), hyaluronic acid and castor oil – but don’t worry, it doesn’t feel greasy or oily in the slightest! The texture is quite viscous but spreads easily and is absorbed quickly so you can get on with the rest of your skincare routine. Next stop: Glow City.
BEST FOR EXFOLIATION: Vitamin C Mask from SVR Laboratories
Looking for that Holy Grail vitamin C treatment that’ll re-texturize, exfoliate and brighten in one go? You’ve found it in the Vitamin C Mask from SVR Laboratories. The formula of this gorgeous peach-coloured mousse uses a whopping 25% concentration of vitamin C, along with 8% hyaluronic acid, 4% gluconolactone (a PHA) and 2% niacinamide. It also contains hydrating goodies such as squalene and glycerin. This powerful blend of ingredients means just one application of this mask can visibly transform your skin. And because Vitamin C Mask is packaged in an aerosol format, the formula is protected from both light and oxygen degradation, making it highly stable.
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