If there’s one skin-care ingredient that everyone should add to their routine, it’s vitamin C, a one-stop-shop for achieving a bright and even complexion.
So, what makes a good vitamin C serum? Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD has a few tips for finding the best of the best in the game: “The most potent and stable form of vitamin C is ascorbic acid,” she says, adding that the skin-brightener is most effective at a concentration of about 20 percent. “The more concentrated the vitamin C is, the more it can throw off the skin’s pH. So, sensitive skin individuals should try a lower concentration, or use it more gradually several times per week.”
Dr. Blyumin-Karasik recommends using Vitamin C in the morning to take advantage of its protective and repairing properties, and for an added boost, ferulic acid and vitamin E are the perfect pairing.
There’s no need to snack on extra oranges to get your vitamin C fix. Instead, give skin the boost it deserves with the below serums, all of which are available on Dermstore and have an expert seal of approval.
SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Acid Serum ($166)
Overall rating on Dermstore: 4.76/5
SkinCeuticals’ vitamin C is a dermatologist go-to, and its unanimous love boils down to the product’s ingredient profile and potency. “Alongside a 15-percent concentration of vitamin C, this serum has two key ingredients that advance the potency of the antioxidant: vitamin E and ferulic acid,” says Dr. Blyumin-Karasik. With just a few drops of this award-winner, your skin will be protected and hydrated.
Dr. Blyumin-Karasik regularly recommends this medical-grade serum to her patients as it helps fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation and gives skin an irresistible all-over glow.
Obagi Medical Professional-C Serum 20% ($137)
Overall rating on Dermstore: 4.75/5
This serum has a highly effective formula that penetrates deep into the skin and protects from the inside-out. At a concentration of 20 percent, New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD says this serum “helps counter oxidative and sun damage, banish early signs of aging and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face.” Pumped with ultra-moisturizing hyaluronic acid, this serum also keeps the dermis feeling soft and hydrated all throughout the day.
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($52)
Overall rating on Dermstore: 4.55/5
A luxury formulation at a lower price point, Paula’s Choice vitamin C contains all the ingredients needed—soothing vitamin E and formula-boosting ferulic acid are among the top players—without breaking the bank. “Together, these three main ingredients provide a powerful antioxidant system for the skin,” Dr. Levine says. Additionally, this serum includes peptides to give skin’s collagen production a much-needed boost.
Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C Brightening Serum ($85)
Overall rating on Dermstore: 4.36/5
Sunday Riley’s vitamin C has a formulation that differs from the rest. Formulated with tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate instead of L-ascorbic acid—the standard form of vitamin C in most serums—this product is more stable and great for sensitive skin, and New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD agrees. “Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is fat-soluble and is a more stable form of vitamin C,” she says, adding that it’s excellent for those who are sensitive to L-ascorbic acid but still want antioxidant protection.
Another stand-out ingredient in this serum is glycolic acid, which is known for its skin-sloughing, oil-absorbing capabilities. The combination of all the ingredients together makes for a skin-care essential that not only brightens and treats discolored skin, but prevents acne production, too.
BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner ($80)
Overall rating on Dermstore: 4.33/5
The patented encapsulation method, which protects the particles in the serum to stop the vitamin C from oxidizing and losing efficacy, in this barrier-mender provides users with almost-immediate results. According to Dr. Day, “It works well with other ingredients, like squalane and green tea, for added brightening and skin rejuvenation.” The Universal C Skin Refiner also fights against aging with the inclusion of EGCG and evens out skin texture with tartaric acid.
La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum with Salicylic Acid ($40)
Overall rating on Dermstore: 4.1/5
La Roche-Posay boasts a vitamin C serum that leaves skin radiant, soft and hydrated. At a concentration of 10 percent, this heavy-lifter gets underneath the skin’s surface to brighten while staying gentle on sensitive skin.
As an added bonus, the salicylic acid and neurosensine within the formula help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and attack skin impurities—think blackheads and whiteheads—right at the source. It also includes hyaluronic acid in two forms: sodium hyaluronate and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. Together, they draw moisture into the top layers of the skin, helping to plump and hydrate.
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