Skincare Products » Best Face Serums » Best Vitamin C Serums

Best Vitamin C Facial Serums for 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

Vitamins are critical when it comes to overall health. Some people choose to take supplements, while others plan a healthy diet to ensure they aren’t deficient in nutrients. Vegans, as well as most people, can really benefit from taking supplements because sometimes, even the most nutritious diets don’t contain all the vitamins the human body needs to flourish.

Did you know that your skin can also benefit from specific vitamins? For example, applying a vitamin C serum can brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots. Here’s a look at the best vitamin C facial serums and their benefits.

Best vitamin C facial serums overview:

How we chose the best vitamin C facial serums

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including types of vitamin C, additional ingredients to address skincare needs, and more, to create a short list of the top vitamin C facial serums. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best vitamin C facial serums for each category.

Our picks for the best vitamin C facial serums

1
Best overall
La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum
$39.99

What we love

  • Works for all skin types
  • Minimizes fine lines
  • Moisturizes

What we don’t love

  • May leave orange residue
  • May pill if you use too much

La Roche-Posay is a big name in skincare, and the brand’s vitamin C facial serum is our top overall pick. The main ingredient is L-ascorbic acid, an active form of vitamin C, but the product also contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and reduce the visibility of pores. Hyaluronic acid means the serum also provides a welcome splash of hydration. 

Because of oxidation, you may notice a bit of orange residue, especially if you don’t rub the serum into your skin thoroughly. And keep in mind that a little goes a long way. You may notice some pilling or balling of the serum if you use too much — though that also means the product lasts quite a while.

Benefits: Minimizing fine lines, evening out texture | Size: 1.01 fl oz | Active ingredients: L-ascorbic acid, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid

2
Best splurge
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic With 15% L-Ascorbic Acid
$169

What we love

  • Fights free radicals
  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Firms skin

What we don’t love

  • May not be able to use if pregnant

Sometimes it’s worth splurging on skincare, especially for a vitamin C serum that brightens, firms, fights free radicals, and provides anti-aging benefits. SkinCeuticals’ serum does just that, thanks to a combination of L-ascorbic acid (15%), alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), and plant-based ferulic acid. 

Though it’s expensive, the serum is a powerhouse. However, note that the ingredients haven’t been evaluated in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Benefits: Anti-aging, brightening, firming | Size: 1 fl oz | Active ingredients: L-ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, ferulic acid

3
Best budget
The Inkey List 15% Vitamin C + EGF Serum
$27

What we love

  • Inexpensive
  • Brightens skin
  • Evens out skin tone

What we don’t love

  • Feels sticky
  • May pill

Get brighter, smoother skin with this budget-friendly facial serum. Epitensive (a type of peptide) is included (in addition to 15% vitamin C) to prompt skin cells to regenerate, leaving you with a dewy complexion. 

Some reviewers mentioned the serum feels sticky and balls up, so take care not to use more than about a pea’s worth at a time.

Benefits: Brightening, evens skin tone | Size: 1 fl oz | Active ingredients: Ascorbyl glucoside, epitensive

4
Best drugstore
Olay Vitamin C + Peptide 24
$29.98

What we love

  • Brightens skin
  • Offers hydration
  • Easy to locate

What we don’t love

  • Unclear what type of vitamin C is used

Olay’s vitamin C facial serum features vitamin C (although the brand doesn’t specify the type) along with vitamin B3 and amino peptides. These ingredients combine to create a brighter complexion while leaving your skin hydrated. 

The formula is lightweight and designed to work well under makeup. And because Olay is available in most drugstores, it’s our pick for the best drugstore facial serum.

Benefits: Brightening, hydrating | Size: 1.3 fl oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C, amino peptide, vitamin B3

5
Best under-eye
Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester CCC + Ferulic Brightening Under-Eye Cream
$72

What we love

  • Specifically made for undereye skin
  • Reduces puffiness
  • Calms skin

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Adds an extra skincare step

The skin under our eyes sometimes gets left out of daily skincare routines. That’s why we love this undereye vitamin C serum from Perricone MD. It’s designed for the delicate, often sensitive skin underneath the eye. 

The serum includes biomimetic oat protein to soothe the skin, along with peptides and vitamin C Ester (a fat-soluble, absorbable form of C) to improve your skin’s appearance. These ingredients fight back against fine lines, brighten the skin, and gradually reduce discoloration.

Benefits: Reduces dark circles, puffiness, and bags| Size: 0.5 fl oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C Ester, peptides, biomimetic oat protein

6
Best for sensitive skin
First Aid Beauty 10% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
$50

What we love

  • Doesn’t clog pores
  • Free of fragrance
  • Reduces irritation

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Sticky at first

Sensitive skin will love the vitamin C facial serum from First Aid Beauty. It’s designed to work well for people with normal or combination skin that tends to be prone to irritation and redness. Plus, it won’t clog your pores, and it doesn’t contain fragrance, further reducing the likelihood of irritation. 

It’s a little on the higher end of the price spectrum, and the product goes on a bit sticky at first. However, it dries fairly quickly and contains multiple ingredients to promote softer, brighter skin with fewer fine lines. It also moisturizes, thanks to the addition of squalane.

Benefits: Brightening, smoothing, firming| Size: 1.7 fl oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C, vitamin E, squalane

7
Best powder
Philosophy High-Potency Vitamin C Powder
$40

What we love

  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Can be used on face and neck
  • Good for travel

What we don’t love

  • Requires mixing
  • Pricey

Though this is a powdered form of vitamin C, you can transform it into a serum by mixing it with your favorite moisturizer. It provides plenty of antioxidants to fight back against signs of aging and pollutants in the air. 

For a small container, the price is a bit high. But the powder form means it’s a little easier to travel with, especially when flying. You’ll also get a dash of brightening power from it.

Benefits: Anti-aging| Size: 0.25 fl oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C, zinc pca, camellia oleifera leaf juice

8
Best for hyperpigmentation
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum
$78

What we love

  • Good for dark spots
  • Dissolves dead skin cells
  • Vegan product

What we don’t love

  • Must be mixed
  • Small container
  • Expensive

L-ascorbic acid, ferulic acid, and vitamin E are combined into this serum to provide all sorts of beauty benefits. The serum needs to be mixed once you buy it, but that keeps it fresh. Using it means your skin will look and feel smoother since it whisks away dead skin. 

Reviewers praise its ability to reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Plus, the serum offers brightening power, so you’ll walk away with a radiant glow.

Benefits: Brightening, firming, evens complexion | Size: 0.94 fl oz | Active ingredients: Antioxidant blend, pumpkin ferment, pomegranate extract

9
Best hydrating
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream
$22

What we love

  • Can be used 1-2 times per day
  • Hydrates and soothes
  • Exfoliates

What we don’t love

  • Thicker than many serums
  • Use cautiously with oily skin
  • Use cautiously with oily skin

One of the many benefits of Sunday Riley’s vitamin C serum is its anti-aging properties. It also provides exfoliation and wards off damage from exposure to pollution. 

Some reviewers mentioned this wasn’t their best choice for oily skin. However, dry and combination skin users will love the soothing ingredient bisabolol, which comes from chamomile and is frequently found in baby products because it’s so calming. Smooth as a baby takes on an almost literal meaning here.

Benefits: Anti-aging, protects against pollution, exfoliates, calms | Size: 0.5 oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C THD ascorbate, exopolysaccharides, lime pearl, bisabolol

10
Best with SPF
Supergoop! Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF 40 Serum
$38.05

What we love

  • Hydrating
  • Contains SPF 40
  • Clean product

What we don’t love

  • Small size
  • Hard to empty the container

Using sun protection is essential, but let’s be honest — putting sunscreen on is just one extra step we don’t always have time for. In that case, this vitamin C serum with SPF 40 is a 2-in-1 option. The SPF will protect you from the sun while the vitamin C brightens your skin. 

The SPF comes from what the brand dubs “clean chemicals” since mineral sunscreen shouldn’t be paired with vitamin C. Plus, you’ll get a dose of hydration thanks to hyaluronic acid.

Benefits: Sun protection, hydration, brightening | Size: 1 fl oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C brightening complex, hyaluronic acid, clean chemical SPF, marine extract

11
Best multipurpose
Wander Beauty Sight C-er Vitamin C Concentrate
$42

What we love

  • Plumping benefits
  • Brightens skin
  • Makes skin look dewy

What we don’t love

  • Not be ideal for sensitive skin
  • May cause redness

Yes, vitamin C serums improve the look of skin over time. But this one offers an immediate benefit: a dewy finish. 

Beyond a gorgeous glow, your skin will look brighter and plumper, and you’ll get protection from free radicals. It’s worth noting that some reviewers found this serum to bring on redness or irritation, so be sure to test a small amount of it first if you have sensitive skin.

Benefits: Brightening, hydrating, plumping, soothing | Size: 1.01 fl oz | Active ingredients: Vitamin C, vitamin E, squalane, hyaluronic acid

12
Best for lips
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
$29

What we love

  • Reduces flakiness
  • Leave-on option
  • Hydrates lips

What we don’t love

  • Should be used with Laneige lip balm
  • Unclear which form of vitamin C is used

Even our lips can benefit from vitamin C serums, such as this leave-on mask from Laneige. The brand recommends pairing it with the accompanying lip balm for the best results. 

93.7% of users reported their lips looked healthier after using the mask for a week. Coconut oil, shea butter, and murumuru seed butter are the keys to this extra-hydrating lip mask that also smooths the texture of your lips.

Benefits: Hydrating, antioxidants | Size: 0.7 oz | Active ingredients: Berry fruit complex, shea butter, vitamin C

13
Best naturally-derived
Herbivore Botanicals NOVA 15% Vitamin C + Turmeric Brightening Serum
$64

What we love

  • Helps with hyperpigmentation
  • Multiple naturally-derived ingredients
  • Vegan formula

What we don’t love

  • High price
  • Breakable glass bottle

This serum contains THD vitamin C, an oil-soluble form of the vitamin which addresses hyperpigmentation and lightens up dark spots. The brand noted that using the serum for just one week means you’ll notice brighter skin. 

Turmeric and arbutin, which come from bearberry, offer a more natural ingredient base for this vegan serum. That said, it’s higher in price than some other options and comes in a glass bottle, which means it can easily break or shatter.

Benefits: Brightening, evens out skin tone | Size: 1 oz | Active ingredients: THD vitamin C, turmeric, arbutin

14
Best lightweight
Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream
$37.97

What we love

  • Hydrating
  • Assists cell regeneration
  • Strengthening

What we don’t love

  • Small container for price

Multiple ingredients like arnica and lavendula combine in this vitamin C serum to provide various benefits. The lightweight formula helps your skin cells regenerate and even strengthens them, plus the serum promotes better absorption of moisture. 

The added wild Reishi mushroom repairs damage from free radicals while reducing inflammation. The container is relatively small for the cost, but the many powerful skin benefits make it a worthwhile investment.

Benefits: Brightening, anti-aging, hydrating, firming | Size: 1 oz | Active ingredients: STAY C, Reishi mushroom, ocean mineral complex, arnica, lavendula

15
Best firming
InnBeauty Project Green Machine Serum
$32

What we love

  • Multiple plant-based ingredients
  • Firms and reduces the look of wrinkles
  • Helps with hyperpigmentation

What we don’t love

  • May feel sticky

In addition to one form of vitamin C, this facial serum contains 15 superfood ingredients to nourish your skin. Using this serum, you’ll notice firmer, brighter skin and fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, pomegranate stem cells help cut back on hyperpigmentation. 

The serum’s texture is somewhere between an oil and a jelly, so it may feel too sticky for some. But its unique texture helps it to penetrate the skin quickly while adding plenty of nourishing benefits.

Benefits: Brightening, firming, smoothing | Size: 1 fl oz | Active ingredients: Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (vitamin C), superfoods, plant stem cells

Your daily dose of vitamin C

Plenty of vitamin C facial serums are out there, each with its own unique pros and cons. There’s no ‘wrong’ way to pick a serum, but you’ll want to keep your specific skincare needs in mind as you shop for the best vitamin C serums. 

Our pick for the overall best serum is La Roche-Posay’s 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum. It’s perfect for any skin type and moisturizes while also minimizing the appearance of fine lines. 

How to pick the right vitamin C facial serum for you

Multiple forms of the antioxidant vitamin C exist, providing benefits like protection from sun damage and exposure to pollution. Consider your skin needs and level of sensitivity when choosing a vitamin C serum. 

Ingredients

  • Forms of vitamin C. There are multiple forms of vitamin C, including active forms like L-ascorbic acid, which is easily absorbed by the body. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a less-concentrated form that’s better for sensitive skin.
  • Antioxidants. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that wards off harmful impact from free radicals like pollution, smoke, or sun exposure. 
  • Other ingredients. Because every person’s skin is unique, many vitamin C serums contain other ingredients to help fight acne, even out complexion, moisturize, minimize pores, or add sun protection. Pick a product that has elements that best address your skincare needs.

FAQs

Which brand of vitamin C facial serum is best?

The best brand of vitamin C facial serum is going to vary for each person. However, be sure to look at each product type, the percentage of vitamin C, and the benefits that the other ingredients in the product bring to the table. 

What percent of vitamin C is best for your face?

You’ve likely noticed there are Vitamin C serums with different percentages of Vitamin C. Ideally, use a product that contains 10-20% Vitamin C in an active form. However, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to start with something that has a lower concentration.

Which form of vitamin C is best for your skin?

Try to find a serum with an active form of Vitamin C, like L-ascorbic acid, which is a form that’s most readily absorbed by your skin. Those with skin more prone to irritation may want to try products with magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which is a type of Vitamin C that’s a bit less concentrated (usually about 5%). We like La Roche-Posay’s vitamin C serum because it’s apt for all skin types and moisturizes while fighting fine lines.