Vitamin C is alleged to have excellent properties for making the skin look healthier by tightening sagging skin and reducing the appearance of dark discolorations. But does it work? If so, which is the best vitamin C serum? Consider some of the following questions and answers when trying to decide whether to use vitamin C serum and which vitamin C serum product might be the best purchase for you.
What Is Vitamin C Serum?
Vitamin C Serum is a serum, or topical skin solution, made containing L-ascorbic acid. A solution made with less than 10% vitamin C will not be effective as a skin care treatment. The other main ingredients of a commercial vitamin C serum are typically oil and water, although the serum does not feel oily on the skin.
Benefits of Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C is a natural free-radical fighter. Free radicals cause oxidation, which damages skin cells. The vitamin contains anti-oxidants, which do they opposite. They fight oxidation, which repairs skin cells.
Anti-oxidants are used to give the skin a more youthful and healthy look. Regular application of vitamin C serum also helps reduce the appearance of acne scars. Users can increase the number of topic antioxidants in the vitamin C serum by choosing a serum that contains other antioxidants, such as vitamin E.
The human body gradually begins to produce incrementally less collagen starting around the age of 40. Vitamin C helps the body produce more collagen naturally. Collagen is the protein that binds together the cells in the body.
By helping the body produce more collagen, vitamin C helps reduce the appearance of sagging skin and wrinkles. Using vitamin C serum can be used by younger people hoping to prevent wrinkles and dark spots on their skin or by older people looking to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and skin discoloration.
Although vitamin C serum can’t be used as a substitute for sunscreen, it does help reduce damage caused by the sun by causing the skin to become slightly thicker and therefore less vulnerable to UV rays.
For the best skin protection from the sun, and to help prevent skin cancer, one should use a combination of vitamin C serum and a sunscreen with SPF protection. Vitamin C serum can also help reduce the appearance of minor redness caused by exposure to UV rays. Also, vitamin C serum can help undo the effects of exposure to air pollution.
Some users prefer using a vitamin C serum to using a vitamin C cream for skin care because the serum does not feel heavy or greasy on the skin.
Choosing the Right Vitamin C Serum
Because pure vitamin C has a short shelf life and oxidizes relatively quickly, commercial vitamin C serums for skin care are made with alternative vitamin C formulas. Two common ones are magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate. These are considered safe ingredients.
Formulas to avoid include ascorbyl palmitate (it may be labeled as vitamin C ester), tetra hexyl decyl ascorbate (also called ascorbyl tret ais palmitate), and liposome vitamin C. These three ingredients are all derived from ascorbyl palmitate, which is known to make skin sensitive to UV light.
When one begins to use vitamin C serum for the first time, one can start by using a serum with a 10% concentration of vitamin C. After a few weeks, one can increase the percentage of vitamin C in the serum, up to 15 to 25%.
Because vitamin C can oxidize quickly, and even more so when exposed to light and air, users may want to choose vitamin c serum products that come packaged in airtight, opaque containers.
How to Use Vitamin C Serum
Using a vitamin C serum is 20% more effective as a skin treatment than taking vitamin C tablets orally. Unfortunately, upping your citrus fruit intake won’t necessarily be beneficial for your skin. However, the body also needs dietary vitamin C, so the best course is to use vitamin C serum in addition to getting enough of the vitamin in one’s diet.
To use a vitamin C serum correctly, rinse your face with water. Start by applying the serum to your neck and face. Give the serum some time to dry. When it’s dry, apply a moisturizer with some SPF protection. When not using the serum, store it in the refrigerator.
Top 5 Vitamin C Serums
OZNaturals Vitamin C Facial Serum
This vitamin C serum contains 20% vitamin C. The manufacturer recommends using this serum in conjunction with a daily moisturizer for the best results and notes that users with sensitive skin may want to try using the product every other day before working their way up to daily use. Its ingredients include extracts of algae, witch hazel, and Camellia sinensis (tea). This serum can be used in the morning or evening.
- OZNaturals is made with sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a form of topical vitamin C considered to be safe.
- The manufacturer guarantees result in 3 weeks. Users who are unhappy with results may ask for a full refund within 30 days of purchase.
- This serum does not contain preservatives.
- OZNaturals contains two other anti-oxidants in addition to vitamin C, namely astaxanthin and vitamin E.
- People with sensitive skin may want to use a concentration of less than 20%.
- Some users report that they get better results with skin care serums that contain both vitamin C and AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids).
- The bottle is translucent rather than opaque, so it may allow in some light, which can decrease the effectiveness of the product.
- Some users report the “thin” or light feeling of the serum to be a disadvantage, preferring the cream that feels thicker.
Kriama Vitamin C Serum
Made in U.S. inside FDA-registered facilities, this serum contains 20% vitamin C. It also contains hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and vitamin E as active ingredients. Users can apply this product up to two times a day every day.
The manufacturer claims this product is derived from organic and all-natural ingredients and that it can increase skin elasticity and promote new skin growth.
- Kriama Vitamin C Serum does not contain artificial coloring, artificial fragrances, parabens, or harmful chemicals.
- The manufacturer offers a 30-day money back guarantee to users who are not satisfied.
- This serum can be used around the eyes and lips.
- The manufacturer claims the product can help prevent acne breakouts and help minimize the appearance of pores.
- As with other 20% concentration vitamin C serums, users who have sensitive skin or who have just begun using vitamin C serum may want to begin with a lower concentration.
- The bottle is translucent rather than opaque, which may allow in light and reduce the product’s effectiveness.
- Kriama Vitamin C Serum contains a lower concentration of the oil component, glycerin, than OZNaturals Vitamin C Facial Serum, so Kriama has a more “watery” feel than OZNaturals.
Vitamin C Serum Professional Topical Facial Skin Care
This vitamin C serum by Pure Body Naturals also contains vitamins E and A, plus hyaluronic acid. The concentration of vitamin C is 20%. It does not contain parabens, and the source of the hyaluronic acid is vegan. (Hyaluronic acid, which is made naturally by the human body, is commercially produced from two sources.
It can either be made from the combs of roosters or synthesized by bacteria.) The manufacturer offers money back guarantee if the user is not happy after three months of use.
- Pure Body Naturals' Vitamin C serum is not tested on animals.
- The serum is suitable for use by vegans.
- The added vitamin E increases the concentration of anti-oxidants in this product.
- Some users report that they do not enjoy the herbal/sweet smell.
- The bottle is translucent rather than opaque, so it will let in light, which may decrease the effectiveness as the vitamin C.
- Some users report experiencing eye irritation of they use it around their eyes.
Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid for Face and Eyes
This vitamin C serum by LilyAna Naturals is made in the U.S. with cruelty-free ingredients. The vitamin C concentration is 20%. The manufacturer recommends using this product with a moisturizer and notes that it can be used either before or after applying makeup.
This vitamin C serum also contains ferulic acid, an additional anti-oxidant. LilyAna Naturals offers a 100% money back guarantee for users who are unsatisfied with the product.
- The type of vitamin C formula used in this serum is sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is usually considered safe.
- LilyAna Naturals' Vitamin C serum doesn’t contain any added fragrances, parabens, or artificial colors.
- The glycerin ingredient is kosher and made from a vegetarian source.
- This vitamin C serum comes an opaque bottle, which is useful for keeping out light that can reduce the effectiveness of the vitamin C in the product.
- The manufacturer’s directions recommend allowing the product to dry on the skin for 1-2 minutes, but users report it takes five minutes or longer for the product to dry fully.
- Users sometimes describe this product as feeling “sticky” or “stiff” as it dries on their skin.
- Some users report that they don’t like the smell of this product.
TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum for Face
This vitamin C serum is all-vegetarian and cruelty-free. The concentration of vitamin C in this product is 20%. The manufacturer offers a 100% money back guarantee for any users who are not satisfied.
- This serum doesn’t contain parabens, phthalates, GMOs, sodium lauryl sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil, artificial colors, or fragrances
- Users who prefer to use organic ingredients will appreciate that this product is 72% organic.
- The product is not tested on animals.
- Some users reported an increase in acne breakouts after using this vitamin C serum.
- This serum is packaged in a clear bottle and may be susceptible to the vitamin C ingredient breaking down due to exposure to light.
- Some users who described themselves as having normal to dry skin (as opposed to oily skin) reported they found the product felt tight or dry on their skin.
All five of the serums on this list contain a concentration of at least 20% vitamin C, which is one of the strongest concentrations available for skin care. This is an advantage for most users, who will most likely notice more of an effect from using the higher-concentration serums than those that contain only 10-15% vitamin C.
For a few users who have sensitive skin, this concentrate may be too strong and may cause irritation. The manufacturers of all these serums off money-back guarantees for users who aren’t satisfied with these products.
Of these five serums, OZNaturals Vitamin C Facial Serum came the closest to meeting all the recommendations for what to look for in a vitamin C serum. It contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate, one of the preferred formulas for using vitamin C in a skin care serum because it’s considered to be safe for use.
None of the products contain AHA, which some users reported a preference for, but OZNaturals' serum does contain vitamin E and astaxanthin for added antioxidant power. What sets this serum apart from the others is its high concentration of the oil ingredient, glycerine; users seem to prefer their vitamin C serums to feel “thick” rather than “watery,” and this serum seems to deliver the most satisfying feeling on the skin.