The best vitamin C serums are some of the best skin care products you can have in your beauty bag. The powerful antiaging ingredient is one of the few that dermatologists back for its noticeable brightening, protective, and firming properties, as well as its ability to boost collagen production, lending a plumping effect. To help you select the most hardworking formulas out there for your skin type, we asked dermatologists for tips on finding the best ones and how to use them.
Our top picks:
What is vitamin C?
“Vitamin C is an antioxidant,” Kenneth Howe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Glamour. “When ultraviolet light penetrates your skin, it causes lasting damage by producing free radicals. Vitamin C can prevent that damage by ‘quenching’ the free radicals as they form.” (Of course, you should always apply one of the best face sunscreens too!) The brightening serum also inhibits a key enzyme in melanin production, so it can act as a dark spot corrector too. The end result? A more radiant complexion and smoother texture over time. (Think glass-like skin.)
Here’s what to look for in a vitamin C serum.
The key ingredient in these serums is L-ascorbic acid, a pure form of vitamin C, Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Glamour. This type of serum penetrates more deeply than other forms, making it more likely to reach the layers of skin where you actually need it to work. Another popular one? Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which tends to be more stable than its counterparts (read “it lasts longer”).
Pay attention to the concentration too. “Look for serums that contain 10% to 20% vitamin C,” Morgan Rabach, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Glamour. “Less than 10% is not as effective, and over 20% can cause skin irritation.” A supporting cast of active ingredients, like vitamin E and ferulic acid, can also boost its efficacy. Some vitamin C serums may even boast nice-to-haves including hyaluronic acid, squalane, and other hydrators.
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