Best Vitamin C Serums That Could Transform Your Skin

Vitamin C can do more than just help you kick that cold! In fact, this potent antioxidant can actually help transform the look for your skin thanks to its ability to boost collagen, minimize acne scars, and reduce signs of aging. But if you think a daily glass of orange juice is all you need for a glowing complexion, think again.

When ingested orally, the vitamin’s benefits barely ever make it to our skin. Instead, you’ll have to apply it topically in the form of a vitamin C serum in order to see the multifaceted ingredient start to work its magic on your skin. Besides brightening and evening out your skin tone, the versatile antioxidant also works to improve skin’s hydration and prevent wrinkles.

No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence

With 5% pure Vitamin C. Easy to mix, at-home activation. Use for two weeks for visible results. Promotes brighter, healthier and more radiant looking skin. Evens skin tone and texture.

Shop at Target $20

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum

Formulated with amino acids and antioxidants, this face serum minimizes and prevents the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. 

Shop at Dermstore $78

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

A potent vitamin C day serum packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and fruit enzymes to visibly firm, brighten, and improve signs of photoaging. 

Shop at Sephora $80

BeautyRx Skincare Triple Vitamin C Serum

Infused with 10% Antioxidant Serum and three concentrated forms of Vitamin C, this powerful formula reduces the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, unveiling a more even skin tone. 

Shop at Dermstore $95

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum

SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, this formula improves signs of aging and photodamage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion. Lastly, this powerful formula helps neutralize free radicals induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA) and ozone pollution (O3). 

Shop at Dermstore $166

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

A serum targeted to fight the look of dullness and discoloration, while visibly diminishing the signs of aging. 

Shop at Sephora $85

DIOR Capture Youth Glow Booster Age-Delay Illuminating Serum

 Murunga plum, known to be 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges, combined with alpha hydroxy acid helps to brighten the complexion and smooth skin texture. Enriched with antioxidant-boosting iris extract, this serum has a lightweight texture that offers a natural glow and energizes skin, helping it resist aggressions (stress, fatigue, and jet lag). 

Shop at Sephora $95

TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum

With almost 8,000 five-star reviews, this serum by TruSkin is one of the most popular beauty products on Amazon. The serum’s formula combines vitamin C with botanical hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to help diminish the look of dark spots, wrinkles, and fine lines while also firming and brightening your skin. Happy customers rave that this handy product started to transform their skin in just one week! A lot of reviewers have even been uploading before and after photos of themselves to show off how clear and bright their skin looks after using the serum.

Shop at Amazon $20

Olehenriksen Truth Serum

Over 150,000 Sephora shoppers agree this is one of the best vitamin C serums around. Many customers love how quickly the product absorbed in their skin, while others couldn’t get over how delicious the serum’s citrus scent was. One reviewer called it a “game changer” before adding “seriously this stuff works. It has truly made my skin better.”

Shop at Sephora $50

Timeless Skincare 20% C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum

This potent serum is so popular it earned itself an Amazon’s Choice recommendation. You can use the powerful product on its own or add two or three drops to your daily moisturizer if your skin needs the extra hydration. One glowing review said, “This is a wonderful serum. It dramatically refined my skin’s texture and brightened my complexion. It absorbs quickly, and the smell dissipates once it dries.”

Shop at Amazon $25

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This award-winning serum combines vitamin C with hyaluronic acid and konjac root powder to help soften, smooth, and brighten your skin’s texture. Eighty-four percent of Ulta customers said they would recommend this product to their friends and family, with most customers saying the serum left their skin glowing.

Shop at ULTA $34

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum

You can say goodbye to fine lines and wrinkles thanks to this potent serum by beloved beauty brand Mario Badescu. Ulta customers can’t stop raving about how fast the product works. Many reviewers said they saw dark spots and acne scars fade in just five days of regular use.

Shop at ULTA $45

Obagi Professional-C Serum

Dermstore customers love this concentrated vitamin C serum thanks to its powerful anti-aging properties. Many reviewers gave it two thumbs up, saying the serum left them with healthier-looking skin that actually glowed. They also loved that it also helps prevent any future damage from pesky UV rays.

Shop at Dermstore $127

InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum

This nutrient-packed serum by InstaNatural is a best seller on Amazon thanks to the 2,700 five-star reviews customers have given it. Customers raved that the serum not only helped reduce the appearance of old acne scars but it also helped clear up current breakouts and blackheads. One happy reviewer called it, “the nectar of the gods for your skin.”

Shop at Amazon $18

Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum

This vitamin C serum from Miranda Kerr’s skincare line Kora Organics may be new to the market, but it’s already racked up over 8,000 likes at Sephora. During a clinical study, 90 percent of participants said their skin looked smoother, while 80 percent said their skin looked brighter and more radiant. “I love this product. It’s been over a week and I noticed a difference in my skin. The smell is amazing, and the results are even better. My face is brighter and my hyperpigmentation and acne scarring is noticeably reduced,” raved one customer.

Shop at Sephora $68

LilyAna Naturals Vitamin C Serum

This popular serum from LilyAna Naturals is infused with jojoba oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid (along with the vitamin C) to help hydrate and moisturize your skin. The powerful product works to firm and smooth your skin’s texture, along with reducing the appearance of sunspots, redness, and other discolorations. The best part?  It’s non- comedogenic (read: safe for acne-prone skin), so you’ll never have to worry about it clogging your pores or causing breakouts. With details like this, it’s no wonder why more than 3,300 Amazon customers gave the serum an impressive 4.4-star rating.

Shop at Amazon $30

Tatcha Violet C Brightening Serum

If you suffer from dull or tired-looking skin, consider this vitamin C serum from Tatcha. It is specially formulated with 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA serum that work together to soften and smooth skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion. The beloved serum has more than 60,000 likes and a 4.4-star rating at Sephora. What’s more? 88 percent of customers said they love it so much, they’d recommend it to others.

Shop at Sephora $88

Kate Somerville + Retinol Vita C Power Serum

This vitamin C serum from Kate Somerville is packed with retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Along with improving the tone and elasticity of your skin, the product can also help your skin look brighter, smoother,  and more luminous. “Can’t say enough. Literally fixed my tired, acne-prone, and scarred skin in just a week! I have literally tried everything out there from $700 creams to $50 ones and this one is the holy grail,” raved one customer.

Shop at Sephora $98

InStyle article 1
InStyle article 2

7 Soothing Products to Get Us Through the Retinol Scaries

Preparation is a must when you’re using retinol for the first time ever. I’m not one to enter any pursuit lightly, so before selecting a product for my virgin skin, I researched. In other words, I read a lot of articles about the anti-aging, acne-clearing, and collagen-stimulating rewards of this wonder ingredient. Since I’m a total newbie, I knew I needed to start with a low-percentage formula to ease my skin into the fold. That meant finding the best retinol for sensitive skin.

I’m no stranger to acids or other potentially harsh skincare ingredients—I’ve used glycolic acid as well as other AHAs and BHAs in the past—but I didn’t want to throw my skin to the proverbial wolves. After consulting some of my co-workers for product recommendations, I bought a bottle of the First Aid Beauty Retinol Serum with a 0.25% concentration of retinol formulated for beginners like myself and those with sensitive skin.

My skin went through a fairly uneventful acclimation phase in the beginning; maybe a few more pimples than normal, but nothing I wasn’t prepared for. About two and a half weeks in, I started to experience the dreaded retinol scaries. The skin near my jaw and around my mouth began peeling and the vitamin C serum I used every morning started to feel more tingly than normal. Then I did something most dermatologists would probably caution against: I added a new product to my skincare routine.

Since retinol can make your skin more photo-sensitive, I’d been religious about applying SPF every day. One fateful day I switched to a face sunscreen that had some extra L-ascorbic acid because the brightening, vitamin C-laden ingredients sounded like a nice way to treat my skin. Unfortunately, this product sent my retinol purge into overdrive. I immediately broke out in a red rash and the parts of my face that were already peeling started stinging and burning too.

Not one to panic too much, I looked for the most gentle and soothing skincare products I could find. In another probably-not-derm-recommended turn, I again changed up my routine—this time switching to super calming products with zero fragrance or other irritants that would make my face angry. Because retinol can also be drying (and my skin was already molting like a snake thanks to the expedited cell turnover), I looked to products that would provide extra moisture and hydration. About a week after my mishap, my skin was much happier and the burning, stinging sensation is firmly behind me.

These are the products nursing my skin through a retinol purge. I love them so much, I don’t think I’ll stop recommending them anytime soon.

First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum

I’ve used First Aid Beauty products for years and love how gentle everything is on my skin. When I saw a steady stream of positive reviews for their retinol serum, I wanted to try it right away.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

This gentle cleanser from Aveeno lives up to its name—it truly is ultra-calming. And the fragrance-free formula is exactly what my sensitive skin needs after a few weeks of using retinol.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater

This is the lone exception to my new fragrance-free skincare rule. I’ve trusted this Mario Badescu facial spray for years (it has a cult following for a reason) and use it to prep my skin so it can better absorb the serums and moisturizers that follow in my routine.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum

I started using this hydrating serum from First Aid Beauty a few months ago and don’t plan on turning back anytime soon. It’s common knowledge that retinol can be drying, so this serum provides a moisturizing boost thanks to its hyaluronic acid-rich formula.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer is another fragrance-free staple in my skincare routine. At its core, this is a no-frills moisturizer that I swear by.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

One of the most parroted pieces of advice to retinol newbies is to use a daily sunscreen since retinol can make the skin more photo-sensitive (daily sunscreen is also just good to use in general). This clear gel formula from Supergoop! agrees with my skin, even though the inclusion of Frankincense doesn’t make it completely fragrance-free.

Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

My fancier, more expensive night creams are on an indefinite hiatus thanks to this moisturizing night lotion from Cerave—and more than 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon agree. The brand’s signature mix of ceramides and skin-restoring ingredients go to work at night to help my skin feel revived and fresh by morning.

Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments below!

Is Mario Badescu On Steroids?

The plainly packaged line markets itself as a “botanical” brand by an unseen facialist from Romania who founded the company in 1967. It’s sold in popular stores like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie and has managed to get a fair share of celebrity and social media endorsements over the years.

The Issue:

But “disappointed” customers is an understatement. The number of people who reported feelings of dry, itchy, red, irritated, and broken out skin after using Mario Badescu products is significant enough to constitute a trend. Considering this is a brand claiming to use only “simple, gentle, fresh-botanical-based ingredients,” it’s even more intriguing to dive into.

Mario Badescu has been hit with legal repercussions for the excruciating, disfiguring results of some of its formulations. In 2013, the brand settled a class action lawsuit brought against it for failing to disclose the inclusion of strong steroids in at least two of their products. The steroids, hydrocrotisone and triamcinolone acetonide, can trigger enlarged capillaries and dermatological misery, including skin atrophy. This is where the skin becomes so thin that it easily perforates, leading to infection, diseases, fungal growths, rashes and blistered skin that oozes, burns and peels. Of course, this looks as awful as it sounds. Worse, skin atrophy can cause problems with other medical issues; even removing a bandage can rip open the afflicted skin.

Should You Try Their Products Now?

According to beauty guru and self-proclaimed Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun, the answer is no. Out of the 60 Mario Badescu products her team reviewed for Beautypedia.com, 55 achieve only one or two stars out of five. Five nabbed three stars, but none made it to four. Phrases like “incredibly irritating” and “no-go” are found all over in the detailed reviews.

More worrying, Begoun’s team found inaccurate assertions about product formulations. “This does not contain any type of AHA, as claimed,” Beautypedia notes of the brand’s Kiwi Face Scrub. Her examiners were scathing in their audit of Mario Badescu Glycolic Skin Renewal Complex, saying: “Lubragel CG on the ingredient list is a trade name for the film-forming agent glyceryl polymethacrylate (think hairspray)…Why does Badescu ignore FDA and European ingredient regulations? Perhaps he’s ashamed of his formulas?”

Packaging Issue:

The products are not the brand’s only problem. As noted by Hirons and other industry players, Mario Badescu doesn’t seem to invest many pennies in user-friendly packaging. Meanwhile many cult brands prove you can deliver superb skincare in protective, functional packaging that is both streamlined and easy for customers to use (think PIXI). Mario Badescu’s approach seems to be taking the highest possible margins for poor products contained in the flimsiest, cheapest vessels available.

Overall, always make sure to read labels, evaluate claims, and do at least a cursory Google search before investing in any brand.

References
Lawsuit Filed Against Mario Badescu Skincare Product Line
Is Mario Badescu Destroying Your Skin? You’re Not Alone