Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is the Beyoncé of skin care—it’s basically flawless. It’s an antioxidant. It helps reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. It boosts collagen production. It repairs sun damage. (And who knows, maybe it’s working on a follow-up to Lemonade.)
And like Beyoncé, vitamin C has its own loyal following. “I am a vitamin C junkie,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine. “I think it’s like a LBD—it makes everyone look good.”
While a vitamin C serum is the best way to make the most out of this miracle ingredient, you shouldn’t just slather it all over your face. “Vitamin C should be used sparingly because of its potency—you’ll only need a few drops for each application,” says New York dermatologist David E. Bank, founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery.
Apply it right after cleansing and follow with moisturizer. Or combine it with your favorite sunscreen to boost the power of your SPF, says Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., of Connecticut Dermatology Group.
Check out the best vitamin C serums, no matter what your budget is.
BUY IT $17, amazon.com
Vitamin C teams up with hyaluronic acid (a powerful moisturizing ingredient) to hydrate skin and aid in natural collagen production in this cruelty-free and 98 percent natural formula recommended by Bank.
Cosmetic Skin Solutions
BUY IT $30, amazon.com
If you want a high percentage of vitamin C, this version combines with 0.5 percent ferulic acid (an antioxidant that strengthens the powers of other compounds like vitamins C and E) to boost protection from the sun while you’re at it, says Bank.
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If you want to even your skin tone and refine texture, massage two to four drops of this vitamin C formula (which also contains retinol!) into your skin after cleansing, recommends Jeremy Brauer, M.D., clinical assistant professor at New York University.
BUY IT $34, ulta.com
The popular brand is a favorite for a reason—it’s affordable while still delivering a powerful antioxidant punch that attacks dark spots and fine lines. Debra Jaliman, M.D., previously told Women’s Health that it’s one of her favorite anti-aging products.
BUY IT $42, laroche-posay.us
This multi-tasking product combines a vitamin C serum with your daily SPF. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! It’s a favorite anti-aging product of Julie Russak, M.D.
BUY IT $48, sephora.com
Famed facialist Ole Henriksen has long used vitamin C in his products, and enriches his version with orange and green tea extracts in an oil-free formula recommended by Mraz Robinson.
BUY IT $62, nordstrom.com
Infused with hyaluronic acid, this formula recommended by Bank helps reduce facial lines and refine texture by drawing moisture into skin’s surface layers.
BUY IT $80, sephora.com
Packed with an antioxidant complex of essential nutrients, fruit enzymes, and a chronopeptide that provides benefits of vitamin D, this formula focuses on improving signs of aging like sun spots, says Mraz Robinson.
BUY IT $84, isdin.com
A savvy pollution-fighter, this heavy-hitting antioxidant duo of vitamin C and gingko biloba helps even tone to brighten the complexion as well as protect skin. Gohara says that it’s very effective at fighting dark spots and wrinkles.
FIND A STORE $145, skinbetter.com
The overachiever of vitamin C serums, this potent formula recommended by Brauer and Mraz Robinson contains 19 antioxidants (like coffee leaf and turmeric) to help improve skin texture and clarity.
BUY IT $166, skinceuticals.com
With a price tag that high, could it really be worth it? Bank, Mraz-Robinson, and Brauer concur—the combination of 15 percent pure vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid is magic (and backed by science). The three work together to protect your skin from sun and environmental damage and inflammation. However, if you’re acne-prone, you’ll want to skip this one—vitamin E can break you out, says Mraz Robinson.
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