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Apart from suncream, vitamin C is the most fundamental part of a morning anti-ageing skincare routine. Vitamin C products can help to fade acne scars and age spots, improve the appearance of fine lines and protect skin against environmental aggressors that speed up skin ageing, while also leaving skin brighter and with a distinct glow.
Reading through this long list of benefits can seem a little fanciful if you aren’t familiar with the science behind vitamin C skincare, so before we dive into the recommendations we’ll cover a little bit of the nerdy stuff.
What are the benefits of vitamin C in skincare?
You may have heard tonnes of anecdotal evidence from friends and people on the internet who wax lyrical about the benefits of vitamin C skincare products, but you can rest assured the benefits have also been researched and are scientifically proven – there’s a reason why so many dermatologists love this ingredient.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that, when combined with skincare ingredients, helps to keep your skin looking bright and healthy by protecting it from daily aggressors like environmental pollution and UV damage.
And the benefits don’t end there, the acidic nature of vitamin C helps to trigger the production of collagen and elastin, which helps fight premature ageing and keeps your skin looking youthful and plump.
Vitamin C can also inhibit melanin production, which prevents hyperpigmentation (think freckles, age spots, sun spots) from showing up on your skin, and with consistent use can also fade existing discolouration.
How do vitamin C serums work?
So clearly we can see vitamin C skincare products are extremely effective products, but why would you opt for a serum over a moisturiser or another kind of product? Simply put, the way serums are formulated packs a punch that other products just can’t match.
If you’re not sure what a serum is, it’s a light-textured skincare product that absorbs quickly into the skin and is able to deliver benefits to deeper levels of the skin with its small molecules that deliver a high concentration of active ingredients. They are great at targeting specific concerns, such as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dehydration, and more.
Hot tip: You apply a serum after cleansing but before moisturising in order to reap all the benefits.
The concentrated, deeply penetrative nature of serums combined with the efficacy of vitamin C makes vitamin C serums an extremely effective skincare product that will make far more of an impact than a moisturiser or another form of vitamin C.
For the 23 best vitamin C serums in the UK for a variety of skin types, budgets, and concerns, keep scrolling through.
Best overall vitamin C serum
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Vitamin C Serum
Widely regarded as the most powerfully potent and effective vitamin C serums on the market, the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Vitamin C Serum is frequently called a miracle worker by fans.
Touting an admittedly hefty price tag, it’s not feasible for every budget – but you do get what you pay for with this one. Formulated with an antioxidant blend of 15 percent vitamin C, one percent vitamin E, and 0m5 percent ferulic acid, this serum is designed to be used in the morning and protect your skin all day long.
Working as a shied against environmental aggressors such as free radicals, infrared radiation, and ozone pollution, this powerful serum is able to reduce the signs of ageing while also providing some serious brightening benefits.
Best budget-friendly vitamin C serum
The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%
The Ordinary is famous for its effective yet budget-friendly skincare products, and this serum is one of its best sellers.
Don’t be put off by the name, Ascorbyl Glucoside is just a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C, and is able to provide all the same antioxidant protection and brightening benefits.
Best cruelty-free vitamin C serum
Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum
If investing in a totally animal-friendly vitamin C serum is your top priority, this is the serum for you.
The 100 percent vegan, eco-ethical, and GMO-free vitamin C serum is formulated with intensely hydrating hyaluronic acid to boost hydration and minimise the appearance of ageing.
Buy: iHerb (£13.26)
Best vitamin C serum for anti ageing
Medik8 C-Tetra Serum
Medik8 is one of those brands that you try one product from and then all of a sudden they’ve taken over your entire skincare routine – so consider yourself warned.
This highly effective, lightweight serum uses stable vitamin C and vitamin E to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while shielding your skin from environmental aggressors. This makes it a particularly good product for anti-ageing and helps the skin look more radiant and supple.
Best vitamin C serum for free radical damage
Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum
Free radicals can break down skin collagen, which can result in premature ageing, discolouration, and fine lines. One way to try and fight free radicals is with a targeted vitamin C serum, like this one from Murad.
One of the products from their Environmental Shield collection, this serum combats age-accelerating aggressors (like free radicals) by using a blend of vitamin C and glycolic acid.
The vitamin C in the serum provides all the benefits we listed above, while glycolic acid helps it absorb into the skin by buffing away the top layer of dead skin cells so it can penetrate deeper.
Best vitamin C serum for dry skin
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow
If you have really dry skin, an oil might be more effective for you than a serum.
This supercharged oil uses a blend of vitamin C, turmeric oil, and evening primrose oil to brighten, hydrate, and give your skin a distinct glow.
Best vitamin C serum for oily skin
La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C 10 Serum
The non-greasy yet hydrating consistency of this serum makes it a dream for oily skin types. Just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean it’s sufficiently hydrated, so the added hyaluronic acid in this serum will ensure your skin is getting all the hydration it needs.
Salicylic acid is also a hero ingredient in this vitamin C serum, which is a very popular ingredient for oily skin as it helps to reduce and regulate sebum production, helping your skin to stop producing so much excess oil.
Best vitamin C serum for antioxidant protection
Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Antioxidant Serum
If you’re new to Paula’s Choice, do yourself a favour and take a look at their products – you’ll thank us later. Famed for their science-based, highly effective formulations, you can trust this brand to live up to their claims.
This antioxidant serum has vitamin C as a top ingredient, along with a nourishing blend of plant oils to restore radiance to dull skin, while protecting it from environmental damage in the way only antioxidants can.
Buy: Amazon (£35)
Best vitamin C serum to fade dark spots
Glossier Super Glow vitamin c + magnesium serum
Dark spots are one of the skincare concerns vitamin C is best at fighting, but the addition of magnesium to this Glossier serum helps it to even skin tone and improve the appearance of dark spots, while also replenishing moisture levels so your skin looks fresh and glowy.
The lightweight serum also contains a nourishing blend of jojoba oil, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil to keep your skin looking hydrated and radiant.
Best vitamin C serum for brightening
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster
As we’ve already mentioned, Paula’s Choice creates top of the line skincare – which definitely includes this C15 booster.
The extraordinarily potent treatment has a 15 percent blend of vitamin C, which is one of the highest you’ll find on the market, with vitamin E, ferulic acid, and peptides. The high percentage and blend of nourishing ingredients mean your skin will look brighter and more radiant day after day as you use this product.
While you can use this treatment alone as you’d use a serum, you can also add a few drops to your regular moisturiser or serum if you’re that way inclined.
Buy: Amazon (£47)
Best vitamin C serum for acne-prone skin
Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Bright Serum
Glow Recipe makes natural, gentle skincare products that are still highly effective. This cult-favourite serum actually has three different forms of antioxidant-rich vitamin C that combats scarring, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation.
This serum is ideal for acne-prone skin as it has a blend of natural AHAs and bromelain enzymes that gently exfoliate while chamomile and aloe help to soothe aggravated skin and prevent breakouts.
Best vitamin C serum for acne scars
Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum
So you’ve finally banished your breakouts, but now you’ve been left with some acne scarring you also want to get rid of. Well, you’re definitely on the right track.
The brightening benefits of vitamin C serums make them a real winner for fighting acne scars, and this serum by Kora Organics uses a potent blend of natural ingredients to brighten the skin and reduce dark spots, leaving you with an unbeatable glow.
Best vitamin C serum for body
Superdose Vitamin C Bio-Vitamin Brightening Body Lotion
Why should good skincare just be reserved for the neck and above? All of the skin concerns we’ve listed so far can appear on the body just as commonly as they can on the face, so a vitamin C infused body lotion can help the skin on your body look just as bright and radiant as the skin on your face.
This brightening, vitamin-C infused body lotion from Superdose uses a radiance-boosting formula with hyaluronic acid, brown algae and tranexamic acid to rejuvenate and firm the skin.
Buy: Beautypie (£11)
Best vitamin C serum for rosacea
Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
An iconic skincare brand founded in New York and adored by A-listers all over the globe, Mario Badescu knows how to make you glow.
This vitamin C serum is lightweight and hydrating, harnessing the power of vitamin C to help you achieve smooth, radiant, and clear skin.
Best Korean Vitamin C serum
PURITO Pure Vitamin C Serum
Korean skincare is taking over the world, and honestly – we’re okay with that.
This vitamin C serum by Purito helps to brighten the complexion and improve uneven skin tone while addressing dullness so your skin looks healthy and radiant.
Buy: Skinsider (£15.30)
Best vitamin C and green tea serum
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
Ole Henrikson describes this serum as a ‘daily multivitamin for the skin’ and with the mix of collagen, green tea, and orange extracts – it really sounds like it.
The fast-absorbing, oil-free formula provides all-day hydration and helps to brighten and firm the skin.
Best vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serum
CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
Instead of wasting time and money on buying both a hyaluronic acid serum and a vitamin C serum, why not kill two birds at once with this nifty product from CeraVe that combines them together?
With a high dose of ten percent vitamin C, this serum helps to visibly brighten your skin tone, while essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin B5 help to keep skin looking plump and healthy.
Best vitamin C and ferulic acid serum
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
Ferulic acid is a powerhouse ingredient that helps to boost the effectiveness of other antioxidants, which in this case is vitamin C.
This highly potent serum uses a blend of antioxidants, essential nutrients, and fruit enzymes to firm and brighten the skin, as well as fight premature ageing.
Best anti-inflammatory vitamin C serum for sensitive skin
Holland & Barrett Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid Serum
The potent nature of some vitamin C serums can make them a little harsh for sensitive skin, and can cause a reaction if not used carefully.
This vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serum from Holland & Barrett uses high-quality, natural ingredients to nourish and protect the skin while still being suitable for sensitive skin.
Best vitamin C serum for fine lines
Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line Reducing Concentrate
Specially formulated to fight and reduce fine lines, this concentrate from Kiehl’s is a powerful product to have in your premature ageing arsenal.
Rich in vitamin C, glycerine, and L-ascorbic acid, this gentle yet effective product helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also reducing the visibility of pores for smoother-looking skin.
Best vitamin C eye serum
Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing & Dark Circle-Diminishing Vitamin C Eye Serum
Not all serums are safe to use around the eyes, as the skin is thinner in this area than the rest of the face and can react badly to strong products.
This vitamin C eye serum from Kiehl’s helps to reduce the look of fine lines, crows feet, and dark circles, helping you look more youthful and refreshed.
Buy: Kiehl’s (£42)
Best selling vitamin C serum on Amazon
ViolaSkin Vitamin C Serum
Amazon shoppers love a bargain, and right now you can get this serum with over 7,000 5-star reviews for under £9 – not bad, right?
The anti-wrinkle serum blends vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and even out skin tone, for healthy, naturally glowing skin.
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