Vitamin C serums are seemingly everywhere and for good reason—this powerhouse antioxidant and skin brightener is one of the most effective skincare ingredients out there. But vitamin C is notoriously fickle. It can degrade and lose its potency over time or when exposed to light and heat.
Our team of researchers and testers researched and tried hundreds of vitamin C serums on the market to find the best of the best. Testers looked at various factors, including company ethics, quality, efficacy, results and value. They also looked for the most effective forms of vitamin C and other anti-aging ingredients. These “Top 5” best vitamin C serums stood out.
Effectiveness : 9.7/10
Expert's Rate : 9.9/10
Customer's Rate (1578 Votes) : 9.8/10
Out of all the products researched and tested, NourishMax vitamin C, B, E and ferulic acid serum impressed our experts with its innovative ingredient complex. In addition to vitamin C, this potent serum contains vitamins B and E, botanical antioxidants. This custom blend of ingredients fights wrinkles, sagging, lost firmness and more to support the appearance of younger-looking skin.
Our testers and researchers also loved the multi-antioxidant benefits of NourishMax. It helps to ward off free radicals and protect against the damaging effects of daily exposure to pollutants and UV radiation. Its beautiful, lightweight texture layers smoothly under sunscreen, making it easy to add an antioxidant boost every day.
Plus, NourishMax vitamin C serum contains a highly potent, 20 percent concentration of ascorbic acid (That’s more than some of its competitors). This unique form of vitamin C is further stabilized by the addition of ferulic acid, so the serum stays fresh and active.
Testers also appreciated that NourishMax combines clinical ingredients like vitamin C with botanical extracts known to brighten and protect the skin. It offers the best of both worlds for users looking for an effective vitamin C serum with natural ingredients.
Comprehensive and high quality natural formula with clinically proven ingredients to fight various signs of aging
Supports skin elasticity and reduces the look of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture and signs of photodamage
A concentration of 20% ascorbic acid helps to resist degradation for long-lasting stability and potency
Provides antioxidant protection to help neutralize the effects of free radicals
Helps to revitalize and rejuvenate dull, damaged skin
Powerful brightening agents target the appearance of darkness, discoloration and age spots
Hydrates the skin and helps offset the potential for irritation
Free of parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrance and harmful, unnecessary chemicals
Clinically tested and developed by chemists to meet the highest standards
Made in the USA in an FDA-registered and cGMP-compliant facility
Cruelty free and vegan formula
The company offers free worldwide shipping, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee
Affordable, comes in 30ml and 60ml—one of the largest bottles available among other
Currently available to purchase on the company’s website only, and not in stores or on Amazon
High product demand may create out-of-stock issues
Effectiveness : 8.7/10
Expert's Rate : 8.5/10
Customer's Rate (785 Votes) : 8.6/10
C E Ferulic serum is one of SkinCeuticals’ most popular products, with a loyal following of aestheticians and dermatologists. Its patented formula provides environmental defense, brightens the skin and helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
C E Ferulic serum is a clinically tested, award-winning formula with many positive reviews online. Along with vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid, it also contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin.
However, this SkinCeuticals serum contains only 15% L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This is less than our top pick. It also skips retinol and botanicals. And at the steep price of $166 per ounce, this cost-prohibitive option is not accessible to all users.
Created by one of the leaders in vitamin C serums
Targets fine lines and wrinkles and helps to protect the skin against environmental damage
Clinically tested formula with positive reviews and recommendations online
Contains L-ascorbic acid, a potent form of vitamin C
The company website features clinical before and after photos
Easy to purchase at popular online retailers, such as Dermstore.com and Skinstore.com, and in-store at shops like Blue Mercury
Contains a lower concentration of vitamin C than some other top vitamin C serums
The formula is missing natural ingredients and some proven anti-agers, like retinol
The company is not cruelty free
Extremely expensive at $166 per ounce
Effectiveness : 8.5/10
Expert's Rate : 8.6/10
Customer's Rate (409 Votes) : 8.1/10
SkinMedica Vitamin C + E Complex is one of the simpler formulas we researched, with a focus on vitamins C and E. Our testers liked that it contains two forms of vitamin C: ascorbic acid and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. The company states that it delivers this vitamin C to the skin gradually to offer all-day protection.
However, testers also noticed that this serum does not contain ferulic acid. Ferulic acid is widely believed to support the stability and effectiveness of vitamin C formulations. Without it, we have concerns about this formula’s potency and stability.
Also, this serum is not available for sale online, so buying it requires a trip to a dermatologist, aesthetician or plastic surgeon.
Contains two forms of vitamin C: ascorbic acid and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
Helps to boost the skin’s brightness and improve the appearance of texture and tone
Releases antioxidants into the skin gradually for long-lasting daily defense
From a professional skincare brand recommended by dermatologists
Does not contain ferulic acid to help preserve potency
Does not include other proven anti-aging ingredients like retinol
May be difficult to find: SkinMedica products require physician authorization to purchase, so they cannot be purchased online
Return policies may vary based on physician office policies
Effectiveness : 8.1/10
Expert's Rate : 8.2/10
Customer's Rate (1054 Votes) : 7.7/10
Testers had high expectations for this serum from Clarins, a historic French beauty brand. Double Serum is one of the brand’s best-selling products, first produced in the early 80s and reformulated multiple times.
Double Serum contains 21 plant extracts, including turmeric, avocado and goji berry and some unique ingredients like the leaf of life plant. The company reports that this serum firms, moisturizes and increases radiance. However, it doesn’t contain the clinical ingredients we like to see in a serum, such as retinol or hyaluronic acid. And it contains artificial fragrance, which we prefer to avoid.
A top-selling serum from a heralded French beauty brand
Contains 21 plant extracts including turmeric, a potent antioxidant
Contains unique botanicals, like leaf of life and huang qi
Easy to purchase at online beauty retailers like Ulta, Nordstrom and Sephora
Does not contain clinical ingredients known to have a dramatic effect on signs of aging
Artificial fragrance is included in the formulation
Some user reviews expressed dissatisfaction after using this product
No money-back guarantee on products purchased through the company’s website
Effectiveness : 8.7/10
Expert's Rate : 8.5/10
Customer's Rate (785 Votes) : 7.4/10
Obagi provides limited details about its vitamin C serums online. Professional C-Serum is indicated to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but we weren’t able to find much more information about how the product works or guidance on how to use it.
Professional-C Serum options include formulas with 10, 15 and 20 percent l-ascorbic acid, a powerful form of vitamin C. But we found it difficult to navigate the company’s website and locate information about the product, such as features and benefits, ingredients, expected results and even the price. Without these basic details, testers would not recommend the product.
A reputable brand sold at doctors’ and dermatologists’ offices
Offers formulas with different percentages of vitamin C for various skin types and concerns
Loyalty program available with purchases made from a physician’s office
The company does not make the full ingredient list and comprehensive product information easily accessible on its website
Products cannot be purchased on the Obagi website and may require a special trip to a dermatologist