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11 best Vitamin C serums of 2021

Everyone need to add this skin brightener to their beauty routine — stat.
Woman holding a bottle of serum
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Take it from us: If brighter, smoother skin is your goal, then you need to start incorporating vitamin C into your skin care routine. The reason? This potent ingredient does it all — from boasting anti-aging benefits to reducing hyperpigmentation.

“Vitamin C acts like an antioxidant,” says board-certified dermatologist in New York City, Dr. Orit Markowitz. “It helps to protect [skin] cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure.”

But that’s not all. According to Dr. Markowitz, vitamin C can also preserve and stimulate collagen in the skin, which is known to be key in retaining a more youthful appearance. “The production of collagen can help diminish fine lines and thicken the skin,” she says. “Vitamin C can also help fight against hyperpigmentation to achieve a brighter looking complexion by reducing dullness to give skin a healthy glow and an even complexion.”

It’s also important to note that vitamin C serums may be irritating for those with sensitive skin. In order to avoid any irritation, check the percentage of vitamin C in your product. The lower the vitamin C concentration, the less likely that you’ll experience a reaction in your skin.

“The best way to tell if a vitamin C serum won’t irritate your skin is by testing a small amount on the inside of your forearm,” adds Dr. Markowitz. “If after 24 hours, you don’t have any irritation or itching, then it’s safe to apply to your face, but I recommend not applying to the face without testing it first.”

Now that we’ve explained the importance of vitamin C and how to safely use it, it’s time to add it to your regimen. The easiest way to incorporate this powerhouse ingredient into your routine is by way of serums. Since there are hundreds (possibly even thousands) of vitamin C serums on the market, we rounded up the best ones you can buy right now. Trust us, your skin will thank you.

Best vitamin C serums under $50

La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum

Reduce the appearance of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and dull skin with this affordable vitamin C option. For best results, apply it in the morning (before your SPF!) and at night under your favorite moisturizer.

L'Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensive Vitamin C Serum

Using 10% pure vitamin C, this drugstore, derm-approved staple restores radiance to the skin in just one week. The brand also boasts that users can see visible anti-aging benefits at the two week mark, too.

Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen Serum

This spa-grade serum is packed with a high concentration of vitamin C and tri-peptides, making it a powerhouse anti-aging product. But that’s not all: The formula is vegan, cruelty-free and non-comedogenic, too.

Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector

This affordable serum contains a laundry list of good-for-your-skin ingredients. In addition to skin-brightening vitamin C, it also contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to firm and hydrate the skin.

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Coming in at less than $25, this option will improve the quality of your skin without breaking your bank account. The best part? Hyaluronic acid works in tandem with vitamin C to give users a firmer, brighter complexion.

Best vitamin C serums under $100

One Love Organics Botanical C Facial Serum

If you have dry skin, this vitamin C serum is your best bet. The texture feels closer to an oil rather than a serum, giving the skin a boost of moisture with every use. As a bonus, it’s also dermatologist-tested for use on sensitive skin.

Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum

Using a combination of 20% vitamin C and 10% mild fruit AHAs, this serum encourages skin cell turnover while also encouraging a more even-toned complexion. It’s also free of sulfates and parabens, making it a good option for those who prefer cleaner formulas.

Murad Vitamin C Glyolic Brightening Serum

Vitamin C is paired with glycolic acid in this innovative formula that resurfaces skin to allow its vitamin C to penetrate deeper into the epidermis.

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

While not technically a serum, this oil is still worthy of being on our list. The reason? Brightening tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a potent form of vitamin C, and hydrating squalane make this product a customer favorite. The lightweight formula leaves skin feeling soft and supple after every use — not to mention brighter and firmer, too.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum

Vitamin C isn’t the only spotlight ingredient in this powerful product. Pomegranate and pumpkin enzyme extracts dissolve dead skin cells and help to minimize the appearance of pores while 15% L-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C, works to tackle dark spots.

Best vitamin C serum worth the splurge

SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF

The dermatologist-favorite brand, SkinCeuticals, has just launched a new vitamin C product for blemish-prone skin. Silymarin — one of the antioxidants featured in this formula — inhibits the oxidation of the sebum of the skin, which can cause bacteria to come into the pore and create breakouts. Combined with 15% pure vitamin C, ferulic acid and salicylic acid, this product neutralizes free radicals while also reducing skin oiliness and dark spots.

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