The Best Vitamin C Products For Glowing Skin

Designed by Meg O'Donnell
Along with retinol, vitamin C has long been heralded by dermatologists as a gold standard of beauty ingredients. Oodles of research consistently reaffirms what we’ve known for years: that vitamin C can help with all kinds of complexion bugbears.
"Vitamin C exerts an antioxidant effect on the skin when applied topically by neutralising free radicals generated by environmental aggressors, such as ultraviolet radiation and city pollution," explains London-based dermatologist, Dr Justine Kluk. "Further benefits of vitamin C include a reduction in collagen breakdown and regulation of pigmentation, leading to tighter, firmer skin and a brighter, more even skin tone."
Contrary to popular belief, it pays to apply vitamin C in the daytime, as it’s a brilliant antioxidant. "As such, it makes good sense to take advantage of these benefits in the morning in order to boost the defence barrier provided by our sunscreens," explains Dr Kluk. "That said, oxidative damage doesn’t only occur during the day, and repair processes may also take place at night, so there is certainly no harm in using a vitamin C serum as part of your evening skincare routine too if desired."
But all that knowledge doesn't do us much good if we aren't sure of the best way to harness vitamin C's powers. Historically, the ingredient has been notoriously tricky to stabilise in topical products. It loses stability and potency when in contact with air, light, and water (the basis of most skincare products) — which makes it difficult to work into a product. The good news? Scientists and cosmetic chemists have been working to overcome these obstacles for years, and the latest vitamin C-based skincare is some of the best to market yet, including cold-pressing techniques which eschew typical heat methods used to extract ingredients and result in better stabilisation; powder and pearl encapsulation, also geared to help extend stability; time-released products; and concentrated formulas that shoot up into 30% potency.
Though there are several types of vitamin C found in product ingredient lists (including magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and ascorbyl palmitate to name a few), L-ascorbic acid trumps them all, according to consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide To Great Skin, Dr Anjali Mahto.
With so much innovation hitting shelves, the future of your skin is looking very bright. Here are nine of the best vitamin C serums out there right now.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

More from Beauty

R29 Original Series