your ultimate guide to vitamin C
This vitamin is just as good for your outsides as it is for your insides.
By Claire Fontanetta
Paid for by
What’s up with Vitamin C?
It does more than you think.

You might know of vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant found in some of your favorite fruits like oranges, strawberries, and goji berries.

But if you’re skin-care obsessed like we are, you should know that it can do some major good when applied topically, too. (And no, we’re not suggesting smothering yourself in orange juice.)

Sure, the technical names for vitamin C that you’ll find on skin-care labels might sound like a foreign language (e.g. magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), but don’t let these terms scare you away from this free-radical-fighting ingredient that reduces the appearance of fine lines and evens out your skin tone. Try a gentle yet potent form of vitamin C like THD ascorbate, which is found in Sunday Riley’s C.E.O. C + E antiOXIDANT Protect + Repair Moisturizer. It will do all of the above and then some — and it’s even great for sensitive skin.

“Vitamin C can be used to strengthen your skin’s foundation, stimulate collagen, and lighten dark spots.”
Why do I need it?
Because it actually works — and derms agree.
Now, you’re probably asking why you even need vitamin C in the first place (a valid question, if we do say so ourselves).
Well, after our millionth trip to the beach, we might notice some unexpected changes to our skin: a dark spot here, some uneven skin tone there, and perhaps even a fine line or two.
Well, after our millionth trip to the beach, we might notice some unexpected changes to our skin: a dark spot here, some uneven skin tone there, and perhaps even a fine line or two.
Don’t panic — you’re gorgeous just the way you are. But if you decide that you want to take matters into your own hands and delay those pesky fine lines (to each her own), try incorporating a vitamin C formula where lines pop up first: your eyes. This Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Eye Cream minimizes said fine lines, brightens dark circles, and helps firm up tired eyes on mornings when you’d just rather hit snooze. See ya never, dark circles.
“Free radicals caused by UV light and pollution can lead to inflammation, damaged collagen, and premature fine lines.”
What are some tips?
You’ll definitely want to keep these tips mind.
Here are a few simple tips that’ll make navigating the skin-care aisle much, much easier.
Make It Well Rounded

Because two (or more) is always better than one, look for multitasking formulas packed with other complementary active ingredients, like vitamin E or collagen. This OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum not only features vitamin C to brighten the look of your skin, but it’s also formulated with collagen to visually firm skin, plus orange and green-tea extracts to nourish and moisturize.

Boost It Up

Think of boosters as concentrated serum-like formulas of active ingredients (like vitamin C) designed to be mixed in with your existing skin-care products (like moisturizer, serum, or cleanser). These are great for those who already have a routine they love but still want to reap the benefits of active ingredients.

Mix With Caution

Be careful when using your vitamin C in conjunction with retinols or beta and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs), as these ingredients can deactivate the vitamin C. To avoid any mishaps, try using your vitamin C serum in the morning, and save any chemical exfoliants for your p.m. routine.

How should I use it?
A custom beauty routine? You shouldn’t have!
Now, it’s time to figure out what formula is right for you based on your skin type.
If you already have a skin-care routine you adore, however, try simply adding a few drops of a potent vitamin C booster to your existing moisturizer. This Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10% is super potent thanks to its concentrated formula, making it that much more effective (it’ll help even out and brighten your complexion, diminish the look of fine lines, and lighten dark spots). Otherwise, read on for our suggestions:

If your skin leans toward the oily side, try starting your routine with a foam or gel cleanser, and then follow it up with an oil-free vitamin C serum and a gel-based moisturizer.


If you find your skin tends to be dry, amp up the moisture in your routine by cleansing with a hydrating oil or cream cleanser. Then, apply a rich, vitamin C-infused moisturizer.


Just because your skin is sensitive, doesn’t mean you can’t use vitamin C. Look for formulas containing the gentlest form of the active tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD ascorbate for short).

What products should I try?
Our favorite buys that belong on your vanity.
By now you should have a pretty good sense of what products to use based on your skin type or concerns. Try one of the below — or mix and match with an eye cream. You do you.
Best for sensitive skin
Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E antiOXIDANT Protect + Repair Moisturizer
Available at Sephora
This antioxidant-rich moisturizer is aptly named because it’s a total #boss. The hydrating formula features 5% vitamin C to reduce the appearance of fine lines and lime pearl extract, which acts as a gentle exfoliant. Plus, it’s great on all skin types (including sensitive types), so it’s a win-win.
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Best for a glow
Available at Sephora
This oil-free serum is truly a game-changer being that it’s basically a multivitamin for your skin. It’ll make your skin look brighter, firmer, and give you that covetable glow you’ve been searching for thanks to its potent vitamin C complex, collagen, and green-tea and orange extracts.
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Best for the eye area
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Eye Cream
Available at Sephora
Use this eye cream daily to target the most sensitive skin on your face (aka your undereye area). The formula brightens dark circles, smooths fine lines, and reduces puffiness. What more do you need?
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Best for a brightening boost
Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%
Available at Sephora
Mix two drops of this vitamin C booster with your existing moisturizer to convert it into one that brightens your complexion, reduces dark spots, and smoothes fine lines over time. It’s as simple as that.
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