What Is A Good Vitamin C Serum For Face – You can find vitamin C in a variety of skin care products, but experts say serums are one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into your routine. SkinCeuticals; CeraVe; La Roche-Posay
In a growing sea of skin care launches, it can be hard to know which ingredients are truly trusted by experts versus just a trend. Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is a long-time favorite of health professionals thanks to a huge body of research supporting its benefits. When consumed in food or drink form, it can protect cells throughout the body from damage that can lead to conditions including cancer; When applied topically, the best vitamin C serums deliver this protection directly to your skin cells. In fact, studies show that topical vitamin C can help prevent signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, and cancer-causing UV damage.
- 1 What Is A Good Vitamin C Serum For Face
- 2 Best Vitamin C Serum: Skinceuticals Ce Ferulic Review
What Is A Good Vitamin C Serum For Face
But not all vitamin C skin care products are created equal. You’ll often see vitamin C in skin care products in acid form—though at certain concentrations, it can be irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin. Vitamin C is also a very unstable ingredient, according to experts—the same chemical properties that allow it to act as an active antioxidant in your body also make it susceptible to oxidation that will render it inactive in your skin.
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To help you find the best vitamin C serum for your skin type and learn more about who benefits the most from it, we spoke with three board-certified dermatologists to get their recommendations on shopping guidelines.
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You can find vitamin C in various skin care products, but the experts we spoke to recommend getting it into your routine through serums. “Serums are lighter and easier to layer with moisturizers, sunscreens and cosmetic products,” says Dr. Erum Ilyas, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Pennsylvania. For a vitamin C serum to be effective, dermatologists say a few things are important. To be taken into account:
To get the antioxidant benefits of vitamin C in your skin care routine, our experts recommend looking for a serum with a concentration between 10% and 20%. Below, they share their favorite formulas for all skin types.
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All three experts we spoke with recommended Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, a serum containing 15% L-ascorbic acid. It is often referred to as the gold standard in vitamin C serums by dermatologists. “It probably has the most evidence behind it,” says Castile, referring to the clinical studies conducted by the brand that show a 41% reduction in oxidative damage to the skin.
It’s also one of the more stable formulas on the market, thanks to the combination of vitamin E and ferulic acid, according to Dr. Sejal Shah, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Smarter Skin Dermatology in New York. “This combination makes vitamin C more powerful,” says Elias, and helps to prevent the L-ascorbic acid from oxidizing before it can reach your skin. The only caveat our experts note is the packaging: The dropper bottle means this serum is exposed to more air. According to the brand, however, the formula should remain stable and effective for up to six months after opening.
As a less expensive alternative, all three of our experts also recommend this drugstore serum. In addition to 10% L-ascorbic acid, CeraVe’s serum also contains ceramides, which strengthen and support the skin barrier, and hyaluronic acid, a moisturizing agent that helps the skin attract and retain moisture. Castile especially likes its packaging: “It’s in a squirt bottle, which is a little better at preventing oxidation,” she says.
Another dermatologist-recommended vitamin C serum, this 10% L-ascorbate formula also contains salicylic acid. This can be a pro or con, depending on your skin type, according to our experts. If your skin can tolerate it, the exfoliating benefits of salicylic acid can work together with vitamin C to fade dark spots faster, says Elias. If your skin is sensitive, however, the combination may be too irritating, according to Shah.
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Shah also loves the combination of vitamin C and salicylic acid found in this Kiehl’s formula, which specifically targets dark spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation. It has a stabilized form of vitamin C called 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, which is more easily absorbed by the skin, according to research published by the National Institutes of Health. You can use it both in the morning and at night after cleansing.
U Beauty’s Resurfacing Compound is a serum that combines retinol, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid with vitamin C to target hyperpigmentation, fine lines and uneven skin texture, according to the brand. It uses a milder and more stable form of vitamin C called sodium ascorbyl phosphate or SAP. “Its penetration [into the skin] is not as good as L-ascorbic acid, but SAP has been shown to help with collagen production and may be slightly better for oily, acne-prone skin types,” says Castile. Apply the resurfacing compound to dry skin immediately after cleansing and massage into the skin before layering on other products.
Mad Hippie’s vitamin C serum also uses sodium ascorbyl phosphate, but comes at a much lower price. “It’s really good for treating hyperpigmentation,” says Castile. Like Skinceuticals’ top-rated (and much more expensive) CE Ferulic serum, Mad Hippie’s version combines brightening vitamin C with stabilizing vitamin E and ferulic acid; Combined, studies show that these three antioxidants can double the serum’s ability to protect skin from sun damage. Alternately, it also moisturizes thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, according to the brand.
This formula has tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a powerful but less irritating form of vitamin C, which penetrates deeper into the skin than L-ascorbic acid. “It also has glycolipids, which are beneficial for collagen production,” says Castile. (Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is responsible for giving your skin strength, structure and elasticity, according to the Cleveland Clinic.) As a bonus, this serum comes in a sealed bottle and pump to help reduce oxidation and maintain the formula’s effectiveness.
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Shah recommends this serum-moisturizer hybrid, formulated with 15 percent tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. This stable lotion comes in a squeeze bottle and is formulated with squalane, an oil with anti-inflammatory benefits, making it especially good for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. It comes in two concentrations: 15% and 30%. If vitamin C is a new addition to your skin care routine or your skin is easily irritated, start with a lower concentration and make sure your skin can tolerate it before trying a 30% vitamin C formula.
You can use this 15% L-ascorbic acid formula, recommended by Castile, on its own as a serum, or as a brightening booster by adding a few drops to your favorite moisturizer, according to the brand. Like many of our other expert-recommended serums, it’s formulated with stabilizing antioxidants ferulic acid and vitamin C.
Recommended by Shah, this multi-tasking serum targets pigmentation, redness and skin elasticity. Formulated with 15% ethyl ascorbic acid, a stabilized form of vitamin C, it also includes probiotics, which studies show support skin health by protecting the skin’s microbiome and boosting the skin’s immune response.
You should use this stabilized vitamin C serum (which transforms into its active, i.e., most powerful, free-radical-neutralizing form after application, says Shah) after cleansing and before moisturizer and SPF, according to the brand. In addition to 15% ascorbyl glucoside (vitamin C), Shah loves that it has a plant-derived peptide designed to support skin elasticity.
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When used as a consistent part of your skin care routine, vitamin C can have many benefits. Below, we’ve rounded up the most compelling benefits, according to our experts:
Not all vitamin C serums are created equal, according to the experts we spoke to. To get the most out of your products, they recommend understanding the type and concentration of vitamin C in each formula, being aware of how the packaging can affect the effectiveness of the serum, and looking for additional ingredients that support the skin barrier.
You’ll typically find vitamin C incorporated into a topical product in two ways: in its active form as L-ascorbic acid, or in an inactive form that needs to convert to L-ascorbic acid on the skin, Shah says.
In controlled settings, L-ascorbic acid is the most effective, says Castile, but actually the effectiveness of a vitamin C serum may depend on a variety of factors, including your skin type. “L-ascorbic acid can be very unstable so any bottle you get, you have to use it very quickly or it will oxidize,” she says. “Secondly, it has to be formulated at a low pH, which means it’s very acidic and it can be very irritating to a lot of skin types, especially rosacea-prone skin types.”
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Other types of vitamin C—such as 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate—are more stable. Shah especially likes tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate because it converts to L-ascorbic acid really well and also penetrates
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