Don’t obsess about your age, obsess about your Vitamin C serum.
This potent antioxidant is the warrior in a bag of beauty tricks and promising potions—an essential player on the frontlines of any anti-aging skincare routine.
No modern-day dermatologist, plastic surgeon or aesthetician would dare leave the house without applying topical Vitamin C—the best defense we have to fight off free radicals and reduce UV damage.
How do these unstable molecules known as “radicals” (essentially caused by environmental toxins ) affect our skin?
“Radicals cause pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles,” explains Dr. Adair Blackledge of Blackledge Face Center.
“A radical attacks the skin looking for an electron. Basically, Vitamin C offers up an electron to neutralize that radical.”
What’s also important to understand about a C serum in your daily skincare regimen is that it goes hand in hand with sunscreen in the protect category—and actually complements it.
“Vitamin C is like putting a veil on your face before your SPF so it really backs that sunscreen up,” says Dr. Blackledge.
Our grandmothers taught us to age gracefully, but with modern skincare products, we can also aspire to age vibrantly, thanks to Queen C.
It’s famously a glow-getter backed by science and clinical use, says Blackledge. “Vitamin C will lighten and brighten the skin and smooth out fine lines.”
Touted as the Holy Grail of skincare with proven results, Vitamin C serums remind us it’s a beautiful day and age to be a skincare consumer.
Obsessed doesn’t even cut it, but we’ve whittled down a round-up of C’s we would buy again and again.
Life is but a dreamy cocktail at Milk Punch and many of the Vitamin C’s that made The List actually smell like a mimosa with fresh-squeezed citrus!
Here, 6+ of our favorite Vitamin C serums for every budget and mood.
- 1SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic
The Cadillac margarita or “gold standard” of the Vitamin C serums that famously formulates both antioxidants C and E with ferulic acid to maximize the benefits and deliver it into the skin. CE Ferulic is also infamously expensive, but aestheticians and dermatologists assure that it stays present in the skin longer, allowing skip days and applying every 48 or up to 72 hours. CE Ferulic is the science-backed, lab-tested luxe C when feeling you’re flush.
- 2Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Give your skin a big age-fighting sip of a fresh-squeezed dreamsicle mimosa every morning! Sunday Riley ‘s C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C is called a serum, but the difference here (other than brunch vibes) is that it feels like a hydrating cream. Can’t handle the chemical smell of other C’s? This is a creamy, dreamy C.
- 3Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
HAPPY HOUR SPECIAL
Bottles of Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum are always within arm’s reach in the MP HQ—a boho chic bargain! Why it’s groovy: C plus Vitamin E and ferulic (as with #1), plus hyaluronic acid, konjac root, chamomile and clary sage. It’s not a sipper; it’s a shot, absorbing quickly and leaving skin thirsty for the next round. Pick it up on a Whole Foods run. Pro tip: use Mad Hippie on hands, too!
$33.99, Mad Hippie
- 4Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum
Supermodel turned Kora Organics skincare mogul Miranda Kerr adds her favorite skin glow superfruit ingredient to her Vitamin C: noni fruit. Packed with other skin-loving nutrients, it has a lovely citrus aroma and soaks in well. It’s slightly sticky but quickly forgiven when followed by moisturizer. Miranda swears by it for pigmentation, not just protection. Cheers to this beauty cocktail and that hot pink pump!
$68, Sephora or Kora Organics.
- 5Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Bright Serum
If happiness is a beach sunset on a tropical vacay, Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Bright Serum is the tiki cocktail in your hand! Pineapples contain bromelain, a natural exfoliator. It’s fragrant, juicy and surprisingly hydrating. This adorable tropical C bottle is fun to pack for a weekend getaway—and take your skin on a glowcation.
- 6BeautyCounter No. 1
Two loyal Milk Punch followers gave big shout-outs to Beautycounter’s No. 1 Brightening Face Oil on the Beauty + Booze facebook group so we had to try it. With seven natural oils and a pronounced orange scent, it’s easy to see why. It’s an oil not a serum so it’s hydrating yet light. $69, Beautycounter
"Vitamin C is like putting a veil on your face before your SPF so it really backs that sunscreen up." - Dr. Adair Blackledge
Vitamin C picks by MP field editors and contributors:
Callie’s pick: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
“I have sensitive skin so my skin tolerates it really well. I also loved Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop by Dear, Klairs when I went through a crazy Korean skincare phase.”
– Callie Moser
5 more things you need to know about your Vitamin C
Get your C with your zzz’s
Skincare professionals are now recommending Vitamin C morning and night. Several studies suggest that the skin is in high cell repair and renewal mode while you sleep, meaning it’s time to bring the big-guns skincare to bed. Include Vitamin C in a retinol or other heavy-hitter nighttime routine.
Don’t toss bottles; recycle!
Skincare products come with packaging guilt! Don’t throw away glass bottles that will just sit in a landfill. Mad Hippie has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program. Sign up to request a prepaid envelope to send empty bottles back!
Bottles can also be repurposed
SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic dropper bottles are fabulous vessels for storing your DIY natural skincare made with essential oils or cocktail tinctures! Soak in warm water to remove labels and sterilize for Beauty and Booze DIY projects.
Darkness keeps you bright!
Skincare companies package Vitamin C in brown or opaque bottles to prevent oxidation so keep your C in a dark place. Tip: keep in a kitchen cabinet with herbal teas and supplements so you remember to use it daily.
Where to purchase warning
Buy Vitamin C from medical clinics and spas, direct from the skincare brand or from reputable retailers. Do not buy on Amazon to ensure that the product hasn’t oxidized—and is not counterfeit!