When did we start putting vitamin C on our faces instead of drinking it?
Since we found out how illuminating it is, that's when!
Vitamin C is the all-round good guy of vitamins. Found in citrus fruits, its antioxidant, it repairs tissues, it plays a crucial role in the function of the immune system and now, vitamin C can be found in facial serums everywhere. But what does it do, and how does it work?
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a vitamin found in various types of food that acts as an essential nutrient. It was discovered in 1912 and by 1933 it became the first vitamin to be chemically produced. Taken orally, it prevents scurvy. We know that vitamin C occurs naturally in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes - but did you know it can be found vegetables like onions, kale, carrot and asparagus too?
What are vitamin C serums made from?
Serums which contain vitamin C for skin care all differ slightly. The best vitamin C serum for you may have a high vitamin C concentrate or a low one, depending on your skin type. It's all about finding the serum with right amount of vitamin C to boost the production of collagen without causing any redness or irritation. Check the ingredients in each product. You may need to test a few to find the right brand for you. Look out for ferulic acid in the ingredients list. It is a potent antioxidant, has anti-aging properties, and it can help to stabilise the vitamin C.
What does vitamin C serum do for the skin?
A vitamin C cream or serum is designed to banish dead skin cells from the surface of your face, leaving you with a brighter, smoother complexion. Sloughing dead skin cells away is believed to speed up collagen production. This is because vitamin C serums are acidic, so when they come into contact with the skin, the skin goes into "healing mode" which accelerates your rate of collagen and elastin production. One of the biggest benefits of topical application of vitamin is the reduction of scars, brown spots and hyperpigmentation. In addition to this, more general vitamin c benefits for the skin include a brighter, plumper complexion.
Pictured: Even the new kid on the block, Kylie Skin, has released a Vitamin C Serum
How To Use Vitamin C Serum
If the serum is destined for your face, your best bet is to apply your vitamin C serum and let it dry for at least 60 seconds before you use your regular moisturiser. Dermatologists haven't come to a consensus about whether vitamin C serum should be used exclusively during the day or the night. Applying it during the evening can help combat the contact your skin has had with free radicals and oxidants during the day, and applying it before you head off to work in the morning will act as added protection from free radicals. If you haven't used a vitamin C serum before, you should slowly introduce it into your routine. Start by using 3-5 drops every other day before building up to daily use. Same goes if you plan to use it on your body. Do a patch test first and give your skin a chance to become accustomed to the serum.
The Potential Side-Effects of Vitamin C Serum
Do vitamin C serums prevent or cause acne? The jury is out. Some people that have turned to vitamin C serums for acne prevention have had success, while others have found that serum use has caused them to breakout. This will be down to your skin type, so if a serum helps you wave goodbye to acne, that's brilliant. If it causes you further break-outs, our condolences. If you have very sensitive skin, a vitamin C serum may be too much for you to handle. Overt redness and irritation are not cool, so always test a small area of skin and discontinue use if you don't like what you see.
When you first purchase a vitamin C serum, it should appear light yellow or clear in colour. Over time Vitamin C oxides and becomes brown or even black in colour. This is perfectly natural, but be sure to throw it in the bin when this colour change occurs.
The Best Vitamin C Serum in Australia
We've made a list of 13 of the best vitamin C serums available. Now all your have to do is decide which one is best for you!
13. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Product: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Price: $39.59 from iHerb
Why We Love It: Mad Hippie is an environmentally and ethically conscious skin care company that is cruelty-free.
Pros & Cons: This vitamin C Serum contains a whole bevy of amazing ingredients - Konjac Root Powder, Chamomile Extract, Clary Sage and Vitamin E. A slight downside is the price point, but hey, you can't have it all.
Reviews: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum has 425 Google reviews and has an average 4.5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"I was recommended this product by a Skin Care Professional. I use this product every night and every morning. I have a hard time finding products that work well under my makeup as they tend to create a greasy look. The Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum works great alone and under makeup. This product has dramatically changed my skin texture and has really softened my skin. I am currently experiencing hormonal break outs and I noticed that this product has helped with the dryness that is associated with the prescription topical solutions I am using. I will definitely purchase this product again. I have used expensive serums and have found that this product is one of my go-to's even above other name brands. I have already recommended this product to friends and family as it is relatively affordable and a great addition to my nightly and morning skin care routine."
12. OZNaturals Vitamin C Serum
Product: OZNaturals Vitamin C Serum
Price: $28.39 USD (before shipping) from the OZNaturals website.
Why We Love It: OZNaturals is company that strives to find the happy middle ground between producing products that are as natural as possible that still work as hard as drugstore brands. That's what we like to hear!
Pros & Cons: The OzNaturals Vitamin C Serum is 98% natural - what an achievement! The slight downside is that is certainly isn't cheap for the 30ml product you get, but if it works for you it's probably worth the price tag.
Reviews: OZNaturals Vitamin C Serum has 49 Google reviews and has an average 4.5 star rating. One satisfied customer said -
"One of my facial staples. This product saved my skin. I have acne prone skin still in my mid-twenties. Using this serum for about a week cleared it right up, and over a couple of more weeks, brightened up my dark spots.I recommend storing this product in your fridge. Vitamin C has a very short half life, and will oxidize (break down) when exposed to oxygen. Using serum that is oxidized can have bad effects on the skin, possibly exacerbating acne. One way you can tell if your serum has oxidized is by looking at its color. The serum should be clear. It is still safe to use once it has a slight copper tinge. However, once it turns darker orange/yellow, its time to toss is. Keeping your serum in the fridge is one way that will help it maintain its potency longer."
11. TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum
Product: TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum
Price: $35.99 from Amazon.
Why We Love It: TruSkin Naturals is another cruelty-free skin care company (we can never have too many of them!)
Pros & Cons: Some of the delicious ingredients you can expect to find in your bottle of TruSkin Vitamin C Serum are organic aloe vera leaf, witch hazel, organic jojoba oil and vitamin E. TruSkin states that this serum is a powerful one, so if you're new to the vitamin C serum game this may not be the best product to start with.
Reviews: TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum has 49 Google reviews and an average 4.5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"I am so obsessed with this product. I use it daily. Either add a drop to my moisturizer in the morning and night. Also add a drop directly to my face as I put on foundation. Gives perfect dewy look. I have recommended it to so many people and gone through so many bottles. My husband used it to help with acne scars and his skin cleared up very fast."
10. Go Pure Vitamin C Serum
Product: Go Pure Vitamin C Serum
Price: $16 USD (before shipping) from the Go Pure website.
Why We Love It: Go Pure's entire brand philosophy is that everyone should have access to effective, affordable skin care. They are 100% cruelty-free and you won't find any parabens or artificial fragrances in their products.
Pros & Cons: Go Pure products are made in and ship from the USA, so it this might mean you have to wait 2 weeks for serum to arrive.
Reviews: Go Pure Vitamin C Serum has received 441 reviews on the Go Pure website and has a 5 star rating. One reviewer said -
"This vitamin C serum has made my skin noticeably brighter and healthier looking. With further use, my skin just keeps improving! I’ve highly recommended this product line to others, as well."
9. Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Acid
Product: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Acid
Price: $192.60 from Adore Beauty
Why We Love It: Skinceuticals was founded in 1994 and the C E Ferulic Acid itself launched in 2005 - we love a tried and tested skincare brand.
Pros & Cons: We know - that price is hella high! Adore Beauty does offer After Pay if you're certain that this is the one for you. The upside is, the reviews of this serum are overwhelmingly positive, so it seems to have done the trick for the majority of customers.
Reviews: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Acid has a whopping 2,173 reviews on Google and has an average rating of 4.6 stars. One satisfied customer said -
"I have sunspots which some consider as aging spot or hyperpigmentation. When I turned 30 the sunspot become more visible especially after having my first baby. When I was 34 I lasered them away and about a year later they came right back. I have continued to research and apply Vitamin C, brightener treatments and more with zero results. On Friday I decided to invest and take a chance in a new product.
I was hesitant due to the price, but decided to invest in myself since I've heard wonders about this product. Ok, so I purchased this on Friday, used it that night and on Monday night I noticed a significant different on one spot that has been haunting me for years. I've been in shock, still am and it's only been 5 days. Oh, and my skin looks healthy, dewy and smoother. UNBELIEVABLE RESULTS! Wish this bottle will last forever or there was some sort of promotions so I can continue to invest in my results. Again, unbelievable, especially for someone like me looking for results for the last 7 years"
8. Timeless Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum
Product: Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum
Price: $39.18 from the Yes Style website
Why We Love It: Timeless Skin Care was founded in 2009 and they're all about giving their customers high concentrations of active ingredient.
Pros & Cons: Timeless Skin Care does not recommend this serum for those with oily skin because it contains Vitamin E, so you might want to look elsewhere for your perfect serum if you fall into that category.
Reviews: This Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum has 4355 reviews on the Timeless Skin Care website, and has earned a 5 star rating. One satisfied customer said -
"I’ve been using Vitamin C serum for many years at different price points. This is one I’ve stuck with the longest. It’s silky and great consistency. Absolutely love it!"
7. Medik8 Super C30 Potent Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum
Product: Medik8 Super C30 Potent Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum
Price: $89 from the Medik8 website.
Why We Love It: Experts in anti-aging skin care, Medik8 is 100% cruelty free, uses recycled paper in all its packaging and 40% recycled glass in all its serum bottles.
Pros & Cons: You'll have to find your nearest stockist using this Medik8 search, because Medik8 only stock their products at professional clinics and spas. Alternatively you can order some via Adore Beauty.
Reviews: The Super C30 Potent Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum has 15 reviews on the Adore Beauty and has an average rating of 4.4/5 stars. One happy reviewer said -
"This is such a great vitamin C serum and leaves you with such a nice glow! I use in the morning on top of my Medik8 B5 and the two together are a dream. Calms any redness, gives you a lovely glow, absorbs so well and is dry to touch very quickly. Makeup also sits well and looks great."
6. Sèrumtôlogiè C Serum 22
Product: Sèrumtôlogiè C Serum 22
Price: $35.00 USD before shipping from Sèrumtôlogiè
Why We Love It: C Serum 22 is the company's flagship product, which is always a good sign.
Pros & Cons: This is another concentrated serum, so less is more if you're using it for the first time.
Reviews: This C Serum 22 has received 436 reviews on the Sèrumtôlogiè website and has a 5/5 star average rating. One happy customer said -
"I have been using the Serumtologie serum for about 4 months now once a day ,so far it helped my skin fight the acne and brightened my whole face .It is now very soft and clear though I haven't seen much improvement of my forehead wrinkles, I do love that is odour-free and and all in all, I am satisfied . Thanks Sèrumtôlogiè!"
5. Oliology 100% Natural Vitamin C Serum
Product: Oliology 100% Natural Vitamin C Serum
Price: Approx $17.95 (before shipping) on Amazon.
Why We Love It: With Oliology, what you see is what you get. It's an Amazon based brand that largely focuses on hair care, but is branching out into skin care and serums too.
Pros & Cons: Depending on the time you order, you may have to wait for a restock. But hey, if it's that popular that it frequently sells out, that has to be a good sign.
Reviews: This serum has 18 reviews on Amazon, with an average 3.8/5 star rating. One reviewer said -
"My skin is oily and prone to breakouts - this oil is fabulous - fast absorbing and really is the only thing I will use on my face for moisturising now (other than a sunscreen)"
4. Obagi C-Clarifying Serum
Product: Obagi C-Clarifying Serum
Price: $99 from the Obagi website.
Why We Love It: Obagi products are scientifically and medically tested, so you know you're purchasing something that really works.
Pros & Cons: This product definitely isn't for inexperienced vitamin C serum users, you'll need a valid prescription if you want to pick some up.
Reviews: The Obagi C-Clarifying Serum has 225 Google review and has an average 4.7/5 star rating. One satisfied user said -
"I have been using this product for over 5 years now. I have breakouts occasionally, so this serum definitely keeps things under control. I skipped this routine for a few weeks awhile back because I forgot to reorder, and I started breaking out. Once I ordered and started using it again, my skin cleared up again. So it’s a must for me now. Works great for my skin. Absolutely love it!"
3. The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost
Product: The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother
Price: $35.00 from The Body Shop website.
Why We Love It: The Body Shop has been around since 1976, and their involvement with fair trade industry, commitment to cruelty-free beauty and passion for skin care has made them a beloved brand worldwide.
Pros & Cons: The Body Shop isn't cheap but staff are always ready to give you skin care advice and let you take home samples. If you have the chance to try before you buy then you'll feel more confident in committing to this serum.
Reviews: The Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother has 55 reviews on The Body Shop website and has achieved an impressive 4.9/5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"This product was recommended to me by a staff member and she gave me a sample. Fell in love with it after the first use. After the second time, I raced into the store to buy a bottle. My skin feels amazing and my body shop bronzer looks better on my face. Wish I had know about this product earlier. It's vegan also which is a big plus for me. LOVE IT!!!"
2. Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Product: Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Price: $69.00 from MECCA
Why We Love It: Mario Badescu's skin care brand has been around since 1967, and the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid are big Badescu fans.
Pros & Cons: We love the inclusion of natural ingredients like cucumber, aloe vera gel, ginseng and lavender. It is a little on the expensive side, but multiple reviews cite the fact that a little serum goes a long way and it is a case of value for money.
Reviews: The Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum has 1,162 Google reviews and has an average of 4.4 stars. One happy customer said -
"I have only ever needed 2 drops to completely cover my face (cost effective!), it is rich and hydrating, a little goes a long way. My complexion is noticeably more vibrant and glowing the next day. I recommend this as a night serum, as I find it has only been fully absorbed while sleeping (I sleep on my back so there is nowhere for this to be wiped off) and I think using this before makeup would be too heavy and cause makeup to slide around. I feel like this product is an overnight treatment to equalise and rejuvenate the skin. It needs the time to be properly absorbed, but the results are amazing. Don’t be deterred by the price, it is well worth the money, the bottle has lasted me a long time (more than 10 months) and I think you will be pleased with your results!"
1. The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Product: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Price: $9.80 from Priceline
Why We Love It: The Ordinary is an award-winning skin care and hair care company that we just can't get enough of.
Pros & Cons: In regards to this serum, The Ordinary state that:
"A very strong tingling but non-irritating sensation is expected during the first 1-2 weeks of use until the skin's tolerance to such high exposure is elevated. If the sensation is too strong to tolerate, the formula can be mixed on each application with other creams or serums of your preference."
Reviews: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% has 878 Google reviews and has earned an average of 4/5 stars. One satisfied customer said -
"I have been using this product every night for 3 weeks and my redness is noticeably reduced already! I wasn’t sure if it was just hopeful thinking, so I asked my husband who said, and I quote, “I thought you were just getting really good at the natural foundation thing”. I’ve tried a number of anti-redness products in the past with no luck, including Eucerin Redness Relief, Avene Antirougeurs Concentrate (which my skin actually had a reaction to!), and even a prescription ointment that cost over $100 for one tube, and this is the first thing that has actually made a difference."