In recent years, Vitamin C has made its way from the kitchen blender to pride of place in cosmetics cabinets.
Hailed as the antidote to dullness, redness and general bleakness of the skin, a growing number of popular beauty and skincare products now contain generous amounts of this natural ingredient.
So what does Vitamin C do for the skin and why is it used in serums?
Vitamin C is marketed as one of the best cures for acne scarring, hyperpigmentation - aka sun damage - and dull complexion.
As a serum ingredient, Vitamin C brightens skin and also acts as a natural exfoliant to brush away dead skin cells and boost collagen production, which is the key to youthful radiance!
Dr Joseph Hkeik of All Saints Skin Clinics in Sydney, says Vitamin C is so popular because of its anti-aging benefits.
“It’s a wonderful brightener...I think this is probably the reason why it’s been thrown into a lot of products,” he told Elle Australia.
What are the proven benefits of using Vitamin C on skin?
Vitamin C has been clinically proven to brighten and hydrate, reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation, lessen the appearance of under eye circles, promote collagen production, improve elasticity and firmness and counteract the impact of sun damage.
Are there any potential side effects of using Vitamin C serum?
According to Healthline, irritation is unlikely but it’s still advisable to take a patch test before you apply serum all over the face or body.
Those with very sensitive skin should avoid products containing L-ascorbic acid.
How should Vitamin C be used and applied to skin?
Vitamin C can be infused into products in liquid, powder or crystal form.
Dermatologists advise gradually introducing Vitamin C infused serums into your beauty routine to avoid harsh reactions.
Multiple skincare tutorials suggest applying a tiny amount morning and night, increasing steadily as required or instructed.
Because Vitamin C contains active ingredients, it’s important to keep track of your products’ expiry dates.
Hint: Anything that lists ascorbic acid in its ingredients contains Vitamin C!
Dr Hkeik says the shelf life of most products is one year from opening as Vitamin C oxidises when exposed to air.
10. Medik8 Super C30 Potent Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum
Medik8 stock a range of Vitamin C infused serums, including the Super C30 Potent Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum, Super C30+ Intense Potent Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum and C-Tetra Lipid Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum
A bit lost? We are too!
So let’s look at the first one.
This high performance Vitamin C serum promises to banish pigmentation and fight visible signs of aging, thanks to its rich formula infused with turmeric root extract and Vitamin E.
It fights free radicals and reduces the impact of sun damage, as well as smoothing fine lines to create a youthful, radiant glow.
The serum comes with a 4.4 star rating on Adore Beauty, with one woman writing: “I am on my third bottle of this serum and I love it. I have had a lot of skin pigmentation in the past but have had a Dermamelan peel to remove most of it, but this serum was great as a preventative when used with sunscreen in the morning.”
Others said it was a little too harsh for their skin, and recommend trying the Medik8 C Tetra serum instead.
Where to buy: Shop online from Adore Beauty.
9. Serumtologie Vitamin C serum 22
This professional grade serum contains 22% Vitamin C and promises to deliver anti-aging effects quickly.
Featuring a host of natural and organic ingredients, the formula is gentle on skin and unlikely to cause irritation.
It’s suitable for acne prone and older skin which both benefit from daily doses of Vitamin C.
Serumtologie’s serum comes with a 4.2 star rating on Amazon, with one user branding it “simply the best Vitamin C serum!”.
One woman said: “This serum is the best product I have ever used, short of fillers and Botox, which I have also used. However, I have put off getting a filler because Vitamin C serum 22 is working so well that I do not need anything more. I am 73 and my skin looks better than it has in years. I can actually feel the "lift" from the serum, which is very satisfying. Even my neck is improved!”
Where to buy: Shop online from Amazon Australia.
8. Obagi Professional C Serum
This 20% Vitamin C medical serum contains a high volume of L-ascorbic acid which means it’s unsuitable for very sensitive skin types.
The brand recommend using on normal to oily skin to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The serum comes with an overall 4.5 rating on StrawberryNet, but one customer said they didn’t notice any difference after multiple uses.
One person called it a “photoshop effect”, writing: “When I use it , my skin looks flawless, a decade taken off my face.”
Others said it was good for reducing dark spots and sun damage.
Price: At $136.40, make sure to try a patch test before you purchase!
Where to buy: Available from Obagi’s Australian website.
7. The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost
This Vitamin C infused radiance booster promotes a healthy-looking glow and should be applied directly after moisturising to fight skin dullness and fatigue.
The formula promises “instant smooth skin”, and while we’re slightly skeptical it could produce results straight away, 55 five star reviews on the brand’s official website say differently!
One happy customer wrote: “It makes my skin look so fresh, and I’ve never seen my skin glow like it does when I use this cream. My go to daily moisturiser.”
Another said they loved the smoothness it gave to their face and neck.
Price: At $35 for 100ml, we think it's a good mid-range product that produces very impressive results.
Where to buy: Shop online from The Body Shop’s Australian site.
6. Oz Naturals Vitamin C Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
This natural, cold-pressed Vitamin C treatment contains rosehip extract and hyaluronic acid to fight free radicals and support collagen growth.
It comes with a 4 star rating on Amazon, with one customer noting it improved her cystic acne scarring and general redness.
She continued: “I first used this item 2 years ago but forgot to re-order once I ran out. I didn't realize how much this product helped my skin in the past until I started using it again this past week. I have a lot of scarring and hyper-pigmentation on my cheeks, I'm 29 years old and have dealt with cystic acne since I was 11.
"This has really made a visible difference on my face. Get this if you're trying to clear up scarring and a few cystic pimples. I recommend a routine of African black soap, Apple cider Vinegar toner, this serum, shea butter+ tea tree oil, and benzoyl peroxide. That's my nightly routine and it's made my skin super soft, smooth, and less red. I don't get as many pimples and if I do it's one or two around my mouth. My cheeks have ice pick and box car scarring and I feel like they've been minimized with this serum.”
Where to buy: Available from Amazon Australia.
5. The Ordinary
For skincare enthusiasts on a budget, look no further than cult favourite brand The Ordinary.
The Ordinary Vitamin C 23% + HA Spheres 2% (long name, we know) provides the same results as its most expensive counterparts.
It’s ideal for dry, dull skin as it works to boost hydration and radiance and fight the first signs of aging.
It also combats fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tone and improves the appearance of pigmentation.
The formula doesn’t oxidise thanks to the absence of water and comes with a very healthy 4 star rating on Adore Beauty Australia.
One review from June 2019 said: “This is my first vitamin C product & was a little unprepared for how strong it is so I recommend using a tiny dab. Yes, it stung the first time but subsequent uses haven’t had the same reaction. Have definitely seen an improvement in my skin tone & the surface of my skin is lovely.”
Price: $9.80 - told you it was a steal!
Where to buy: Available from Adore Beauty online.
4. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum
Renowned natural brand SkinCeuticals promises “advanced environmental protection” with their C E Ferulic serum, which is sold as the “gold standard in advanced Vitamin C facial serums”.
The fast absorbing formula claims to provide eight times the skin protection against photoaging for a youthful, protected and more radiant complexion.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum comes with a 4.6 star rating on Adore Beauty, with customers crediting the product for firming and brightening skin.
A recent reviewer wrote: “I have been using this product for a while now and simply love it. A few drops and it sinks into my skin it is definitely fading my pigmentation. I have tried other vitamin C products which have NOT given me results. This is one I will keep re purchasing absolutely brilliant.”
Price: This serum costs $192.60 for 30ml.
Where to buy: Shop online from Adore Beauty Australia.
3. Truskin Naturals Naturals Vitamin C Serum for Face, Organic Anti-Ageing Topical Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
Now that’s a mouthful!
This professional facial serum contains advanced antioxidants that boost collagen production to target common signs of aging including brightness, firmness, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and sun damage.
Truskin uses a plant based formula free from synthetics, fragrance and additives, using active botanicals like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and organic jojoba oil to create their silky serum suitable for day and night.
The Truskin serum comes with five star reviews on Amazon, with one woman writing a detailed description and comparison to other well known serum brands.
“I have mid-30s oily breakout prone skin, and I've really enjoyed this as the last layer of my skincare (before SPF) - due to the hyaluronic acid it leaves such a nice semi-matte, dewy (not oily) finish and skin feels soft. (I like this better than Drunk elephant C-firma, Sunday Riley CEO, and Hylamide C25 in terms of texture and finish) In the morning I layer Paula's choice 2% BHA then The Ordinary's niacinamide, then this vitamin C, then SPF and I'm done (leave a few mins between each layer. At night I just use The Ordinary 2% retinoid and rosehip oil.”
Price: $59.65 makes it one of our more expensive Vitamin C options.
Where to buy: Shop online from Amazon Australia.
2. Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Cult skincare brand Mario Badescu is known for its incredibly reasonable prices and incredibly effective formulae.
This Vitamin C Serum is far and away the most expensive product we’ve seen from the Mario Badescu range, but with a 4.4 star rating from Mecca customers it’s not to be sniffed at.
The bottle promises to “improve skin’s radiance and hydration levels”, and also protect against free radicals to ensure maximum collagen production.
This serum contains hyaluronic acid and ascorbic acid - a fancy name for Vitamin C - to “reduce discolouration and brighten skin”.
One recent review read: “This product feels so silky on my skin, it gives it vibrancy and glowing hydration. Happy happy happy!”
Another said: “I have been using this serum every second night for 3 months now. It absorbs quickly into my skin, and sits very nicely under a night cream (I use MB seaweed night cream). I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my skin tone with less redness and inflammation. I will be repurchasing.”
Multiple users said the formula also helped with rosacea.
Price: At $69 for 29ml, it’s undoubtedly pricey - but with online reviews like this we’re more than tempted to give it a go!
Where to buy: Shop online or in store from Mecca Australia.
1. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum promises to “tighten, brighten and smooth” skin with its award-winning blend of antioxidants including konjac root, ferulic and hyaluronic acid.
It also contains grapefruit extract, Vitamin E and Chamomile which acts as a protective shield against photoaging.
Marie Claire said of the serum: “What we in the industry call MAGIC.”
Allure Magazine called it “a miracle worker” while Women’s Health dubbed it “the best anti-aging product dermatologists swear by”.
Price: And at $33.99, it won’t exactly break the bank!
Where to buy: Shop from Ulta Beauty online.