The best vitamin C serums are among the most potent skin-care products you can have in your collection for tackling some of the most common skin-care concerns — from dullness and discoloration to fine lines and uneven skin texture. They contain high concentrations of the brightening ingredient (which is why you’ll see so many vitamin C products in serum form), but there are plenty of other ways to find it, too: in fruits like oranges and papaya, of course, but also in a slew of other skin-care products like masks and moisturizers.
“Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that’s a key component to many skin-brightening regimens, as it interferes with pigment production and keeps inflammation at bay,” explains board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology in New York City.
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C-enhanced options are also ideal as day serums, since they’re well equipped to protect your skin against any environmental aggressors that you’ll experience when you step out of the house. Dr. Zeichner says that vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, which are molecules found in external factors like air pollution and sunlight. This may help protect the skin from pre-cancerous changes due to UV light exposure, he explains. And since free radicals can speed up signs of aging, vitamin C helps with fending off fine lines they cause, too.
Their help for youthful-looking skin doesn’t just stop there though. Because vitamin C is highly acidic, when it’s used topically, “the skin is triggered to heal itself by accelerating elastin and collagen production,” New York City-based dermatologist Howard Sobel, MD, previously explained to us, which helps to plump and firm skin, while preventing premature aging of the skin. Think of it as the ideal daytime counterpart to the retinol or acids you might be using at night to smooth over your skin and speed up cellular turnover.
Another reason why it’s always used in brightening products is because vitamin C contains a property that inhibits your skin’s melanin production, which is what causes skin discoloration like dark spots and hyperpigmentation, New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Patricia Wexler, MD, previously told Allure. Over time, she says that vitamin C can help prevent dark spots from forming in the first place.
Now that you know what it does, we’ve rounded up some of the best topical skin-care products containing vitamin C to help you achieve glowy skin — and all the rest of those feel-good benefits. Read on for the best vitamin C serums (plus a variety of other vitamin C products, from moisturizers and eye creams to masks and oils) that are sure to leave your skin happy and bright.