Dermatology Pros Just Listed Their 6 Favorite Vitamin C Serums
Keep a healthy glow all year long with these expert-backed vitamin C serums—which one skin pro says is the "little black dress" of skincare.
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What can vitamin C do for your skin?
Your skin is as unique as you are, which is why almost no beauty routine is one-size-fits-all. But, explains board-certified Miami dermatologist, Anna Chacon, MD, almost everyone can benefit from adding vitamin C into their skincare practice. “Vitamin C accelerates the production of proteins collagen and elastin, the building blocks of healthy skin,” Dr. Chacon says.
These proteins are what keep skin plump and firm—but as we age, their production decreases by one to 1.5 percent per year, according to a 2021 review published in Plastic and Aesthetic Research. This drop plays a big role in why skin loses its firmness, leading to sagging and wrinkles.
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Dr. Chacon says Vitamin C can help prevent these premature signs of aging and even undo existing damage, restoring a youthful, smooth appearance. “It’s also an antioxidant—an agent that can neutralize harmful free radicals from environmental toxins, UV radiation, and lack of sleep, which in excess damage skin cells.”
And improving skin texture is just one side of its benefits. Explains Emmanuel Loucas, MD, Director of SINY in New York and assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, vitamin C also works on the surface of the skin to address discoloration, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation.
But like all magic bullets, there’s a catch: you need to use vitamin C correctly and choose a properly formulated product for you. Dermatologists and aestheticians tell The Healthy @Reader’s Digest which vitamin C products they swear by for their patients and themselves.
The best vitamin C serums for glowing skin
Obagi Medical Professional-C Serum
Dr. Suzan Obagi is a renowned Pittsburgh dermatologist whose products have been popular among skincare lovers for more than two decades.
Tara Adashev, APRN, a registered nurse practitioner at Neinstein Plastic Surgery in New York City, says Obagi’s Medical Professional-C Serum is one reason that’s the case. “This one is like the little black dress of vitamin C serums,” Adashev says. “It’s a highly concentrated formula that includes the antioxidant L-ascorbic acid to help reduce signs of aging and leave skin smooth and soft.”
Dr. Obagi’s Medical Professional-C Serum gives you the choice between 10, 15, or 20 percent vitamin C concentration levels to suit your skin’s sensitivity and tolerance. Used correctively, discoloration serums can address skin discoloration.
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Debra Jaliman, MD, board-certified NYC dermatologist, assistant professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, says this vitamin C serum is a great anti-aging product and overall brightener.
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum doubles down on skin concerns like hyperpigmentation by combining vitamin C and vitamin E—and investigative dermatological studies have shown that the serum’s ferulic acid stabilizes these antioxidants, while boosting their sun protection.
Dr. Jaliman highlights more that’s unique about Mad Hippie’s serum: it contains hydrating hyaluronic acid, antioxidant-rich grapefruit, and skin-calming chamomile. “[It’s] clary sage also balances sebum production,” she adds, making it ideal for people looking to control oily-prone skin.
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Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid
Adashev says this vitamin C serum (and its complementary moisturizer) are her personal must-haves. The serum packs a rich punch of vitamin C alongside plumping ingredients that target redness and pore appearance. There’s also glycolic acid, a gentle exfoliator that smooths skin texture. The moisturizer adds an extra antioxidant boost to repair signs of skin aging while offering deep hydration for even the most sensitive skin types.
Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
This vitamin C serum (and its complementary moisturizer) are Adashev’s must-haves. The serum packs a rich punch of vitamin C, alongside plumping ingredients that target redness and pore appearance.
There’s also glycolic acid—a gentle exfoliator that smooths skin texture. The moisturizer adds an extra antioxidant boost to repair signs of skin aging, while offering deep hydration for even the most sensitive skin types.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
This serum helps to brighten skin, improve skin tone, and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Dr. Garshick adds that its cocktail of antioxidants—L-ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and ferulic acid—also helps protect your skin from everyday damage. And, its tried-and-true formulation delivers these key antioxidants deep into the skin for peak effectiveness.
Murad Environmental Shield Essential-C Day Moisturizer SPF 30
Dr. Loucas says that Murad is one brand he turns to for his patients’ skincare routines. “These products have been formulated to maintain their stability once the product has been opened for a period of time,” he says, so you can expect the best bang for your buck.
This daily, SPF-containing moisturizer has a hit of vitamin C to boost sun protection while working behind the scenes to even out your skin tone. But if you’re looking for even more targeted complexion repair, check out these top-rated products that erase age spots, including Murad’s Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum.
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