Vitamin C, also called Ascorbic acid, is found abundantly in fruits and vegetables. It holds immense benefits for the skin, helping to keep the skin healthy and looking good while also protecting against damage from UV rays.
While the skin naturally contains vitamin C, a combination of factors including aging and sun exposure weakens its potency. Topical application of vitamin C serum adds to the amount of vitamin C in the skin.
This stimulates increased collagen production, leading to a suppler skin texture. It also provided protection from the sun and helps tackle dull skin.
We have compared among the top vitamin C serums on the UK market and reviewed four which we think stand out in quality and effectiveness.
Best Vitamin C serum – Our top picks
With 22% concentration of Vitamin C, this is one of the most potent vitamin C serums you are going to come across. It also contains additional ingredients including ferulic acid (1%), vitamin E (1%), hyaluronic acid (5%). These additional components come with added benefits for the skin.
- Higher vitamin C concentration which adds to its effectiveness.
- It is designed to be fully vegan and to cause minimal skin irritation.
- The high concentration may cause irritation in people with extra sensitive skin.
With 20% of ascorbic acid, this serum packs quite a heavy punch. This ensures that results start appearing soon after application and even the most stubborn of skins will experience positive changes. The serum penetrates deep into the skin to trigger collagen production and moisturise your face to keep it smooth and soft.
- Can be used on all skin types.
- Also contains Vitamin E and Astaxanthin, both powerful antioxidants that benefit the skin.
- Some users, especially those with a dry skin, may experience a slight drying effect. Applying a moisturiser is recommended if you experience this.
The Poppy Austin serum contains 20% vitamin C, which ensures it is potent enough to deliver the desired results without harming your skin or causing discomfort. It has been formulated to tackle wrinkles, spots, dull skin and skin dryness. It leaves the skin healthier, softer and younger.
- Results start appearing relatively quickly, often a few days after application.
- It is non-sticky, unlike some other serums, which helps it penetrate the skin quickly without leaving your skin feeling greasy.
- Can be used on any skin type including sensitive skin.
- For some people, the serum can have a drying effect. If this happens, use a moisturiser in addition to the serum.
This serum contains three main components; vitamin C to boost skin health, hyaluronic acid to fight wrinkles and Tripeptide 31 to keep aging at bay. These three ingredients work together to restore your skin’s vitality.
- Contains a powerful trifecta of three ingredients for maximum benefits to the skin.
- Changes – softer skin, fewer wrinkles and brighter skin – start appearing just a few days after using the serum.
- As with most other serums, it can be a bite dehydrating when applied on dry skin types. For such skin types, a separate moisturiser is highly recommended.
Key considerations to make when buying a vitamin C serum
Not all vitamin C serums are made the same. While they will all tout big benefits and the best ingredients, be careful about which ones you buy. Here is a brief guide with key considerations to remember during your shopping excursion.
Before anything else check the table or ingredients list of the serum you are about to buy. What is contained in the serum will tell you a lot about how safe and effective it is. The first thing to look for is the concentration of vitamin C, the main ingredient. The standard concentration is 20% though some serums will have it slightly higher or lower.
Also check whether the serum comes with any additional ingredients. The best serums will include additional components such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to boost the efficacy of the serum. Some of the ingredients to avoid are alcohol, artificial fragrances and colorizers, Parabens (types of cosmetic preservatives) and Phthalates.
Different serums come in different textures. Textures range from oily to watery thin. The texture you choose will depend mostly on your preference and skin type. For example, if your skin is oily, avoid oily serums as they will leave your skin feeling greasy. If you hate an oily texture, there are serums that feel like lotion or cream. If you hate all these, some serums have a velvety feel that balances between oily and watery.
If you are lucky, you might find the texture description on the label. Look for words like GEL, LOTION, CREAM and POWDER. You can also look up customer reviews of the serum to hear what users have to say about the texture.
3. Skin type
Many vitamin C serums are designed for use with all skin types but you should still make sure that a specific brand is not going to harm your skin. Users that face the biggest problem are those with sensitive skin. If your skin tends to get irritated easily, avoid serums with vitamin C concentration that is too high.
The recommended concentration for most skin types is 20%. This is balanced enough to give you the desired results without causing a skin reaction. But if your skin is extra sensitive, find something a bit lower than 20%.
Can I use a vitamin C serum with other skin products?
Yes you can. Vitamin C serum can be used alongside most other skin products. For instance, you can apply most serums under your makeup. You can also use a moisturizer especially if the serum causes your skin to dry. Check the label for any special restrictions.
How do I apply the serum?
This will be indicated clearly on the label but for most brands, you just need to pour a few drops on your fingers and massage it slowly into your face and neck.
Are there any harmful side effects?
They only side effect some people might experience is skin irritation. This occurs if your skin is sensitive or the vitamin C concentration is too high.
What does vitamin C serum do for your face?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it is incredibly good for both inside your body and out of it. Vitamin C can help repair body tissue, as well as form it in the first place, AND it can help your body protect itself from the harmful effect of UV rays. A good vitamin C serum can help get this vital vitamin to the outer layers of your epidermis – the place where, however much vitamin C you take internally, the vitamin won’t reach.
Vitamin C serum can help with issues like:
- Sun damage
- Uneven skin tone
Applying vitamin C to your face may seem a little strange; after all, we’re supposed to ingest it, right? But adding it into your skincare regime can make a huge difference.
Does vitamin C serum really work?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, but it may take you a little time to work out the best way to incorporate it into your regime, and the best percentage for you and your skin.
Vitamin C serum is fantastic at neutralising free radicals, thus improving the appearance of ageing skin. It will also improve the synthesis of Collagen and Elastin – both vital warriors in our fight to stay looking youthful. Vitamin C serum is also a mild exfoliator, which can help in making your skin appear youthful and bright.
You can either start using vitamin C serum once you have started to notice fine lines and wrinkles, or you can use it as a kind of preventative, even years before you will start to experience such age related woes.
Literally everyone on the planet, unless they slather themselves with sunscreen from morning till night, is at risk from sun damage. Vitamin C serum can even help with that; preventing the sun getting to the skin (don’t forget to use sunscreen though – vitamin C alone won’t protect you)! and helping to deal with any potential after effects of sun damage.
What percentage of vitamin C is the most effective?
There is a huge range of vitamin C products on the market right now, as everyone is discovering the benefits of this marvellous vitamin. You may come across some products that swear blind that they are the miracle cure to all your skin problems – but if you look closely at the label, you might only see a 5% stamp on it.
You are looking for the percentage of L-Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbic Acid, and if you see a percentage lower than 10, then you should move on and find something else.
The most effective benefits have been shown to show themselves at between 15 and 20% – anything lower than 8% isn’t worth your money, as this is the amount that dermatologists have discovered to be useful, while the benefits seem to reduce after 20%. The highest of high percentages, in this instance, may not be the best thing that you can buy.