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The best vitamin C serums that promise a bright, glowing and healthy skin

Known to give a healthier, brighter and flawless skin, vitamin C is a key skincare ingredient that enjoys a cult status. It is like a magic potion for ageing and lacklustre skin that’s in dire need of rejuvenation. Owing to the usefulness and hype around this ingredient, the beauty market offers a diverse range of the best vitamin C serums that can be easily incorporated into one’s skin care routine.

Touted as one of the best ingredients to manage the health of your body and skin, vitamin C is an antioxidant that has multiple benefits. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is a water-soluble vitamin that helps in healing wounds and infections, neutralising free radicals, boosting collagen and enhancing immune function of the body. While you can add various vitamin C-rich foods in your diet (such as oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers and brussel sprouts), the best way to reap its benefits for the skin is through topical application in the form of over-the-counter serums.

Benefits of using vitamin C serum

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that’s known to have anti-ageing effects on the skin. It stimulates collagen production which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles thereby making your skin look plumper and firmer. Additionally, it not only ensures skin hydration but also brightens and smooths your skin complexion and texture. Consistent use of a vitamin C serum also leads to a more even-toned and glowing skin.

Vitamin C is also known for reducing hyperpigmentation and age spots as it impedes melanin (responsible for pigment in the skin). Since it is an antioxidant, vitamin C also helps in combating free radical damage and photoageing caused to the skin by sun and pollutants. It minimises redness and aids in cell turnover which results in a more youthful-looking skin.

How to use a vitamin C serum

A vitamin C serum is one of the easiest serums (or ingredients) to incorporate in your daily rotation. It is suitable for all skin types and can be easily layered with other skin care actives including hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and niacinamide.

Start by doing a small patch test on the inside of your forearm and wait for 24 hours to assess the risk of any allergic reaction. If no side effects, rashes or redness develop you can then start using it on your face. Apply three to four drops of the serum on a cleansed face in gentle dabbing motion. Wait for it to completely absorb before layering another serum or moisturiser.

It is suggested to use a vitamin C serum in the morning since it acts as an extra layer of protection against the sun. As a rule of thumb, it is also recommended to always opt for a lower percentage of the ingredient and then slowly increase it if you’re just starting out.

How long does vitamin C serum take to work?

The efficiency of serums largely depends on the type of skin, the serum you choose, and the skincare routine you follow. Once vitamin C finds its place in your skin care routine, you should start seeing noticeable results in a minimum of three weeks to a maximum of twelve weeks. These results can vary from person to person and range from a brighter and luminous-looking skin to reduced fine lines or hyperpigmentation and firmness.

How to choose vitamin C serum as per skin type

Your skin type can hugely influence the kind of vitamin C serum you should use. For instance, if you have sensitive, dry or acne-prone skin, you should either opt for a vitamin C moisturiser or a serum with low concentration (preferably eight to 10 percent) of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate vitamin C derivative as it’ll be gentle on the skin.

While ascorbic or L-ascorbic acid is ideal for people with normal or oily skin, ethyl ascorbic acid too is suitable for normal skin. You can also choose combination serums that include ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or vitamin E to fortify the efficacy of vitamin C while maintaining the skin’s hydration levels.

If you are not confident about the right product for you, it is best to consult a dermatologist.

What to look for while buying the best vitamin C serum?

When choosing an ideal vitamin C serum for yourself, following are the few factors that you should consider.

  • Vitamin C has multiple serum derivatives including Ascorbic (L-ascorbic) acid, ethyl ascorbic acid and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Always pick the derivative and percentage that is suitable for your skin type and concerns.
  • The ingredient’s concentration in the serum matters. Anything below eight to 10 percent won’t have benefits and a serum above 20 percent will provide the same benefits as a 20 percent serum would. Hence, it is ideal to choose a serum with a concentration ranging between 10 to 20 percent.
  • Packaging of a vitamin C serum is essential as it tends to get oxidised when exposed to air or sunlight which can have negative effects on your skin. Always choose a serum that’s packaged in airtight opaque bottles and not transparent ones.

Check out the best vitamin C serums for all skin types

INR 437

Perfect for achieving a nourished and glowing skin, the Lakmé 9To5 Vitamin C+ Face Serum makes for a great pick. It is formulated with Kakadu plums alongside vitamin C, this serum keeps the skin moisturised and hydrated while improving its texture. It feels weightless on application and gets absorbed instantly into the skin to make it look radiant.

Image: Courtesy Lakmé

INR 1570

Dear, Klairs is a popular Korean brand that offers a wide range of skin-loving products. Formulated with effective and non-irritating ingredients, this serum rejuvenates the skin to make it look and feel more youthful. The concoction contains five percent ascorbic acid which makes it ideal for all skin types including sensitive skin. The dear, klairs vitamin C serum also contains unique ingredients such as centella asiatica, Yuzu and Broccoli Extract.

Image: Courtesy dear, klairs

INR 557

The Garnier Bright Complete Vitamin C serum promises a brightening effect from the first use. Aimed at fading dark spots and enhancing the skin’s radiance, this face serum is made without parabens and sulphates to ensure that only goodness seeps into your skin. Lightweight and fast absorbing, it leaves your skin feeling more youthful and luminous.

Image: Courtesy Garnier

INR 664

One of the best vitamin C serums for the face, this one by Minimalist is made with a beginner-friendly formula that contains 10 percent ethyl ascorbic acid along with centella water and one percent glucosamine. This serum helps in reducing oxidative stress and sun damage to promote a naturally glowing skin. It also maintains your skin’s hydration levels and ensures that it feels calm and soothing for a plump and youthful appearance. Since it has a low concentration of a stable vitamin C derivative, this serum is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Image: Courtesy Minimalist

INR 672

The Plum vitamin C serum comprises 15 percent ethyl ascorbic acid to help boost collagen production, fight sun damage and hyperpigmentation and lend the skin a naturally glowing look. The formula also harnesses the goodness of Japanese mandarin and Kakadu plum. The serum is ideal for all skin types except hypersensitive skin.

Image: Courtesy Plum

INR 854

Treat your skin with the goodness of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and ferulic acid with The Derma Co. Vitamin C serum that consists of 20 percent ethyl ascorbic acid as its key ingredient. Ideal for all skin types, this face serum reduces dark spots and hyperpigmentation, fortifies even tone and minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C also helps in managing the free radical damage while boosting collagen production for a firmer and plumper-looking skin.

Image: Courtesy Nykaa

INR 224

Achieving a youthful-looking skin just got easier with this vitamin C serum by WOW Skin Science that comprises 20 percent ethyl ascorbic acid, witch hazel and hyaluronic acid in its formulation. Promoting collagen production, hydration and an even complexion, this face serum also smooths out fine lines and repairs skin damage caused due to various environmental aggressors. Free from gluten and harmful components including silicones, parabens and mineral oil, this dermatologically-tested serum is suitable for all skin types.

Image: Courtesy WOW

INR 700

Get a naturally smooth and glowing skin with the Pilgrim Natural Vitamin C Serum that aids in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, enhancing skin texture and lending a clearer and brighter complexion. Further supporting the properties of vitamin C are other ingredients such as Kakadu plum and hyaluronic acid that increase the efficacy of this face serum. Cruelty-free and vegan, it is suitable for all skin types.

Image: Courtesy Pilgrim

INR 895

Featuring a weightless formula in an aqueous base is the Re’equil EAA 15% Vitamin C Serum that contains the ethyl ascorbic acid derivative as its active component. From reversing free radical damage and restoring skin’s health to boosting its natural glow and reducing the appearance of fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles, this face serum does it all. It also contains madecassoside that renews the skin while ensuring it feels calm without any irritation. Dermatologically-tested, it is made without any fragrance and is ideal for people with normal skin.

Image: Courtesy Nykaa

INR 626

Enriching your skin with the goodness of not just vitamin C but also vitamin E and niacinamide is this face serum by Dot & Key that’s one of the best on the block. With a quick-absorbing and non-sticky formulation, this serum fights dullness, tackles hyperpigmentation and dark spots by controlling melanin production and boosts collagen. Consistent use of this serum results in a visibly brighter and glowing skin. It is also suitable for all skin types.

Image: Courtesy Dot & Key

Prices of the products mentioned in the story are subject to change.

Hero Image Courtesy: Alesia Kozik/Pexels; Featured Image Courtesy: dear, klairs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Is vitamin C serum good for sensitive skin?

Answer: Yes, vitamin C is beneficial for people with sensitive skin as well. However, they should opt for serums that are formulated with the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate type of vitamin C as it is water-soluble and more gentle than the commonly used L-ascorbic acid which is potent and can further irritate the skin. Also, start with a lower concentration of the ingredient and then work your way up.

Question: Is vitamin C serum better than vitamin C cream?

Answer: Both vitamin C serums and creams are effective and can be incorporated in your skincare regimen. The primary difference between the two is the percentage of the ingredient wherein, serums have a relatively higher concentration than creams. Additionally, serums tend to penetrate into the skin more easily hence, it all boils down to your preferences. If you’re looking for higher efficacy, you should opt for a serum whereas, if you desire a lower concentration or have highly sensitive skin, you can choose a vitamin C cream.

Question: Does the packaging of a vitamin C serum matter?

Answer: Yes, it does matter. Vitamin C serums are prone to oxidation when exposed to air sunlight. Hence, always choose one that comes in air-tight opaque bottles with droppers.

Question: Where should I store my vitamin C serum?

Answer: You should always store your vitamin C serum in a cool, dry and dark place. Ensure that it is not exposed to sunlight and the lid is tightly closed.

Question: How often should I use a vitamin C serum?

Answer: You can use a vitamin C serum once or twice everyday post cleansing. However, if you also use retinol or AHAs and BHAs in your nighttime skincare routine, do not use them together and instead use them on alternate nights.

Question: What ingredients should not be mixed with vitamin C?

Answer: You should avoid mixing or layering vitamin C with AHAs, BHAs and retinol.

Question: How do I know if the vitamin C serum is working?

Answer: You would essentially start to notice visible changes in your skin post a minimum three-weeks use of vitamin C serum. You may feel your skin looking firmer, brighter and more youthful. You may also notice reduced fine lines and wrinkles or a more even-toned and smooth texture. After a few more weeks you may also start noticing improvement in your dark circles, age spots and hyperpigmentation.

Question: Can I leave vitamin C serum on my face overnight?

Answer: Yes, you can incorporate a vitamin C serum in your nighttime skincare routine and leave it overnight. However, don’t forget to apply a generous amount of sunscreen the next morning.

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