Best vitamin C (ascorbic acid) serum: Dermatologist review

Written By Dr Surbhi, MD Skin

Last updated: 20/09/18

"Doctor, what are benefits of applying Vitamin C serum on the face? Which is the best Vitamin C serum?"

 

Instead of believing advertisements, I did research across the various studies and journals to find answers to these questions. 

No wonders my research revealed incredible anti-ageing and skin lightening potential of Vitamin C serum. However, I must warn you that many popular brands of Vitamin C serum do NOT contain the most potent form of Vitamin C. Therefore, I have compared the composition of common brands of Vitamin C serum available in India, US, UK and Canada for your benefit at the end of this article. So, read further to know which is the best Vitamin C serum! 


In this article, I have provided scientifically proven answers to the following questions:

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Which is the best Vitamin C serum in India, US, UK, and Canada?

The choice of Vitamin C serum depends on your key skin concern:

  • For ageing skin, you need a triple combination of Ascorbic acid, ferulic acid and Vitamin E. 

  • For reducing pigmentation, L ascorbic acid is enough.

  • If your skin is sensitive, then your skin might not tolerate the above two form of Vitamin C. You should prefer Sodium or Magnesium Ascorbyl phosphate based serums.

I must bring to your notice all other forms of Vitamin C available in the market might not be as effective as above 3 forms. In next section, I have reviewed the ingredient list of popular Vitamin C serum available in India, US, UK and Canada. Hope you will be able to make an informed choice.

 

Best Vitamin C serum for anti-ageing and pigmentation

The combination of ascorbic acid with Vitamin E and ferulic acid is 8 fold more potent than ascorbic acid alone (for more details, read next section). Therefore, this combination tops on our list of the best vitamin C serum.

It is highly recommended for fighting ageing skin, especially photo-aged skin with dark spots, roughness, laxity. The unique thing about this combination is its ability to act in both water soluble and lipid soluble compartment of skin cells. While Vitamin C acts in water compartment, Vitamin E acts in the lipid compartment of the skin cell.  This serum might irritate sensitive skin, therefore cautious use is recommended. 

Ingredient research revealed that following 3 brands of Vitamin C serum have this composition:

Brands

Ingredients

Check price on

Remarks

Skin Ceuticals

L-Ascorbic acid 15 %

1 % vitamin E, 0.5 % ferulic acid

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Very Expensive

Cosmetic skin solutions

 

L-Ascorbic acid 15%, 1 % vitamin E, 0.5 % ferulic acid

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Best value for money

Timeless

L-Ascorbic acid 20%

Has Vitamin E and Ferulic acid, but concentration not mentioned.

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amzon.co.uk

Affordable, but has fragrances and percentage of Vitamin E and ferulic acid not mentioned.

All 3 come in tinted glass bottle packing. 

 

Best Vitamin C serum for pigmentation

Second on our list are serums that contain the most potent form of Vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid. L-ascorbic degrades very fast in contact with air or UV light and might turn yellow from transparent. Therefore, to ensure effectiveness it should be packed in air-tight pump packing or capsules at pH of 3.5. L-Ascorbic acid serums might irritate sensitive skin, therefore cautious use is recommended.

I have compared and ranked the brands of Vitamin C serum that contain L-ascorbic acid in the table given below:

Brands Remarks Check the price on

Lumene

This comes in capsule form that can preserve the efficacy of Ascorbic acid, but the percentage of Ascorbic acid used is not mentioned. Besides ascorbic acid, it also has other anti-oxidants like Cloudberry, Lingonberry, tomato lipids etc. Overall a good buy!

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Auriga-Flavo-C forte

This comes in tinted glass dropper bottle and has Ascorbic acid 15 % along with Gingko biloba, Vitis vinifera, ferulic acid and green tea extract.

Best value for money!

 

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Brooklyn Botanical

This comes in tinted glass bottle and has 3 forms of vitamin C-10% L-Ascorbic Acid, 3% Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate and 0.9% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. It also has Orange oil, Sandalwood oil, Soybean oil.

Overall a good buy!

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Maxyouth

This serum has best packing and best combination of ingredients. It comes in the tinted air-tight pump bottle that can be used without opening, unlike dropper bottles. It has a high concentration of Vitamin C (20% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, ascorbic acid). it also has other potent anti-ageing ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Rose Hip, Pomegranate, Vitamin A +C + D + E + B6 + K.

At this price, it is best buy!

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

 

Best Vitamin C serum for sensitive skin

Third and last on our list is Vitamin C serum with Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. This can help in delaying skin ageing, protect your skin from UV damage and reduce dark spots. However, they might not as effective as above two in reducing wrinkle and pigmentation. 

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is the best buy for sensitive skin prone to rosacea or allergy. You should do a patch test before using this serum for the first time on sensitive skin.

We have compared and ranked the brands of Vitamin C serum with Ascorbyl phosphate in the table given below:

Brand

Remarks

Check Price on

Yeouth

Pros:

It has potent anti-ageing peptide called as Myristoyl Tripeptide-31

Cons:

Percentage of Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is not mentioned

Non-tinted packing

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.in

Hamilton healthcare

Pros:

It has 25% Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate.

Also has Aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, marine collagen

Air tight pump bottle is better than dropper bottles

Cons: Expensive

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

OzNatural

Pros:

It has 20% Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Also has Astaxanthin, Hyaluronic Acid, green tea, vitamin E, Rosehip oil

Cons:

Dropper bottle need to be opened that exposes the product to air.

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Amara Organic

Pros:

20% Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate 

Also has Aloe vera, Vitamin E, MSM, Hyaluronic acid, Gotu Kola Extract

Cons: Dropper bottle need to be opened that exposes the product to air.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.in

Sérumtologié

Pros:

Has 22%Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Also has Aloe vera, Vitamin E, MSM, Hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid

Cons: Dropper bottle need to be opened that exposes the product to air.

Amazon.com

Aamzon.co.uk

Artnatural

20% Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Cons: Dropper bottle need to be opened that exposes the product to air.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.in

Uskin

Pros:

Also has Hyaluronic acid, MSM

Cons:

Dropper bottle need to be opened that exposes the product to air.

Non-tinted bottle.

Vitamin C concentration is not mentioned

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk


Vitamin C is part of our diet, is it really important to apply it on our skin?

Yes, you can apply Vitamin C serum on your skin, even if you eat Vitamin C rich food because in one study it was found that the availability of Vitamin C in the skin is often inadequate despite the adequate oral intake of Vitamin C rich food. Therefore, topical Vitamin C serum should be used for skin rejuvenation. 

Secondly, unlike plants that can make their own vitamin C, humans are totally dependent on the diet for Vitamin C. Therefore, if your diet is deficient in Vitamin C, then your skin would lack natural anti-oxidant like Vitamin C that helps in skin repair.

 

Are there studies to prove the benefit of Vitamin C on the skin?

Yes, numerous studies prove that Vitamin C serum reduces fine wrinkles, rough skin, pigmentation, laxity, sallowness and improves overall texture and feel of your skin in an average of 3 months duration. I have cited few of the studies for your reference below:

  • In a study done on ten patients, where Vitamin C (in form of 10% ascorbic acid and 7% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) in gel base was applied to one-half of the face and only bland gel base was applied on the other half of face for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, there are was both visible and microscopic improvement in wrinkles, dark spots and hydration on the treated side of face (1).
  • In another 3 month study using Cellex-C serum,  there was a significant improvement in fine wrinkling, tactile roughness, coarse rhytids, skin laxity/tone, sallowness/yellowing, and overall features(2). 
  • In still another study 23.8% L-ascorbic acid showed a significant reduction in dyspigmentation, surface roughness, and fine lines on the treated side(3).
  • In yet another study,  tetra-isopalmitoyl ascorbic acid (VC-IP) 3 cream or pro-vitamin C showed significant improvement in pigmentation in 3 weeks(4)
  • This study showed that ascorbic acid is better than sodium ascorbyl-2-phosphate in reducing pigmentation and wrinkling of skin(5).
  • There are many more studies that validate the role of Vitamin C alone in reducing skin ageing primarily fine wrinkles, rough skin, laxity and dark spots. (6) (7), (8), (9)

 

Which form of Vitamin C is best for skin?

Most studies show that L-Ascorbic acid is the most potent form of Vitamin C. However, L-Ascorbic degrades very fast in contact with air or UV light visible as yellow discolouration of serum. Therefore, to ensure the effectiveness of Ascorbic acid, it should be packed in air-tight pump packing or capsules at the ph of 3.5. Still better is the combination of 15% L-ascorbic, 1% Vitamin E and 0.5% ferulic acid because it increases the efficacy of vitamin C by 8 fold.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is the second best form of vitamin C. It is more stable than Ascorbic acid, and less sensitive to change in the pH. It is also the best form of Vitamin C for sensitive skin types. Unfortunately, most other forms of Vitamin C, that are found in the vitamin C creams available commonly in the market might not give the results mentioned in above section.

 

How long should I apply Vitamin C on my skin to see changes?

Vitamin C(ascorbic acid) starts producing results after 4 weeks of application(6). It should be continued for 3 months to see significant changes in skin ageing primarily fine wrinkles, rough skin, laxity and dark spots. Interestingly, oral intake of Vitamin C also delays wrinkles.(10)

 

What is the best time to apply Vitamin C serum to the skin?

Vitamin C should be applied at night because UV light or sun exposure reduces the level of Vitamin C in the skin. 

We hope that this article will help you make an informed decision on buying a costly skincare product like Vitamin C serum.

 

All that glitters is NOT gold, take advantage of our research to know which skincare products are really the best:

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