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What Vitamin C Serum Do Dermatologists Recommend

Skinbetter Science Alto Defense Serum

Do Drugstore Vitamin C Serums Actually Work?! | The Budget Dermatologist

What makes this serum stand out from the pack? In addition to daily antioxidant protection, Alto Defense Serum improves the appearance of uneven skin tone and redness, says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital and the president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology. Alto combines vitamins C and E, plus 17 additional antioxidants designed to provide a new level of comprehensive and dynamic defense against free radicals, she says. I tell my patients to use Alto as part of their morning and evening skin care regimen. I recommend they apply a thin layer to a clean, dry face, neck, and décolleté. Just FYI, this product line is only available online with authorization from select doctors offices.


  • Smooths neck and upper-chest areas


What Didnt Make The Cut And Why

While some of the below vitamin C serums may do the job, we found a few downfalls that rendered them not making the cut:

Check out New York Post Shopping for more content. Some of these serums were sent by brands for consideration for our readers.

What To Look For In A Vitamin C Serum

Turns out, not all vitamin C serums for the face are created equal. Check the label for L-ascorbic acid, says Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD. L-ascorbic acid, also just called ascorbic acid, is the most well-researched form of vitamin C with respect to the skin, and naturally occurs in our bodies, he explains. The abundant research on ascorbic acid demonstrates that it can reduce signs of aging, including hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of elasticity.

Other helpful vitamin C derivatives found in skin care products include sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Some vitamin C serums also contain other antioxidants like ferulic acid and vitamin E, which help supercharge their skin-rejuvenating effects.

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Loreal Revitalift 10% Pure Vitamin C Concentrate


This 10% vitamin C concentrate sinks deeply into skin to reduce wrinkles and boost overall radiance, making it a great base underneath makeup. Free of fragrances, parabens, dyes, and mineral oil, the sensitive skin-friendly formula will only cost you about $30. The air-tight tube also helps preserve the product.

Benefits Of Vitamin C Serum

Best Serums Products Dermatologist Recommended

According to Dr. Leger, vitamin C serum has a number of skin benefits. Perhaps most impressively, she says it works well with sunscreen to amp up protection against UV light. It is an antioxidant and neutralizes free radicals in the skin caused by sun and pollutants, she explains. At the chemical level, vitamin C is a source of electrons for free radicals, stabilizing them so they don’t wreak havoc.

Therefore, Leger recommends either finding a sunscreen with vitamin C included or using a serum before applying it. Sunscreen raises the amount of UVB your skin can handle before turning red, she says. But adding vitamin C raises this amount even more.

She also shares two more perks: preventing and fading hyperpigmentation and promoting collagen synthesis to combat signs of aging. When it comes to easing pigmentation woes, the previously mentioned protection from sun damage will go a long way. On top of that, studies have found that topical applications of vitamin C inhibit the synthesis of melanin, which is the cause of that pesky discoloration. As for its effects on collagen, there are extensive reviews of studies that note the nutrients ability to decrease wrinkle depth, improve skin tightness, and act as a barrier against dry skin.

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Vit C As A Depigmenting Agent

When choosing a depigmenting agent, it is important to differentiate between substances that are toxic to the melanocyte and substances that interrupt the key steps of melanogenesis. Vit. C falls into the latter category of depigmenting agents. Vit. C interacts with copper ions at the tyrosinase-active site and inhibits action of the enzyme tyrosinase, thereby decreasing the melanin formation. Vit. C also acts on the perifollicular pigment. However, Vit. C is an unstable compound. It is therefore often combined with other depigmenting agents such as soy and liquorice for better depigmenting effect.

Pooja Sodha Md Washington Dc


“Skin care varies by day and season,” says Pooja Sodha, MD, board-certified dermatologist based in Washington, D.C. “Over the years, I have learned to watch for signs of dryness, irritation, and dullness to shift gears and make minor modifications.” On a typical morning, Dr. Sodha starts by cleansing with Purpose’s Gentle Cleanser Wash, which she says is a pH-balanced, soap-free cleanser that’s safe for nearly all skin types. She then spritzes her skin with 100 percent rose water. “I use this as a pH-balanced toner because it’s rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s gentle enough for all skin types,” she says.

After rose water, Dr. Sodha applies a few drops of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic to her face and neck. “The non-greasy feel makes it easier to use under other products with excellent skin penetration,” she says of the famed antioxidant serum. Then, for her daytime moisturizer, Dr. Sodha uses CeraVe’s PM Lotion. “It has ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid for noncomedogenic moisturizing, but is also light enough for daily wear,” she says of her go-to day cream.

As for sunscreen, Dr. Sodha rotates between Neutrogena’s Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 60+ and EltaMD’s Tinted UV Clear SPF 46.


To combat fine lines and wrinkles, Dr. Sodha uses Alastin’s Renewal Retinol 0.25 every other night, and then seals everything in with EltaMD’s PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer.

The Extras:

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Joshua Zeichner Md New York City


After diagnosing and treating countless patients’ skin on a daily basis, board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, likes to keep his routine simple . “I know I need to take care of my skin but do not have the patience for a multistep routine,” he says. “I aim to protect the skin during the day and repair it from any damage in the evening,” he explains of his MO. For Dr. Zeichner, this means using the same multipurpose cleanser for his face and body in the shower. Right now, he’s reaching for Dove Deep Moisture Shower Foam, as he says it cleanses without drying or stripping the skin of necessary oils.

Fresh out of the shower, he relies on a vitamin C serum , which he says he uses in the morning to prevent free-radical damage during the day. “I’ve been using the L’Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensive 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum, which is a stabilized form of vitamin C that’s one of the best-kept secrets at the drugstore,” he says. After serum, Dr. Zeichner skips a standalone moisturizer and instead goes straight in with a hydrating sunscreen. His sun-damage shield of choice at the moment is Neutrogena Healthy Defense Moisturizer SPF 50. “It provides protection and hydration in one, which is why I like it,” he says.

Night:The Extras:

Best Overall: Zo Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self

Timeless Skin Care Vitamin C serum vs Skinceuticals CE ferulic | Dr Dray

Our overall recommendation for the best vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. The product contains 10% vitamin C, which has anti-aging properties and minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots by promoting collagen production. I have this in my bathroom, Dr. Chacon says. It is gentle and non-irritating, and it leaves your skin radiant afterward.

Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with under 100 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: Along with L-ascorbic acid, this serum includes ingredients like Coenzyme Q10 for multi-layer antioxidant protection and plant-derived squalane for added hydration. ZO Skin Healths products are all cruelty-free.

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Add Vitamin C To Daily Skincare Routine

What matters is the type of vitamin C administered, not the delivery mechanism. Ascorbic acid is the most stable and effective form of vitamin C for skincare which is also known as L-ascorbic acid.

Serums are more effective than creams or toners and all dermatologists agree that serums are the greatest vitamin C skin-care product. Adding vitamin E to the mix is like giving your skin a two-for-one skin-saver. Pure ascorbic acid has consistently been proven to be the most effective at breaching the skin barrier. The efficacy of vitamin C increases when it is combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E. When used jointly, they can give twofold protection against free radical damage.

This is why Blue Lotus organic Vitamin C serum is blended with the goodness of Vitamin E and other skin-nourishing ingredients.

Michelle Henry Md New York City


When it comes to her own skin-care routine, New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, relies on an intuitive approach. “I like listening to my skin’s needs on a daily basis and adjusting as needed,” she says. “Your skin’s needs can change based on your microenvironment however, I do have some mainstay products.”

After cleansing with an antioxidant-infused cleanser , Dr. Henry reaches for a product lauded by beauty editors and skin experts alike: Biologique Recherché’s Lotion P50. “It exfoliates and hydrates at the same time, helping to gently improve my skin texture and reduce the appearance of my pores,” she says. For serum, her staple is SkinMedica’s Lytera, which is formulated with tranexamic acid one of her favorite ingredients for fading discoloration. “It’s great at fighting pesky hyperpigmentation,” she says.

SkinBetter Science’s Trio Rebalancing Treatment is her go-to moisturizer because it’s lightweight and smooths the skin. “It moisturizes like a cream with the consistency of a lotion, and it contains urea and ceramides to moisturize and improve skin texture,” says Dr. Henry, who follows this step with sunscreen. “CeraVe’s Ultralight Moisturizer with SPF 30 is quite moisturizing and blends into my dark skin, and I also like Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, which is completely transparent,” she says.

Night:The Extras:

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The Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serums


From supplements to citrus fruits and selected vegetables, vitamin C has numerous health benefits. Its necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It assists many body functions, including the immune system, wound healing, iron absorption, and cartilage, bone, and teeth maintenance. While vitamin C aids collagen formation internally, topically, its an anti-aging superhero skincare ingredient. In fact, few skincare ingredients have as much solid evidence as to their effectiveness as Vitamin C.

Its a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin from elements like the sun , pollution, and cigarette smoke. Vitamin C also discourages melanin production in the skin, which means it helps hyperpigmentation issues , evens skin tone, and increases radiance. C also has a hydrating effect on the skin. It , allowing your skin to retain moisture better.

Vitamin C can have a fantastic effect on the skin at any age, and one of the best ways to reap its benefits is with a concentrated vitamin C serum. Considering C has numerous benefits, its no surprise that many skincare brands are selling serums at a prime price. But truth be told, several drugstore formulas can significantly improve your complexion but for a fraction of the cost proof lies ahead.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum, $25

Best Two-Week Treatment:No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence, $20

How We Tested Vitamin C Serums

Best Vitamin C Serum 2019

Ive been testing 26 vitamin C serums for months on my dry to sensitive skin. Though and confirmed by Dr. Patel using a vitamin C-infused moisturizer is a less irritating formulation than a serum, I found 18 of the best serums that didnt irritate my skin, highlighted pros and cons to help guide your decision and a list of some serums we tested that didnt make the cut.

That said, my skin has never been brighter.

Aside from switching off from one vitamin C serum to the next, I didnt use any new cleansers, moisturizers or face masks. Ive used my two favorite products, as of late, with each test: Alpyn Beautys Creamy Bubbling Cleanser with Fruit Enzymes and AHAs and the brands PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer.

Here are some helpful things to note before reading our tried-and-true favorites:

Everyone has different skin types: As highlighted by Dr. Patel above, skincare ingredients depend on the skin type itself. This review is based on my skin though, using Dr. Patels expertise as a compass, we grouped some of our favorites into other skin types.

You dont have to splurge to confer benefits: The best vitamin C serum isnt necessarily the most expensive, per Dr. Patel. A lot of times the extra cost of a skincare product has to do with exorbitant or fancy packaging, with packaging not being a good indicator of the quality of product inside.

Here are our 18 favorite vitamin C serums we tested

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Vit C And Collagen Synthesis

Vit. C is essential for collagen biosynthesis. It has been proposed that Vit. C influences quantitative collagen synthesis in addition to stimulating qualitative changes in the collagen molecule. Vit. C serves as a co-factor for the enzymes prolysyl and lysyl hydroxylase, the enzymes that are responsible for stabilizing and cross-linking the collagen molecules. Another mechanism by which Vit. C influences the collagen synthesis is by stimulation of lipid peroxidation, and the product of this process, malondialdehyde, in turn stimulates collagen gene expression.

Vit. C also directly activates the transcription of collagen synthesis and stabilizes procollagen mRNA, thereby regulating collagen synthesis. Signs and symptoms of Scurvy, a deficiency disease of Vit. C, are due to impaired collagen synthesis. Clinical studies have shown that the topical use of Vit. C increases collagen production in young as well as aged human skin.

Adverse Reactions Of Topical Vitamin C

Topical Vit. C is largely safe to use on a daily basis for long durations. It can safely be used in conjunction with other common topical anti-ageing agents such as sunscreens, tretinoin, other antioxidants and alfa hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid. Minor adverse reactions include a yellowish discoloration of the skin, hypopigmented hair and staining of clothes, which occur due to oxidative changes of Vit. C. Once applied, Vit. C cannot be fully washed or wiped off the skin. Rarely, stinging, erythema and dryness are observed after use of topical Vit. C. These can easily be treated using a moisturiser. Care must be taken while applying Vit. C around the eyes.

Urticaria and erythema multiforme, following the use of topical Vit. C, have been documented. The toxic doses of Vit. C that lead to cellular apoptosis under laboratory conditions are 100-200-times the daily recommended dose, giving Vit. C a very high safety profile.

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Nada Elbuluk Md New York City


New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Nada Elbuluk, MD, begins her days by cleansing with Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar and then applies a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher. “I’m always trying different ones,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll also use a vitamin C-based antioxidant product or one with vitamins C and E, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum.”


In the evening, Dr. Elbuluk loves to get her retinol in, though her skin can’t tolerate prescription-level retinoids, so she uses cosmeceutical-grade products that are retinol- or retinaldehyde-based. “SkinMedica and SkinCeuticals have really great ones,” she says. “And there are options like the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair and RoC collections, but I haven’t gotten married to one yet.”

The Extras:

“Retinols cause increased cell turnover, so I don’t do additional exfoliation. I’m a less-is-more kind of person,” Dr. Elbuluk tells Allure.

How Do Vitamin C Serums Work

Vlog: How to use Vitamin C serum| Dr Dray

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants available to treat the skin, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, adding that it acts like a fire extinguisher to put out the inflammation and damage caused by free radicals. It’s most commonly and easily applied in serum form so it can sink into your skin to shield it from damage, smooth bumps and rough patches, reduce fine lines by stimulating collagen production, and even fade acne scars and dark marks.

Vitamin C does a great job of lightening the discoloration, especially on my skin of color patients who want to lighten their dark spots without bleaching their skin, which can happen with products like hydroquinone, says Tobechi Ebede, MD, clinical assistant professor in dermatology at Cornell.

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Vichy Liftactiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector

Price: $29.00

Another relatively affordable but good quality Vitamin C serum is the Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector. The product is known for its light formula that contains 11 clean ingredients.

It proudly boasts no parabens, silicones, or artificial fragrances. Erin Gilbert, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC, revealed that the product will not sting or burn upon application while delivering potent firming and brightening results.


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