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We all know (and love) what strategically placed highlighter or a touch of bronzer can do. That lit-from-within glow that products can instantly provide has been the focus of many articles and makeup lines—and for good reason. It can transform you into an effervescent goddess, distract from imperfections, and, perhaps most importantly, make it look like you really did get a full night of beauty sleep. But what if, instead of creating that glow with makeup, you could wake up with naturally radiant skin?
Enter brightening serums, your key to getting the perfectly toned, even skin that we all dream about. These powerful products often contain potent antioxidants, like vitamin C, to help diminish dark spots, refine skin texture, and create an overall luminous complexion. By adding this one step to your routine (after cleansing but before moisturizing), you'll never have to rely solely on makeup to hide imperfections and deliver the glow you want. With claims like these, it's no wonder that almost every brand has a stake in the brightening realm. To help you choose which serum will be your new holy grail, we've rounded up favorites for every price point. Team Byrdie loves these too, so rest assured that they're tried-and-true.
Keep reading to find out which brightening serums are the best of the best.
Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum
This serum is packed full of rejuvenating actives like hyaluronic acid and vitamins C and E to even out skin tone and reduce signs of aging, but it also includes a slew of skin-calming ingredients. This combination improves the skin's appearance on all fronts—delivering not only a brightening effect but a dose of hydration as well.
Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum
At the higher end of the spectrum, Tata Harper's serum is considered to be one of the best. This lightweight serum is full of natural ingredients that promise to minimize the appearance of dark spots and impart a luminous look on skin, and it's safe for even the most sensitive of skin types. Yes, it's pricey, but only because it uses pure ingredients that really do work.
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Coming in at under $10, this serum packs a huge punch without breaking the bank. It's formulated with a 2% concentration of alpha arbutin, a powerful skin brightener known for being gentler than its counterparts. The ingredient is supported by hyaluronic acid and slowly released for an enhanced delivery, which sets it apart from other brightening serums.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
No list of our favorite serums would be complete without this offering from SkinCeuticals. We have sung its praises time and again. As its moniker suggests, it's a magical blend of vitamins C and E, plus ferulic acid that transforms and evens skin tone both instantly and over time, leaving behind an impeccable glow.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum
The secret to this cult-favorite serum is its active ingredient, viniferine, which comes from grapevine sap and has been clinically proven to be 62 times more effective at brightening than vitamin C. This lightweight serum was recently named America's number one favorite product for evening skin, so you can rest assured that it's not lacking at all in efficacy.
Dr. Dennis Gross C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. For the skin, it helps to boost collagen, lighten discoloration, and fight free radicals.
Brightening, firming, and anti-aging, this serum does it all. Dr. Dennis Gross's answer to the brightening craze is this highly potent serum that helps to support collagen and fights sun damage with vitamin C. We love that it's formulated without any unwanted minerals or heavy metals, so you can feel good about using it every day for maximum effect.
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
Ole Henriksen was one of the first to advocate for vitamin C as an important star in skincare, and given its effects, we're glad that he did. This fast-absorbing serum revives and hydrates skin in order to promote a healthy glow and smoother texture with daily use.
Chantecaille Blanc Gardenia Brightening Essence
This offering from Chantecaille uses a blend of plant stem cells and botanical extracts to brighten and even skin. Ingredients like green decaffeinated coffee gently exfoliate skin while water lily extract soothes and prevents further damage, resulting in a product that not only sounds indulgent but also delivers enviable results.
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop
When it comes to skincare, we trust Korean brands to bring us the latest and greatest. This serum is no exception. It uses vitamin C to fade spots and keep skin firm and youthful. While it doesn't compromise on quality, it does come in at a very affordable price. And to top it off, it was awarded the Soko Glam 2015 Best of Beauty Award. What more could you ask for?