The 11 Best Vitamin C Serums of 2023, Tested & Reviewed

Our Favorite Is the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Serum

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best vitamin c serums of 2023

Byrdie / Marcus Millan

With so many different types of serums and skincare actives on the market, it can be tricky to navigate what each one does and whether or not it should hold a place in your skincare routine. When it comes to vitamin C serums, board-certified dermatologist Diane Madfes, MD, is a fan of them, citing their efficacy. "They work to stimulate collagen, lighten dark spots, and protect against sun damage," Madfes tells Byrdie. "They're also great for fine lines, melasma, and rosacea." Vitamin C in serum form is so effective because it attacks free radicals that can damage skin DNA.

But with so many to choose from, it can be tricky to decide which one is best for you. So, after putting dozens of them to the test in our lab and choosing our favorites based on various attributes, we decided to send them home with our testers so that they could gain even more meaningful insights over the course of six weeks. They each evaluated one vitamin C serum during that time period based on ease of use, absorption, skin texture, skin glow, firmness, and overall look. Those that scored the highest appear on this list.

Best Overall

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Face Serum



What We Like
  • Packaging is functional and makes dispensing ideal amount of product easy

  • Doesn’t leave sticky residue behind

  • Improves skin’s radiance with time

  • Helps to smooth skin texture

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t leave the skin looking immediately glowy

Good skincare shouldn’t be difficult to find, and we love that this extremely accessible product is more than just available in your local drugstore and relatively affordable—it’s also highly effective. Over time, our tester noticed a significant improvement in the radiance of her complexion, noting that after the six weeks, her skin appeared brighter and more smooth. She was also pleasantly surprised that although wrinkles and firmness were not a big concern for her, she did see a noticeable difference in the firmness of her skin. “I'm a huge fan of this product and will definitely be buying it over and over again when I run out. My overall complexion is way brighter and smoother, and I love how the product melts into the skin when applied,” she shared.

As for the texture of the product, it’s not liquidy nor oily; rather, it almost feels like a lightweight paste. While this might not sound super appealing, it spreads easily and sinks into the skin quickly. Our tester also noted that she appreciated the squeeze-tube packaging, saying it made dispensing the right amount of product easy. The one con of this product is that, unlike some other vitamin C serums that immediately leave the skin looking radiant due to oily or luminous formulas, this one doesn’t. But given how effective it is over time, this isn’t a major downfall.

Price at time of publish: $33

Benefits: Radiance-boosting, wrinkle-reducing | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply a dime-size morning and evening | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: No

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift 10% Pure Vitamin C Face Serum,

Byrdie / Samantha Jones

Best Splurge

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic



What We Like
  • Lightweight formula is fast-absorbing

  • Doesn’t create a greasy residue

  • Improves fine lines and textures over time

What We Don't Like
  • While it doesn’t contain fragrance, it has a naturally unpleasant scent

Sometimes the most buzz-worthy products don’t live up to expectations, but this one does. It has a lightweight, fast-absorbing formula that doesn’t feel sticky or drying on the skin, it’s easy to apply and layer in a skincare routine, and it creates some really impressive results.

While our tester has been using vitamin C serums consistently for many years, she explained that when she switched to this one, she noticed a very real improvement in the texture of her skin, as well as a reduction in the appearance of fine lines. After six weeks of using it, her skin looked and felt softer and smoother. She also mentioned that it did contribute to the glowiness of her skin, but not significantly more so than other, more affordable options she's used.

There’s no denying that our tester, as well as several of our editors, adore this serum, but it’s worth noting that while it doesn’t contain fragrance, the ingredients mixed together do create an unpleasant scent. However, the scent doesn’t linger on the skin for long, so it’s not a dealbreaker for us.

Price at time of publish: $169

Benefits: Brightening, antioxidant protection, improving appearance of fine lines and wrinkles | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, sensitive | Dosage: A few drops in the morning | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: No

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

Byrdie / Shannon Bauer

Best Budget

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Brightening Serum



What We Like
  • Fast-absorbing formula

  • Provides subtle moisture

  • Improves skin texture and tone in just a few weeks

  • Leaves skin with subtle glowy finish

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing

This serum is evidence that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on skincare packed with actives in order to see a positive change in your skin. The formula is packed with antioxidant-rich grapefruit and vitamin C, as well as polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs), which work to gently break down dead skin cells.

Our tester adored this serum, saying it sunk into her skin with ease while leaving it feeling moisturized, and she also noted that after each application, her skin looked radiant. In terms of the long-term results, she was thrilled with how well this serum worked to brighten her complexion and smooth her skin texture. She noticed a visible improvement in texture in just a few days, and at the end of the testing period, she said her skin felt soft and slightly more firm, and her skin tone looked even.

Price at time of publish: $15

Benefits: Brightening, retexturizing | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Dosage: A few drops daily | Size: .95 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Brightening Serum

Byrdie / Allison Vancura

Best for Beginners

Sephora Collection Ultra Glow Serum: Glow + Strengthen Vitamin C Serum



What We Like
  • Fast-absorbing

  • Layers under makeup nicely

  • Helps improve skin’s radiance

What We Don't Like
  • Could be slightly more firming

If you’re new to using vitamin C serum, it’s wise to start out with a simple formula that’s effortless to use and doesn’t contain potentially harsh active ingredients. This one is fantastic for beginners because it contains vitamins C and E, as well as marine peptides known for their firming effect. The formula is also foolproof—it absorbs quickly, leaves the skin feeling comfortable, and layers nicely under other makeup and additional skincare products.

Our tester, who was weary of using this type of product, was really pleased with her experience using it, as well as the results it gave her. She explained that the dropper was intuitive, and the formula sunk into her skin quickly without leaving behind a sticky or greasy residue. After just a week or two, she recognized a real difference in the brightness of her skin, noting that her complexion looked more radiant even when she wasn’t wearing it. It helped her achieve more luminous, healthy, and youthful-looking skin.

While it doesn’t have hard claims on firming benefits, we would love it if it provided a bit more of a firming benefit, especially considering that it contains marine peptides. However, it’s an excellent product overall, and we think it’s the perfect pick for vitamin C beginners.

Price at time of publish: $20

Benefits: Radiance-boosting, evens skin tone | Skin Type: Dry, combination, balanced | Dosage: A few drops in the morning | Size: 1 or 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Sephora Collection Ultra Glow Serum: Glow + Strengthen Vitamin C Serum

Byrdie / Cynthia Sanz

Best for Sensitive Skin

TruSkin Vitamin C Facial Serum

TruSkin Vitamin C Facial Serum


What We Like
  • Leaves the skin feeling hydrated but not greasy

  • Helps to visibly improve radiance

  • Helps to fade dark spots

What We Don't Like
  • Could absorb a bit faster

If you have sensitive skin, then you know how important it is to find products that are gentle–but effective. This one is just that, and our tester loved it. Not to mention, tons of our Byrdie readers adore this one. Our tester has fairly sensitive and acne-prone skin, and she raved about how comfortable this serum felt as she applied it. While it took about 30 seconds to dry, which is slightly longer than some other options, it dried down to a moisturizing and non-greasy finish. She even noted that she could get away without applying a moisturizer on top of it, and her skin would still feel hydrated. Another bonus? It didn’t clog her pores.

As for the results after the testing period, our tester was really pleased with them. She explained that her post-acne marks were noticeably lightened, and her complexion looked radiant. Considering that it’s effective, non-irritating, suitable for all skin types, and doesn’t contain harsh acids, we think it’s a great choice for people with sensitive skin.

Price at time of publish: $22

Benefits: Radiance-boosting, improves appearance of dark spots and fine lines | Skin Type: All | Dosage: A few drops daily day or night | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

TruSkin Vitamin C Facial Serum

Byrdie / Emily Cieslak

Best for Acne-Prone Skin

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum


What We Like
  • Fast-absorbing

  • Non-sticky or greasy formula

  • Helps to lighten post-acne marks

  • Doesn't make the skin look or  feel oily

  • Helps improve radiance and the appearance of fine lines

What We Don't Like
  • Setting up the packaging is a bit tricky

People with acne-prone skin know that trying new skincare products can often lead to breakouts and irritation. Our tester with acne-prone and oily skin absolutely loved her experience testing this serum, claiming that the formula, which is suitable for all skin types, didn’t contribute to breakouts; rather, it helped to improve the appearance of her skin overall. The formula contains L-ascorbic acid, the purest form of vitamin C for powerful antioxidant protection, as well as hyaluronic acid for an added boost of hydration.

While she struggled a bit to set up the dispensing part of the packaging for the initial use, once it was complete, she said the product was easy to use moving forward. She appreciated that the serum had a lightweight texture that didn’t feel greasy on her already oily skin, and she noticed that after a few weeks of using it, her post-acne marks were visibly lightened. She also loved that her skin looked slightly brighter after consistent use, and the fine lines near her mouth appeared to have smoothed out a bit.

Price at time of publish: $21

Benefits: Antioxidant protection, helps improve skin tone and radiance | Skin Type: All | Dosage: A few drops daily | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for All Skin Types

KLUR Brilliant Light Multi-Correctional Repair Serum



What We Like
  • A little bit goes a long way

  • Fast-absorbing

  • Helps improve uneven skin texture

  • Makes an improvement in the firmness of the skin

What We Don't Like
  • Could add more radiance

This vitamin C serum has our stamp of approval for all skin types, skin tones, and ages. It’s not a harsh formula that contains potentially irritating acids; rather, it’s a gentle product that actually makes a noticeable improvement in the texture and tone of the skin. Our tester, who’s in her sixties, raved about how much this product helped firm her skin. Not only that, but she noticed a real improvement in her skin texture, saying that after the six-week testing period, her face looked and felt smoother and softer overall. While she didn’t see a major difference in the radiance of her skin, the texture and tone improvements are so great that this isn’t a deal breaker for us.

We also love that it’s housed in an amber glass bottle which helps to prevent UV oxidation and therefore protect the potency of the product and ensure it lasts.

Price at time of publish: $88

Benefits: Radiance-boosting, antioxidant protection, helps correct signs of aging | Skin Type: All | Dosage: A few drops every other day or night | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Brightening

OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright 15% Vitamin C Serum



What We Like
  • Pump is easy to control and dispense the ideal amount of product

  • Leaves skin looking glowy after application

  • Lightweight, non-greasy formula

  • Easy to layer with other skincare products

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t seem to have any skin-plumping effect

If you struggle with dull skin, incorporating a brightening vitamin C serum into your skincare routine might be just what you need to achieve a more radiant complexion. This one, in particular, is great for brightening because it leaves the skin with a glow right after application, and it helps to improve the skin’s radiance over time with consistent use.

We appreciated how user-friendly the packaging is, that the texture is absorbs into skin quickly and that it leaves you feeling moisturized and looking glowy. It also layers beautifully with other skincare and makeup products. After the six-week period, our tester's skin was left looking hydrated, glowing, and refreshed.

While the serum claims to help with skin plumpness, thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid in the formula, we didn’t notice a visible improvement in this area. But given how brightening this serum is, we highly recommend it if you’re dealing with dull skin.

Price at time of publish: $65

Benefits: Radiance-boosting, firming, reduces appearance of dark spots | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination. oily | Dosage: A few drops daily | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Hyperpigmentation

Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum+



What We Like
  • Fast-absorbing, non-sticky formula

  • Smoothes uneven skin texture

  • Helps to reduce dark spots and even the complexion

What We Don't Like
  • Some online reviewers find the scent to be overpowering

Dark spots can result from many things—like post-acne scarring and sun damage—and they can often be tricky to fade. But if you have fairly surface-level dark spots, we highly recommend incorporating a vitamin C serum into your routine because the powerful antioxidant has been known to help lighten hyperpigmentation.

This one is excellent for that because, in addition to containing vitamin C, it’s also formulated with niacinamide, another ingredient known for its spot-fading capabilities. This formula is suitable for all skin types, has a lightweight and non-oily finish, and the packaging is simple and effective. Over time, our tester recognized a significant reduction in the appearance of her post-acne marks, saying her complexion looked generally more even in tone. She also noted that her skin texture felt more even to the touch.

While our tester didn’t complain about it, beware that some online reviewers noted that the citrus scent of this serum is a bit overpowering.

Price at time of publish: $24

Benefits: Lightens dark spots, calms inflammation | Skin Type: All | Dosage: A few drops morning and night | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum+

Byrdie / Lauren Coughlin

Best Hydrating

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Firming Oil

Biossance Squalane Vitamin C Rose Oil


What We Like
  • Absorbs quickly compared to most oils

  • Improves skin texture

  • Makes skin look radiant after each application and over time

  • Layers well with skincare and makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t make a noticeable difference in firmness of the skin

If you’re looking for a vitamin C serum that provides all the benefits of the hero ingredient as well as hydration for your skin, this is the one we recommend for you. The formula feels like a typical, lightweight facial oil—as opposed to some vitamin C serums that have more gritty textures—and it nourishes the skin in addition to providing all of the wonderful antioxidant benefits.

Despite having oily skin, our tester didn’t feel that this formula made her face look or feel greasy, rather, it provided the necessary hydration and a bit of glow. Over time, she noticed a real improvement in the radiance and texture of her skin, even saying that it seemed to blur the look of her pores and uneven texture with continued use. The one thing we think is missing? It didn’t do much in terms of firming the skin, but if improving radiance and skin texture is your goal, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this product.

Price at time of publish: $74

Benefits: Brightening, firming, hydrating | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Dosage: A few drops morning and night | Size: 0.5 or 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Firming Oil

Byrdie / Madison Yauger

Best Vegan Formula

iNNBEAUTY PROJECT Green Machine Vitamin C + Green Superfoods Jelly Serum



What We Like
  • Helps lighten hyperpigmentation

  • Improves and brightens skin tone overall

  • Improves elasticity of skin

What We Don't Like
  • Could be a bit more radiance-boosting

If opting for vegan skincare products is really important to you, we think you’ll love vitamin C serum from InnBeauty Project. It has a lightweight texture that’s packed with vitamin C for antioxidant protection, pomegranate stem cells to aid in dark spot reduction, and a blend of greens to nourish the skin.

Once applied, it doesn’t make the skin look immediately radiant, but our tester shared that over time, she did notice an improvement in the overall brightness of her complexion. She also noted that it helped to visibly reduce some of her hyperpigmentation, resulting in a more even, less dull-looking skin tone.

Price at time of publish: $32

Benefits: Brightening, firming, texture-smoothing | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Dosage: A few drops daily | Size: 1 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

The L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Serum is our top pick due to its accessibility, functional packaging, and effectiveness at improving skin tone and texture. If you prefer an oil-based product that will really boost the radiance of your skin and keep it hydrated, we recommend the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Firming Oil. And if you’re totally new to using vitamin C in your skincare routine, the Sephora Collection Glow + Strengthen Vitamin C Serum is a great choice for you.

Meet the Expert

  • Jessie Cheung, MD is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in dermatological surgical and cosmetic procedures based in Willowbrook, IL.
  • Jennifer Herrmann, MD is a board-certified, fellowship-trained dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon based in Beverly Hills, CA.
  • Diane Madfes, MD, is a New York City board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

How We Tested

Over the course of six weeks, each tester incorporated one vitamin C serum into their beauty routine per the directions on the packing of their product. They evaluated their serum based on ease of use, absorption, skin texture, skin glow, firmness, and overall look, and those that scored the highest earned our Byrdie stamp of approval and appear on this list.

Other Options We Tested

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

While our tester appreciated that this liquidy serum absorbed quickly and layered nicely in her skincare routine, she didn’t see a noticeable difference in the brightness of her complexion or a reduction in dark spots.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum

Despite enjoying the results of this popular vitamin C serum, our tester had trouble recommending it because there are other more affordable options on the market that yield the same results.

Hyper Skin Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum

Though this brightening serum did a nice job of boosting the radiance of our tester’s skin, she didn’t see an improvement in hyperpigmentation or firmness after the six-week testing period.

What to Look for in a Vitamin C Serum

Opaque Packing

Vitamin C is inherently unstable and quickly broken down when exposed to light and/or oxygen. For that reason, board-certified dermatologist Jessie Cheung, MD suggests looking for a product that comes in an opaque bottle—like the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum or the Klur Brilliant Light—or have an air-tight pump dispenser. Similarly, always make sure to store your vitamin C serum in a cool, dark place.

L-Ascorbic Acid

To get the most value from your vitamin C serum, Dr. Cheung suggests looking for this type of vitamin C, the most potent and active version. That being said, it is often pricey and comes with the highest likelihood of irritation. Other less intense versions include sodium ascorbyl phosphate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. The Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is a great option with L-ascorbic acid as is the CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum.

Other Antioxidants

Vitamin C works synergistically, meaning it plays very nicely with other antioxidants. Common antioxidants found in vitamin C serums include vitamin E and ferulic acid, says Dr. Cheung. In particular, she says these two increase the efficacy of vitamin C and help stabilize it. The Klur Brilliant Light is a great option that includes vitamin E.

  • What does vitamin C serum do?

    According to board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, MD, vitamin C has three main functions. The first is protecting against environmental stressors and free radicals, an antioxidant benefit that slows signs of aging and reduces damage overall. Vitamin C also promotes collagen production, giving skin more support and structure. Finally, it’s a radiance-boosting agent, so a serum that features it can work to even skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation.

  • When should you apply vitamin C serums?

    There has been much debate about whether it’s better to use the ingredient to protect skin during the day, or replenish it at night, but Dr. Herrmann says you can choose which time of day to apply— just be consistent.

  • How should you apply vitamin C serums?

    Dr. Herrmann recommends applying your serum after cleansing. Additionally, avoid using it at the same time as certain other active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide. For example, if you use a benzoyl peroxide product at night, it’s best to apply your vitamin C serum in the morning.

  • How often should you apply vitamin C serums?

    According to Dr. Herrmann, you should apply vitamin C serum either daily or every other day, depending on your routine and the result you want. If you already alternate several other actives, you might apply it every other day; if you’re looking to dramatically fade hyperpigmentation, you may want to use it daily.

Why Trust Byrdie

Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has tested several vitamin C, including several on this list. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied marketing and product development in the cosmetics industry as well as fashion business marketing. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.

Theresa Holland is a seasoned commerce writer specializing in cosmetics. For this roundup, she considered dozens of products, evaluating each serum on its active ingredients, skin-feel, and value. She combined dermatologist recommended picks with insights from product testers and hours of research to compile this roundup.

Updated by Jill Di Donato
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Pullar, Juliet M et al. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients vol. 9,8 866. 12 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9080866

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