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The Beauty Memo

7 of the best vitamin-C skincare serums and treatments for your skin

With a multitude of benefits, from brightening to plumping, there isn’t much that vitamin C skincare can’t do, says LISA NIVEN-PHILLIPS


Capable of brightening, smoothing, evening out skin tone and protecting against environmental aggressors, vitamin C is as important for your skincare routine as your diet. Best applied in the morning so it can act as a protective shield against harmful free radicals while you go about your day, it also gives skin an instant glow. In short, it’s a powerful antioxidant that can have a truly transformative effect on every skin type.

But what should you look for? A concentration of around 5% is probably plenty for sensitive skin, while up to 20% will ensure a significant improvement in more advanced pigmentation concerns. There are plenty of different types of vitamin C, from water-soluble ascorbic acid (the active form of the vitamin) to a host of derivatives, each suited to different skin types. If your skin is blemish-prone, be sure to seek out water-soluble derivatives (try magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or sodium ascorbyl phosphate) and lightweight formulations. And for dry skin, go for oil-soluble derivatives (such as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate or ascorbyl palmitate) in more hydrating products. If, however, you’re nervous at the thought of using it because you have sensitive skin (it is an acid, after all), look for ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, a gentler lipid-soluble form. Once you’ve met your match, get ready to glow.

BEST FOR EVERYDAY USE Zelens Power C Treatment Drops

With 20% vitamin C in an ultra-stable, oil-soluble formulation, these potent treatment drops by Zelens protect against environmental aggressors and free-radical damage, as well as feeling silky-soft and nourishing under your regular serum. A blend of omega fatty acids, plant extracts and vitamin E ensures skin is protected, balanced and glowing for the day ahead.

BEST FOR REPAIR AND RENEWAL Dr. Dennis Gross C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum

What doesn’t this powerful serum do? Powered by hero ingredients such as lactic acid, niacinamide, collagen amino acids and a highly stable and effective form of vitamin C, Dr. Dennis Gross’s formula brightens, repairs, exfoliates, protects and does just about everything else you could possibly ask a serum to do. Since it promotes new collagen production, too, it will help skin to protect itself in the long term.

BEST FOR SOOTHING SENSITIVE SKIN Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Rescue Serum

When a product has celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas’s name on it, you know it’s going to live up to your expectations. Using a non-exfoliating, mild derivative of vitamin C (ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate), this skin-smoothing serum also packs in vitamin E to soften, squalane to hydrate and fatty acids to support and hydrate the skin’s lipid barrier. What’s not to love?

BEST FOR CITY LIVING Circumference Vital-C Antioxidant Day Serum

Because pollution, UV rays, free radicals and other environmental aggressors are all part of urban life, a serum packed with protective antioxidants is essential. Circumference’s lightweight formula absorbs quickly to form an invisible barrier against the effects of city living, with antioxidant-rich olive-leaf extract, vitamins C and B3 and hydrating hyaluronic acid. A true 360-degree approach.

BEST FOR THOSE NEW TO RETINOL Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum

If it’s your first time experimenting with vitamin C, this radiance-boosting, plant-based serum from Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics line is a great place to start. Using a gentle, water-soluble vitamin C derivative alongside a super-fruit complex, including kakadu plum, acerola cherry and noni fruit, it slides on easily and leaves skin plump, protected and looking bright.


Since it comes in powdered form, this clever treatment from The Nue Co. only activates when you combine it with either water or your favorite serum or moisturizer. It also contains ferulic acid, a plant-based antioxidant that has the power to boost the efficacy and stability of vitamin C, as well as aloe vera, colloidal oatmeal and tapioca to soothe and heal. Mix it up – and prepare to glow.

BEST FOR PIGMENTATION Oskia Renaissance Brightlight Serum

Acting on dark spots, melasma and all other forms of pigmentation, this powerhouse serum by Oskia brightens and corrects, thanks to two different forms of vitamin C, as well as arbutin, which helps to protect against discoloration caused by UV rays. Add to that exfoliating fruit enzymes and restorative niacinamide and you basically have radiant, even-toned skin in a bottle.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown