vitamin c serum
For a healthy glow, add a vitamin C serum to your skincare routine. The antioxidant ingredient offers a slew of benefits and such products generally suit people of all skin types. Image Credit: Shutterstock

With evolving skincare, comes a slew of ingredient buzzwords – from retinol to kojic acid and bakuchiol. If you’re trying to improve your skincare regimen, you might be overwhelmed by all the ingredients out there, and their respective functions. But there’s one that is truly worth familiarising yourself with: Vitamin C.

Found in a host of face masks, serums, moisturisers and wrinkle creams, vitamin C is the star ingredient in products that aim to make the skin appear more youthful and radiant. But how often should you use it, and is it suitable for your skin type? Dr Yulia Krasnaya, dermatologist at Evolution Aesthetics Clinic, Dubai, gives us the answers, and tips for application, below.

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Based on our expert’s recommendations, here is a curated list of the best vitamin C products to add to your vanity table. Pick your favourite with Amazon Prime and get it delivered as early as tomorrow. You can also enjoy Beauty Week discounts on some of these products, for a limited time.

1. Best Overall: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic 

The well-loved American brand SkinCeuticals’ CE Ferulic serum is our expert’s top pick. Dr Krasnaya said: “Known for its potent antioxidant formula, combining vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid, this serum helps protect the skin from environmental damage and improves overall skin tone and texture.” Suitable for all skin types, this daytime serum has been clinically proven to protect against environmental aggressors, like ozone pollution and UVA/UVB rays, causing dry skin. Reviewers in the comments also praise its anti-ageing benefits – some say they have found their skin firming up and brightening, with a visible reduction in the appearance of fine lines. The brand recommends applying four to five drops of this serum to your clean face and neck before using any other skincare products.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh49.92 for 12 months with select banks.

2. Best for Radiance: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self Activating Serum 

Another recommendation by Dr Krasnaya, ZO Skin Health’s vitamin C serum offers visible rejuvenating effects. Our expert said: “This serum shields the skin from environmental aggressors while enhancing clarity and radiance… offering transformative results for a healthier, more luminous complexion.” With other key ingredients like ascorbic acid, which exfoliates surface pigmentation for a more even skin tone, and squalene for additional hydration, the serum has anti-ageing and brightening results, as well. Reviewers like that the serum has a creamy, rather than liquid texture, for easy application. The brand recommends applying it as the last step in your skincare routine, before sunscreen or make-up.

3. Best for Blemishes: iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ 

Packing a dream blend of powerful antioxidants, the vitamin C in the iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ gets a boost from vitamins E and A, and olive leaf extract. The addition of kojic acid also helps prevent blemishes. Dr Krasnaya recommends this serum, highlighting the fact that it “targets inflammation, redness, acne, and signs of ageing”. Reviewers – even those with sensitive skin – are delighted with the serum’s ability to soothe inflammation, calm their skin, and leave them with a revitalising glow. They say it goes on smoothly and sits well under other products.

4. Best Anti-Ageing: OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum 

Thanks to a combination of vitamin C, PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) that gently exfoliate and strengthen the skin’s barrier, and hyaluronic acid, which helps stretch the skin and reduce fine lines, OLEHENRIKSEN’s vitamin C serum is an excellent option for fans of anti-ageing serums. Don’t worry about the banana mentioned in its title – the serum actually smells like a pleasant mix of mango and citrus, say some reviewers. Others say they noticed tighter facial skin, with minimised appearance of fine lines around the eyes, within a week of using this product.

5. Best for Even Skin Tone: TruSkin Vitamin C Super Serum+ 

TruSkin’s serum has all the powerhouse ingredients you’d expect from a product called Super Serum+. Vitamin C leads the pack by reducing the impact of damage from the sun, like uneven tone and hyperpigmentation, and is backed by retinol, niacinamide (vitamin B3) and hyaluronic acid. Retinol is known for increasing cellular turnover and collagen, niacinamide has been shown to even out and clarify the skin, and hyaluronic acid is celebrated for boosting the skin’s hydration. The resulting effect is smoother skin, with a more youthful and healthy-looking complexion. Even though the serum is richly concentrated, it’s surprisingly gentle on application, say reviewers. However, the brand recommends starting off using it just twice a week, after doing a patch test.

6. Best for Discolouration: Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum 

With bestselling products like The Water Cream and The Rice Polish in its repertoire, beauty brand Tatcha is known for blending unique Japanese ingredients with common skincare elements. Its popular Violet-C Brightening Serum is formulated with 20 per cent vitamin C and Japanese beautyberry, which absorbs into the skin to promote cellular turnover, while simultaneously brightening and improving the tone of the skin. Mild, fruit-derived AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) remove dead skin cells, and Japanese angelica root helps reduce the appearance of dark spots, discolouration and post-acne scars. Reviewers give this serum 4.5-star ratings, with some saying the dramatic transformation of their skin is worth the high price point.

7. Best Facial Oil: BIOSSANCE Squalene and Vitamin C Rose Oil 

Just the colour of BIOSSANCE’s Squalene and Vitamin C Rose Oil is compelling enough to get you to take a second look. This formula feels like a lightweight face oil, which is unusual, since some vitamin C serums can have a gritty texture. It nourishes and hydrates the skin with sugarcane-derived squalene, and incorporates an oil made from chios crystals – a natural resin – to improve tone, firmness and suppleness of the skin. Reviewers say the oil absorbs quickly into the skin, so you don’t have to worry about a greasy sheen. For a rosy glow, use it in the morning and evening as a primer or after your moisturiser, mix it into your liquid foundation, or add a touch to each cheekbone as a highlight.

Bonus: Prime members can save 10 per cent on this product by applying the promo code ‘PRIME2024’ at check-out.

What is the role of vitamin C in skincare?

vitamin c
Vitamin C serums work best when they're paired with certain other ingredients. Image Credit: Shutterstock

You know it’s a vitamin, but how does it actually impact your skin?

According to Dr Yulia Krasnaya, the ingredient has many beneficial properties. She said: “Vitamin C plays a significant role in skincare due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to promote collagen production. As an antioxidant, it helps neutralise free radicals, which can cause damage to the skin from environmental stressors like pollution and UV (ultraviolet) radiation. Additionally, vitamin C aids in brightening the complexion and reducing the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the production of melanin. Vitamin C also supports collagen synthesis, which is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness, thus reducing the signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles.”

Despite its numerous benefits, there are some caveats to using vitamin C serums.

First among them is storage. Dr Krasnaya advises making sure you store your serums cautiously: “They are prone to oxidation, meaning they can degrade when exposed to light and air. To mitigate this, choose serums packaged in dark, airtight containers and store them away from direct sunlight.”

While they are generally safe to use for all skin types, our expert recommends patch testing before using a vitamin C serum for the first time, especially if you have sensitive skin.

She added: “Some individuals may experience mild irritation or tingling upon initial use, particularly if they have sensitive skin. If irritation persists, discontinue use and consult a dermatologist.”

Tips for vitamin C serum application

As with other active ingredients, before using vitamin C, it’s important to make sure your skin is cleaned thoroughly, so as to ensure maximum absorption.

Dr Krasnaya said: “A few drops of the serum should be applied to the face, avoiding the delicate eye area, and gently massaged in until fully absorbed.”

Although there are no hard and fast rules for how often you can use vitamin C products, most people are able to tolerate applying it every day.

Dr Krasnaya added: “It's generally recommended to use vitamin C serums in the morning, as they can provide added protection against environmental damage throughout the day. However, if you have sensitive skin, it may be advisable to start with every other day usage to prevent irritation.”

This versatile serum achieves its optimal effectiveness, however, when it is used in conjunction with certain other skincare products and ingredients.

Our expert shared some advice on how best to combine vitamin C: “Pairing them with products containing vitamin E or ferulic acid can enhance their antioxidant properties and stability. Additionally, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day can further protect the skin from UV damage and maximize the benefits of vitamin C.”

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.