Best Vitamin C serum for your skin type 2022 - as tried-and-tested by our beauty team

Find out whether those cult vit C serums are really worth investing in

a collage showing the best vitamin C serums from the high street
(Image credit: Future)

Picking the best Vitamin C serum for your skin will help your complexion look brighter and fresher while also protecting your skin from harmful pollutants.

"As one of the most potent antioxidants for the skin, vitamin C has multiple benefits", says Medical Doctor and Dermatologist Dr Elif Benar (opens in new tab), who has over 10 years of experience in medical aesthetics. "They include fading liver spots and skin hyperpigmentation (opens in new tab), brightening the skin, and helping to increase collage production for an overall healthier complexion." She continues, "In addition, Vitamin C's anti-pigmentary and brightening effect on your skin will help you with discoloration problems such as hyperpigmentation caused by acne."

In some ways, incorporating an antioxidant like Vitamin C is almost as important as using the best sunscreen for your face (opens in new tab). You can use the ingredient in a myriad of ways, including the best facial oils (opens in new tab), but for us, serums are the best ways of targeting skin concerns. The light, liquid formulas sink in deeply into your skin, and they’re often more concentrated and potent than your day cream. 

What to consider when looking for the best Vitamin C serum 

Why you can trust GoodTo Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

  • Star rating: Our in-house star-rating system is based on peer reviews. They’ve tried and tested the best Vitamin C serums and awarded stars based on factors such as product quality, ease of use, customer feedback, awards and value for money. Products that have received a 5 star status are rare and considered exceptional, going above and beyond our reviewer’s expectations. 
  • Active ingredients: Lots of brands shout about their products having ingredients like Vitamin C within them but when you really get into the details, sometimes the concentration of the ingredient is miniscule. We always ensure to pick the most hardworking products, so we're looking for percentages between 3-20% when we pick the best Vitamin C serum options. Dr Benar says, "Most vitamin C serums start at around 5% concentration; the higher the concentration of active vitamin C will give you a more powerful result."
  • Packaging: The way Vitamin C is packaged is more important than other serums. The reason being that Vit C is a famously unstable active ingredient. Too much exposure to sunlight or oxygen can cause the product to become less effective, or even altogether unusable. You won't find any big tubs or jars here. We've picked cleverly packaged, ideally airtight containers to ensure you're getting the best use out of your best Vitamin C serum. 
  • Cruelty-free: More and more beauty brands have realised that testing on animals is not a humane or sustainable practice. We’re keen to select products from brands that follow this ethos. 

 Best Vitamin C serum for your skin type 2022 

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C serum, in a on orange bottle with a white lid and white writing, picked as the best vitamin c serum by our beauty team

(Image credit: Ole Henriksen)

1. OLE HENRIKSEN BANANA BRIGHT VITAMIN C SERUM

Best overall Vitamin C Serum

Specifications

RRP: £56
Vitamin C concentration: 15%
Packaging: Airless dispenser
Any extra benefits?: Exfoliating acids, skin-brightening pigments and hyaluronic acid

Reasons to buy

+
Includes skin-brightening pigments for an instant brightening effect
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Potent 15% concentration
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Blended with acids to speed up brightening

Reasons to avoid

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None, we love this

Out of all the Vitamin C serums we tried, this comes up trumps, for a few different reasons. The 15% concentration means it's potent enough to make a real difference to dull skin without causing irritation, and it uses PHAs, a gentle form of exfoliating acids to speed up the brightening process. 

Beauty editor Stephanie Maylor (opens in new tab) is a huge fan, calling this the best Vitamin C serum in her collection. "My love for this serum starts with the texture - it's juicy and silky, with a faint orange fragrance that makes me think of Calippos on a hot day. The real selling points are in the results. It makes my skin look less like it's surviving on a few hours sleep, more like I've had a child-free weekend at a spa. It's made with 15% vitamin C and poly-hydroxy acids that provide a gentle exfoliating action to slosh away dead skin cells, leaving behind a more rested, brighter-looking complexion." That's us sold. 

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic in a glass bottle with pipette lid, one of the best vitamin c serums as picked by our beauty team

(Image credit: Skinceuticals)

2. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

Best Vitamin C Serum for mature skin

Specifications

RRP: £150
Vitamin C concentration: 15%
Packaging: A glass bottle with pipette
Any extra benefits?: Mix of three antioxidants, for maximum effectiveness

Reasons to buy

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An industry-leading product
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Much loved by dermatologists
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Especially good for pigmentation

Reasons to avoid

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Very, very expensive!

This buy is often at the top of many lists of the best Vitamin C serums - and for good reason! The brand was one of the first to harness the power of antioxidants into a potent serum, and it's much-loved by beauty editors, dermatologists and celebrities. It's especially good for treating mature skin concerns like age spots and pigmentation, as Senior Beauty writer Emma North (opens in new tab) has witnessed.

"For me, this is the undisputed champion of the vitamin C world." She continues, "It significantly reduces my pigmentation from years of sun worshiping and gives a healthy glow that you simply can't replicate with makeup. It's expensive but I feel the cost is justified by the results you see. Make it a part of your DIY anti ageing facial (opens in new tab) and you'll see real results within days." 

The only downside is the price, which is extremely high. If your budget won't stretch to this luxury buy, don't panic. You don't need to spend a lot to get the best Vitamin C serums, which leads us to...

The best drugstore vitamin c seurm our beauty team tried, Sali Hughes X Revoilution Must-C Daily serum in a pastel orange bottle with a white lid

(Image credit: Revolution Skincare)

3. REVOLUTION SKINCARE X SALI HUGHES MUST-C DAILY SERUM

Best drugstore Vitamin C serum

Specifications

RRP: £15
Vitamin C concentration: 15%
Packaging: Airless pump dispenser
Any extra benefits?: Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliantly affordable
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A high concentration for the price point
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Skin-boosting ingredients makes it doubly effective

Reasons to avoid

-
None, we love this 

Revolution skincare have partnered with legendary British Beauty Editor Sali Hughes (opens in new tab) for a range of hardworking, fuss-free buys. We've been so impressed by the entire product line, but this serum is a real standout hero. According to Sali herself, "There is no reason for anyone to be paying for multiple day serums. I wanted to make one with everything you need in one bottle, at an affordable price, so you can throw it on then get on with your life."

I can wholeheartedly say that it's the best Vitamin C serum I've tried for a long, long time. As with most antioxidant serums, it has a bit of a chemical whiff but it dries down neutrally. It glides onto skin without feeling sticky, or pilling under makeup. My skin looked healthier, brighter and bouncier after just a few uses. I'm stockpiling. 

La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C 10 Serum in a glass bottle with a white pipette lid, picked as one of the best vitmamin c serums as picked by our beauty team

(Image credit: La Roche-Posay)

4. LA ROCHE-POSAY PURE VITAMIN C 10 SERUM

Best Vitamin C serum for sensitive skins

Specifications

RRP: £38
Vitamin C Concentration: 10%
Packagin: Glass bottle with pipette applicator
Any extra benefits?: Hyaluronic Acid, Salicylic Acid

Reasons to buy

+
Gentle while still effective
+
Will also hydrate skin
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Approved by dermatologists 

Reasons to avoid

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Not as strong, if you want quick results

This is usually the first Vitamin C serum I recommend to people who are just starting out using active ingredients. It's a great middle-ground level of concentration at 10%, and it also includes super-hydrating Hyaluronic Acid to keep cells hydrated while it gets to work brightening skin. 

La Roche-Posay are known for their super-gentle, but still hardworking products, and their serums are absolutely brilliant - I use every single one from the range! This is the best buy if you're starting out, or if your skin is prone to sensitivity. It feels light and soothing on application, and after a week or two of use you'll notice your skin looking clear, bright and awake. 

It has over 4,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is always reassuring to see, too. 

Medik8 C-TETRA LUXE serum in a dark brown bottle with a black pipette lid, picked as one of the best vitamin c serums by our beauty team

(Image credit: Medik8)

5. Medik8 C-TETRA LUXE

Best Vitamin C serum for oily skin

Specifications

RRP: 59
Vitamin C Concentration: Not revealed
Packaging: Dark glass bottle with pipette applicator
Any extra benefits?: Vitamin F and squalane to hydrate without feeling greasy

Reasons to buy

+
Water-free formula helps it remain stable
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Light 
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Hydrates without clogging pores

Reasons to avoid

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Unclear what the concentration of vitamin c is

Some serums can feel slightly oily on the surface of skin, but that's not the case at all with this hardworking buy. The only downfall is that they don't reveal the concentration of the active, but having seen real results from using this ourselves, we're still willing to recommend it as one of the best Vitamin C serums. It's especially a good option for oily skin types, as it won't clog pores or leave skin feeling sticky or shiny. 

Beauty Writer Emma North is a huge fan, stating, "This is a firm favourite in my enormous vitamin C collection. It's great for oily skin types as its non-greasy texture doesn't leave a film and sits nicely under makeup. I love the way it lessens my pigmentation and I really notice a difference in my skin when I stop using it."

Biossance Squalane and Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum in a green bottle with rose gold lid, picked as one of the best vitamin c serum options for dry skin

(Image credit: Biossance)

6. Biossance Squalane and Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum

Best Vitamin C Serum for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: £48.99
Vitamin C concentration: 10%
Packaging: Airtight pump bottle
Any extra benefits?: Squalene, to hydrate thirsty skin

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating
+
Works especially well on pigmentation
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Nice middle-ground level of concentration
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Vegan

Reasons to avoid

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Slightly tacky on first application

The reason this stood out amongst all of the other options when I was trialling the best Vitamin C serums was the inclusion of squalene, which is why I've picked it as the best option for dry skin. Squalene is an incredibly hydrating ingredient, but crucially it doesn't feel oily or clog pores. This, combined with the 10% vitamin C concentration will help improve brightness of skin, without drying skin. It's a slightly tacky, creamy texture but once worked in and followed by a moisturiser, it feels absolutely fine. 

Group Beauty Director Sarah Cooper-White also rates this serum. She said, "I'm a massive fan of this American skincare brand - I've loved every product I've tried from them. This serum is a real hero of the range - it's effective without irritating skin, and it makes a real difference to my pigmentation marks. I have dry skin, so I often find Vitamin C makes my skin feel thirstier, but that's absolutely not the case with this."

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum, in a rectangle shaped bottle with a bright orange lid

(Image credit: Drunk Elephant)

7. Drunk Elephant C-FIRMA FRESH DAY SERUM

Best Vitamin C Serum for combination skin

Specifications

RRP: £66
Vitamin C percentage: 15%
Packaging: Twist-up airtight bottle
Any extra benefits?: Ferulic acid, Vitamin E

Reasons to buy

+
Pleasing packaging
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Free from alcohol and sulfates
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Vitamin E to soothe skin

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive

Drunk Elephant are an American brand known for their 'clean' beauty concept. This means the entire range is free from fragrance, alcohol and sulphates, making them great options for those looking for safer products. This in turn makes this Vitamin C serum ideal for combination skin - lessening the risk of your complexion becoming irritated. The texture is what also makes it ideal - it's a slightly oily texture so it'll nourish dry skin, but it's non comedogenic, so it won't clog pores. 

Emma North picks this pleasing option as one of her best Vitamin C serums. "For days when my skin needs a little pick-me-up after a late night, I reach for this." She continues, "Its light, water-like formula does a brilliant job of brightening my skin and giving me a glow but doesn't feel too aggressive - some vitamin C serums can aggravate my rosacea-prone cheeks!"

Picked as one of the best vitamin C serums by our beauty team, this is Garnier's Vitamin C serum in a white glass bottle with a pipette applicator

(Image credit: Garnier)

8. Garnier Vitamin C Anti-Dark Spots & Brightening Serum

Best Vitamin C serum for acne-prone skin

Specifications

RRP: £11.99
Vitamin C percentage: 3.5%
Packaging: Glass bottle with pipette
Any extra benefits?: Niacinamide and salicylic acid to keep blemishes at bay

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
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Uses zit-zapping ingredients to keep blemishes at bay
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Light texture

Reasons to avoid

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Lowest Vitamin C concentrations on this list

If you suffer with acne or blemish-prone skin, it's likely you're extra cautious every time you incorporate another ingredient to your skincare routine. Fear no more, because this new launch combines Vitamin C with blemish-busting Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid to prevent any breakouts forming. Ok, so the concentration of Vitamin C is quite low - but I think this really works in its favour, as to not trigger any irritation or breakouts. This will also help you get rid of acne scar fast (opens in new tab), as antioxidants help speed up cell renewal.

Beauty Assistant Darcy Brown rates this affordable buy. "This was one of the first Vitamin C formulations I tried and I was really impressed! It didn't feel heavy or sticky on my skin, and I really noticed my skin looking brighter and clearer within a week."

Lacura Vitamin C Brightening Serum in a bright orange bottle, with a box on the right. Picked by our beauty team as the best vitamin c serum for a budget price point

(Image credit: Aldi)

9. Aldi Lacura Vitamin C Brightening Serum

Best Budget Vitamin C serum

Specifications

RRP: £4.99
Vitamin C Concentration: 15%
Packing: Bottle with airtight nozzle
Any extra benefits?: Exfoliating acids and hyaluronic acid

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly affordable
+
Great concentration of Vitamin C
+
Skin brightening pigments

Reasons to avoid

-
Likely to sell out quickly!

Aldi, one of the best and cheapest supermarkets (opens in new tab) are known for their eerily similar beauty buys (faux Malone, anyone?) at incredibly low prices. I was initially wary of this serum, but I have to say I'm really impressed. I was shocked at the 15% concentration, normally reserved for the best Vitamin C serums at five times the price. It also contains exfoliating acids, as well as skin-correcting pigments to instantly brighten dull complexions.

Beauty Assistant Darcy Brown was equally impressed. "I always think that you don't need to spend a lot of money to get great skincare, and this serum proves why. I noticed my skin looking brighter and definitely more glowing after I incorperated it into my skincare routine."

What are the skin benefits of Vitamin C? 

Studies have shown (opens in new tab) that using Vitamin C for at least three months improved the appearance of fine lines and deep wrinkles, and improved overall skin texture and appearance. 

"Vitamin C is a superstar ingredient for the skin," says Dr Salomé Metreveli (opens in new tab), dermatologist and co-founder of Sky Clinic (opens in new tab). "It has many anti-ageing benefits, including brightening the skin, helping combat hyperpigmentation, promoting collagen production and even protecting the skin from sun damage. It can also help the skin to recover from free radical damage."

When should you apply your Vitamin C serum? Order in skincare routine 

All skincare serums should be applied to clean skin, and as a general rule in skincare, textures should go lightest to heaviest. This generally means that your skincare routine should be - cleanse, serum, moisturiser, then finishing off with your best sun cream (opens in new tab) with a high factor SPF. 

Dr Metreveli agrees, saying that Vitamin C serums, "Should be applied in the morning, after cleansing and before moisturising. Always apply SPF last to ensure you are protecting your skin from UVA and UVB damage." 

According to Dr Benar, it's safe to use your best Vitamin C serum every day.  "You can use it every day - I recommend using Vitamin C serum daily in the morning."