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Which Vitamin C Serum is Best?

I am a dermatologist in Miami who who tests skin care products like Vitamin C serums to see which ones work best on the 16 different Baumann Skin Types. In my 20 years of skin care research, I have found which Vitamin C serums work well for different skin concerns. In this blog I will help you find a Vitamin C serum to treat your skin concerns,

The best Vitamin C Serums are expensive - so you want to make sure you choose the right one. This blog will talk about which Vitamin C serums to use to treat different skin issues such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.  If you have acne, rosacea, melasma, dry skin, oily skin, or sensitive skin, this can affect which Vitamin C serum you should use.

The easiest way to find a good Vitamin C serum that is right for you is to take the quiz and shop by your Baumann Skin Type.   I used my research to develop software that helps you build the perfect skincare routine for your skin type. Take the quiz to see if Vitamin C should be in your skincare routine.

These Vitamin C serums work for most Baumann Skin Types:

However, you really need to know your Baumann Skin Type so we can give you exact brand advice and tell you where in your skin care routine to use Vitamin C. Keep reading to learn more about how to choose a Vitamin C serum.

Best Vitamin C Serums

Characteristics of the best Vitamin C serums

Top dermatologist-recommended Vitamin C Serums

There are many types of Vitamin C skincare products, but Skinceuticals was the first Vitamin C Serum and is still the most popular. and top selling. Most dermatologists recommend C E Ferulic- but there are many good Vitamin C serums on the market.

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic is the best-selling Vitamin C serum.  It is very stable due to the addition of ferulic acid and Vitamin E and has ascorbic acid in the correct pH to be effective.  It has been the best selling of all the ascorbic acid serums for many years.  However, if you have oily skin, it may feel heavy and sticky to you.  Skinceuticals has several other good Vitamin C serums to choose from.

Skinceuticals Vitamin C Serums

The reason Skinceuticals has different types of Vitamin C is because there are different skin types and you should match your Vitamin C Serum to your budget, skin concerns, and other products that you will layer Vitamin C with in your skincare routine.

How do you choose which is best for your skin type? Take our skin type quiz!

  • Diagnose your Baumann Skin Type
  • Receive our  step by step routine recommendations
  • Choose from a list of Vitamin C serums right for you
  • Read reviews from others with your same Baumann Skin Type

After you take the quiz, look for your Baumann Skin Type octagon that corresponds with your Skin Type.

Some Baumann Skin Types need Vitamin C Serums

Vitamin C Serums By Skin Type

Our skin type quiz divides you into 16 Baumann Skin Types and 4 sensitive skin subtypes.  When you take the quiz, we will tell you which products are right for you and help you build a skincare routine. I have also divided up my Vitamin C serum recommendations by skin type below.

Vitamin C Serums and Creams for Dry Skin Types

If you have a dry skin type then SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic is suitable for you. It contains 15% pure vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid in a moisturizing gel that sometimes feels greasy but most dry skin types love. Lotions and creams may have Vitamin C in them, but the serums are usually more potent.

These Vitamin C Serums are also good for dry skin types at risk for aging or an uneven skin tone:

Vitamin C Serum for Oily Skin Types

For oily skin types, we recommend ascorbic acid serums rather than creams or lotions.  Oily skin types usually do not like Skinceuticals CE Ferulic because it feels sticky on oil skin.  For this reason I prefer these Vitamin C serums from Skinceuticals for Oily skin types. I also like these other brands of Vitamin C for oily skin types.

Vitamin C for Sensitive Skin Types

There are 4 types of sensitive skin and Vitamin C is not right for all of them.

In fact, most sensitive skin types do not do well with Vitamin C.

Take the quiz before buying ANY Vitamin C serums  to see if they are right for your type of sensitive skin. Below is the advice I give my sensitive skin patients about Vitamin C.

Rosacea Prone Skin and Vitamin C

Rosacea skin types are a type of sensitive skin that do not do well with Vitamin C. The low pH of Vitamin C causes stinging that will irritate rosacea prone skin. When I recommend Vitamin C to my rosacea patients, I choose one that has soothing ingredients and a form of Vitamin C that does not have to be a low pH to work.

Revision C+ Correcting Complex is mild enough for sensitive skin types and even skin that stings. It contains Vitamin C in the form of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbateThis Vitamin C serum is unique in that it supports the  microbiome.  The diglucosyl gallic acid has soothing effects.

I often use Jan Marini C-ESTA serum in my rosacea-prone patients.  It has ascorbyl palmitate which is a form of Vitamin C that does not sting.  It is lipid soluble and is more hydrating than other Vitamin C serums.  For very dry skin types with rosacea, this also comes in a cream form.

Acne-prone skin and Vitamin C

In some cases, Vitamin C can make acne worse. It is unknown why this is.

However, if you If you have acne-prone skin and pimples cause dark spots on the skin, Vitamin C can help lighten post acne hyperpigmentation.

Acne is a form of inflammation that can stimulate the production of melanin, but using a vitamin C serum can both decrease inflammation and prevent the dark spots that pimples can leave behind.

Darker skin types are more prone to getting dark spots on the skin after an acne pimple has cleared.

Our favorite Skinceuticals vitamin C serum for acne is SkinCeuticals C + AHA,.

This vitamin C serum that combines the power of alpha-hydroxy acids to exfoliate the skin and keep it clear of blemishes and clogged pores.

This serum contains 15% pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) and a 10% combination of glycolic and lactic acids, which help to break the bonds on the outer layer of the skin, thus breaking up the excess pigmentation.

Not all Baumann Skin Types can tolerate AHA so make sure you take the quiz and see if this product is right for you.

The best SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum for dark spots from acne on dark skin types

SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, is non-comedogenic face serum that contains 10% l-ascorbic acid.

Phloretin is a powerful antioxidant derived from apples that helps to improve uneven skin tone and lighten discoloration on black skin.

This serum helps post inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by pimples and acne.

Are Skinceuticals Serums Worth The Money?

Vitamin C serums by SkinCeuticals are worth the money- but- you may not even need a Vitamin C serum.

Vitamin C increases collagen levels and has been shown to brighten skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But is it right for you? There are better ways to lighten dark spots and erase wrinkles.

Are there better options to spend your money on?

We can tell you. All you need to do is shop for Vitamin C serums with your Baumann Skin Type.

Once you know your skin type you can see if others with the same Baumann Skin Type as you think that these serums are worth the money.

Make sure Vitamin C is the best product for your skin type before spending the money.

What is The most Affordable SkinCeuticals Vitamin C Serum?

Skinceuticals Serum 10 Aox+ is the cheapest Vitamin C serum and it works well.

As with any Vitamin C serum, once you open it- use it up fast!

If you use it 2 times a day, it should last a month.

Best Vitamin C Serum for over 50

If you are 50+, you need more than just Vitamin C in your skincare routine.  Take our quiz to build a routine.  Most people in their 50s need retinoids, growth factors, and exosomes in addition to ascorbic acid.  This is because older skin cells (fibroblasts)do not hear cell signals well, do not make cell signals as well as they did when they were younger, and need help making energy to produce collagen. One reason is there are more senescent cells in older skin.

So if you are over 50, look for Vitamin C serums that combine ingredients like niacinamide, ascorbic acid, retinoids, heparan sulfate, exosomes and growth factors. 

Alastin C-Radical Defense Antioxidant Serum has Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate.  It combines this with ubiquinone (CoQ10) that gives cells energy. It also has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients and one of my favorite ingredients centella asiatica.

Best Vitamin C Serum for Beginners

Try an inexpensive serum first when beginning Vitamin C serums because they can sting some skin types.

I suggest these Vitamin C Serums for beginners:

Cera Ve Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

Derma Made Antioxidant C Serum +

La Roche Posay Vitamin C Serum

Replenix Age Restore Vitamin C Brightening Serum

Skinceuticals Serum 10 AOX+

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

References for Best Ascorbic Acid Serums:

  1. Baumann L. Chapters 40 and 55 in Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015).
  2. Baumann L. Chapters 37 and 39 in Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology 3rd Edition (McGraw Hill 2022)
  3. Baumann, Leslie. “Cosmeceuticals in skin of color” Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 35 (2016): 233-237.
  4. Baumann, L. (2020). 14 A Scientific Approach to Cosmeceuticals. The Art of Aesthetic Surgery, Three Volume Set: Principles and Techniques.
  5. Baumann, L. (2013). Nonsurgical skin care and rejuvenation. Gurtner GC, Neligan PC. Plastic Surgery (3rd and 4th ed). China: Elsevier, 25.
  6. Baumann, L. (2018). How to Use Oral and Topical Cosmeceuticals to Prevent and Treat Skin Aging. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics, 26(4), 407-413.
  7. Pinnell, Sheldon R., et al. “Topical L-Ascorbic Acid: Percutaneous Absorption Studies” Dermatol Surg 27 (2001): 137-142.
  8. Baumann, L. (2005). How to prevent photoaging?. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 125(4), xii.
  9. Baumann, L. (2007). Skin ageing and its treatment. The Journal of Pathology: A Journal of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 211(2), 241-251.
  10. Baumann, L. (2018). How to use oral and topical cosmeceuticals to prevent and treat skin aging. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics, 26(4), 407-413.
  11. Pinnell, S. R. (1985). Regulation of collagen biosynthesis by ascorbic acid: a review. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 58(6), 553.
  12. Pinnell, S. R., Murad, S., & Darr, D. (1987). Induction of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid: a possible mechanism. Archives of Dermatology, 123(12), 1684-1686.
  13. Tajima, S., & Pinnell, S. R. (1996). Ascorbic acid preferentially enhances type I and III collagen gene transcription in human skin fibroblasts. Journal of dermatological science, 11(3), 250-253.
  14. Tajima, S., & Pinnell, S. R. (1982). Regulation of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid increases type I procollagen mRNA. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 106(2), 632-637.

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