Erika Stalton

Senior Editor - Beauty Specialist

I work as a beauty specialist, alongside my team of experts. We conduct extensive research for non-profit beauty organizations. I would love to share our findings, which were acquired by personally testing each product, carefully examining their results, and side effects, if any. We've ranked them based on these findings along with several other factors mentioned on this page.
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2019's Best Vitamin C Serums!

If you’ve ended up on this page, it means you’re either interested to learn more about Vitamin C serums, or you’d like to find out what are some of the best serums out there on the market!

As skincare experts, we try to find great products for personal use. We then, share the outcome with our audiences and present them with five to ten options, that we would personally vouch for.

When we grade a product, we take several factors into consideration:
  • The ingredients and their percentages.
  • Quality of the product (free of toxins, additives, etc.).
  • Customer Reviews (and we combine these with our personal experiences).
  • How effective the product is.
  • Customer service offered by the company, and yes this is important because not every skincare product works on everyone, so if you need to return it, you obviously don’t want to deal with a company that has horrible customer service and won’t adhere to their promises.

We also take a close look to see if these products are cruelty-free (not tested on animals).

First, let's take a look at what basic characteristics an ideal Vitamin C serum should have:
  • It needs to have 15% to 20% Vitamin C. (L-ascorbic is the form of Vitamin C that we love because it’s the most effective).
  • Has to be Paraben-free and contain no colorants or fragrances in order to protect the efficacy of the Vitamin C.
  • Be combined with Vitamin E to achieve the best results.
  • Contain Hyaluronic Acid, Ferulic Acid, or preferably both to make the serum super effective.
  • Be manufactured in protective packaging in order to delay the oxidization of the serum.

Another point that we’d like to make, has to do with the size of the Vitamin C serum bottle. Most common sizes are at 1oz. Based on personal experience, usually one can go through 75% of the 1 oz bottle before it starts to oxidize. Purchasing a 2oz or a 3oz bottle means you’re throwing your money down the drain!

We know you’re excited to see which Vitamin C serums are worthy of our list, so without further delay, we’d like to reveal our top 5 Vitamin C serums:

#1 Rated: BioBare™

Vitamin C, B, E & Ferulic Serum

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Customer Rating: 9.62/10 (638 Votes)

Positives:

     
  • 20% L-Ascorbic Acid in a water based solution.
  •  
  • Does not contain Parabens, colorants or fragrances.
  •  
  • Contains Vitamins E, B3, and B5.
  •  
  • Contains both Hyaluronic & Ferulic Acids, which seems to be the secret key.
  •  
  • Packaged in a special white glass bottle, specifically designed for Vitamin C serums. (Preserves the serum significantly better than the common amber bottles).
  •  
  • Hypoallergenic, effective for all skin types.
  •  
  • Cruelty-free and made in the USA in an ISO 22716 certified, cGMP accredited and FDA-Registered facility.
  •  
  • Recommended by Board Certified Plastic Surgeons.
  •  
  • 30-Day money back guarantee, combined with excellent customer service.

Negatives:

     
  • ​​​​Sells Out quickly (We had to figure this one out, so we contacted the company and they stated: “It’s mainly due to high demand, but also, due to our commitment to providing fresh batch of serums to our customers.” ).
  •  
  • ​​​​Not available in stores (only online).
  •  
  • No subscription programs offered.

Analysis

Loaded with all the ingredients of an ideal Vitamin C serum, and then some, BioBare offers the most effective Vitamin C Serum that we’ve personally tried out. Consisting of 20% Vitamin C, and 1% Ferulic Acid, this serum offers premium protection against the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues, proteins, and your DNA, in a process called "oxidative stress."

We really appreciate that BioBare has enriched their serum with the powerful combination of Vitamins B and E, providing extra protection against damaging oxidation, resulting from pollution and environmental toxins. 

In addition to being produced by one of the leading skin-care manufacturers in the world, we’d like to point out that this Vitamin C serum is rich in plant-based and natural ingredients.

The BioBare™ Vitamin C, B, E & Ferulic serum with Hyaluronic Acid has the most complete and advanced formula on the market. Considering it contains all the essential skin care ingredients, at $59 a bottle, you get a big bang for your buck!

Note:

As a result of our research, BioBare's Vitamin C, B, E & Ferulic Acid Serum was determined to be the top vitamin C serum available, not only for producing superior results, but also because it is affordable, long-lasting, and contains the highest-quality natural ingredients available. 

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#2 Rated: SkinCeuticals

Vitamin C, E & Ferulic Serum

Our Rating: 8.0/10

Customer Rating: 71%

Positives:

     
  • 15% L-ascorbic acid in a water based solution
  •  
  • Does not contain Paraben or additives
  •  
  • Protects against atmospheric aging
  •  
  • Suitable for Post-Laser treatment
  •  
  • The second highest success rate
  •  
  • Suitable for normal, dry, and sensitive skin
  •  
  • They offer free samples with product purchases
  •  
  • Made in the USA

Negatives:

     
  • ​​​​Questionable claim of effectiveness for 72 hours
  •  
  • ​​​​5% less L-ascorbic acid, compared to #1 rated product
  •  
  • Counterfeit Products Sold on Internet
  •  
  • May not be suitable for all skin types
  •  
  • Extremely Expensive at $166 USD

Analysis

Marketed as a “24X Beauty Award Winner”, SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic serum claims to deliver advanced environmental protection and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Examining CE Ferulic’s ingredients, we found the product to contain a combination of 15% Vitamin C, 1% Vitamin E, and 0.5% Ferulic Acid. According to the company’s website, this combination of antioxidants protects against environmental damage that can contribute to “atmospheric aging”; research into the term “atmospheric aging” revealed it to be an alternate term for “aging of the skin.”

Claiming to be suitable for most skin types, SkinCeuticals' Vitamin C serum is Paraben-free and is suitable for Post-Laser treatment.  One claim made by the manufacturer that our review team found questionable is that they claim the serum “remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours”; our research team found no evidence that the company has clinical trials to support this claim.

Our review team was also very surprised to learn that there appear to be several imposters or “knock-off” SkinCeuticals products on the market.  Several user reviews claim to have received products that appear to be spoiled or different in color from the original; more concerning were several reviews indicating that theses imposter products have caused users facial discomfort and have even caused breakouts. 

The presence of counterfeit products sold on retail sites other than SkinCeutical’s web page appears to be confirmed by the company’s disclaimer warning potential customers that counterfeit SkinCeuticals' products have been found on unauthorized retailer websites and are, in their own words,  “almost impossible to distinguish real from fake” and “ensure your SkinCeuticals' products are authentic by purchasing through an authorized retailer.” 

Available for $166 per fl oz, SkinCeuticals C, E Ferulic serum is very expensive and was ranked second in our review of the best vitamin C serums.

#3 Rated: Dr Dennis Gross

C + Collagen Serum

Our Rating: 7.0/10

Customer Rating: 63%

Positives:

     
  • Contains 3-O –Ethyl Ascorbic Acid
  •  
  • Clinically Proven Results
  •  
  • Positive User Feedback
  •  
  • Made in the USA

Negatives:

     
  • Leaves a Orange/Tan Tinge on Skin
  •  
  • Undesirable Smell
  •  
  • Made with Synthetic Ingredients

Analysis

Described as a weightless, fast-absorbing gel-serum, Dr. Dennis Gross’ C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum is our third-ranked vitamin C serum and claims to use the most effective stabilized form of Vitamin C, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, as the key ingredient.  

While 3-0 ethyl Ascorbic Acid is a stable vitamin C derivative often used in skin care products, our research failed to convince us that is the most effective stabilized form of vitamin C – as claimed by the manufacturer.

The product description claims the product will immediately brighten and smooth completion by “boosting skin’s energy and tackle the toughest visible signs of aging.”  Users posting reviews on the Dr. Dennis Gross website provide mostly favorable feedback; including “noticeable fading of age spots on cheeks” and “does an excellent job of brightening and firming.”  However, the same users also warned that this product will leave a “brown/orange tinge” on the skin, has an undesirable texture when dry, and using the product is “not the most pleasant experience to use due to the smell.”

Of primary concern to our review team is a large number of synthetic ingredients contained in Dr. Dennis Gross’ C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum. Examining the ingredients, we were surprised to see the product has a total of 38 ingredients, many of them synthetic.​

Available for $78 per fl, Dr. Dennis Gross’ C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum is among the more affordable serums in our review.

#4 Rated: Cellex-C

Advanced C Serum

Our Rating: 6.5/10

Customer Rating: 55%

Positives:

     
  • Rich in Ascorbic Acid
  •  
  • Contains only 4 Ingredients
  •  
  • Made in Canada

Negatives:

     
  • Not Clinically Tested
  •  
  • Poor Customer Reviews & Feedbacks
  •  
  • Questionable Results and Effectiveness

Analysis

Advertised as a lightweight and oil-free aqueous solution, Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum claims to contain a “high concentration of Cellex-C Complex ingredients, plus powerful free radical scavengers and natural collagen protectors”.

With no further information provided on the product’s website, members of our review team were left to assume the ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid were the ingredients referenced as “powerful free radical scavengers”.  Despite our attempts, we were unable to determine what ingredients are considered to be the “high concentration of Cellex-C Complex ingredients”, leading us to question the overall quality and effectiveness of the product.

Adding to our researchers’ concern was the information on the product’s website indicating that it “may” (rather than “does”) reduce the visible signs of aging after 6 to 8 weeks of use.  We also have concerns with the product as it is recommended as “suitable for all (skin types), except sensitive skin”.

User reviews reveal further concerns as the product is described as “very watery and hard to apply”, “expense is not worth the results”, “did not notice a difference in my skin and also made me breakout”, and “takes forever to apply…skin feels dry and has an unpleasant film.”

Available for$95 per fl oz, Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum is one of the more affordable, but lower ranked products we reviewed.

#5 Rated: OBagi System

Professional-C Serum

Our Rating: 6.0/10

Customer Rating: 49%

Positives:

     
  • Inexpensive compared to the rest of the Vitamin C Serums listed
  •  
  • Widely Available On-Line or in Specific Retail Stores
  •  
  • Designed for All Skin Types

Negatives:

     
  • Just One User Review on Website
  •  
  • Lowest Amount of Vitamin C of All Products Reviewed
  •  
  • Lowest Customer Satisfaction Rate
  •  
  • Long-term Results Not So Impressive

Analysis

With our review showing a customer satisfaction rate of 55%, Obagi’s Professional-C Serum 10% is our lowest ranked vitamin C serum.  Promoting its product as the “Professional”, Obagi’s website states “Obagi’s line of products formulated with Vitamin C help address the appearance of aging skin.”  That description alone concerned our review team.  Specifically, we wondered why the company would not create or market a product that “prevents damage that causes the skin to age” rather than “address the appearance of aging skin.”

After further research, we found that Professional-C serum contains 10% vitamin C (just 1/2 the amount contained by our BioBare’s Vitamin C Serum.  Adding to our concern with the product’s effectiveness, the website’s “Success Story” page contains just one review from a user from an “unknown” location.

With the lowest customer approval rating, and considering a large number of questionable reviews, our review team questioned if the product’s effectiveness is actually worth the cost of the product.

Available for $77 for 1 fl oz, Obagi Professional-C Serum 10% was the  lowest rated product in this review.

Erika Stalton

Senior Editor - Beauty Specialist

I work as a beauty specialist, alongside my team of experts. We conduct extensive research for non-profit beauty organizations. I would love to share our findings, which were acquired by personally testing each product, carefully examining their results, and side effects, if any. We've ranked them based on these findings along with several other factors mentioned on this page.
Read More >>

Product Ranking Table

*Results May Vary

Swipe Left To See The Full Rank Table <<

Rank Product Summary Power Speed of Results Long Term Results Customer Satisfaction Overall Rating
#1
BioBare™
  • Custom Blend of High-Quality Natural Ingredients
  • Helps Skin Appear Brighter
  • Hypoallergenic, Effective For all Skin Types
  • 20% L-Ascorbic Acid(Pure Vitamin C)
  • Fastest Product to See Results
  • Hormone-Free, Cruelty Free & Made in USA
  • Can Only Be Purchased Online
  • Sells out Quickly
9.5/10 9/10 9.5/10 96%
9.5/10
#2
SkinCeuticals
  • 15% Vitamin C in water based solution
  • Protects Against Atmospheric Aging
  • Suitable for Post-Laser Treatment
  • The second highest success rate
  • Paraben-Free, Made in the USA
  • Questionable Claim of Effectiveness for 72 Hours
  • Counterfeit Products Sold on Internet
  • May not be suitable for all skin types
  • Extremely Expensive
8/10 7/10 8.5/10 71%
8.0/10
#3
Dr Dennis Gross
  • Contains 3-O –Ethyl Ascorbic Acid
  • Clinically Proven Results
  • Positive User Feedback
  • Made in USA
  • Leaves a Orange/Tan Tinge on Skin
  • Undesirable Smell
  • Made with Synthetic Ingredients
7/10 7.5/10 7/10 63%
7.0/10
#4
Cellex-C®
  • Rich in Ascorbic Acid
  • Contains only 4 Ingredients
  • Made in Canada
  • Not Clinically Tested
  • Poor Customer Reviews & Feedbacks
  • Questionable Results and Effectiveness
6.5/10 5.5/10 7.5/10 55%
6.5/10
#5
OBagi System
  • Inexpensive compared to the rest of the Vitamin C Serums listed
  • Widely Available On-Line or in Specific Retail Stores
  • Designed for All Skin Types
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Just One User Review on Website
  • Lowest Amount of Vitamin C of All Products Reviewed
  • Lowest Customer Satisfaction Rate
  • Long-term Results Not So Impressive
6.5/10 6.5/10 6/10 57%
6.0/10