Vitamin C Serum Review: Is It Worth It?

Vitamin C Serum Review: Is It Worth It?

The active ingredients I use in my products have to really work and wow me with results — otherwise, I don’t use them. They also have to be safe enough for sensitive skin. One ingredient I love that checks both boxes is vitamin C. 

“It’s generally a good idea to start using a vitamin C serum early on to minimize the visual effects of sun damage, give your skin added protection, and even out your skin tone.”

  • Shani Darden, esthetician

Vitamin C is one of my favorite ingredients for a day serum and can have numerous benefits for your skin if you use it correctly. We’ll talk about how it works and how to add it to your skincare routine to reveal brighter, more youthful-looking skin. 

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a natural acid found in plants, also known as l-ascorbic acid. Your body uses vitamin C to build collagen and heal damaged skin.

Vitamin C is considered “essential,” which means your body and skin need it to thrive but can’t make it on their own — so you have to get it through your diet or skincare products. In skincare, vitamin C is used to help minimize visible damage from free radicals, brighten and even skin tone, minimize the appearance of dark spots, and support your overall skin health.

Provides Antioxidant Protection

Free radicals are unbalanced molecules that can damage your skin cells through a process called oxidation. These molecules come from sources like the sun, pollution, and even second-hand cigarette smoke. Vitamin C is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, which are molecules that work to protect your skin cells against free radical damage. 

Antioxidants don’t replace sunscreen, but they can add an additional layer of protection that can help protect your skin against sun spots, photodamage, and dullness from pollutants.

Minimizes Dark Spots

Dealing with discoloration or areas of uneven skin tone can be difficult. For brighter and more even-toned skin, I recommend using a vitamin C serum as a dark spotcorrector. 

Dark spots can occur for various reasons, including hormonal changes and prolonged sun exposure. They form when the skin overproduces melanin as a response to a stressor like sun damage or environmental stress.

Vitamin C can help break down the collection of melanin in these areas and help minimize the appearance of the spot, gradually helping it fade over time. 

Minimizes Signs of Aging

Your skin cells need vitamin C to produce collagen, the protein in your skin that keeps it looking full and youthful. Vitamin C supports the cells that create collagen, helping to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. 

After age 20, we begin to lose collagen in our skin at the rate of about one percent per year. Supporting natural collagen production can help keep our skin looking youthful, radiant, and healthy.

What Makes Vitamin C Serum Special?

So why is Vitamin C delivered in a serum as opposed to a cleanser or moisturizer? Serums work as skin treatments to target specific skin issues with high concentrations of ingredients. 

Vitamin C can still work in a cleanser, but the amount of vitamin C your skin gets may be lower than if you treat your skin with a vitamin C serum. 

Who Should Use a Vitamin C Serum?

Vitamin C serum can be beneficial for all skin types, even if you’ve never tried one. If you have particularly sensitive skin and have thought a vitamin C serum would cause irritation, I can recommend one that is safe and tell you how to use it properly to avoid irritation. 

Any form of vitamin C can take effect almost immediately when you add it to your skincare routine. It’s generally a good idea to start using a vitamin C serum early on to minimize the visual effects of sun damage, give your skin added protection, and even out your skin tone.

What About Other Brightening Serums?

My clients often come to me saying they’ve tried every brightening serum under the sun with no luck in reducing the appearance of dark spots on their skin. Oftentimes, these serums contain ingredients that are too harsh for their skin — especially when paired with the other products my clients might be using.

For instance, if you’ve just had a glycolic acid peel and you’re simultaneously attempting to use a topical salicylic acid treatment your dermatologist gave you for breakouts, you’ll probably experience some serious sensitivity issues. It is possible to overdo it on the exfoliants.

Instead, I recommend a natural approach with ingredients that make sense. I like combining vitamin C serums in the daytime with retinol and lactic acid at night to combat uneven skin tones from three angles.

These include: 

  1. Retinol to support skin cell turnover
  2. Vitamin C to help fade the appearance of dark spots
  3. Lactic acid to brighten and restore dull skin 

These powerhouse ingredients can dramatically change the appearance of your skin when used together. 

How To Add Vitamin C Serum to Your Skincare Routine

First, it’s important that the pure vitamin C serum you use is formulated with ingredients that are powerful enough to work but gentle enough to be used daily without irritation. My recommendation is iS Clinical’s Pro-Heal Serum Advance+.

This serum is safe for sensitive skin and formulated with ingredients to help calm irritation while restoring skin that is sun damaged. Vitamin E can help protect the skin against further effects of photodamage, while retinol can provide anti-aging benefits. This serum also includes olive-leaf extract, which is a phenomenal ingredient for breakout-prone skin.

Here’s how I add it to my clients’ skincare routines.

Morning Routine

After cleansing, but before moisturizing, apply a few drops to your fingertips and lightly pat or press into dry skin, smoothing onto your skin and neck area. Serums go on before moisturizer so that any occlusive ingredients inside your moisturizer can help lock in the serum.

You can get the most out of your vitamin C products by using them in your morning routine. Applying antioxidant protection to your skin before you start your day can help keep your skin safe from the effects of free radicals and photodamage. 

I also recommend following up with a product that acts as both a sunscreen and moisturizer. Even oily skin types need a moisturizer, and I love the ease of combining a product you already use (moisturizer) with a product you need (sunscreen). One I love is Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50

This combination of sunscreen and moisturizer doesn’t clog or congest the skin. Cellular Response Technology protects against both UVA (skin aging) and UVB (skin burning) rays. 

It also includes naturally hydrating oats to help soothe skin and retain moisture. The candle bush extract can also help minimize the effects of sun damage, while marine microorganisms can help protect against environmental pollutants.

You can grab the products needed for this simple morning routine in a convenient set here

Evening Routine 

Anytime you add a new ingredient to your skincare lineup, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your products and make sure they work well together. If you are using a vitamin C face serum in the morning, I recommend rounding out your skincare routine with a nightly application of retinol. 

Retinol is one of the most studied skincare ingredients, and I recommend my Retinol Reform serum to all of my clients. Retinol can help smoothen skin texture and tone and is a highly powerful ingredient to combat the signs of aging. 

Retinol is powerful, but it can also cause sensitivity. I created Retinol Reform with encapsulated retinol that is time-released to protect even the most sensitive skin types. My serum also includes lactic acid to help smooth, exfoliate, and brighten skin and support a natural glow. 

You’ll begin using Retinol Reform once or twice a week as your skin tolerates, gradually building to every other night. I recommend alternating Retinol Reform with my cruelty-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-freeLactic Acid Serum. Lactic acid can naturally exfoliate without scrubbing to gently reveal glowy skin.

Finally, follow up with a serum that contains soothing ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or niacinamide to help your skin look even and healthy. Finish with your nightly moisturizer and eye cream

The Bottom Line

Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient that can help support an even skin tone and texture while minimizing visible signs of aging. With a rich load of antioxidant power, vitamin C can help protect your skin from free radicals while revealing a brighter, healthier-looking glow.


Vitamin C | Mayo Clinic

The effect of Vitamin C on melanin pigmentation – A systematic review | PMC

The Use of Natural Compounds and Botanicals in the Development of Anti-AgingSkin Care Products | ScienceDirect


Your Bag

Pick 2 Free Samples with any order

Retinol Reform Sachet 2 ML
Body Reform Treatment Serum Sachet (US/CA)
Intensive Eye Renewal Cream Sachet

Pick 2 Free Samples with any order