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The Ultimate Guide To Vitamin C Serums (And Getting Glowing, Spring-Ready Skin)

Image by: Noah Buscher

The best Vitamin C serums on the market and how to use them effectively. 

If you were to ask any dermatologist what you need for the glowing, healthy, clear skin of dreams, chances are that Vitamin C is pretty high up on their list. It’s a chief antioxidant, is a clinically-proven brightening agent, evens skin tone, helps our skin produce and retain more collagen (the all-important protein that makes our skin look plump and young) and protects skin from things like free radicals and environmental factors such as pollution (the nasty things that stresses skin out). 

In all, factoring Vitamin C into your skincare routine is a no-brainer. It's also the best time to try it given many of us are stuck indoors with limited sunshine for the foreseeable! However, as with all skincare, not all products are created equal; Vitamin C is a difficult ingredient to formulate, as it loses stability and potency when in contact with air, light and water. Plus, the market is practically heaving with options, all clamouring for your attention. 

In order to help you make the best choice, we at the Bullring & Grand Central have put together a guide to Vitamin C skincare, answering common questions like ‘is it ok to use Vitamin C everyday?’, and ‘how long does it take for Vitamin C to take effect on the skin?’. Given that the easiest way to work Vitamin C into your existing skincare routine is with serums, below we’ve also rounded up the most effective on the market and for all budgets.

Image by: Christin Hume

Is it okay to use Vitamin C serum everyday?

Yes - Vitamin C serums are usually applied once or twice a day, during your morning and/or evening skincare routine.

When should I apply Vitamin C serum?

Apply yours after you have cleansed your face and toned, but before you moisturise.

Does Vitamin C fade dark spots?

Yes! Vitamin C is naturally skin-brightening so will fade existing brown or dark spots. With continued use, it has also been found to prevent dark spots from forming in the first place.

Image by: Aiony Haust

Is Vitamin C good for acne scars?

Yes - it’s power to address skin discolouration and reduce hyper-pigmentation also related to acne scarring.

Does vitamin C oil clog pores? Can I still use Vitamin C serum if I have oily skin?

No. Vitamin C’s natural antioxidant properties increases skin's natural exfoliation rate, meaning pores are not clogged. In serum form, Vitamin C is best for oily skin as it offers a lightweight and easily absorbed dose of moisture, the likes of which can actually combat oiliness.

Does vitamin C dry out your skin?

No, it does the opposite and hydrates the skin. One derivative of Vitamin C is magnesium phosphate, a compound that not only hydrates the skin but it also helps the skin prevent further moisture loss.

Image by: Brooke Lark

How long does it take for Vitamin C to work on skin?

As with all skincare products, Vitamin C will not make an instant, dramatic, visual change to the skin. You will need to use it regularly over the course of several weeks or months to see the visible difference in the quality of your skin.

What should you not mix with Vitamin C?

There are several other popular skincare ingredients that you should not use with Vitamin C, these are...

Retinol: Though both great for the skin, retinol and Vitamin C are best used separately - they have different ph and if used together they will ‘clash’.

Benzoyl peroxide: If used together, benzoyl peroxide and Vitamin C can cancel each other out; the benzoyl peroxide can oxidise the Vitamin C, which in turn can become unstable and irritate the skin.

AHA’s, BHA’s: Mixing Vitamin C with AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids) must be done with caution. They can in some cases work well together because they both work in acidic environments, but as they are both acidic they can also irritate the skin.

Image by: Noah Buscher

Should I apply my Vitamin C serum in the morning or evening?

Either is fine, but some dermatologists recommend applying a vitamin C serum in the morning so as to prevent damage from free radicals that can occur throughout the day. As serums are quick absorbing and lightweight, they do lend themselves to morning routines when you need to be out of the door quickly.

Do I still need to use SPF when using Vitamin C serum?

Yes, you must always wear SPF to protect skin from harmful UV rays. Some dermatologists advise combining Vitamin C serum and broad-spectrum sun cream as the two together have been found to protect well against UVA rays and to be more effective at neutralising free radical damage from sun exposure than just using sun cream alone.

Which are the best Vitamin C serums?

The Organic Pharmacy’s Vitamin C Serum

Using 15% stabilised vitamin C for a high potency effect, The Organic Pharmacy’s Vitamin C Serum is non-irritating and targets dullness, uneven skin tone and signs of ageing.

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THE Organic Pharmacy

Stabilised Vitamin C serum 30ml


The INKEY List's Vitamin C Serum 

At only £7.99 a bottle, this is a great option for those on a budget. It’s also powerful; it’s formulated with 30% pure, stable, L Ascorbic Acid to give you maximum results with minimal irritation.

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Vitamin C Serum 30ml


Dermalogica’s Biolumin-c Serum

Dermalogica’s Biolumin-c Serum fuses ultra-stable Vitamin C and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 so to deliver more Vitamin C into the skin and help dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also packed with Lactic Acid to accelerate cell turnover, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract to help return skin to a calm state after experiencing oxidative stress and Salvia Hispanica (Chia Seed) Oil to hydrate and help quench free radicals.

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Biolumin-c serum 30ml


Revolution Skincare's 3% Vitamin C Serum

With a lower level of Vitamin C - and at a lower price - Revolution Skincare's 3% Vitamin C Serum is great for skin care beginners and boosting radiance on a budget.

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Elizabeth Arden's Radiance Renewal Vitamin C Serum Ceramide Capsules

Encapsulated for freshness, these capsules include Vitamin C for its brightening superpowers and ceramides to help prevent moisture loss, making them a great option for those wanting to reduce the signs of premature ageing like dullness and hyper-pigmentation.

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Dr Dennis Gross' C+ Collagen Brighten + Firm Vitamin C Serum

Dr Dennis Gross' C+ Collagen Brighten + Firm Vitamin C Serum is an intensive dose of moisture for dull, age-damaged skin, delivering a boost of vitamin C and collagen amino acids that helps to support the skin’s own regeneration and repair functions.

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DR Dennis Gross Skincare

Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten + Firm Vitamin C...


La Roche-Posay's Pure Vitamin C 10 Serum

This is a light, non-greasy essence which melts quickly into skin. Pure Vitamin C offers its antioxidant properties, promoting glowing skin, whilst Hyaluronic Acid plumps skin with moisture to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; Salicylic Acid gently exfoliates away any dead skin for a brighter, more uniform tone and texture and Thermal Water soothes and restores skin. 

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The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Skin Reviver

The Vitamin C Skin Reviver consistently gets rave reviews and is one of The Body Shop’s best sellers, namely because it has a silky-smooth finish, offers instant radiance thanks to light-reflective particles, and absorbs seamlessly into the skin.

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