This superstar ingredient gets an A+ in the skin-care world, thanks to its (many) complexion-perfecting benefits. Here, the best vitamin C products to snag to transform your skin.
The Skin Benefits of Vitamin C
1 of 12All photos
It may not be the newest skin-care ingredient on the block, but vitamin C remains a mainstay in the beauty world, thanks to its tried-and-true anti-aging benefits. First and foremost, it acts as an antioxidant, combating skin-damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) that form after exposure to sun and/or pollution (which happens to *everyone*, no matter how good you are about applying sunscreen). Next, it brightens the skin by gently exfoliating dead, discolored cells while simultaneously inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme essential for the production of new pigment. In other words, it both fades existing spots and keeps new ones from cropping up. And finally, it helps keep collagen—the protein essential for firm, youthful skin—from breaking down, and some studies have shown that the vitamin stimulates collagen production, too. (The full scoop on the benefits: Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin C Skin Care)
Sold on the science? Start working the triple-threat vitamin into your skin-care routine with any of these vitamin C products.
Photo: Carlo Prearo / EyeEm / Getty Images
2 of 12All photos
Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C
3 of 12All photos
Reach for this two-step, seven-day protocol whenever your skin needs a little extra TLC. The 7-day system comes with a powder vitamin C cleanser; add water to work it into a lather, then leave it on your skin for a minute to reap the full benefits. There's also a vitamin C–rich booster that contains a powder and emulsion you combine in the tube, then add to your daily moisturizer.
First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger & Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask
4 of 12All photos
Ginger and turmeric aren't just good to incorporate into your diet; in this cooling jelly mask, the superfoods work to calm and soothe your skin while the vitamin C delivers brightening benefits. And while it's usually best to look for vitamin C–based products housed in opaque containers—since the sun can deactivate the ingredient—the packaging on this jar has a special UV coating to keep the ingredient stable.
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
5 of 12All photos
We have yet to find a vitamin C serum that dermatologists love and recommend more than the cult classic Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. Why? It might have something to do with the impressive 15 percent concentration of pure vitamin C or the fact that it's coupled with ferulic acid, another potent antioxidant, that also improves the stability and efficacy of vitamin C. A pricey product for sure, but well worth the splurge.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Targeted Spot Brightener
6 of 12All photos
See spots run. This targeted brightener uses THD Ascorbate, which is 50 times more powerful than traditional vitamin C, to fade even the stubbornest dark marks. But, as with any skin brightening treatment, make sure you're extra diligent about daily sunscreen application so that those spots don't come back.
Photo: Peter Thomas Roth
M-61 Vitablast C Serum Pad
7 of 12All photos
Mark your calendars: The M-61 Vitablast C Serum Pads won't be available until October, but they're already generating beauty buzz. Infused with 15 percent vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidant-rich gallic acid, all you have to do is swipe one of these pads across your skin every night to reap the benefits. Could it get any easier?
Photo: Blue Mercury
Vitabrid C12 Face Brightening Powder
8 of 12All photos
Here's a fun fact: One Vitabrid C12 Face Brightening Powder is sold every 27 seconds in Japan. Mix the powder with water or a skin-care product of your choosing; it releases active and stable vitamin C into your skin for the next 12 hours. FYI, powder versions of the vitamin are on the rise, thanks to their increased potency and stability.
Avalon Organics Intense Defense with Vitamin C Eye Cream
9 of 12All photos
The thin and delicate skin around your eyes requires extra protection, which is why this vitamin C eye cream is a smart option to work into your routine. The 70 percent organic formula packs a hefty antioxidant punch, thanks to not only vitamin C, but also lemon bioflavonoids and white tea.
Photo: Avalon Organics
The Body Shop Mandarin Energizing Face Mist
10 of 12All photos
The vitamin C in this face mist is sourced from mandarins, camu camu—an Amazonian fruit extremely rich in the nutrient—and maca root extract. Whether used as post-workout or as a pick-me-up throughout the day, the spritz instantly refreshes and revives your skin.
Photo: The Body Shop
Mary Kay Timewise Vitamin C Activating Squares
11 of 12All photos
Each of the tiny, dissolvable squares packs a dose of the vitamin that can be mixed with any skin-care product (except sunscreen or acne treatments). The first-of-its-kind technology keeps the ingredient stable and effective and is an easy way to work vitamin C into any existing skin-care routine.
Photo: Mary Kay
Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water
12 of 12All photos
What you won't find in this cleansing water: mineral oil, synthetic colorants, parabens, or phthalates. What you will find: an antioxidant combo of vitamins B and C, plus a superberry extract. Right away, the gentle micellar formula dissolves dirt and makeup; over time, those vitamins work to brighten and protect your complexion.