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When it comes to skincare ingredients, very few are as hyped-up as vitamin C. For many people, myself included, vitamin C is the first introduction to the world of serums, as one of its main claims is younger, radiant-looking skin. Whenever I have dull-looking skin, I immediately reach for a vitamin C serum, which often has orange or yellow accents on its packaging to represent its brightening properties. Found face masks, moisturizers, and wrinkle creams galore, vitamin C serums firm, fade, tighten—it probably also files your taxes on time.
“Vitamin C is a topical antioxidant that has many beneficial properties,” says celebrity dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal. “It reduces hyperpigmentation and acts as a cofactor for many cellular processes to maintain naturally glowing skin. Most of all, it scavenges free radicals that we come in contact with every single day.”
Vitamin C also helps the skin look younger for longer. According to fellow dermatologist Dr. Omar Ibrahimi, “[it’s] a key molecule for optimizing skin health and is an important and necessary cofactor (supporting molecule) that is required for the production of collagen, which is our skin’s main building block and currency for youthful skin.”
Experts agree that everyone should use a vitamin C serum, but the strength most effective will often vary from person to person. Since “vitamin C can be irritating at concentrations at or above 20 percent,” Dr. Lal says, he recommends picking up a 10 percent concentration, especially if you’re new to the ingredient.
No matter your tolerance, though, Dr. Ibrahimi says to look for vitamin C formulas with L-ascorbic acid, which is the true active form of vitamin C. “L-ascorbic acid is the best option for most, as it is the most bioactive vitamin C compound,” he says.
All that to say, if you’ve ever wanted clear, smooth skin–with maybe fewer fine lines–then this ingredient is calling your name. But which one is right for you? Don’t worry; we’ve found the best of the best. To get the glowing skin of our dreams, here are 24 vitamin C serums we love.