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A beauty editor's honest review of the latest vitamin C serums

Discover how to get your skin to glow all year round with an expert's opinion on the latest vitamin C serums

Split screen vitamin C
Kate Lockett
Beauty and Lifestyle Editor
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As we emerge out of the dreary winter months, I'm on the lookout for anything to brighten up my dull complexion and diminish the dark spots and scars I've accrued from hormonal blemishes.

Where better to turn to than vitamin C, one of the most highly-searched skincare ingredients? We know that vitamin C is the go-to for warding off colds and coughs but why should I be adding the sunshine vitamin into my skincare routine? Firstly, because it promises to brighten my complexion and boosts collagen production - ideal when my skin is laclustre.

The powerful antioxidant also tackle concerns such as uneven tone, fine lines and pigmentation and can be particularly effective for melanin-rich skin, which is prone to hyperpigmentation.

Those pesky chin spot scars have lightened and my skin has a renewed glow after adding vitamin C into my routine§§§§§§
Those pesky chin spot scars have lightened and my skin has a renewed glow after adding vitamin C into my routine

As a rather impatient person who wants immediate results, vitamin C is my new skincare favourite ingredient. Within a few weeks, my skin looks so bright and smooth that I've been asked if I'm wearing foundation, even when I'm barefaced.

C the difference

While I tried and tested the latest and greatest vitamin C available on the market, I asked consultant dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto consultant dermatologist at Self London, for the lowdown on how to add this glow-giving ingredient into my regimen.

"Vitamin C is most effective in serum form, as it allows for better penetration into the skin,” says Dr. Anjali. But as with most active ingredients, strength matters. "Look for stabilised forms such as L-ascorbic acid. An optimal concentration with minimal irritation is between 10-20%. Higher concentrations may offer more benefits, but they can be irritating for some.”

Vitamin C is something of a diva in the skincare world, warns Dr. Anjali. Due to its delicate nature, vitamin C is best kept in opaque or dark-coloured bottles. away from direct sunlight so it doesn’t lose its potency. I've taken my bottles out of the bathroom cabinet and now keep them in a cool, dark room - also my favourite environment after a big night out. Don't forget to pay attention to the expiry date. If it has turned a murky, brown colour, it’s time to throw it in the bin.

Skincare cocktailing

If you're thinking about your cocktail of skincare products, while vitamin C can be complemented by other ingredients, such as hydrating vitamin E, Dr. Anjali urges caution using exfoliating acids such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) as they may increase sensitivity. "Use vitamin C in the morning and acids in the evening, once or twice a week. Don’t overwhelm your skin by introducing too much, too fast," she advises.

Model with glowing skin© Getty
Prep your skin to glow all year round with vitamin C

Can you use vitamin C on sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema or rosacea, start by using a low concentration. "Sensitive-skin individuals may initially experience mild irritation, redness, or a tingling sensation when using vitamin C. Patch-test first and start with a lower concentration, around 5-10%, and gradually increase usage,” says Dr. Anjali. If you do experience a reaction, reduce the concentration or dilute the strength by mixing it in with your moisturiser.

The best vitamin C serums I've tried

The vitamin C for sensitive skin

Although it's a high concentration, this Paula’s Choice Vitamin C + Glutathione Clinical Serum has a lightweight oil and water formula containing a potent and highly stable 25% vitamin C. It targets stubborn discolouration and sun damage, while fellow antioxidant glutathione will minimise irritation and I didn't find it caused any irritation or redness when I used it.

Vitamin C for eyes

As I get older, my panda eyes are deepening and this serum contains 10% vitamin C to tackle puffiness and dark under-eye circles, Revision Skincare C+ Brightening Eye Complex is backed up with impressive clinicals and the metal applicator feels so cool and refreshing on the skin.

The cult vitamin C

Having heard all the rage about this cult classic, I couldn't get away with not trying Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. This stable form of 15% L-ascorbic acid brightens and smooths. The addition of vitamin E and ferulic acid makes it a powerhouse skin protector against ageing free radicals from the sun and ozone pollution. Fellow Beauty Collective member Melanie Macleod rates this as her favourite vitamin C. "It was easy to add into my routine, with no irritation even though it was the first time I'd used vitamin C. It absorbed easily, so was a pleasure to use day and night."

For vitamin C newbies

Voya Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum

When I first started using vitamin C, I wish the Voya Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum had been available, as this is a great starter for vitamin C newbies, with 4% concentration. It absorbs quickly without any stickiness and contains an anti-inflammatory, complexion-boosting cocktail of orange oil and seaweed.

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