Your beauty cabinet is filled with all sorts of jars and bottles that tout fancy skin care ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid and ceramides. But what about good ol’ vitamin C? This powerful antioxidant can brighten your skin, reduce the look of dark spots and help fight the first signs of aging. It’s the ingredient your products are missing and you most certainly shouldn’t be without. In an effort to narrow down your choices, five PureWow editors put Sephora’s top-rated vitamin C products to the test so you don’t have to.


“Unfortunately, when I’m not wearing foundation, my skin tone is uneven and pretty dull, especially in the winter. Since my skin lacks any natural glow, I was curious what kind of effect this vitamin C serum would have on my face. My combination skin usually skews more on the oily side, so I was relieved when the silky formula was absorbed almost immediately. It has a light orange scent, which made me hesitant at first because I usually don’t care for scented skin care products, but this didn’t bother me at all. After two weeks of use, I’ve definitely noticed my skin tone is evened out and more radiant. Plus, it feels smooth to the touch. I don’t think I’ll be going foundation-free to the office anytime soon, but I’m definitely on the right track.” – Rachel, editor

Buy Now ($48)

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate 12.5% Vitamin C

“I really wanted something to add some heavy artillery to my stock of keep-me-young-forever products, so this anti-wrinkle serum seemed like the right choice. The first time I used it I was surprised that it seemed more like a lotion than a serum, but it absorbs way faster than a moisturizer and you can still layer a moisturizer on top of it without feeling like a grease ball. My favorite part about the product is that you can feel it working the moment you rub it onto your face—it kinda tingles for a hot sec. I felt like it was waking up my skin to take it from dull to bright. With that, I’ve happily added this serum to my morning and bedtime routines, and my skin feels smoother without feeling totally dry. Also, the citrus fragrance is a lovely wakeup call in the a.m.” – Dara, senior editor

Buy Now ($62)

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

“I selected this brightening serum because I was hoping to fade some stubborn dark spots from old pimples. Since adding it to my regimen in the morning and at night, I’ve been surprised to find that the discolorations are diminishing fairly rapidly. I like that the serum is hydrating and light, and it smells fresh but not overpowering (kind of like tangerines). The vitamin C products I’ve used in the past have irritated my skin, but I haven’t had any adverse effects with this one. After two weeks, I have a nice glow and fewer dark spots, and my fingers are crossed that I’ll never have wrinkles.” – Katherine, editorial assistant

Buy Now ($85)

Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C™ Power Serum

“I’m quickly approaching 30, so anti-aging, wrinkle-reducing products are always on my radar. I’ve been meaning to give a vitamin C serum a go for a while, but I didn’t think anything could top my nightly retinol obsession. I was so wrong. I chose Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C™ Power Serum because I’d heard it’s more powerful than other vitamin C serums. Go big or go home, right? I’ve been using it morning and night, right after washing my face and before I put on moisturizer so it can sink into my pores and get the job done. I’ve only been using it for two weeks, but I already notice a huge difference in my skin—it’s tighter and brighter. It has the consistency of a light moisturizer, so it’s really easy to spread over your whole face with one or two pumps, and it doesn’t really smell like anything, so it isn’t overwhelming. It’s safe to say I’m a vitamin C convert. I’ll definitely continue to use this as part of my daily skin care routine.” – Brianna, editor

Buy Now ($95)

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum

“My skin is combination-dry (read: prone to dullness), and in the past year or so, I’ve started to notice a gradual loss of firmness. Le sigh. So naturally, I gravitate toward anything with the word collagen in it, and I’ve been hip to vitamin C’s antioxidant powers for a while now. (I also noted CoQ10 in the ingredient list for this firming serum, even though I don’t entirely know what it does.) I found that one pump was plenty for my face and neck, although if I were including my décolletage as suggested, I might need two. The gel-like consistency is easy to spread and not tacky like some other serums I’ve tried, and there was zero stinging or irritation after applying. Within a few days, my skin’s characteristic winter blah-ness had definitely diminished, and a week into the trial, my sister mentioned that I looked ‘different’ (in a good way) but couldn’t put her finger on what it was. Two weeks in, my face does seem brighter and a little bouncier—despite the fact that I’ve been sleeping horribly—and I’ve even noticed that a few acne scars are fading. Will I continue to use it? Anything that can fend off the impending signs of aging for a little longer—and that doesn’t require needles—is a win in my book.” – Carolyn, senior editor

Buy Now ($78)

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