If you’ve ever wondered why you should invest in a vitamin C serum, take it from board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Linder, M.D., founder of Linder Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center. “Vitamin C performs a variety of functions within the skin, including stimulating new collagen, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, protecting the skin from environmental pollutants with its antioxidant properties, helping reduce visible discolorations on the skin and providing enhanced protection against UV exposure,” she says. Plus, since your skin doesn’t produce vitamin C on its own, you’ll need a topically applied method of delivery for optimal skin health.
So how do you know which one to choose? “When selecting a vitamin C serum, patients should look for products containing pure L-ascorbic acid, the most bioavailable form of vitamin C, in higher percentages, such as 15 or 20 percent,” Dr. Linder says. And to optimize the benefits of the vitamin C, the product should also be formulated with 5 percent pure vitamin E. For optimal benefits, stay away from products with ascorbyl palmitate, recommends Dr. Linder, which is an ester of vitamin C, but doesn’t offer the unique benefits and potency that pure L-ascorbic acid does.
Make sure to apply every morning to get the best level of protection against oxidative damage from sun exposure during the day. And if the product is turning brown or looking darker, it’s likely not at full potency—it’s time to toss it.
Ready to boost your antioxidant intake? Here are nine vitamin C serums that are actually worth every penny: