9 Best Brightening Vitamin C Serums That I’ve Used & Recommend

Best brightening vitamin C serums
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If you’re a BeautySparker, you should be aware of my profuse love for vitamin C serums. Which had led me into testing out most promising ones on the market to find out if they live upto to the hype. 

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Here on BeautySparkReview, you all know I test skincare products for fun, and unlike the regular “best vitamin C serums” articles you see on Google, this article contains the best brightening vitamin C serums that I’ve personally used, which gives me the full grounds to express my candid experience with them. 

Therefore, if you’ve by any means found yourself on this page, seeking for the best brightening vitamin C serums to illuminate your skin complexion, then you’ve come to the right place. 

But before we kick start, it will be a sin if I don’t educate you on what vitamin C really is. And if you already know what it’s all about, don’t see it as a waste of time  reading about it again, because you could learn new stuff which you’ve been ignorant of. 

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant vitamin which helps improve the appearance of the skin, potentially reducing pigmentation, dullness, neutralizing free radicals and environmental aggressors and helps stimulate collagen production.  

A daily application of vitamin C will help reverse sun damage (which helps potentiates your sunscreen), boost collagen production and also address minor hyperpigmentation, which leaves the skin with a wonderful glow and with improved skin texture.

In a breakdown view, the main skin benefits of vitamin C are:

  • Reduces the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation.
  • Reduces the looks of wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. 
  • Powerful antioxidants that fend-off free radicals and environmental aggressors. 
  • Improves the appearance of red marks left on the skin from spots and breakouts. 
  • Builds skin resilience to UV exposure making it able to protect itself better from the sun. 

Moving on, below are the best brightening vitamin C serums I’ve personally used. I bumped into these vitamin C serums either by their good reviews or recommendations. Therefore, like I’ve mentioned above, unlike the regular “best vitamin C serums” you see on the internet, this brightening vitamin C serum review is based on my personal experience. 

1. Timeless 10% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum – Best Overall.

Timeless Vitamin C serum 10%

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Why is it best overall? I know that’s the question ringing in your mind. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you. I categorized Timeless 10% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum as best overall amongst the best brightening vitamin C serums I’ve used so far because, it’s the only L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum I’ve used without experiencing stinging or tingling sensation associated with L-ascorbic acid vitamin C (due to its acidic nature). 

And why’s that? It’s simply because it contains a much lower concentration of L-ascorbic acid (10%) which is best recommended for people with sensitive skin (like I am). 

I always experience itching, tingling, stinging or burning sensation from high concentration of L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serums which I’ve used, which prompted me to use a 10% vitamin C serum concentration, that is the Timeless 10% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum. And everything went just fine. My skin breathed a sigh of relief and drank up this vitamin C serum with excitement and enjoyment, looking all brightened up and glowy without experiencing stinging, tingling or burning sensation. 

So, if you’re in the league of team sensitive skin, and you want to use L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum, a 10% concentration is best recommended and Timeless 10% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum is the best choice to make. Read my full review here

Pros

  • It is fragrance-free.
  • It is pocket-friendly.
  • It is potent and effective.
  • It contains low concentration of vitamin C (which is suitable for sensitive skin).
  • It is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).
  • It is lightweight and absorbs quickly.
  • It contains no toxic ingredients or chemicals.
  • It comes in an air-tight pump and dark yellow-tinted container to protect the vitamin C serum and also for easy dispensing.

Cons

  • I experienced a slight greasy feeling upon product application, although this wasn’t much of a concern to me, because the serum is lightweight and absorbs well, just that it leaves a slight oily feeling behind, which doesn’t stay for long, but I counteract the feeling by applying my moisturizer afterwards  – which I advise you should do too. 
  • Can oxidize quickly even when stored. Do well to store in a refrigerator to prolong shelf-life.

2. The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% – Best For Super Sensitive Skin.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside vitamin C serum

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I dived into this vitamin C serum because of the itching, stinging and burning sensation I experienced from a 20% L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum. As at then, I was so devastated because this 20% L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum was actually doing wonders for my skin – it brightened and improved my skin texture. But it was a pity I had to discontinue usage because my skin said so. It experienced an itching and burning sensation, which made me seek for a vitamin C serum meant for people with sensitive to super-sensitive skin. That was when I met this baby – The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%. 

It contains a vitamin C derivative, Ascorbyl Glucoside, at a 12% concentration. 

Ascorbyl glucoside is a stable form of vitamin C combined with glucose. When properly formulated and absorbed into the skin, it breaks down to ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C).

If you’re knowledgeable with vitamin C derivatives, you’ll know that they don’t irritate or sting the skin unlike L-ascorbic acid, and why’s this? It’s because they’re non-acidic in nature, thus not possessing any skin exfoliating or sensitizing potentials, making them much mild on the skin which suits people with sensitive to super-sensitive skin.

Switching to this vitamin C serum wasn’t a mistake as my skin all glowed up the next morning after night use. And it was a stunner to behold. Believe me when I say the result was so quick. I was literally amazed to behold my face in the mirror the next morning. This is also one of the best brightening vitamin C serum I’ve ever used. Read my full review here

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Very affordable.
  • Mild on the skin.
  • Comes well Packaged.
  • Comes in a UV-protective packaging.
  • Fragrance-free.

Cons

  • Leaves a slight tacky feeling or stickiness behind. But can be counteracted by using a moisturizer afterwards or mix some drops of the serum with your moisturizer prior to application.

3. Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum – Best For People With Non-Sensitive Skin

Timeless Vs SkinCeuticles Vitamin C Serum

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When I said I experienced itching, stinging and burning sensation from a 20% L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum, you know the product I was referring to? – Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum. Yes, it was really a bitter experience to discontinue this product for The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, because it really gave me all that I needed from a vitamin C serum – illuminated my skin with a dazzling glow and improved my skin texture. 

Therefore, being an individual with sensitive skin, I’ll recommend this product for people with non-sensitive skin as it contains 20% L-ascorbic acid which may trigger inflammatory-irritation on people with sensitive skin. 

So, people without sensitive skin will definitely reap the benefits of Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum without incurring inflammatory-irritation which is associated with L-ascorbic acid. But I strongly advise to perform a patch test first, before commencing full product application to test for allergies. Read my comparison review between Timeless and Skinceuticals vitamin C serum.

Pros

  • It is fragrance-free.
  • It is pocket-friendly.
  • It is non-greasy and sticky.
  • It is potent and effective.
  • It has a very high percentage of Vitamin C.
  • It is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).
  • It is lightweight and absorbs quickly.
  • It contains no toxic ingredients or chemicals.
  • It comes in an air-tight pump and yellow-tinted container to protect the vitamin C serum and also for easy dispensing.

Cons

  • This serum can oxidize quickly even when stored. (Store in a refrigerator to prolong shelf-life).

4. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic – Best For Mature Skin

Timeless Vs SkinCeuticles Vitamin C Serum

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For the sake of comparison I tested SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic alongside Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum, to test their efficacy and to help my audience make a good choice between the two. From my experimental review between both vitamin C serums, I came to the conclusion that both vitamin C serums lived up to their hype, because I tested each of them on each of my cheeks which has some left over acne scars on them and both serum brightened up the scars and improved their appearance (although didn’t really get rid of the scars for good) but there was a great improvement.  

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum contains 15% L-ascorbic acid, which is 5% lesser than the Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum, and I can confidently say I didn’t really experience an itchy or burning sensation but just a slight tingling sensation which normalized after one (1) week of use, after my skin has adjusted to it. 

So, a 15% L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum doesn’t really sensitize my skin just like a 20% does, but I still didn’t purchase this serum again after I exhausted it. Not only because I wanted to go for a 10% L-ascorbic acid vitamin C serum (don’t want to take the risk of incurring inflammatory-irritation in the future), but also because SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is exorbitant – costs a whooping $166 for a bottle. That’s way too much for my budget. Read my full review here

Pros 

  • It is fragrance-free.
  • It is non-greasy and sticky.
  • It is effective and potent.
  • It is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).
  • It is light-weight and absorbs quickly.
  • It contains no harmful chemicals or substances.

Cons

  • The price is exorbitant (very high) for a serum.
  • The colour is yellowish, so you can’t tell when it oxidizes.
  • The serum smells like a hot dog (but not horrible).

5. Geek And Gorgeous C-Glow Vitamin C Serum – Best For Oily To Combination Skin.  

Geek And Gorgeous C-Glow Vitamin C Serum review

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I tried the Geek And Gorgeous C-Glow Vitamin C Serum out of curiosity when I bumped into positive reviews about it on Reddit

I was intrigued to purchase it. And I definitely got a bottle for myself (not minding the high L-ascorbic acid concentration, 15%). I guess this was the risk I had to take for the love of skincare. 

Although my experience with the 15% SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum made me discover that a 15% L-ascorbic acid was way more tolerable to my skin than a 20% L-ascorbic acid. With 15% L-ascorbic acid I experienced only tingling sensation which my skin gets acclimatized to after a continual usage. But with a 20% L-ascorbic acid, I experienced both itchy, burning, tingling and stinging sensation, which never subsides even on a long run of usage. 

But truth be told, Geek And Gorgeous C-Glow Vitamin C Serum just as the name implies “C-Glow” made my skin glow like the early morning rising sun. Although each time I applied this C-Glow vitamin C serum I felt a slight tingling-sensation which my skin later acclimatized to with continual usage. It got to a point I no longer experienced tingling sensation upon application – that was a big plus for me, which made this serum make the list of my best brightening vitamin C serums. 

So, if you’re looking to brighten your skin, improve skin appearance and texture, and you’re not on a sensitive to super-sensitive skin side, but have an oily to combination skin, then this vitamin C serum got you covered. It’s super light-weight and effective. Read my full review here. 

Pros

  • It is pocket-friendly.
  • Well packaged (to protect the liquid from oxidation).
  • It’s lightweight and absorbs quickly (doesn’t feel greasy on the skin).
  • It is potent and effective.
  • It is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).
  • It contains no toxic ingredients or chemicals

Cons 

  • I have no dislike for this product, however, I personally prefer an air-tight pump container packaging, (just like the Timeless vitamin C serum) as this won’t only encourage easier usage but also slow down oxidation even more

6. Naturium Vitamin C Complex Serum – Best For Hyperpigmentation

Naturium Vitamin C Complex Serum review

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Contains a concentration of 22% vitamin C. Wow. At first when I heard about the Naturium vitamin C Complex Serum, I didn’t really pick interest in it because I couldn’t imagine myself using such a high concentration of vitamin C. Not until I had to take a good look at the ingredients list, only to discover it doesn’t really contain only L-ascorbic acid, but also a vitamin C derivative, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is one of the most studied and effective vitamin C derivatives. 

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is a very stable and water-soluble form of vitamin C, which is very gentle and mild on the skin, causes no skin irritations, and converts to ascorbic acid when it’s absorbed into the skin. 

In addition to that, sodium ascorbyl phosphate is known for its skin brightening abilities and for targeting hyperpigmentation, post-inflammatory pigmentation, and dark spots

This made me plunge ahead to purchase it without hesitation. And I put it to the test by using it everyday for three (3) weeks. Brethren, I experienced a dramatic brightening effect, with a dazzling healthy glow, without incurring inflammatory-irritation normally associated with high concentration of L-ascorbic acid vitamin C, considering the fact that Naturium vitamin C Complex Serum contains 22% vitamin C.

Maybe L-ascorbic acid concentration in the formula is pretty low, while sodium ascorbyl phosphate takes a higher concentration, because the brand (Naturium) didn’t individually state the percentages of both vitamin C content in the serum. They just went ahead to market it as a 22% vitamin C serum. 

With the intense brightening effect I experienced with this serum, I’ll recommend this to anyone seeking to brighten skin and also tackle hyperpigmentation and improve skin texture. Read my full review here

Pros

  • It is fragrance-free.
  • Dermatologist tested
  • It is pocket-friendly.
  • It is non-greasy and sticky.
  • It is potent and effective.
  • It contains two forms of vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid and Sodium ascorbyl phosphate).
  • It’s well formulated to function in a non-irritating pH environment. 
  • Didn’t break me out or irritate my skin (but perform a patch test though). 
  • It is lightweight and absorbs quickly.
  • It contains no toxic ingredients or chemicals. (Cruelty-free, paraben-free, vegan, gluten-free and fragrance-free).
  • It comes in an air-tight pump and opaque-container to protect the vitamin C serum and also for easy dispensing.

Cons 

  • Didn’t specify the exact percentage of the respective forms of vitamin C contained in the product.

7. The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F – Best For Dry Skin

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate

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Have you really heard about an oil soluble vitamin C? Sounds strange to you? That was the same way I felt when I first heard about it. Which moved me to purchase it.  

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is a stable and oil-soluble form of vitamin C, which penetrates deep into the skin (more than other forms of vitamin C) to establish its skin benefits by fending-off external aggressors, diminish skin aging-signs and Improve skin appearance. It can be used in a high percentage without drawbacks and won’t cause increased skin sensitivity or irritation unlike the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C. 

This vitamin C serum formula also has vitamin F in it, which is a skin conditioning vitamin and fat which helps soothe skin irritation and inflammation such as dermatitis and psoriasis as well as regulate healthy cell function. 

It also contains Jojoba oil which acts as a humectant ingredient. That seals the skin with a protective barrier to keep it from losing moisture, thereby increasing hydration and moisture retention.  

I put The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F to the test for two (2) weeks, but noticed a minimal skin brightening, with a dramatic glow. The brightening effect wasn’t dramatic though, but It did for sure slightly illuminated my skin with a healthy glow. And guess what I loved the most aside from the slight brightening and glowing effect, the fact that it’s very hydrating to the skin, which makes it very suitable for people with dry skin.  

So, if you’re hunting for a brightening vitamin C serum to purchase, but have dry skin, then this serum will make a good choice. Read my full review here. 

Pros 

  • Easy to use.
  • Mild on the skin. 
  • Comes well Packaged.
  • Comes in UV-protective packaging.
  • Pocket-friendly.
  • Fragrance-free.

Cons

  • I have no dislike about this product.

8. Face Theory Regena C20 Vitamin C Serum – Best For Every Skin Type

FaceTheory Regena C20 Serum

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I came to know about Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (also known as 3-O-Ethyl-L-ascorbic acid) not long ago. It’s the most recent derivative of vitamin C, where L-ascorbic acid is combined with an Ethyl group molecule, bound to the third carbon position. This makes vitamin C gentle on the skin, very stable and soluble in both water and oil. Thus making Ethyl Ascorbic-based vitamin C suitable for every skin type

I used this vitamin C serum for five (5) weeks, and I was so satisfied with the result. It gave me the brightening effect of pure L-ascorbic acid but without the side effects. Although I never liked the texture of this serum because it leaves a slight greasy feeling behind (due to the presence of propanediol in the formulation) which I dislike (as someone with oily skin). 

Propanediol is a corn derivative humectant that helps conditions and soothes the skin, which has an oily consistency. But when it comes to this serum, I counteract the slight oily feeling with my moisturizer which vanishes as soon as I apply my moisturizer. 

This vitamin C serum also contains ferulic acid, a powerful antioxidant that helps stabilize active ingredients and prevents damages caused by free radicals. 

Ethyl ascorbic-based vitamin C serums are recommended for all skin types, except for the fact they’re always slightly oily (they mostly contain propanediol as their base) which can leave a little greasy feeling behind, which may be a detest for people with oily skin. But a simple application of a moisturizer will definitely counteract the feeling. Read my full review here

FaceTheory brand also has a 30% formula of ethyl ascorbic acid – Regena C30 Pro Vitamin C Serum. The Ordinary is yet another brand with a decent product that contains 15% ethyl ascorbic acid. Read my review about it here too

Pros

  • Budget Friendly.
  • Contains 20% ethyl ascorbic acid.
  • Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).
  • Suitable for all skin types.
  • Contains no skin irritant-ingredients.

Cons

  • May feel greasy on the skin when applied, but definitely doesn’t leave a greasy feeling behind after absorption. This is due to the presence of propanediol which is normally used as a solvent to dissolve skincare ingredients and also hydrates the skin. 2-3 drops is all you need. A little goes a long way. 

9. Cerave Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum. – Best Elegant

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum review

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This vitamin C serum is coming last on the list of my best brightening vitamin C serums because it’s definitely the last vitamin C serum I’ve purchased so far.

Knowing fully well that when it comes to L-ascorbic acid vitamin C, my skin is most comfortable with a 10% concentration, which I have enjoyed with the Timeless 10% L-ascorbic acid serum. But I decided to try out something new, thus purchasing another 10% L-ascorbic acid-based vitamin C serum from another brand – Cerave, which has been in the skincare game for decades, they’ve reputedly made a name for themselves for producing variants of quality problem-solving skincare products. 

Cerave Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum also contains 10% L-ascorbic acid, and after putting it to the test for three (3) weeks, I experienced the same wonders on my skin as the 10% Timeless vitamin C serum did, in fact, it continued the good works from the Timeless 10% vitamin C serum on my skin. Plus the product’s texture is super lightweight and creamy which hydrates the skin and absorbs quickly without leaving any greasy residue behind. — you really need to experience the product’s texture. 

The two downside with this product is for the fact that it contains “denatured alcohol“, which can be drying and irritating on the skin, and can trigger irritation especially on people with sensitive and dry skin. 

Although I have oily and sensitive skin, but I never experienced irritation while using this product, but I strongly recommend you should perform a patch test first (if you must use this product) so as to test for allergies. 

The other downside is the brand not stating the product’s pH level, which may not be more of a concern to many people, but when it comes to vitamin C products, the pH is an indication of its efficacy.  Read my full review here

Pros

  • It is fragrance-free.
  • It is on a moderate price point.
  • It is potent and effective.
  • It contains low concentration of L-ascorbic acid vitamin C (which is suitable for sensitive skin).
  • It is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).
  • It is super lightweight and absorbs quickly (without leaving a greasy feeling behind). 
  • It comes in a metal-tube packaging to protect the vitamin C serum from oxidation and also for easy dispensing/usage. 

Cons

  • Contains denatured alcohol.
  • Product’s pH level wasn’t stated. 

In Conclusion.

This comes to the end of my best brightening vitamin C serums. Every single vitamin C product mentioned in this article has been personally put to the test by me to enable me to share my most honest reviews with y’all (the BeautySparkers) so as to enable you to make the best decision. 

I advise you to perform a patch test before commencing any product application to test for allergies, also ensure to wear your sunscreen daily before exploring your outdoor activities so as to protect your skin from UV rays exposure to the sun. Read how to properly apply sunscreen.

Disclaimer: The products reviewed in this article are all based on personal experience, you may have a whole different experience as skin type differs so as result differs too.

UP NEXT: These Tranexamic Acid-Based Serums Will Fade Your Melasma & Hyperpigmentation.

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