vitamin c

Vitamin C is the most googled skincare ingredient of all time while on TikTok #VitaminC has over 1.2 billion views!! To say we’re obsessed with getting our glow on is an understatement. With a multitude of benefits, from brightening to plumping, there isn’t much that vitamin C can’t do. According to Daniel Issacs, Head of R&D at Medik8, “Vitamin C is considered one of the best antioxidants in skincare.”

Its versatility makes it an ingredient that everyone can use no matter what your skin type or skin concern, there’s a formulation for oily skin to acne-scarring and more. It’s the antioxidant weapon that will simultaneously protect your skin, tackle pigmentation, reduce the rate of natural collagen loss and give you an enviable glow. 

If you’re new to the vitamin C game, it’s important to note that for best results you should choose products, be it a serum or moisturiser with at least 10-15% potency. (Due to UK regulations, vitamin C serums don’t tend to go above 30%). However, start with a lightweight formula and slowly build up percentage. Also, vitamin C is notoriously unstable – it will quickly spoil on contact with air, light or water – so look for formulations with complementing ingredients, such as vitamin E, L-ascorbic acid and ferulic acid which pair beautifully and boost its efficacy and stability. And finally, it’s worth noting the darker the bottle, the better your vitamin C products will keep.  

Shop our edit of our favourite vitamin C buys…

Best for newbies: Beauty Pie Superactive Capsules Pure Double Vitamin C & Vitamin E Serum, £60 (Members pay £13.83), Beauty Pie

These clever one-shot capsules give you the perfect amount of the powerful combo of pure vitamin C and vitamin E, which in turn helps to firm, smooth and brighten, minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and help even out skin tone. You won’t need to faff about dosage, simply pop one dose and apply to skin, morning or night, or both! It couldn’t be easier. Great for travelling too.  

Best for Vit C Pros: Medik8 Pure C15, £47

Perfect for those who are experienced in using vitamin C and looking for a higher strength to supercharge their skincare. This 15% pure vitamin C serum delivers a huge dose of antioxidant protectant while also continuing to deliver thanks to an innovative rechargeable antioxidant network that keeps all the actives stable and potent, so you get brightening and firming results every time. 

Best for stressed skin: Pai C-2 Believe Vitamin C Brightening Moisturiser, £49

Delivering radiance without irritation, this light, silky moisturiser is formulated with corn-derived vitamin C and upcycled bilberry extract to repair, soothe and brighten uneven skin tones without causing sensitivities or allergic reactions. A dream product for skin that gets easily aggravated. 

Best for city living: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Vitamin C Serum, £150

If you live in a city, you’ll be familiar with smog in the air, whatever the season. Vitamin C will be your new best friend in helping to keep your skin looking fresh and radiant every day. This serum is unquestionably expensive but it’s SO worth saving up for. With 15% pure vitamin C and 1% vitamin E – a combination that’s been proven to work and with an added dose of ferulic acid, this unique blend tackles everything from fine lines and dark spots to blue light and sun damage. 

Best for sun worshippers: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, £49

Formulated primarily with pigmentation and sunspots in mind, with 15% potency in the formula (hence the name). Uniting the powerhouse ingredients that are vitamin C, E and ferulic acid to minimise fine lines and sun damage to leave smoother, brighter skin in its path. Simply add two to three drops to your moisturiser and watch the glow.

Best for everyday use: Dermalogica AGE Smart™ Biolumin-C Serum, From £85

This is like sunshine in a bottle, simultaneously working on a multitude of skin concerns. Formulated with super smart technology that delivers more vitamin C than most products which in turn brightens, tones and firms skin and it sinks in effortlessly. Need we say more? 

Best for a quick fix: Lixirskin Vitamin C Paste, £25.60

If you’re often time-poor but your skin could do with a wake-up call first thing, this is the product for you! Like a mask, but instead a thick, colourless paste texture containing a generous 10% of vitamin C that’s easy to spread. Simply warm up in your fingertips and feel the paste melt into skin to reveal a luminous, vibrant complexion. Top tip: Leave on overnight ahead of a big night out.

Best for an instant glow: Murad Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial, £67

This is seriously effective in making skin radiant in less than 10 minutes. It’s like a fully loaded vit C smoothie for your skin! Containing a triple whammy of physical, chemical, and enzymatic exfoliants, along with a big shot of stabilised vitamin C for an enviable glow. This colour-changing product (orange to white) can be washed off immediately or left on for 10 minutes for a powerful dose of dewiness. Expect lots of skin compliments!

Best for sensitive skin: REN Skincare Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel, £40

Deserving of all the fuss, this vit C daily moisturiser is gentle, brightening and plumping without causing skin to flare up from any sensitivities. And the lightweight gel-cream texture means it’s absorbed instantly so there’s no waiting time before applying your makeup. 

Best for tired complexions: Allies of Skin 20% Vitamin C Brighten + Firm Serum, £90

This next generation formula hosts so many skin properties that go beyond the brightening and strengthening powers of vitamin C. The supercharged serum is also packed with orange extract to boost elasticity and smoothness, as well as further antioxidants to protect your skin and diminish dullness. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, this is a game-changer for exhausted skin. 

Best for firming: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, £66

Already a favourite amongst the brands millions of devotees, this new and improved serum comes with two vials (a liquid serum base and a vial containing 15% l-ascorbic acid powder) that you mix before first use to create an ultra-stable formula that’s fresh for six months. It brightens, plumps, and hydrates, plus it contains fruit enzymes that buff the skin’s texture, lifting away oil, dirt, and the day’s commute! 

Best for customising: 111SKIN Vitamin C Brightening Booster, £100

If you love your current skincare but want to add a glow-inducing vit C product into your routine, this is a great innovative booster that can be mixed with your favourite moisturiser or applied directly to your skin to combat pigmentation, age spots and uneven skin tone. It’s pricey but you need only one/two drops per application, so the dinky bottle will last and last. 

Best for bright eyes: StriVectin Multi-action Super C Dark Circle Brightening Serum, £52

If under-eye circles and dark circles are your skin bugbear, then this antioxidant rich vit C formula will brighten up your eye area in no-time. Packed with brightening botanicals such as guava leaf that correct the look of both blue and brown dark circles, while visibly firming this delicate skin around the eye too. 

Best for an even tone: Pixi Vitamin C Tonic, £18

This super popular toner is part of the utterly adored toner collection (glow, rose and retinol) that instantly transforms dull, tired, and lacklustre skin to a complexion that’s glowing and energised with pores significantly minimised. Blended with citrus extracts and ferulic acid to help gently exfoliate skin, add a natural luminosity to the complexion. We guarantee we’ll have you buying this on repeat! 

Best for budgets: The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum, £8.49

We can always rely on this cult bargain skincare brand to deliver the goods! Packing a whopping punch of 30% vitamin C that will ensure you get your glow on at a great price. Its creamy texture absorbs easily and leaves a radiant after-glow and the perfect base to layer your moisturiser.

Best for radiance: Farmacy Waterless Vitamin C Serum, £48

With a whopping 10% of vitamin C, you can be sure your skin gets a heavy dosage of antioxidant protection from this silky serum that leaves no sticky residue behind. In fact, the texture is so versatile it sits well under any product you layer on top. Expect super dewy skin that creates a sheen rather a shine. 

Best for de-puffing eyes: Olay 24+ Vitamin C Eye Cream, £38

Unlike most eye creams that work their magic while we catch our Z’s, this light eye cream is best applied in the morning and works like a nutrient-packed smoothie for your eye area, delivering vitamin B3, C and peptides to iron out the creases from the night before. Plus, there’s no waiting time for the cream to settle before applying your eye makeup. 

Best for mature skin: Zelens Power C Concentrate, £105

If you can bare to look beyond the eye-watering price, this watery textured serum is a high-potency of 20% vitamin C that also boosts collagen, increases firmness and elasticity while reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Basically, everything you need from anti-ageing skincare with the added brightening effect of a vitamin C.


The products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however, The Handbook may make a small commission on some products purchased through affiliate links.

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