By Sara M, Founder

What does vitamin C serum do for your skin?

Glowing, youthful skin is something we all strive for. But over time, exposure to the sun, pollution, and other environmental factors can cause skin damage that makes us look older than we are.

Luckily, a simple skincare ingredient can help: vitamin C.

Vitamin C serums have become very wildly popular in recent years. In 2022 alone, the global vitamin C skincare market was valued at $ 1,437.6 million. And it's no wonder why. Multiple studies have shown that topical vitamin C has a range of benefits for skin health.

When applied to the skin, vitamin C can increase collagen production, fade dark spots and discoloration, improve skin texture, hydrate the skin, and protect against further environmental damage.

So, if you're looking to smooth out the fine lines, even out your skin tone, ramp up the glow, or protect your skin's youth, consider adding a vitamin C serum into your regular skincare routine.

Read on to learn precisely how and what vitamin C serum does for your skin.

What is Vitamin C serum?

Vitamin C serums have become one of the most popular skincare products in recent years. But what exactly are they, and why are they suddenly so in demand?

Vitamin C serums are very concentrated formulations packed with - you guessed it - vitamin C. Typically, they contain 10-20% pure vitamin C (also called L-ascorbic acid), the active antioxidant ingredient. Some formulas combine vitamin C supplements with other good-for-your-skin ingredients like vitamin E, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid for enhanced benefits.

Unlike oral vitamin C capsules for immune defense, topical vitamin C serums are applied directly to the skin. This allows the nutrients to penetrate deep into the skin tissues.

And because vitamin C is very highly unstable when exposed to air or light, serums come in opaque, airtight containers with pumps or droppers to maintain maximum potency.

What does Vitamin C do for your skin?

Multiple studies have shown that vitamin C can boost collagen production by up to four times the normal rates. It also protects the existing collagen from further damage. Consistent use of topical vitamin C has been found to thicken the dermis (inner skin layer) by over 10% in just six months. This plumps out the wrinkles from within.

In addition, vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant. It neutralizes the skin-damaging free radicals from pollution and UV exposure. One study found subjects who used topical vitamin C had 42% less wrinkle depth after six months, thanks to its antioxidant protection.

Vitamin C also regulates melanin synthesis, reducing the excess pigmentation and brown spots from sun damage. Research shows it can inhibit melanin formation by up to 62% within 12 weeks.

The Top Benefits of Using Vitamin C Serum for Your Skin

Brightening and Evening Out the Skin Tone

When applied topically, vitamin C serums may also help to brighten the skin and reduce the signs of uneven pigmentation. Some research suggests that vitamin C inhibits melanin production, which can help even the skin tone.

However, claims about fading dark spots or eliminating hyperpigmentation should be reviewed carefully. Vitamin C works gradually over the span of time, not overnight. It's very important to use SPF and have realistic expectations.

Reducing the Appearance of Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Evidence on whether vitamin C reduces wrinkles is mixed. While vitamin C promotes collagen production, which keeps the skin firm and supple, it likely does not permanently reduce the deep wrinkles.

However, everyone's skin is very unique so some individuals may notice subtle improvements in the appearance of the fine lines over time.

Boosting Collagen Production

Collagen provides structural support in the skin, which tends to decline with age. Boosting collagen can improve the skin's firmness and also texture.

However, many factors affect skin health, so vitamin C serum is not a cure-all solution. Using SPF and following good skincare practices is very essential.

Protecting against UV Damage and also Free Radicals

Some research suggests that vitamin C's antioxidant powers can also help protect the skin cells against UV exposure and environmental pollution damage.

That said, the vitamin C serum should not replace the sunscreen. It provides an extra layer of defense, but it does not make your skin waterproof. For comprehensive protection, use SPF 30+ and antioxidants like vitamin C.

How to Choose the Right Vitamin C Serum for Your Skin Type

Regarding the vitamin C serums, not all are created equal. The type of vitamin C and the concentration that will be most effective depends on your skin type and concerns. Here’s a quick guide:

Dry/Sensitive Skin

Opt for a lower concentration of vitamin C (5-10%) from magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or sodium ascorbyl phosphate. These forms are gentler and ideal if your skin feels tight, flaky, or irritated easily.

Plus, they provide many hydrating and soothing benefits.

Oily/Acne-Prone Skin

Try a serum with 10-15% l-ascorbic acid, the most active form of vitamin C. It works on oily and clogged skin to unclog pores, control the excess oil, and also reduce the inflammation from breakouts. It also plays nice with the retinol or AHA exfoliants you may use to target acne.

Anti-Aging/ Hyperpigmentation

A vitamin C serum with 15-20% l-ascorbic acid concentration plus vitamin E and ferulic acid can target the signs of aging and fade the unwanted spots. These 3 antioxidants fight the free radical damage together for more potent results.

The best approach is to slowly introduce your skin to vitamin C a few times a week and increase the frequency based on your skin’s tolerance. Always combine your vitamin C with SPF in the mornings for added protection against UV damage that can accelerate the signs of aging.

Application Techniques for Maximum Results

Apply on Clean, Dry Skin

It's crucial to apply your vitamin C serum on a clean, dry face so it can absorb deeply into your skin without any barrier. Wash with a gentle cleanser and pat dry your skin before applying serum. Avoid toner beforehand as well.

Use it at night

Dermatologists recommend using vitamin C serum at night, as the sunlight can oxidize and destabilize the ingredients, rendering it ineffective. Smooth it on before bed so it can work its magic overnight.

Store it Properly

To maintain the potency and stability of your vitamin C serum, store it in an opaque bottle away from direct light and heat. Keep it in the fridge if possible, as colder temperatures prevent oxidation.

Start Slow

If new to vitamin C, it's best to begin by applying the serum within 2-3 days. Monitor your skin for irritation, then gradually increase the frequency based on your tolerance. Most aim to use it daily once adjusting to it.

Pair Strategically

Boost the results by pairing vitamin C serum with synergistic ingredients like vitamin E, ferulic acid, or retinol. But use one active at a time when starting to assess the effects.

Pat Gently

Dispense a pea-sized amount and warm in the fingers before patting gently onto the skin. Do not aggressively rub! Let it fully absorb before applying anything else.

Be diligent, patient, and strategic with the application, and your vitamin C serum can deliver remarkable brightening and anti-aging benefits!

Let your natural glow shine through with this skincare superstar.

Potential Risks

When used correctly, vitamin C serums can have tremendous benefits for skin health and appearance. However, there are some potential side effects and risks to be aware of when using these products.


Vitamin C serums contain a very high concentration of vitamin C, typically between 10-20%. This means the formulations are quite acidic, usually around a pH between 2 and 3.5. For some people with sensitive skin, this can cause a lot of redness, stinging, or irritation when applied. It's best to patch-test the vitamin C serums before using them all over the face.

Increased Sun Sensitivity

Vitamin C increases photosensitivity, making the skin more prone to sunburn. It's crucial to wear sunscreen daily when using a vitamin C serum, even on cloudy days.

Choose a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher to get adequate protection. Without sunscreen, people may experience increased sun damage, dark spots, and also faster signs of aging if using a vitamin C serum regularly.


Vitamin C serums contain pure L-ascorbic acid, an unstable ingredient that can oxidize when exposed to light or air. You may notice your serum changing color over a long time - this is a sign it has deteriorated and degraded. Oxidized vitamin C not only becomes ineffective, but it can also cause skin irritation. Pay attention to the packaging - dark glass bottles and air-restricting pumps help to keep these serums freshest for the longest.

The key is to choose a high-quality vitamin C serum formula suited for your skin type, follow the usage guidelines, and layer with ample sun protection. When used properly, the vitamin C serums present minimal risks while providing fantastic benefits!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use vitamin C serum every day?

Using a Vitamin C serum daily is beneficial in the long term.

What does vitamin C serum do to your face?

Vitamin C reduces hyperpigmentation by preventing the action of tyrosine enzymes. The enzyme produces melanin, which gives skin color. Vitamin C is also used to brighten the skin. Additionally, It can help reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Does vitamin C serum actually work?

Vitamin C serums help to brighten the skin and reduce the signs of uneven pigmentation. Some research suggests that vitamin C inhibits melanin production, which can help even the skin tone. 

Does vitamin C serum remove dark spots?

Vitamin C serum can help fade dark spots. It promotes skin cell turnover and boosts the production of collagen, which may lead to a more even skin tone.


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