Keep that sunkissed glow year-round with vitamin C serums that fight free radicals, soften wrinkles, and brighten your complexion naturally. These cruelty-free and vegan serums are full of plant-based goodness.
For a potent skincare product that truly packs a punch, look no further than the beauty industry’s holy grail: vitamin C serum. That’s right, the powerful antioxidant found in your morning cup of freshly squeezed orange juice is largely touted for its anti-aging properties, from smoothing fine lines to brightening the skin’s complexion. But just how effective are vitamin C serums really?
What is vitamin C?
When it comes to the benefits of vitamin C, it would probably be easier to list out what it’s not good for. (In other words, there’s not a lot.)
Vitamin C is a vital nutrient the body needs for the repair and maintenance of the body’s blood vessels, tissues, bones, and teeth, among others.
The antioxidant helps to protect the body’s cells against the effects of free radicals. Vitamin C is proven to help stimulate collagen production, the skin-nourishing savior that fights off fine lines and hydrates the skin.
Studies show that it helps to reduce melanin formation—lightening dark spots—and protect against sun damage. And it may also help treat melasma and rosacea flare-ups, skin conditions that cause dark spotting and redness to the skin, respectively.
Due to the fact that the body cannot produce it, vitamin C must be obtained through foods—such as berries, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and citrus fruits—or via oral supplements. And, when applied topically, vitamin C can be just as beneficial to the skin.
How effective is vitamin C serum?
Studies show that topical vitamin C also has a range of benefits, “from antiaging and antipigmentary to photoprotective,” according to a 2017 study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
“Vitamin C has a wide range of protective and anti-aging effects for the skin,” Annie Chiu, MD, founder and board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at The Derm Institute, told SELF.
“Serums typically offer the highest concentrations of active vitamin C,” she continued. “And [they] tend to have better skin penetration compared to other vitamin C products, like creams and cleansers.”
For maximum effectiveness, dermatologists recommend using serums that have a vitamin C concentration level of between 10 and 20 percent.
Get glowing with these clean beauty vitamin C serums
Give your skin a little TLC with these clean beauty vitamin C serums.
1. Youth to the People
With a goal of being 100 percent biodegradable, this California-based clean skincare brand formulates its products using superfood ingredients that are optimal for skin health. For a vitamin C-packed serum, shop the 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum. Good for alleviating dark spots, puffiness, and wrinkles, the serum is suitable for most skin types, including normal, dry, oily, and combination skin. Vegan and cruelty-free, ingredients include yerba mate, guayusa, passion fruit, and dragon fruit.
Natural and cruelty-free skincare that feels as good as it smells, Herbivore formulates its products without the use of synthetic ingredients, including dyes, fragrances, and parabens. The company uses sustainable packaging, including glass and paper, as well as recycled and recyclable plastic when necessary. For a potent skin brightening serum, shop the brand’s Nova 15% Vitamin C + Turmeric Brightening Serum, which features turmeric and arbutin, a bearberry plant extract that helps to target dark spots and minimize the look of pores.
For vegan and clean skincare that’s great for all skin types, shop Biossance. The California-based brand’s Squalene + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum features a vitamin C complex of 10 percent and white shiitake mushroom to help fade dark spots.
Target dull skin and pesky acne and blemishes with Ranavat’s Brightening Saffron Serum. In addition to saffron, the lightweight serum features turmeric and licorice root to help soothe inflammation and reduce hyperpigmentation, respectively. Vegan, cruelty-free, and housed in recyclable packaging, it just may be your new fave beauty essential.
5. True Botanicals
Certified vegan and cruelty-free, this San Francisco-based skincare company prioritizes sustainable and organic ingredients that are free from 6,500 toxic chemicals that are “known to harm human and environmental health.” Good for all skin types, the brand’s Vitamin C Booster is a powder that can be added to a water-based serum or moisturizer for added skin nourishment.
For more clean beauty essentials, click here for Ethos’ complete guide to carbon-neutral skincare.
All products featured on Ethos have been independently selected by our editorial team. When you buy something through our links, Ethos may earn an affiliate commission.