Is An Costly Vitamin C Serum Higher Than An Inexpensive One?

Dermatologists on the skincare aspect of TikTok recurrently tout the advantages of vitamin C, recommending customers incorporate it into their morning routines. However the worth factors for vitamin C serums are wildly totally different — why is ReVive’s serum $300 whereas The Strange’s might be discovered for just below $8?

Is that this distinction nothing greater than fancy advertising? Or does a higher-cost serum imply a greater product?

We spoke to board-certified dermatologists Dr. Angela Casey and Dr. Jeffrey Hsu, in addition to beauty chemist Ginger King, to seek out out the distinction between a high-priced and a low-priced vitamin C serum and whether or not it’s higher for shoppers to speculate or save with regards to this skincare product.

What are the advantages of vitamin C in skincare?

With an ever-increasing variety of influencers selling merchandise that promise a brand new marvel ingredient, it’s simple to develop into jaded and marvel, “Do I even want this ingredient?”

However in accordance with dermatologists, shoppers shouldn’t sleep on vitamin C.

“Vitamin C is a topical antioxidant,” mentioned Casey, an Ohio-based dermatologist. “It has anti-inflammatory results within the pores and skin; helps the pores and skin shed uninteresting, dry pores and skin cells and seem brighter by growing epidermal turnover; promotes collagen synthesis, permitting the pores and skin to develop into stronger and extra supple; and works in tandem with sunscreen to guard pores and skin cells from oxidative stress.”

With the plethora of advantages vitamin C offers to the pores and skin ― together with anti-aging, brightening and collagen manufacturing ― it’s no marvel this ingredient is a darling amongst many dermatologists.

“Consider vitamin C as an necessary step in outfitting your pores and skin to face the day forward,” Casey mentioned. “Topical vitamin C prepares the pores and skin to deal with the entire air pollution, irritation, UV injury that it encounters all through the day, and provides that additional layer of safety from environmental irritants.”

Why are some vitamin C serums a lot costlier than others?

As with all product, there’s all kinds of things that may have an effect on the totally different worth factors between two vitamin C serums.

Concentrations And High quality Management

“The standard and focus of vitamin C used within the formulation can considerably influence the value,” mentioned Hsu, an Illinois-based dermatologist.

Because the focus of vitamin C in a serum goes up, so does the value. And whereas extra will not be essentially higher with regards to this ingredient, shoppers ought to be sure their serum comprises sufficient vitamin C to be efficient.

“Customers ought to search for vitamin C concentrations between 10-20%,” Casey suggested. “Concentrations past 20% actually don’t supply any vital extra profit and might be extra irritating to the pores and skin. People with dry or delicate pores and skin ought to begin with a decrease focus of round 10%.”

However for all of this ingredient’s advantages, there may be one main draw back. In its pure kind ― ascorbic acid ― it’s infamous for expiring shortly. Nevertheless, there are a number of vitamin C derivatives that show to be extra steady than pure ascorbic acid. These merchandise can last more in your shelf, however the trade-off is that these derivatives carry the next price ticket.

Vitamin C in its pure state should be a clear liquid. When it turns orange or brown, that’s a sign that the serum has oxidized and has lost some of its efficacy.

Anna Efetova by way of Getty Pictures

Vitamin C in its pure state must be a transparent liquid. When it turns orange or brown, that’s an indication that the serum has oxidized and has misplaced a few of its efficacy.

“Pure ascorbic acid will not be steady until in a liposome kind,” King defined. ”Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and 3-o-ethyl-ascorbic acid are varieties of vitamin C which can be extra steady but in addition costlier.”

In the long term, it could additionally profit shoppers to pay somewhat extra for a serum from an organization that prioritizes high quality management.

“The manufacturing course of and manufacturing requirements may affect the fee,” Hsu mentioned. “Manufacturers that prioritize rigorous high quality management measures, superior formulation methods and use premium packaging supplies could command the next worth to cowl these bills.”

Further Components And Patents

“Vitamin C turns into unstable when dissolved in water,” Casey mentioned. “So combining vitamin C with complementary elements comparable to vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid and glutathione assist stabilize the vitamin C, thereby sustaining its efficiency and efficacy.”

Whereas these complementary elements can permit the product to last more, they’ll additionally make it costlier. SkinCeuticals’ vitamin C serum, which is available in at a whopping $180, makes use of a patented mix of nutritional vitamins C and E and ferulic acid for improved efficacy. Patents on a specific formulation may include the next price ticket for shoppers, as rival firms can not replicate their very own model of the product. (SkinCeuticals lists the odds of its energetic elements like L-ascorbic acid, vitamin E and ferulic acid, however to guard its patent, it doesn’t listing the odds of inactive elements, which might have an effect on the ultimate product.)

It might be tempting to attempt your hand at mixing your personal SkinCeuticals dupe through the use of numerous skincare merchandise that include elements like vitamin E and ferulic acid and a vitamin C powder comparable to The Strange’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder. Nevertheless, it’s greatest to go away it to the professionals.

“The vitamin E and ferulic acid within the SkinCeuticals serum are supposed to be an anti-oxidant to guard the vitamin C within the serum relatively than to offer extra pores and skin advantages that one may see in combining numerous lotions and lotions,” King mentioned. “Except SkinCeuticals specifies how a lot E and ferulic acid are of their serum formulations, you might not get the perfect advantages for anti-oxidant properties.”

Packaging And Advertising

Typically it’s merely the price of packaging and advertising that drive up the value of a specific serum.

“It’s value noting that sure retail manufacturers could apply the next markup to their merchandise solely primarily based on their model identify, irrespective of the particular formulation or elements,” Hsu mentioned. “In some circumstances of retail skincare, some notable manufacturers with a robust presence within the skincare market usually put money into in depth advertising and prime product placements in massive field shops, through which then they embody that expense within the pricing markup.”

Nevertheless, the packaging for vitamin C serums isn’t all the time only for present. The packaging can play an necessary position within the efficacy and shelf-life of the product.

“Though the branding and the field through which your bottle of vitamin C arrives don’t have any influence on the efficacy of your vitamin C serum, the bottle or tube that holds the vitamin C does,” Casey mentioned. “Vitamin C can oxidize extra quickly when uncovered to air and light-weight, so an hermetic container that’s opaque or composed of darkish glass is greatest.”

That is additionally why it’s necessary for shoppers to retailer vitamin C serums in a darkish, cool place with the highest securely closed. “Vitamin C serums which can be saved in the dead of night endure oxidative degradation at a a lot slower price in comparison with serums which can be saved in mild,” Casey mentioned.

Is it higher to pay more cash for a higher-priced serum?

Contemplating that costlier elements, packaging and formulations are typically used to create serums with prolonged shelf lives, is it higher to pay for a costlier vitamin C serum?

“It’s not higher to put money into a costlier serum solely primarily based on pricing,” Hsu mentioned. “It’s extremely beneficial to go for a standard medical-grade vitamin C product, as medical-grade skincare formulations of vitamin C have in depth scientific information and medical research supporting their efficacy.” Medical-grade skincare merchandise are solely distributed inside dermatologists’ or medical aestheticians’ workplaces, Hsu mentioned.

Quite than relying solely on the value of the product, person rankings or influencer suggestions, it’s all the time greatest for shoppers to have a look at the chilly information to get the largest bang for his or her buck.

“As dermatologists, we favor to see medical research that objectively consider the effectiveness of a vitamin C serum. Scientific proof is one of the simplest ways to match numerous serums in the marketplace,” Casey mentioned.

Nevertheless, not all information and research are created the identical. Hsu recommends that customers think about a number of elements when evaluating these research.

“Elements comparable to research dimension, measurement strategies, and whether or not the info has undergone peer assessment all influence the credibility of the knowledge,” he mentioned. “Due to this fact, an intensive evaluation is critical to make sure the validity and accuracy of the info earlier than drawing conclusions concerning the product’s efficacy.”

How do I do know if my vitamin C serum is working?

Everybody who loves skincare is accustomed to the battle of studying the medical research that assist a product’s efficacy, taking the plunge and shopping for the skincare holy grail that everybody raves about on-line… solely to seek out it doesn’t work for his or her pores and skin.

“There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ with regards to vitamin C serums,” Casey mentioned. “Simply because a sure formulation labored on your buddy or sister doesn’t imply that it’s the perfect product for you.”

So how can shoppers be sure their serum is the correct selection?

Begin With Correct Use

“I all the time advise my sufferers to use vitamin C serum as a part of their morning skincare routine as a result of antioxidant advantages and the synergistic UV-protection vitamin C provides when layered underneath your sunscreen,” Casey mentioned.

To obtain the total advantages of vitamin C, shoppers also needs to be sure they’re making use of their skincare merchandise in the correct order.

“Vitamin C is an energetic ingredient, so that you need to apply this to dry pores and skin earlier than any moisturizers or oils which might act as a barrier to the penetration of the energetic elements,” Casey suggested.

It’s also necessary to keep away from making use of vitamin C with different energetic elements comparable to retinol, AHAs and BHAs. And with regards to these with delicate pores and skin, it’s greatest to go low and sluggish with vitamin C.

“If a vitamin C serum is inflicting redness, irritation or irritation, the timing of software must be adjusted accordingly by [decreasing] the frequency of software to a few times per week,” Casey mentioned.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

And as with all good issues, endurance is rewarded with regards to vitamin C. Don’t anticipate any in a single day adjustments.

“Vitamin C’s job is to spice up collagen synthesis which your pores and skin ought to really feel firmer after 28 days,” King mentioned. “It additionally brightens pores and skin, and you must start to see a distinction inside 28 days.”

Taking earlier than and after footage is one other useful manner for shoppers to get proof of whether or not a specific serum is a winner or a dud for his or her pores and skin.

“I inform sufferers to take a photograph earlier than remedy after which examine a photograph, with constant angles and lighting, three months later,” Casey mentioned.

And when unsure, it’s all the time a good suggestion to seek the advice of an expert.

“Consulting with a dermatologist or medical skincare skilled can present additional steerage and monitoring on adjustments in pores and skin,” Hsu mentioned.

Odor And Shade

As vitamin C is well-known for its instability, it’s necessary to maintain a watch — and a nostril — out for any adjustments within the serum’s coloration or odor from the time it was opened.

“Vitamin C serum must be a transparent liquid; when it turns orange/brown, that’s an indication that the serum has oxidized and has misplaced a few of its efficacy,” Casey mentioned.

Some clients could discover a “burning rubber” or a “sizzling canine” odor coming from their vitamin C serums. Does a “burning rubber” odor from a vitamin C serum imply that it’s working? Or does it imply it has expired?

“Vitamin C in its pure state doesn’t have a detectable odor, however the addition of a stabilizing agent, comparable to ferulic acid, can render a burnt odor,” Casey mentioned. “Provided that vitamin C may be very unstable by itself, the good thing about including a stabilizing agent, comparable to ferulic acid, enhances the efficacy of the vitamin C energetic ingredient.”

If the serum makes use of ferulic acid, this particular “burning rubber” odor can imply that it’s “working” within the sense that it’s stopping the vitamin C from oxidizing. Nevertheless, if a vitamin C product has a noticeably unhealthy odor ― particularly if the product didn’t odor that manner when it was first opened — it could be time to throw it out.

“Any noticeable odor must be a sign that the vitamin C product has expired or degraded,” Hsu mentioned.

Need some stellar picks from dermatologists and reviewers? These are the vitamin C serums they advocate.

HuffPost and its publishing companions could obtain a fee from some purchases made by way of hyperlinks on this web page. Each merchandise is independently curated by the HuffPost Procuring staff. Costs and availability are topic to alter.


iS Scientific Tremendous Serum Advance

Sr. Procuring Author Lourdes Uribe is completely dedicated to this highly effective vitamin C serum. Her esthetician beneficial including it to her lineup, and now she will’t think about her pores and skin with out it. It is an oil-based vitamin C-rich serum that not solely has the potential to assist cut back typical indicators of getting old like wonderful traces, wrinkles and solar injury, however may also help to scale back scarring as effectively. Whereas it prices a fairly penny, she thinks it’s completely value it. A little bit goes a good distance, making it much less of a monetary burden than one may think. It’s undoubtedly well worth the splurge.

Promising assessment: “Love these things. It may be a tad costly, however it has performed wonders for my pores and skin to even it out and make it so clean. Traces appear to have nearly vanished (I’m 57). I’ve delicate pores and skin and this was not harsh, nor did it escape my pores and skin. VERY proud of this product and would advocate this to anybody with delicate pores and skin who needs their pores and skin to really feel mushy and look radiant. I get SO many compliments on my pores and skin. Have been utilizing for five months and can proceed to take action.” — Kindle buyer


Tatcha Violet-C Brightening serum

This serum has an very excessive 20% focus of vitamin C, plus delicate fruit AHAs to behave as mild exfoliators and Japanese Angelica root extract that softens, smooths and helps to counterbalance and improve the consequences of vitamin C.

Promising assessment: “That is the one serum I’ve ever used through the day that actually makes a distinction. I’ve actually delicate pores and skin however I can use this on a regular basis and I truly see my pores and skin brighter, smoother, much less redness and over all enchancment. I used the entire bottle earlier than writing a assessment however truthfully 2 weeks in I noticed noticeable outcomes. I’m scared to change to another vitamin c serum now!” — iz95


Dr. Dennis Gross 15% Vitamin C Agency & Shiny serum

There are tons of vitamin C serums in the marketplace, however this choose beforehand beneficial by Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, is a robust, efficient choice for anybody trying to amp up their routine. It may assist deal with solar injury, darkish spots, traces, dullness and extra.

“Vitamin C serums neutralize the free oxygen radicals, that are unstable oxygen molecules that may injury mobile constructions like DNA, lipids, and proteins. Used regularly, they’ll additionally assist brighten pores and skin and cut back the looks of sunspots,” Camp mentioned.

Promising assessment: “Highway to clear pores and skin. I agree that this product have a robust scent however it goes away after making use of moisturizer. Nevertheless this is among the greatest nutritional vitamins c I’ve used. It’s been 1 month, my darkish spots are fading shortly. Ensure to make use of sunscreen. This product works! Received’t cease shopping for.” — Jaiivee


SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic acid serum

In case you’re into skincare, you’ve got possible heard folks sing the praises of this cult-favorite serum, and with good cause. The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum has been hailed by dermatologists for its capability to assist lighten wonderful traces, agency pores and skin, present environmental safety and brighten a uninteresting complexion. The stabilized formulation means all elements are working on the peak of their powers, in tandem with one another.

Promising evaluations: “I’ve tried many vitamin c serums and hold coming again to this one. It’s been extremely efficient on my pores and skin, and whereas it’s dear the outcomes have been effectively value it. One factor I’ve particularly seen is that it helps fade my zits scars fairly shortly.” — GG

“After I first purchased this, I used to be so apprehensive due to the value. But it surely actually is wonderful! It’s a must to use it constantly for a couple of weeks to see the outcomes, however it’s value it. My pores and skin has by no means regarded higher. A little bit goes a good distance, so the value is value it.” — Emma


Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Advanced 30%

This award-winning serum from Revision Skincare is a superb option to get clean, glowy and even pores and skin. It helps to assist the pores and skin’s pure manufacturing of nutritional vitamins C and E and may also help to appropriate the consequences of solar injury and free radicals.

Promising assessment: “I discovered my miracle. It actually works for me! For years like I imply perpetually I’ve been trying to find the correct product. I’ve very delicate pores and skin and I endure from hyperpigmentation. I even went to a dermatologist and nothing labored. I noticed this on Instagram and I assumed to present it a attempt. It was very costly however I used to be determined. And now I don’t remorse it. I purchased the facial wash and I apply this remedy each evening. The wonderful factor is that, I noticed the distinction inside per week. Now I’m slowly shopping for different merchandise and would create a routinely routine for my face.” — Verified person


Paula’s Alternative C15 Vitamin C Tremendous Booster

This highly effective serum from Paula’s Alternative is formulated with 15% vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid and peptides that may assist to fade away solar injury and hyperpigmentation in addition to post-acne scarring whereas moisturizing and smoothing the pores and skin.

Promising evaluations: “Merchandise offers a very good glow, discover a distinction once I overlook to use within the morning. I’ve very delicate pores and skin and this product doesn’t irritate my pores and skin in any respect. Apply a SPF after, all the time.” — tdkh

“Welcome addition to skincare routine. That is my first time utilizing vitamin C and it’s been nearly three weeks since I began. I’ve dry pores and skin and including this to my on a regular basis routine has been a recreation changer. My pores and skin seems to be brighter and appears/ feels smoother.” — gigiatsephora


Maelove Glow Maker antioxidant serum

Thought-about by many skincare lovers to be an reasonably priced various to SkinCeuticals’ cult-fave serum above, this feature from Maelove is filled with nutritional vitamins C and E, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid. It offers long-lasting hydration in addition to all the advantages that come together with a robust vitamin C serum.

Promising evaluations: “So many c serums on the market, however Maelove is fantastic. I finished utilizing SkinCeuticals. Maelove is inexpensive and the serum does give me a clear tight glow.” — Kay B.

“My derm beneficial this product and even he was impressed! Works simply as effectively if not higher than that very costly model everyone knows. I am thrilled that I discovered maelove!!” — Erica M.

“Glowing pores and skin. I like the feel! I seen my pores and skin regarded much more alive, much less uninteresting and brightened inside a few days. I take advantage of this constantly each morning after I wash my face.” — Danielle Okay.


Kiehl’s vitamin C eye serum

Do not sleep on the facility of eye serums! Camp can be fan of this explicit antioxidant-rich choice from Kiehl’s, which is as hydrating as it’s efficient at enhancing the look of traces and discoloration.

“Eye lotions and serums preserve and assist forestall the fragile pores and skin across the eyes from exhibiting your true age,” Camp instructed us beforehand. “Merchandise with vitamin C or retinol are efficient for encouraging collagen manufacturing and minimizing the looks of wrinkles.”

Promising evaluations: “Excellent Hydrating and Moisturizing Serum. That is the proper serum for me as a result of prepares my pores and skin to placed on my eye cream. It’s so hydrating and moisturizing. Adore it and I want I had discovered it earlier than. I haven’t got darkish circles, so I do not learn about this matter.” — Zabrina

The Inkey Record

The Inkey Record 15% vitamin C and EGF serum

Superb for delicate pores and skin or those that are solely simply starting to dabble in energetic elements, this serum from The Inkey Record is as highly effective and efficient as it’s mild. Vitamin C and plant-derived epidermal development elements may also help clean, brighten and tighten the looks of pores and skin.

Promising assessment: “Great for Brightening. I’ve very delicate pores and skin, and have tried numerous vitamin c serums. That is the one one which doesn’t burn once I apply, and depart my pores and skin coated in purple bumps. My pores and skin seems to be brighter since I’ve began utilizing this, and extra plump. I really feel like I can get away with carrying manner much less make-up each day since beginning this.” — miaaaa96

U Magnificence

U Magnificence Resurfacing Compound

In case you’re extra serious about a robust mix versus a serum that’s primarily centered on vitamin C, do this compound from U Magnificence. It fights free radicals, solar injury, dullness and extra with each retinol and vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, mandelic acid and far more to go away pores and skin mushy, clean and vibrant. It is undoubtedly a big splurge, however reviewers say it is value it.

Promising assessment: “I have been utilizing so many merchandise on my pores and skin for years to assist with redness, pores, texture, wonderful traces… You identify it and nothing has ever come near this resurfacing compound!!!! It has every part you want in a single bottle. The worth is unquestionably value it with out having to get Botox or dear fillers!!” — Angel B.

Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe Guava vitamin C darkish spot serum

Searching for a silky, gel-like serum that will not really feel heavy or sticky however continues to be stuffed with all of the aforementioned doctor-recommended elements? You may need to give this Glow Recipe serum a shot. It is formulated with 5 sorts of vitamin C, guava, tranexamic acid and ferulic acid that may depart pores and skin extra glowy and even.

Promising assessment: “I put on this on a regular basis, my face seems to be brighter, more healthy and I can inform its made an enormous distinction on my pores and skin. I’ve zits susceptible pores and skin and many solar injury. Which helped each. Solely factor that should enhance is the bottle of the serum. By the point I am performed with it I’ve to take out the pump and hit the bottle on my hand lol. similar goes with the attention guava eye serum bottle.” — Jaqueline G.


Ilia C Past Triple serum SPF 40

I needed to throw this choose into the combination myself, as a result of it is good for these simply beginning to dip their toes into skincare. It is a multitasking serum that is filled with scrumptious energetic elements beneficial by dermatologists, like vitamin C and niacinamide, whereas additionally functioning as each an SPF and a basis, including a contact of coloration to the pores and skin.

Promising assessment: “Considered one of my favourite Ilia Merchandise. I like subbing this out for the Tremendous Serum Pores and skin Tint a few instances per week, particularly through the summer season or on days once I simply need very mild protection. It offers your pores and skin a glowy radiance and an additional dose of vitamin C. A little bit goes a good distance. I discover that once I put on Past C, I find yourself carrying much less make-up as a result of it offers such a pure, wholesome and recent look. I simply mix it with forehead gel and lip oil. It additionally saves me from needing a vitamin C serum these days!” — Summer season


Drunk Elephant C-Firma Contemporary day serum

You actually cannot go fallacious with Drunk Elephant. The model makes use of high-quality elements that customers love, no matter which product it may be. This serum consists of vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E, all of which steadiness one another out and may enhance uneven pores and skin tone, wonderful traces and wrinkles and brighten the pores and skin whereas combating free-radicals.

Promising assessment: “My absolute favourite. I like this serum a lot! My pores and skin feels a lot nicer after I take advantage of it! In case you’re on the lookout for a product that makes your pores and skin really feel clean, firmer, and add a glow then that is wonderful! (Nice for anybody).” — smstew


Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum

I am an enormous Sunday Riley lover and it is not shocking to me that this serum is a fan favourite. This highly effective and high-quality vitamin C serum was particularly formulated to focus on darkish spots, indicators of getting old and extra, leaving pores and skin clean and mushy. Glycolic acid, a BHA, offers chemical exfoliation whereas stabilizing the vitamin C, refining and supporting the pores and skin’s luminosity.

Promising assessment: “I bought the smaller dimension to do that out, and determined to buy the common dimension. My pores and skin responds rather well to this product. It does not sting and makes my pores and skin seem refreshed and hydrated. Extra like a light-weight lotion than a serum, for my part, however I actually like that about it.” — Meena


First Assist Magnificence 10% vitamin C brightening serum

Excellent for folks with delicate pores and skin or for somebody who needs to begin with a decrease dosage, this 10% vitamin C serum consists of vitamin E to melt the pores and skin and squalane to deeply hydrate and soften.

Promising evaluations: “I have been utilizing this product for a month now, and OMG hiya shiny pores and skin! My pores and skin has by no means regarded so shiny & glowy! This can be a MUST HAVE in your assortment! My delicate pores and skin wants mild merchandise, and FAB is my pleasure grail pores and skin, physique & haircare model!” — makeupandmomlif

“Love this serum. It’s so mild and soaks in immediately. Lays nice underneath moisturizer and make-up! Pores and skin immediately seems to be brighter!” — Bri092918

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