While drinking vitamin C-rich orange juice or Emergen-C can boost your body's immunity when you feel a cold coming on, vitamin C, when applied topically, increases your skin's level of protection from environmental and sun damage. It also helps improve overall skin tone and texture by working to brighten, fade hyperpigmentation, and accelerate collagen production. However, the powerful ingredient can sometimes cause irritation when used incorrectly (especially if your skin is on the delicate side), which is why it's important to make sure you're using one of the best vitamin C serums for sensitive skin.
If your skin is prone to conditions like rosacea, you can start with a lower concentration of 10 or 15 percent vitamin C to see how your skin tolerates it before working your way up to 20 percent. No matter what percentage of vitamin C you choose, start off by applying your serum every other day to build up your skin's tolerance and avoid any irritation. As long as you aren't noticing any redness or sensitivity after a few weeks, you can increase to daily application, and eventually twice daily, if you wish.
In addition to avoiding common skin irritants like synthetic fragrances or dyes, it's also helpful for sensitive skin types to look for a vitamin C serum that's paired with skin-soothing and hydrating ingredients to keep signs of inflammation at bay. Ingredients like vitamin E, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe are all solid choices. Ferulic acid is also commonly paired with vitamin C because it's rich in antioxidants and improves the stability of both vitamins C and E.
Because vitamin C works to protect your skin from outside elements like pollution and sun damage, you'll want to apply several drops of your vitamin C-packed serum in the morning on clean skin. If you want some extra hydration, apply a gentle moisturizer on top that's free of any acids or other potentially irritating ingredients like retinol (that should be reserved for your nighttime routine). Top it off with sunscreen for maximum protection from the sun, and you'll be well on your way to a brighter, healthier looking complexion.
Ahead, you'll find four of the best vitamin C serums for sensitive skin, from the splurge-worthy to the seriously budget-friendly.
1. The Overall Best Vitamin C Serum For Sensitive Skin
Dermadoctor Kakadu 20% Vitamin C Serum
Tested by dermatologists for its efficacy, the Dermadoctor Kakadu 20% Vitamin C Serum is also sensitive skin-approved for being hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic, and free of synthetic dyes and fragrances. Kakadu plums are one of the serum's sources of vitamin C, which the brand notes are one of the most concentrated natural sources of the vitamin on earth (on average, an ounce of the kakadu plums contains 55 times more vitamin C than Florida oranges). For even more benefits, Dermadoctor included hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and ferulic acid to give skin a healthy glow in addition the brightening, protecting, and tone-enhancing powers of the vitamin C.
2. Runner Up: A Serum That Uses A Triple Blend Of Vitamin C
Dr. Brandt Power Dose Vitamin C
Founded by and named after renowned dermatologist Dr. Frederic Brandt, the Dr. Brandt line currently works in partnership with the University of Miami's Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery. The Dr. Brandt Power Dose Vitamin C serum is formulated with 20 percent vitamin C (the highest concentration of the stabilized vitamin your skin can absorb, according to the brand).
For maximum results when it comes to free radical protection, skin smoothness, firmness, and clarity, the brand created a tri-blend of vitamin C using ascorbic acid, ascorbosilane C, and kakadu plum in the formulation. One Amazon user writes that they could see a difference in their skin after just four days of using the serum, noting, "My skin is brighter and [clearer]."
3. Best Budget-Friendly Vitamin C Serum For Sensitive Skin
Art Naturals Vitamin C Serum
While serums in general can get pricey (especially when they include an ingredient as potent as vitamin C), the Art Naturals Vitamin C Serum won't cost you more than $15. And, it's still effective, according to the 2,000 plus five-star reviews on Amazon. Though vitamin C is the obvious star here, the natural serum includes a whole host of other skin-restoring ingredients like gotu kola, to speed up the skin's healing process, dandelion extract, to tone the skin, and wild geranium extract, to brighten and tighten. It also contains horsetail extract and witch hazel, which boast anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits that can help with acne, as well as hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, vitamin E, and aloe leaf extract to hydrate and plump skin.
4. Another Gentle Vitamin C Serum That Amazon Users Swear By
Amara Beauty Vitamin C Serum
Amara Beauty combines 20 percent vitamin C with vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to boost collagen, fade dark spots, and brighten and even out skin tone. The Amara Beauty Vitamin C Serum leaves skin silky smooth thanks to even more moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and jojoba oil. Aloe vera also tops the list for its hydrating and skin-soothing benefits.
Over 3,000 Amazon users give this natural serum a five-star review, with plenty of sensitive skin types noting it was gentle enough for everything acne to eczema. One writes, "It is amazing for my super sensitive, flaky, eczema-prone skin. I can even use it during eczema breakouts with[out] negative side effects."
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