The Best Vitamin C Serums For Rosacea

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Although vitamin C is a great ingredient for promoting brighter skin and providing antioxidant protection, it can also wreak havoc on sensitive skin types, including people with rosacea. Jaimie DeRosa, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, tells Bustle that that the best vitamin C serums for rosacea contain ingredients like L-ascorbic acid and THD (tetrahexyldecyl) ascorbate at low concentrations, and don’t contain potential irritants such as fragrance, alcohol, menthol, or benzoyl peroxide. To find out more, keep reading.

The Expert

Jaimie DeRosa, M.D., F.A.C.S., is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and founder of DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Boston and Palm Beach, where she’s the lead plastic surgeon. Dr. DeRosa specializes in surgical and nonsurgical procedures and skin care treatments for the face, including rhinoplasty, laser hair removal, mini facelifts, IPL, and microneedling, and her Boston Med Spa is one of the few in the area with an on-site AAAASF-certified surgical center. Along with her work at the Med Spa and surgery center, she is also an assistant professor at both Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine.

Is Vitamin C Safe For People With Rosacea?

Knowing that vitamin C can be a sensitizing ingredient, you may wonder, should I even use vitamin C on my already redness-prone skin? Dr. DeRosa sets the record straight: “One of the benefits of vitamin C is that it is an anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid which helps to stabilize and repair weakened blood vessels, which are often found in affected areas of skin for those who have rosacea.” Dr. DeRosa adds that vitamin C can help protect skin from free radical damage, “which [rosacea] is prone to when red and inflamed, producing reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are free radicals.”

Dr. DeRosa says that although there is no “cure” for rosacea, vitamin C is a great ingredient since it can help decrease inflammation, calm redness, and repair broken, fragile blood vessels that are commonly seen in rosacea-affected skin.

What To Look For In A Vitamin C Serum — & What To Avoid

Vitamin C comes in many different forms, but Dr. DeRosa says that the best types of vitamin C for rosacea are L-ascorbic acid and THD (tetrahexyldecyl) ascorbate. Says Dr. DeRosa, “My go-to recommendation is to use a vitamin C serum that contains either pure L-ascorbic acid or THD (tetrahexyldecyl) ascorbate, which is a lipid-soluble form of vitamin C that gets converted within the skin to pure ascorbic acid.”

In the case of vitamin C, it might suit you well to take a less is more approach when picking out your serum. “Vitamin C may exacerbate rosacea redness if you start with too high of a concentration,” Dr. DeRosa tells Bustle. “This is why my recommendation is to start with a lower percentage concentration of L-ascorbic acid or THD ascorbate-containing serum when you first add vitamin C to your skin care regimen.” As touched upon above, she goes on to explain that you’ll want to look for serums that are free of ingredients that are often associated with worsening rosacea flareups, such as “alcohol, fragrance, menthol, and benzoyl peroxide.”

Shop The Best Vitamin C Serums For Rosacea

Running low on time? Here are the best vitamin C serums for rosacea:

  1. The Overall Best: Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
  2. The One That Costs Less Than $25: CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum
  3. The Waterless One: Farmacy 10% Waterless Vitamin C Serum
  4. The Cult-Favorite: BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner
  5. The One For Acne-Prone Skin: PCA Skin C-Quench Antioxidant Serum

1. The Overall Best


  • Created by a licensed esthetician with rosacea.
  • Contains skin-building peptides.


  • Pricey.

Janna Ronert, the founder and Chairwoman of the Board at IMAGE Skincare, and a fully trained, licensed esthetician, knows a thing or two about rosacea — she formulated this serum in her own kitchen when looking for a vitamin C serum that would be kind to her rosacea-prone skin. With a multi-vitamin C complex (which includes THD ascorbate) that works to brighten skin and fade unwanted hyperpigmentation, green tea extract to amp up the antioxidant protection, and hyaluronic acid to plump up skin, this formula is a sure-fire way to achieve a super-smooth, even complexion with consistent use. Plus, this vitamin C serum takes the plumping benefits up a notch with palmitoyl oligopeptide, a type of peptide that helps restore elasticity in the skin.

Key Ingredients: THD (tetrahexyldecyl) ascorbate, hyaluronic acid, palmitoyl oligopeptide, green tea extract Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 1.7 oz.

Relevant Review: “So far, this serum has been fantastic for my skin. I've only been using it during the day because I prefer a retinol serum at night, but even with once per day use, I feel like this is helping brighten my skin. I sometimes have a sensitivity to vitamin C products, but this one doesn't bother me. It goes on so smooth and the hyaluronic acid definitely helps with the plump silky feel after applying it. I always get great results with Image products, and this one doesn't disappoint.”

2. The One That Costs Less Than $25


  • It contains ceramides to soothe and strengthen the moisture barrier.
  • It’s the most affordable option on this list.


  • It isn’t cruelty-free.

Finding a vitamin C serum that agrees with both your skin and your wallet can sound like finding a needle in a haystack — but luckily, CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum exists. This formula helps to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier with ceramides, while it promotes plumper skin thanks to hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 (aka pantothenic acid). This serum has a relatively low 10% concentration of L-ascorbic acid, making it a great option for those who are new to vitamin C.

Key Ingredients: L-ascorbic acid, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 Cruelty-Free: No Size: 1.0 oz.

Relevant Review: “I can tell a HUGE difference with my skin since adding this to my routine!! I have rosacea and hyperpigmentation and it has helped soothe my skin. I do it every night.”

3. The Waterless One


  • The entire package is fully recyclable.
  • This formula is oil-free.
  • Has a silky texture.


  • Although the texture isn’t tacky, it can be heavy on warm days since it's waterless.

Vitamin C is volatile in its nature, and tends to break down fairly quickly (even while it’s in its bottle). Farmacy’s vitamin C serum uses a waterless technology that stabilizes the 10% L-ascorbic acid inside, allowing for a longer shelf life than most other vitamin C serums. Along with brightening L-ascorbic acid, this serum also contains ferulic acid to enhance vitamin C’s efficacy, and 1% alpha arbutin to target unwanted hyperpigmentation. This formula’s texture feels like a cross between a moisturizing oil and a hydrating gel, giving you skin that’s not only protected, but glowy, too.

Key Ingredients: L-ascorbic acid, alpha arbutin, ferulic acid, upcycled tangerine peel and sugar beet Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 1.0 oz.

Relevant Review: “I have some rosacea on my cheeks and this serum reduced my redness in a week!y skin is glowy and smooth. The texture of the serum is very thick and oily. It’s not my favorite texture, but the results are worth it.”

4. The Cult-Favorite


  • Contains green tea extracts specifically geared toward reducing inflammation.
  • Balances the skin’s pH.
  • Award-winning product.


  • Although this formula is great for sensitive skin types, it still contains a high 20% concentration of L-ascorbic acid.

Antioxidants are essential when it comes to warding off free radicals from environmental stressors like pollution. Beautystat’s best-selling serum contains EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), derived from green tea, which has powerful antioxidant benefits that work synergistically with L-ascorbic acid to protect your skin from environmental stressors. EGCG is also great for soothing and hydrating the skin, making it an ideal choice for those with rosacea. Additionally, tartaric acid helps to balance the skin’s pH, and squalane delivers ample hydration — so basically, this serum is an (almost — can’t forget your SPF) entire skin care routine wrapped up in one airtight bottle. This is also a cult-favorite product that’s won countless awards from publications like Into The Gloss, Town & Country, and Women’s Health.

Key Ingredients: L-ascorbic acid, squalane, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), tartaric acid Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 1.0 oz.

Relevant Review: “This is a fantastic serum. I have sensitive skin and find this serum to be it very gentle. It absorbs very quickly. My skin feels and looks healthier. Have been using this morning and night after toning, then applying moisturizer. I have really noticed a difference after using just a short time – softening fine lines...”

5. The One For Acne-Prone Skin


  • Great for people who have both rosacea- and acne-prone skin.


  • It’s the priciest serum on this list.

If dealing with red skin thanks to both rosacea *and* breakouts sounds familiar to you, consider opting for this vitamin C serum from PCA Skin. It contains ascorbic acid to promote smoother, brighter skin and fade unwanted hyperpigmentation, while lilac leaf culture extract (which is derived from the stem cells in lilac plants) provides a heavy dose of antioxidant protection. This formula also contains witch hazel to help diminish acne spots, while hyaluronic acid offers hydrating benefits.

Key Ingredients: Ascorbic acid, hyaluronic acid, lilac leaf cell culture extract, glutathione Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 1.0 oz.

Relevant Review: “[...] I have very sensitive skin and seem to always have a reaction to something I am using. I have no had that issue with any of the PCA line. I love this C-Quench as I am hoping to get rid of some sun damage I did to my skin while younger. I have noticed a brighter and more clear complexion. I know the price is steep, but to me it is worth it to have good, quality skincare that I can trust.”


Jaimie DeRosa, M.D., F.A.C.S., a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and founder of DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa.