The Best Vitamin C Serums For Fading Sunspots & Acne Marks, According to A Derm


Although sunspots and post acne marks are formed two entirely different ways, both types of hyperpigmentation are treated the same way. Gentle exfoliation and a generous dose of sunscreen are huge parts of the equation, but no brightening routine would be complete without one of the best Vitamin C serums for fading dark spots.

Many people probably don't realize that in addition to sunspots, the sun contributes to the formation of post-acne marks as well. These pesky red or brownish blotches pop up after a pimple heals, usually a big one, but exposing them to the sun darkens these marks and makes them stick around longer. This is where vitamin C comes in. “This potent antioxidant interferes with the production of pigment in the skin, fading dark spots,” Dr. Ellen Marmur, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare, explains to Bustle. By inhibiting your skin's melanin production, a vitamin C serum will keep new sunspots from forming too!

Vitamin C is also able to neutralize some of the damage the sun unleashes on your skin. While you definitely shouldn't be skipping your SPF, it's a great idea to apply your vitamin C serum in the daytime. “Always apply vitamin C in the morning,” Dr. Marmur says. “These treatments are intended for daytime use because of their ability to neutralize free radicals, using your serum at night will just create a reservoir that remains in the skin.”

And, that's not the only way vitamin C fades dark spots on the skin! It's also a chemical exfoliant, which — over time — sloughs off discolored skin. Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C aids your skin's natural regeneration process, which helps your body repair damaged skin cells and produce new ones.

With regular use, and as long as you’re diligent about using sun protection, “you may start seeing noticeable improvements in three to eight weeks” says Dr. Marmur.

So if you're looking for a way to fade dark spots in no time at all, below, you'll find the best Vitamin C serums to do the work for you.

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This Gentle Serum Is Perfect For Sensitive Skin

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum, $19, Amazon

Applying a higher percentage of vitamin C can fade dark spots faster, it also makes you more likely to experience irritation. This plant-based serum from TruSkin has a potent 20% concentration of vitamin C, but is full of soothing, natural ingredients that make this formula good for those with sensitive skin. Aloe vera has a cooling, calming effect, while witch hazel is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to stop irritation. Hyaluronic acid hydrates and plumps the skin. The formula is also free of synthetic color additives, fragrance, and stabilizers.

Glowing review: "I have the most sensitive skin in the world. Most vitamin C skincare products irritate the life out of my face. This one doesn’t at all! I did a patch test on my neck where I am also sensitive then used it on my face the next day. After that, I skipped a day just in case, and began applying again with no irritation. Wonderful products and my face looked plumped all day!"

This 15 Percent Vitamin C Serum Contains A Powerful Punch Of Antioxidants & Glycolic Acid

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, $85, Amazon

Sunday Riley's C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum is a 15 percent vitamin C serum that will seriously brighten your skin. All that vitamin C helps to fight the wear and tear stressors take on your skin, giving you a plumper, more glowing look to your face. C.E.O also contains glycolic acid, which helps refine and exfoliate your skin, allowing other ingredients to penetrate it better. That means the vitamin C can absorb better, leading to a greater glow overall.

Glowing review: "This is one of the most awesome products I have ever purchased. I have dark spots on my face and this product is lightning them up. I bought the system and yes it is pricey, but so well worth it! It is the only thing I have found that is making a difference and I’ve tried everything."

This Light Serum Soothes & Brightens With Cucumber & Ginseng Extracts

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum, $45, Amazon

The Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum is formulated with 7.5 percent Vitamin C and a pleasantly short list of other ingredients, which it a safe bet for most skin types — except the super sensitive. Standout ingredients in this serum's lineup include cucumber extract, which is soothing and cooling to the touch, and ginseng extract — the brightening properties of ginseng give this serum an extra boost when it comes to evening out the skin!

Glowing review: "Noticed a difference in my face within weeks of using this product! My hyperpigmentation began to fade (finally) and my overall skin just looked brighter and more glowy."

This Mild Hydrating Serum Is Ideal For Acne Prone Skin

Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop Serum, $24, Amazon

Skin that's prone to breakouts usually can't handle serums with a high concentration of Vitamin C without getting red and flaky, but the Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop Serum from Klairs contains a gentle 5 percent of Vitamin C and Centella Asiatica extract — to calm redness and inflammation.

Keep in mind, if you have acne, applying Vitamin C to active breakouts can cause irritation. Try this serum as a spot treatment by applying it directly to post acne marks, allow the serum to soak in, and then apply your moisturizer.

Glowing review: "I have some dark spots and large pores on my face so I like to keep this serum in the refrigerator so that its cold when I use it. After washing my face I apply the serum with an argon wand over my face and neck area. Visible pore reduction after 2 weeks of daily use."

This Potent Serum Contains 15 Percent Vitamin C, Vitamin E, & Ferulic Acid

Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster, $50, Amazon

Use the powerful Paula’s Choice booster serum alone or add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer for The serum’s outstanding formula contains 15% of a stabilized vitamin C, as well as other protective antioxidants. When combined with vitamins C and E, ferulic acid increases the antioxidant properties of the serum giving your skin an even bigger boost of free-radical fighting power. In addition to these three key ingredients, the serum includes a dose of hyaluronic acid.

Glowing review: "Love this product. My second bottle. It has improved the look and feel of my skin. I use it nightly."

This Concentrated, No-Frills Serum Is Formulated With 20 Percent Vitamin C

Amara Organics Vitamin C Serum 20%, $16, Amazon

The Amara Organics Vitamin C Serum might not look like much at first glance, but this no-frills serum boasts over 5,600 glowing reviews on Amazon from people who have tried it and loved it enough to let the internet know. This serum is a whopping 20 percent vitamin C, and includes other beneficial ingredients. The most notable of which are aloe and centella asiatica extracts, to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, and hyaluronic acid, which plumps and hydrates

Glowing review: "I don't know what exactly makes this serum so amazing for my skin, but I notice a substantial difference if I stop using it. It helps with brightening dark marks and plumps up fine lines, but also helps prevent small breakouts. It also helps what breakouts I do get, heal much faster. I noticed a few low rating reviews claiming there's a toxic ingredient. I beg you to do your own research and look to sites with scientific sources to back their claims. This product is truly magnificent and will stay in my regimen as long as they keep making it!"


Dr. Ellen Marmur, board-certified dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare

Studies referenced:

Hughes-Formella, B. J., Filbry, A., Gassmueller, J., & Rippke, F. (2002). Anti-inflammatory efficacy of topical preparations with 10% hamamelis distillate in a UV erythema test. Skin pharmacology and applied skin physiology, 15(2), 125–132.

Hughes-Formella, B. J., Bohnsack, K., Rippke, F., Benner, G., Rudolph, M., Tausch, I., & Gassmueller, J. (1998). Anti-inflammatory effect of hamamelis lotion in a UVB erythema test. Dermatology (Basel, Switzerland), 196(3), 316–322.

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