The Best Vitamin C Serums for Dark Spots (And Brighter Skin!)

Vitamin C is a researched-backed ingredient that data shows can fade those troublesome dark spots on your face and chest. It’s a potent antioxidant that inhibits the production of melanin.

So not only is Vitamin C fading your current dark spots, but it’s also protecting your skin from developing new ones! Today we’ll explore the best serums from the most trusted brands, with options for any skin type.

Top Vitamin C Serums for Fading Dark Spots

I’ve tried various products for fading spots, including retinoids, hydroquinone, and kojic acid. While these have sometimes worked, I get the best results with vitamin C.

Nothing else works as well to fade dark spots, give me an even skin tone, and an all-around glow. It’s not surprising that Vitamin C serums are almost universally recommended by skin care professionals!

Vitamin C Serum

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How Does a Vitamin C Serum Benefit the Skin?

  • Fights free radicals from environmental stressors such as UV rays and air pollution
  • Ascorbic Acid form of vitamin C triggers production of collagen in skin
  • Inhibits skins melanin production; resulting in a brighter complexion and few dark spots

You should apply Vitamin C serums to clean skin in the morning. A good rule of thumb is to apply products based on consistency from thinnest to thickest. This usually results in serums being applied first, followed by lotions or creams. Sunscreen should always be the last step.

Vitamin C can also be used at night, although I prefer to use retinoids at night and vitamin C in the morning. For more information on when to use vitamin C take a look at my post How to Create an Easy 3 Step Skincare Routine.

Which Type of Vitamin C is best for fading dark spots?

The vitamin C serums below contain either ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbyl phosphate. Ascorbic acid is the most effective form of vitamin C and has proven results from many clinical trials. Take a look here for one of the best studies.

Unfortunately, ascorbic acid reacts poorly to water and air, making it hard to create stable formulations. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate doesn’t have this problem with stability and is also very gentle for sensitive skin. Unfortunately, it isn’t as potent as ascorbic acid.

As far as which type is best for you, that’s going to depend on your skin. Since it’s more effective, you will see dark spots fade and skin brighten more quickly with ascorbic acid. I personally prefer ascorbic acid for that extra brightening and collagen-building power.

However, If you have sensitive skin I recommend starting with sodium ascorbyl phosphate. Although the results may not be as visible or appear as quickly, it is much easier on sensitive skin than ascorbic acid. It’s not worth fading the dark spots if you end up with red, irritated skin from using a product that’s too harsh for your skin type. Trust me, I’ve been down that road before!

✅Bonus Tip- To fade dark spots even faster combine Vitamin C in the morning with an exfoliant at night. See my guide on choosing the best AHA to learn which is the best acid for your skin.

Ok, now we’ve discussed why vitamin C is such an essential ingredient in your routine and which types are best. Let’s move on to review some great serums for fading dark spots.

Best Vitamin C Serums for Fading Dark Spots

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic

Considered the gold standard in vitamin C serums, this contains a 15% concentration of ascorbic acid. SkinCeuticals include vitamin E and ferulic acid which, besides being antioxidants in their own right, also help stabilize the ascorbic acid. One thing left out is artificial fragrance. That’s a good move as fragrance can cause irritation. However, it does leave the serum with a somewhat “chemical” smell. This is a great serum that I have used in the past and found it brightened my complexion, although was slightly irritating for my sensitive skin.  It’s a great choice for skin that can handle 15% of ascorbic acid.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

This serum from the Ordinary contains a high percentage of ascorbic acid with no water in the formula. The lack of water means the ascorbic acid remains stable for longer. As a trade-off for the lack of water and this serum felt a little gritty on my skin. The high level of vitamin C can be irritating to beginners so I’d recommend this for those who are already used to ascorbic acid. At such a low price point this is a good value and is a great option for those with less sensitive skin.

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

Like the SkinCeuticals, this serum also contains ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and ferulic acid. Paula also adds hyaluronic acid, panthenol, and bisabolol for hydration and calming. I found this product very similar to the SkinCeuticals serum at a lower cost. I highly recommend both it and the Paula’s Choice brand. I find that Paula’s Choice always offers research-backed ingredients at effective concentrations and they aren’t terribly pricey. 

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This was my daily Vitamin C for several years (I recently switched to the Timeless 10% serum). Since it is a sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum it is gentle and has the added benefit of fighting acne. Mad Hippie includes other great antioxidants such as ferulic acid and vitamin E. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin are present for hydration and chamomile and aloe to soothe skin. Mad Hippie is another trustworthy brand that I’ve seen great results with.

Timeless Vitamin C Serum

This serum comes in both 20% and 10% concentrations of ascorbic acid. Both versions contain vitamin E and ferulic acid to help stabilize the ascorbic acid.  The 20% formula was too irritating for my skin and I was excited to learn that Timeless recently released a 10% version.  After finishing a full bottle of the 10% it has improved the brightness of my skin with no irritation at all. This is now my daily vitamin C serum and I’ve written a very detailed review.

Final Thoughts on Vitamin C Serums for Fading Dark Spots

So those are my top choices for vitamin C serums! Any of these will help you fade spots, even out skin tone, and get that beautiful, healthy “glow”.

Bonus Tip: Combine Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid for amazing results. Find out the best way to do it here.

There are so many vitamin C products on the market that it can be overwhelming to choose one. I hope you have found this helpful to find a product that works for your skin. Please comment below with your favorite!

How to Create an Easy 3 Step Skincare Routine

How to Find the Best AHA For Your Skin- Ultimate Guide to Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Which The Ordinary Facial Oils Is Best for Your Skin?

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