What Does Vitamin C Serum Do for Your Skin? A Comprehensive Guide to Vitamin C

If you’ve decided that you want to commit to a daily vitamin C skincare regimen, then you’re probably wondering what vitamin C serum does for your skin?

I’ll tell you. Vitamin C serum is a powerful skincare product that can produce anti-aging effects and help reverse signs of sun damage, hyperpigmentation, redness, and dullness.

Though it can’t stop time, it is the best way to get that youthful skin you’ve always desired (I mean, minus a healthy diet and getting some exercise).

Here’s everything you need to know about using this ‘miracle’ product.

What Is Vitamin C Serum?

Vitamin C serum is a skincare product that helps to deliver vitamin C into the skin.

Vitamin C helps the skin in many ways. It fights free radical damage; it helps to even out skin tone and fade dark spots, and it can stimulate the production of collagen for a firmer complexion.

The most common form of vitamin C used in serums is ascorbic acid, but there are many derivatives or esters of vitamin C as well. This includes tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

Vitamin C serums typically contain between 5% and 20% vitamin C. The higher the concentration of vitamin C, the greater the antioxidant capacity. According to Drugs.com, products that contain between 15% and 20% are the most effective.

What Does Vitamin C Serum Do for Your Skin?

1. Reduces Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Vitamin C Serum stimulates collagen production in the skin, which can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen works to give your face structure and firmness; without it, your face will start showing signs of aging.

2. Helps Repair Sun Damage

Vitamin C is the number one antioxidant for fighting sun damage, which causes premature aging. With continued use of vitamin C serum, you will begin to see improvement in your skin’s texture and tone.

3. Fights Free Radicals

Vitamin C serum is a powerful product that can neutralize free radicals due to its high antioxidant activity. Free radicals are molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles.

SEE: Should You Use Vitamin C Serum at Night? Is It Okay?

4. Reduces Skin Discolorations

When your skin is exposed to UV rays, it produces more melanin (the pigment in the skin that determines how dark or light your skin is).

An increase in melanin causes hyperpigmentation or dark spots on your face (i.e. the more melanin you have in your skin, the darker your skin will be).

Vitamin C serum can help reduce hyperpigmentation and brighten skin tone by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase which helps produce melanin.

5. Reduces Redness After Sunburn

After sun exposure, the skin tries to repair itself by speeding up the production of new cells in the affected area. This can cause redness. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C may help reduce this redness.

How to Apply Vitamin C Serum

Apply your vitamin C serum after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing and applying other products. To get the most out of this routine, allow each layer of product to dry before applying the next one.

You can apply vitamin C serum to your face using your fingertips or a cotton pad. Using a cotton pad helps spread the product more evenly across your face than using just your fingertips. You should avoid staining your hands with this method.

If you have sensitive skin, dilute the vitamin C serum by mixing it with a moisturizer or another product you use on your face, such as aloe vera gel. This helps prevent redness and irritation from developing on sensitive skin types.

NOTE: Dermatologists recommend applying vitamin C serums once or twice per day. If used in the morning, it’s important to apply a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater to protect your skin.

SEE: How Often Should You Use Vitamin C Serum to Get Results?

How Should You Store Your Vitamin C Serum?

When it comes to storing your vitamin C serum, the key is to find a way to prevent oxidation. Vitamin C is extremely sensitive to oxygen, water, and light.

When vitamin C oxidizes, it turns brown and loses its potency. This is why vitamin C products are often packaged in opaque, airtight bottles.

To prevent oxidation, always store your serum in a cool, dry place—away from natural light and heat sources. So avoid storing your serum in the bathroom or over an appliance that generates heat like a radiator or oven.

Some brands use specialized packaging that prevents oxidation by separating the vitamin C molecule from air and moisture until you’re ready to use it. This preserves its potency so you can get the most from every drop of your serum.

How Long Does Vitamin C Serum Take to Work?

It depends on the strength of the serum, and how well your skin absorbs it. If you’re using a high-quality serum, you’ll get faster results compared to someone using a low-quality vitamin C serum.

However, for most people, vitamin C serum can take up to 2 months of consistent use before you see visible results.

If you are using your vitamin C serum twice daily as recommended, your skin will begin to show visible improvement in about 2 weeks. And after 2 months of consistent use, your skin should be looking its best.

The key is to be patient — don’t give up on the serum if you don’t see results right away. Once your skin gets used to the component, you should see brighter and healthier skin in no time.

SEE: Is Vitamin C Serum Better Than Vitamin E Serum for Aging Skin?

Side Effects of Using Vitamin C Serum

The most common side effect of vitamin C serum is irritation and redness, which happens when the serum comes in contact with direct sunlight.

The solution to this is to always apply your vitamin C serum before you go out in the sun, coating with sunscreen every day after applying moisturizer.

Another side effect is a tingling sensation, which occurs when you use the serum on freshly cleansed skin. This usually goes away once your skin gets used to it, or if you switch to a formula with a lower concentration of vitamin C.

Also, if you have sensitive skin or are susceptible to skin problems like eczema or rosacea, always start with a low concentration of vitamin C serum. Then you can gradually build up to higher concentrations as your skin tolerates it.


How do you choose a vitamin C serum?

Start by looking for a serum that contains L-ascorbic acid (the purest form of vitamin C) and make sure it’s between 10-20 percent. If you look on the back of the bottle and see ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, then you know it’s true vitamin C.

Also, check the packaging. Because vitamin C serum breaks down when exposed to light, look for a serum packaged in a dark bottle with a pump dispenser (which keeps air out) or in an opaque tube.

When should you apply vitamin C serum?

Apply your vitamin C serum in the morning and at night after cleansing and toning, but before moisturizing with a cream or lotion.

After allowing the serum to absorb for several minutes, apply a moisturizer and sunscreen for daytime use and night cream for nighttime use.

Can you use vitamin C serum with hyaluronic acid?

Yes, you can. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it draws moisture into your skin. Using it with vitamin C will help plump up your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

You can also use vitamin C serum with other ingredients like vitamin A and ferulic acid to achieve maximum results.


Vitamin C serum is an amazing skincare product that should be part of everyone’s skincare routine—regardless of age or skin type.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals caused by sun rays, and other environmental factors. It also boosts healthy collagen production and inhibits melanin production in the skin, which helps to lighten hyperpigmentation.

That said, not all vitamin C serums are created equal—there are many kinds of serum on the market, so be sure to choose one that’s right for you.

Thanks for reading.

If you want to learn more about vitamin C serum, head on over to Serum101 today.