Derms Say These Are the Best Vitamin C Serums for Sensitive Skin

Vitamin C is one of skin-care’s most-studied and most-efficacious ingredients, but it can be a tricky one to navigate for those prone to sensitivities. “Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is best stabilized in a lower pH, which can be more irritating for sensitive skin because of acidity and if its highly concentrated,” explains Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD. “So, looking for formulations with a concentration of 10 percent or lower, or closer-to-neutral pH ascorbic acid—the molecular version of vitamin C—would be preferable for sensitive individuals with challenged skin types, such as dry, eczema-prone or rosacea-prone.” These are eight vitamin C serums that dermatologists say are the best for those with sensitive skin.


La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum ($40)

“One element that can reduce some irritation in problematic skin types is to offset vitamin C irritation by adding hydrating ingredients to product the formulation, such as humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which this serum contains. It is one of my favorites to recommend to patients.” —Dr. Blyumin-Karasik


skinbetter science Alto Defense Serum ($225)

“It not only contains vitamin C, but also several other antioxidants, and is designed for all skin types. It’s also fragrance-free, which is good for sensitive skin, and helps improve the appearance of redness.” —Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley C. Loss, MD


SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($169)

“This is my favorite vitamin C serum, with 15-percent L-ascorbic acid. Vitamin C can be very unstable and it oxidizes quickly, making the serum not effective. This formulation is stabilized, so it lasts longer and does not have a burning sensation when applied as opposed to many other formulations. The addition of vitamin E and ferulic acid adds extra anti-aging ingredients, and both are helpful for environmental damage, such as fighting free-radical formation in the skin that can contribute to skin cancer and loss of collagen.” —San Francisco dermatologist Tracy Evans, MD


Avène A-OXitive Antioxidant Defense Serum ($46)

“This antioxidant formula contains ascorbyl glucoside, a vitamin C precursor. The serum is formulated with a time-release technology for its active ingredients, and this seems to be agreeable even in my most sensitive-skinned patients.” —Davie, FL dermatologist Lesley Clark-Loeser, MD


SkinMedica Vitamin  C+E Complex ($106)

One vitamin C product which I recommend for sensitive skin is Skinmedica‘s Vitamin  C + E Complex. It is very effective and well tolerated.” —Greenwich, CT dermatologist Lynne Haven, MD


DOCTOR BABOR LIFTING RX Comfort Vitamin C Serum ($69)

“This serum is formulated with a highly effective combination of vitamin C ester, a stable form of vitamin C that stimulates collagen synthesis. It also contains hyaluronic acid and omega-3 fatty acids to help minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles as it helps to strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier and combat oxidative skin aging. This vegan formula is free of fragrances, silicones, parabens, and mineral oils, too, making it gentle yet effective for even the most sensitive skin.” —Miami dermatologist Roberta Del Campo, MD


skinbetter science Alto Advanced Defense and Repair ($185)

“This is a new and even more powerful version of an already great antioxidant, Alto Defense Serum [included above]. Version 2.0 boasts a complex of 19 different antioxidants, along with additional new antioxidant technology that aims to protect our mitochondria. My sensitive skin patients not only tolerate this product, but also love it.” —Dr. Clark-Loeser

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