Skin care is an inherently subjective experience. YMMV is a cardinal rule. But, there are also clinical trials for a reason. By looking at the science behind vitamin C serum formulations I was able to identify a few key criteria that really determine how effective any given formulation will be. Those criteria are:

  • The most potent form of vitamin C is ascorbic acid. This is the gold standard for most people with normal skin.
  • The addition of vitamin E and ferulic acid increases penetration by 8 times. Penetration is much more important than concentration. Where concentration is how much vitamin C is in a formula, penetration is how much actually makes it into your skin.

In a classic case of buyer beware, although ascorbic acid is the gold standard it isn't as simple as that. There are a ton of different purity grades for ascorbic acid at very different price points. Although a more established brand can't guarantee higher purity, it's a better bet than a less established brand that may not have the capital or processes in pace to support high quality production.

As such, the other objectively important criteria that were considered in these reviews are aggregate reviews/blog posts and brand reputability. These were much harder to quantify than an effective formula. The grading system on those metrics is far from perfect but it's a good starting point to be able to compare a whole lot of products on a relatively even playing field. 

If you just want to see the results already analyzed see the best vitamin c serum for every need and budget.​

Contents

What Makes The Best Vitamin C Serum?

For the purposes of this post specifically the best formulation is one that contains ascorbic acid with vitamin E and ferulic backed by a lot of good reviews and a well established brand. 

First it should be said that the best vitamin C serum on the market is the one that works for you. It's possible that the "gold standard" of ascorbic with vitamin E and ferulic isn't for you. It can be irritating for some people and that's why we have so many derivatives to choose from. 

I also want to mention that I've only personally tried 5 of the serums here. My personal experience with 67 serums probably wouldn't be very useful anyway (though that won't stop me from trying more of the finalists.) Everyone's skin is different. What works for me may not work for others. 

Besides that, how could I say which serum is best when the one's tested at the end have the cumulative benefit of all the one's before them?

Objectively reviewing something as subjective as skin care isn't easy. It took a lot of research and a lot of tweaking to be able to compare these serums on relatively equal footing. I tried as much as possible to keep things consistent, useful and unbiased. It isn't perfect and limitations are noted throughout. 

Formulation (4 Points Worth 40%)

It’s been pretty well established in the scientific literature that the best vitamin C formulations have ascorbic acid stabilized by vitamin E and ferulic acid, which also have the effect of increasing potency 8 times. 

Although Vit. C alone can provide photoprotection, it works best in conjunction with Vitamin E (Vit. E), which potentiates the action of Vit. C four-fold. Hydrophilic Vit. C helps regenerate Vit. E, a liphophilic antioxidant. Thus, Vit. C and Vit. E together protect the hydrophilic and lipophilic compartments of the cell, respectively. Vit. C and Vit. E synergistically limit chronic UV damage by significantly reducing both cell apoptosis and thymine dimer formation.

A combination of 0.5% ferulic acid (a potent antioxidant of plant origin) with 15% Vit. C and 1% Vit. E can increase the efficacy of Vit. C eight-fold. It was noted that this triple combination was very useful for the reduction of acute and chronic photodamage, and could be used for prevention of skin cancer in the future. Vitamin C in dermatology

2.5 

3.5 

Any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging.

Any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging near the top third the ingredients list. Full ingredient list provided. 

Any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging near the top third of the ingredients list but missing either ferulic acid or vitamin E. 

Any form of vitamin C combined with ferulic & vitamin E in opaque packaging. Full ingredients provided. The vitamin C appears near the top third of the ingredients list. Alternatively, just ascorbic acid with no vitamin E or ferulic.

Ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredients  list but missing either vitamin E or ferulic acid.

Ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredients list with vitamin E and ferulic. Full ingredients provided.  

Limitation This criteria makes it easy to find the best ascorbic acid serums, but doesn't help much in finding the best vitamin c derivatives for those who are sensitive to ascorbic. 

Reviews (4 Points Worth 40%)

Read a variety of reviews before making a purchasing decision. No product works the same for everybody, so get an idea of the range of possible outcomes you can expect. No one person is a universal authority, especially not about YOUR skin! Fifty Shades of Snail 

Limitations

Quantifying Reviews It's quite difficult to quantify reviews and blog posts. I tried to follow the relatively straightforward rubric below but there are of course outliers that I tried to address as appropriately as possible on a case by case basis.

Comparisons Aggregate reviews are good for providing a general sense of what people are saying, and in a way they provide a good way to compare similar products. On the other hand aggregate reviews aren't very useful for figuring out which of the half dozen or so highly reviewed serums is best, in which case it's better to compare products side by side with attention to the details. 

Confirmation Bias I've noticed that confirmation bias is especially a problem with more expensive products. I think people are more likely to give a very expensive product a good review because they want to believe they've made a wise choice. There's really no way to correct for this but comparing similar products does help.

0 Points

1 Point

2 Points

3 Points

4 Points

Reviews are not good on one or more platforms (2.5 out of 5 or less.)

Reviews are only found on 1-2 sites. 


Reviews that are found are okay (3 to 3.5 out of 5) 

Reviews are only found on 1-2 sites. 


Reviews that are found are generally good at 4 out of 5 or better.

Reviews are found on at least 3 different platforms (Amazon, Ulta, Sephora,  makeupalley, influenster etc) and are generally very good at over 4 out of 5. Half point if reviews are only found on 1-2 sites but number in the thousands with a more than half verified purchases and very good ratings of over 4 out of 5.

Reviews are found on at least 4 different platforms (Amazon, Ulta, Sephora,  makeupalley, influenster etc) and are generally very good at over 4.5 out of 5. Lots of personal reviews on blogs and reputable forums like r/skincareaddiction. Product may have holy grail cult favourite status (widely popular and loved by a select group of skin care devotees.)


TESTIMONIALS

Testimonials from reputable purchasers, bloggers or forum commentators may be included in the reviews tab. These are just informational and not meant to be comprehensive. Interesting snippets may shed more light but don't always reflect the whole story. 

Brand Reputability (2 Points Worth 20%)

This was by far the hardest metric to quantify. Brand is a big deal. The cost of the vitamin C serums reviewed here ranges from $16 an oz/30mL all the way up to $160 an oz/30mL. I wanted to know if the difference in price was justified based on objective quality criteria, or if it was just marketing & brand identity. 

Before I realized it my entire review process was reduced to this one question. In many ways the question that makes the whole cosmetics industry go round: why are some brands more expensive than others when they have similar ingredients?

Brand value is hard to quantify because it's partly a matter of subjective opinion. Whether we trust a brand has a lot to do with whether we buy the story they're selling. 

The problem is that there's very little transparency as far as manufacturing processes go. All we usually have to go on is the story the brand wants us to hear > the marketing pitch.

In order to find the truth behind the story I consulted a chemist (my mother's friend Maria) and a manufacturing process engineer (my husband Bogdan.) 

Factors Affecting Price

I asked both Maria and Bogdan the same question: ​is there an objectively valid reason for the huge difference in price between brands from a quality perspective?

The Manufacturing Process

​They both agreed that from a manufacturing perspective there can be really big quality differences, and that a more established brand is more likely to have better manufacturing processes....but this isn't guaranteed. It's just more likely based on their perspectives in their respective industries.

Overhead Costs

Bogdan also noted that a more established brand is likely to have higher overhead costs (administrative, R&D, marketing etc), which may be passed on to the consumer.

Purity of Ingredients

On the other hand, Maria made the point that more established brands are more likely to use higher purity pharmaceutical grade raw materials (that can be significantly more expensive) than less established brands. I did a bit of digging with her direction and found out that purity standards for cosmetics are much more lax than for pharmaceuticals. 

Again, because of the relative lack of transparency there isn't a lot to go on. Still, personally I'm much more comfortable buying cosmetics from brands that appear to be better established i.e. you know them, you've heard of them, they have a reputation.

There are a few things that I think make it much more likely for a product from an established brand to be of higher quality. Brands that are well established are more likely to have tried and true manufacturing processes in place. They have staying power and a system that works. They are more likely to be able to ensure higher batch consistency and lower contamination. They are also more likely to have better testing for contaminants. 

Limitation There are so many startups on the market these days and as much as I believe in supporting small business, I don't want to be one of the first ones in line vetting their manufacturing process with my face. This stance is reflected in the ranking below, for better or worse.

I have a lot of misgivings about penalizing less established brands, but at the same time I made it so that popularity, social engagement, and overall HG status can balance an otherwise low score for an up and coming company. It's not perfect, but again it's a good place to start. 

0 Points

1 Point

2 Points

Brand has very limited presence outside of it's sales channels (Amazon and company website.) Further information or proof of its existence is hard to find.

Brand has limited public presence outside of it's sales channels but may have a big social media following or be recognized by skin care devotees. Brand has a legitimate looking online presence and information about the company and reaching customer support is fairly easy to find. Brand has transparency as to who is behind it. There's a story or face behind the name not just an anonymous website.


Brand is well established and well regarded. You've probably heard of it. Brand has a professional online presence. There may be a lot of hype surrounding it's products. It's products are backed by transparency and trustworthy research. Information about the company is really easy to find. Brand might have holy grail cult favourite status. 

Other Factors

FORM

There are indicators in each review box for whether a product contains L-AA or a derivative. L-AA is the best form of vitamin C if you have normal skin, which is reflected in the points system. If you have sensitive skin derivatives are better. When a derivative is used details are provided.

COST

Cost is not factored in to the above points system since everyone's budgets are different. A cost indicator can be found in each review box and it follows the following scale.

$$$$$$

$$$$$$

$$$$$$

$$$$$$

$$$$$$

$$$$$$

Less than $20

$20 to $35

$35 to $50

$50 to $75

$75 to $100

$100 +

CRUELTY FREE / NATURAL

If a product self identifies as cruelty free or natural it's usually identified in the review box, unless it very obviously isn't natural. Different companies have different interpretations of what "natural" means so be sure to read the ingredients list in full if you have any concerns or specific chemical sensitivities.

CULT FAVOURITE

Cult favourites are products that are internet famous. They have a big following of devoted fans and a lot of social proof.

POTENTIAL IRRITANTS

ALCOHOL

Although alcohol may not be terrible in skin care products, it can be drying and irritating to all skin types especially when it’s one of the main ingredients. An alcohol indicator is in each review box. 

FATTY ALCOHOL

​Fatty alcohol can be very irritating to some people's skin, especially those with acne prone skin.

SILICONE

Some people are highly sensitive and reactive to silicones. I included indicators for silicone in the review boxes for informational purposes using this guide to common silicones in cosmetics as well as regular Googling but I can’t guarantee my findings will be totally accurate because I’m not a chemist and I don’t know all the possible forms of silicone. If you have sensitivities make sure to double check. 

OIL

Oil can be comedogenic for some people’s skin. There’s a list of comedogenicity ratings of different oils for reference. 

NATURAL & SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE

Fragrances can be highly irritating. Although synthetic fragrances are often avoided by most skin care manufacturers, natural fragrances are pretty common but can be just as irritating to some people.

The Full Data

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% SAP with vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. pH not indicated.  

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C in an opaque container.) Has vitamin E but doesn't have ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

MAP with vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and coenzyme Q10. pH not indicated.  

Formulation 2 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C in an opaque container.) Has vitamin E but doesn't have ferulic. The vitamin C appears near the bottom of the ingredient list. 

Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol


1.1oz/32ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Purified Water (Aqua), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Vegetable Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Olive Squalane, Fruit Stem Cells (Malus Domestica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Panthenol, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Alginate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Allantoin, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract*, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil*, Glyceryl Laurate, Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Seed Oil*, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil*, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil*, Amodimethicone, Riboflavin, Xanthan Gum, Melatonin, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract*†, Laminaria Digitata (Kelp) Extract, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% L-AA with MAP and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbyl (oil soluble form of vitamin C.) 

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C in an opaque container, concentration indicated, contains vitamin E but not ferulic.) 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Aqua (Water), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (botanical hyaluronic acid), Dimethyl Sulfone (MSM), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Organic Aloe), Ferulic Acid, Glycerin (Kosher, Vegetable), Simmondsia Chinensis Oil (Organic Jojoba), Centella Asiatica Extract (Organic Gotu Kola), Equisetum Arvense Extract (Horsetail), Taraxacum Officinale Extract (Dandelion), Geranium Maculatum Extract (Wild Geranium), SD Alcohol 40B, (2s)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic Acid, Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Ascorbic acid with vitamin E. 

Formulation 1 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C in an opaque container but vitamin C is at the bottom of the ingredients list.)


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Ascorbic acid with vitamin E. 

Formulation 0.5 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C but it isn't in opaque packaging.  Alcohol is the first ingredient.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Ascorbic acid with vitamin E & Ferulic acid.  

Formulation 3 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with ferulic and vitamin E.  


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Distilled Water, Aloe barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, (Vaccinium Myrtillus (Organic Bilberry) Extract, Saccharum officinarum (Organic Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharinum (Organic Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus auranium dulcis (Organic Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus medica limonum (Organic Lemon) Extract, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Organic Cranberry) Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Salix alba (Willow Bark) Extract, Polysorbate, Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Essential Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA, (May contain sodium bicarbonate and/or citric acid as pH adjusters).

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Water, butylene glycol, glycerin *, squalane *, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, tocopherol *, ceteareth-20, palmitoyl grape seed extract *, fragrance, glyceryl stearate se *, potassium sorbate, acrylates / c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, caprylyl glycol, xanthan gum, hyaluronic acid, carbomer, sodium phytate *, sodium hydroxide. * Origine végétale

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Ascorbic acid.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points (ascorbic acid in opaque packaging near the top of the ingredient list but no ferulic and vitamin E.)  Some reviews have suggested that the tyrosine and zine work synergistically to increase penetration of the ascorbic acid but I couldn't immediately verify the claim.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% SAP.

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points (some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic acid.)  


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

15% ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 4 out of 4 points (ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic acid.)  

Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol *

* Laureth-23 might be a fatty alcohol. Please comment if you know.


1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points (ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list in opaque packaging with 0.5% ferulic acid but no vitamin E.)  

Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol


1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

12% L-ascorbic acid.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points (l-ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid.)  


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% 3-0-ethyl ascorbic acid.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points (any form of vitamin C near top of ingredient list in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic acid.)  


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

3-0-ethyl ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. 

Formulation 3 out of 4 points (ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid.)  

There is some controversy about niacinamide and ascorbic acid. Paula's Choice says it's fine, FutureDerm says it's not. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

L-AA, SAP, ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C ester) and ascorbic methylsilanol pectinate. 

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points (ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic acid.)  


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

15% ascorbic acid.

Formulation 4 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list packaging with vitamin E and ferulic acid in opaque airless pump.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol *

*Laureth-23 might be a fatty alcohol. Please comment if you know.

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Liposomal (fat soluble) vitamin C - could be vitamin C ester (ascorbyl palmitate)

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

0.34oz/10ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

15% L-ascorbic acid with pH of 2.3

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list with ferulic but no vitamin E. pH and concentration available. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

0.25oz/7.5ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Vitamin C glucoside and ascorbic acid.

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list with vitamin E but no ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

SAP.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for SAP near top of ingredient list with vitamin E and ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

L-Ascorbic acid.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list but no vitamin E or ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

L-ascorbic acid. 

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near top of ingredient list with vitamin E but no ferulic. Contains a lot of potential irritants. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.01oz/32ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

18% sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for SAP near top of ingredient list with vitamin E and ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

SAP.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for SAP near top of ingredient list with vitamin E and ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

28 capsules

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Unknown.

Formulation 1 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging. No ingredient list for this specific product was found.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

10% sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.02oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

7.5% L-ascorbic acid serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredients list in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

L-ascorbic acid serum.

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredients list in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

3-0-ethyl ascorbic acid serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C near the top of the ingredients list in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

30% ethyl ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% L-ascorbic acid serum with a pH of 2.5–3

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredients list in opaque packaging with ferulic but not vitamin E.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% L-ascorbic acid + ascorbyl glucoside serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredients list in opaque packaging with no ferulic or vitamin E.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

SAP sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum.

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C near the top of the ingredients list and it has vitamin E but not ferulic. The packaging is not opaque.**


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

No active vitamin C concentrate present.

Formulation 0.5 out of 4 points as although there is vitamin C present, it's unclear how much or what form or even whether it's active at all.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

L-ascorbic acid serum.

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points ascorbic acid near the top of ingredients list with vitamin E in opaque packaging but no ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

21.5% L-ascorbic acid serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points ascorbic acid near the top of ingredients list in opaque packaging but no ferulic or vitamin E.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum.

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for any form of vitamin C near the top of ingredients list in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

15% L-ascorbic acid serum.

Formulation 4 out of 4 points ascorbic acid near the top of ingredients list in opaque packaging with ferulic and vitamin E.

Bonus feature is a sealed rubber ring around the opening to decrease oxidation rate.

Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Tetrahexyldecyl and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C near the top of ingredients list in opaque packaging with ferulic and vitamin E.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate serum.

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging without ferulic and vitamin E.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate serum.

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with ferulic and vitamin E.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Active vitamin C unknown.

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for vitamin C (but active form isn't indicated) in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum.

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1.0oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

2oz/60ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

2oz/60ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate serum

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque with vitamin E but no ferulic. Bonus feature: airless pump.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate serum

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic. Bonus feature: airless pump.


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

22% sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E (1%) and ferulic (1%). 

Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

3% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging no vitamin E or ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

5.5% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging no vitamin E or ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

3% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging no vitamin E or ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

3% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging no vitamin E or ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

3% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging no vitamin E or ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

15% l-ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 4 out of 4 points for l-ascorbic acid in opaque packaging with vitamin E (1%) and ferulic (0.5%). 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol *

*Laureth-23 might be a fatty alcohol. Please comment if you know.

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

1/2 Not a lot of visibility. Seems to be only known in skin care circles. 

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% l-ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 4 out of 4 points for l-ascorbic acid in opaque packaging with vitamin E and ferulic. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

l-ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 3.5 out of 4 points for l-ascorbic acid in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

28 capsules

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

23% anhydrous l-ascorbic acid serum

Formulation 3 out of 4 points for l-ascorbic acid in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

12% ascorbyl glucoside serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

10% magnesium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate serum

Formulation 2 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging but no vitamin E or ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

LAA 

derivative

$$$$$$

cult fav

natural

cruelty free

  • Formulation
  • Reviews
  • Brand Reputability
  • Ingredients

20% sodium ascorbyl phosphate serum

Formulation 2.5 out of 4 points for some form of vitamin C in opaque packaging with vitamin E but no ferulic acid. 


Potential Irritants

synthetic fragrance

silicone

alcohol

natural fragrance

oil

fatty alcohol 

1oz/30ml

Author

I write about wellness and ideas that make you better, whether that's a new book, a better way to travel, a skin treatment that works or an ergonomic aromatherapeutic work space. You are the biggest and most important project you'll ever work on. When you take the time to nurture and invest in yourself the returns will multiply through all facets of your life. If you want to have it all, begin with yourself.

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