The Seven Cs: Your Springtime Skincare Saviours

best vitamin c products

We’ve had a miniature heatwave here in the UK, which you’ll know about if you live in the UK, obviously, but if you don’t then perhaps won’t. I mention this mini pre-summer (four days of uninterrupted sun in Somerset, temperatures reaching approximately twenty four degrees) partly because I’m British, and therefore obsessed with talking about the weather, but mainly because the unexpected sunshine has brought forward quite a few of the summery skincare posts that I had begun to plan. Posts on excellent sunscreens, on lightweight makeup, on moisturisers that won’t make you feel as though you’re sweating lard.

best vitamin c products


The first of these posts concerns Vitamin C and the ease with which you can slip this little skincare warrior into your existing (or non-existent) routine. Vitamin C has proven antioxidant properties, which means (in the most simplistic terms) that it helps to protect the skin against external aggressors such as pollution and smoke. It keeps the skin looking brighter and more even-toned and can help with the appearance of wrinkles and loss of firmness.

I use some sort of vitamin C product most of the year round, but as the sun starts to peep out more often I naturally find myself stepping up the usage. I think because I’ve always thought of my vitamin C product as a sort of precursor to my sunscreen, I tend to associate it with the warmer months, but on a practical level it actually makes sense: it’s an extra layer of protection, a protective skin boost, an additional step in helping your skin to help itself. When I’m wearing sunscreen then I most definitely have an antioxidant beneath (or in) it – the two, for me, go hand in hand.

best vitamin c products

So, the Seven Cs. (Pretty proud of this title, I’m not going to lie: I’ve been sitting on it for about four years, so I’m positive that another writer must have already come out with it but I daren’t look. I’m not letting go of my pun even if it looks as though I’ve shamelessly cribbed it.) Seven Vitamin C products that’ll wake up your face and add a spring to your skincare step.

The Serum

OK, so I’d say that the best-known, most well-respected antioxidant serum is probably SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. With 15% Vitamin C, this antioxidant, lightweight serum has been around for years and has been featured in countless peer-reviewed scientific journals. It’s sort of the ultimate in antioxidant skincare with the ferulic acid protecting the Vitamin C from oxidation (the product remains stable for 6 months once the bottle has been opened) and the optimum pH level and concentration for the ingredients to work effectively. Because of all of this, CE Ferulic is pricey. A bottle will set you back £130 (here*).

best vitamin c products

Other products I’ve tried that contain Ferulic alongside the Vitamin C: Garden of Wisdom’s Vitamin C 23% + Ferulic and Drunk Elephant’s C Firma Serum. The prices differ massively between the two, with GoW’s a purse-pleasing £10 (here) and Drunk Elephant’s coming in at £67 (here*). They are very similar in feel, smell, colour (and very similar to the SkinCeuticals serum, which we won’t go into here!) but I’m not sure how the formulas vary on a deeper level. Both pages linked have ingredients details, if you want to take a closer look, but I have to say that Nadine Baggott got me onto the GoW serum and it’s a top bargain buy.

The Booster

If you would rather have the option of customising your own Vitamin C product, whether a cream, serum or potent on-the-spot treatment (for stubborn areas of pigmentation, for example) Paula’s Choice has launched two boosters.

paulas choice C15 super boost

They can be applied neat or mixed with other skincare and there are two levels – the C15 Super Booster (£45 here*), which has 15% Vitamin C as well as the now-legendary Ferulic acid, or the C25 Super Booster (£48 here*) which has Vitamin C at a percentage of – guess! – 25.


What if you’ll never in a million years remember to apply a separate Vitamin C product? Murad has you covered – I’ve reviewed the City Skin SPF 50 before (here) and it’s a great, intensely moisturising sunscreen.

murad city spf50

The formula contains your antioxidant protection as well as UVA/UVB protection and it’s a sophisticated day cream as well as an SPF – perfect for a high performance daily moisturiser. The price has shot up since I last looked at it online, but hold off if you’re thinking of making a purchase as I have something special coming up this weekend… In the meantime you can gaze longingly at it here* – it’s £60.

The Oil

Medik8’s Glow Oil is just lovely, for those who would like to get their Vitamin C hit in a more indulgent way.

medik8 glow oil

With a beautiful slip but a dry finish, it’s a high performance oil with no fragrance that won’t make your makeup or sunscreen feel greasy. A few drops is plenty so it lasts an age. Find it here – £40.

The 7 Day System

Clinique’s Fresh Pressed 7 Day System (£25 here*) is an intriguing concept and will appeal to those who like a bit of a regime to follow.

It’s a high-powered cleanser and then a clicky tube of booster with 10% vitamin C – the two together, as a little two-step routine, give good brightening results in the space of a week. Tried it, liked it; possibly not the most cost-efficient way to go about things, but it’s a very sensible option and I didn’t feel any irritation after using this.

Actually, that’s a point to consider and I should have said it at the start; with most of the high concentrations of Vitamin C I do experience a little itching and sensitivity in my sensitive areas. By sensitive areas I don’t mean my lady parts, obviously – who uses vitamin C there?! – but the areas around my nose and on my chin. They just get a bit aggravated sometimes, which is easily counteracted by me applying some La Roche Posay Cicaplast cream (£6.50 here*) in the danger zones before the serum, as a sort of buffer. But worth noting for those with sensitive skin!

la roche posay pure vitamin c

(La Roche-Posay’s new Pure Vitamin C10 – £28 here* – has been formulated with more sensitive skin in mind, should you find yourself looking for a gentle option.)

The OG

The original Vitamin C, for me, as in the first I tried properly, was the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate (£49.50 here*).

best vitamin c products

The slightly gritty texture pleased me, weirdly, and I remember feeling quite surprised by how quickly I saw brighter, more even-toned skin. Then I discovered Indeed Lab’s C24 Cream (£24.99 here*) which would still be a best buy for me, it’s so effective and really well-priced. Again, a slightly gritty, tacky texture, but I don’t mind that and always used it before makeup anyway, which used to go on over the top really nicely.

The Mixed-with-Retinol

Vitamin C and Retinol together are a super-charged combination and I have seen great things from both Kate Somerville’s +Retinol Vita C Power Serum (£84 here*) and the Beauty Pie Super Retinol (+ Vitamin C) Night Moisturiser (£8.82 with membership here*).

kate somerville retinol power serum

Vastly different in price but also different in formulation, it’s difficult to pick a favourite here – the Kate Somerville feels silky, lightweight but potent and the Beauty Pie is creamier and could probably replace both serum and face cream if you wanted to simplify your night routine. (Though – again – hold your horses on retinol because I have a post coming up at the weekend that might just make you feel spendy!)

So there, a whole array of different Vitamin C products for all skin types, texture preferences and price points. It’s like a fruit bowl filled with luscious oranges of every variety. Little, juicy easy-peelers, massive blood oranges, satsumas, clementines – take your figurative pick and thank me for your bright, extra-protected skin later.

DISCLOSURE POLICY. Posts published after 24th January 2019: if the post contains gifted items or affiliate links then it is indicated clearly beneath the title. Posts published prior to this will have a disclosure within the body of the post and then an asterisk * marking all affiliate links. If the content is a paid-for AD then it is marked as an AD in the title. For more information on disclosure please read here. 



  1. Roman
    May 3, 2019 / 9:37 am

    Lovely Lady,
    maybe you can try AF Vitamin C Serum Capsules from Exuviance. I honestly think they are the best and help fade my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and acne scars. When I use them in the evening, I get up with a very nice glow. They are fragrance- and oil-free; capsules are biodegradable (easy to travel with); in Neostrata’s patented AminoFil; 20% ascorbic acid and not derivates; contain silicone but not gritty or tacky; contain vitamin E and acetyl tyrosinamide, which has been shown to stimulate collagen production in aged skin cells.
    And I also like the vitamin C-powder from the Ordinary.

  2. Jim Williams
    May 2, 2019 / 12:59 am

    I tried GOW C serum and couldn’t tolerate it. I love Loreal’s 10% Vitamin C in a tube, though.

      • Peter
        August 5, 2019 / 1:07 pm

        Another form of vitamin C called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.

  3. Sarah Forte
    April 27, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    There’s a reason I’ve been reading your blog daily for nearly five years. Love your product breakdowns!

    Request- I’m from the states, and we have nothing as fantastic as Victoria Health. The UK/Europe has really cornered the market on effective drugstore beauty items. I would love love love if you did a product breakdown of like your top 15 items- or whatever- from Victoria Health (specifically). As it stands GOW is in my basket. What else should land in there?

  4. Audrey
    April 27, 2019 / 10:06 am

    Hi Ruth. Thanks for the great post. I’ve just started using GOW vitamin c and it says apply at night. Do you know if this is because it’s supposed to be gritty (which I actually don’t find) and so applying in the morning could mean makeup wouldn’t sit so well or is there a specific reason that it shouldn’t be applied the morning? Thanks

    • Renee
      April 28, 2019 / 5:51 pm

      I use the GOW also in the morning as I use retinol at night. My dermatologist said this was the way to go as the Vitamin C helps with sun protection.

  5. Katie R
    April 27, 2019 / 8:59 am

    If you found the same number of said product that you didn’t like, please could you do a post:

    ‘The Seven Cs of Wry’

    *chuckles maniacally but quietly *

  6. MH
    April 27, 2019 / 8:11 am

    I’m using the Garden of Wisdom one (thanks to Nadine!) and I love it.
    Just wanted to note that I was surprised to read on the bottle that it is to be used at night, when you all say you use it in the morning.
    I use it in the morning too and make sure to always put SPF. I think you should be super clear to tell people to use SPF after Vitamin C. Retinol we all know we have to because the word itself is scary, but not vitamin C…
    Just a thought! Love what you do!!

  7. Trimperley
    April 26, 2019 / 8:39 pm

    Another vitamin C ditherer here. I will happily swallow Vitamin C but I just can’t accept that rubbing it on my face will make a difference. However you may have tempted me to have a dabble.

    • April 26, 2019 / 10:25 pm

      There are some pretty convincing trials. And from personal experience – definitely a good shout if you have uneven tone/dark spots. xx

  8. April 26, 2019 / 6:26 pm

    I love the Kiehl’s line reducing concentrate – such a lovely formula and it works so well! I’d love to try the Skinceuticals vitamin C when my lottery money comes in…

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

    • Sarah
      April 27, 2019 / 6:19 pm

      It’s divine and worth all your monies

  9. Susan Moran
    April 26, 2019 / 3:50 pm

    Love all this information Ruth, you are the best but it doesn’t make my decision easier and that’s down to me. In other areas of my life I’m a veritable General Patton: yes that, no not that, put that there, take that away. When it comes to skincare I dither like a moth high on camphor. In the case of vitamin C I can’t decide if I should combine it (Kate Somerville) or go it alone (serums). I know this isn’t fair question but any opinion? Do you believe one method has better results than the other? Or does it only depend on whether you like to layer or not? Crikey did I just answer my own question?

    • April 26, 2019 / 5:44 pm

      I actually think it depends when you want to use it. If it’s straight vitamin c I’d personally use it in the morning before face cream or spf, if it’s mixed with retinol then I’d be using it at night. It depends what the rest of your routine looks like and how easily you want it to fit in! x

      • Susan Moran
        April 26, 2019 / 10:52 pm

        Lovely, thank you for your thoughts. I ended up buying the DE C-Firma because I realized it fit best in the morning routine. I’ll give it a real go. Just saw your IG story about saying no a thousand times, I so remember that litany “no, down, don’t, stop” and my all time favourite “what’s that in your mouth?” .

  10. April 26, 2019 / 2:34 pm

    I am currently using the Vitamin C serum by The Inkey List, that I sadly don´t love. It has 30% and is too strong for my skin to be used alone.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

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