Beauty

Why Vitamin C Serums Make Skin So Glowy

Written by: the Editors of goop

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Updated on: March 1, 2024

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Photo courtesy of Jim Lafferty/The Licensing Project

“What have you been doing with your skin?” If there is one skin-care product almost guaranteed to elicit this kind of comment—no matter your skin type—it’s topical vitamin C, especially in its most potent form, L-ascorbic acid. The list of vitamin C serum benefits is long: It brightens, firms, smooths, and nourishes, whether skin is breakout-prone, very dry, or anything in between. Perhaps most importantly, vitamin C makes you absolutely glow. Use it once and see instant results, but keep at it and your skin’s clarity and radiance will continue to improve.

Because vitamin C degrades when it comes into contact with water, it loses its power in many skin formulas (even heavy preservatives can’t prevent this action). Brands address this issue in different ways; at goop, we separate our serum from the dry L-ascorbic acid powder until it’s time to use the product, and it stays powerful for up to three months (the bottle contains about a three-month supply).

  1. Powerful 20% Serum
    with Hyaluronic Acid

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 20% Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid Glow Serum
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 20% Vitamin C +
    Hyaluronic Acid Glow Serum
    goop, $125/$112 with subscription
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Helps Hyperpigmentation,
Dark Spots, Dullness, and Wrinkles

“It’s a powerful antioxidant that can help build collagen and soften the look of dark spots,” says New Jersey dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD. Almost all antioxidants can help limit the formation of free radicals in the skin caused by the sun or pollution; topical vitamin C has been shown in studies to have a mild sun-protective effect, too (though it’s no substitute for sunscreen). And because it’s mildly exfoliating, vitamin C can help even skin tone and brighten it, which is helpful for people with hyperpigmentation. “Used regularly, it can also help decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Downie. You can use vitamin C every morning or evening (or both).

Vitamin C can be helpful for sensitive skin, too; look for formulas made with moisturizers like hyaluronic acid or calming ingredients like turmeric.

  1. EYE CREAM WITH VITAMIN C

    goop Beauty Vita-C Brightening Eye Cream
    goop Beauty Vita-C Brightening Eye Cream goop, $58/$52 with subscription
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  2. TURMERIC-INFUSED CREAM-GEL

    Beautycounter Counter+ All Bright C Serum
    Beautycounter Counter+ All Bright C Serum goop, $90
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  3. LIGHTWEIGHT
    ALL-IN-ONE SERUM-PRIMER

    Alpyn Beauty Bearberry & Vitamin C Glow Serum
    Alpyn Beauty Bearberry & Vitamin C Glow Serum goop, $59
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  4. ALWAYS-POTENT POWDER

    True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster
    True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster goop, $90
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WHERE VITAMIN C FITS
IN YOUR SKIN-CARE ROUTINE

In general, vitamin C should go on bare skin as a first layer, right after cleansing. Wait a few minutes after you smooth it on, then, if you need more hydration (many skin types will), apply a nourishing oil or moisturizer. To supercharge both the vitamin C and the ingredients in your moisturizer, the vibrating gold bar from Jillian Dempsey is pretty incredible: It helps push all the active ingredients deeper into the skin. It also feels amazing and amplifies your glow even further.

  1. SPRINGY SKIN-POLISHING CLEANSER

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser goop, $35/$25 with subscription
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  2. FACE OIL WITH RESULTS

    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil goop, $98/$89 with subscription
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  3. MAJOR MOISTURIZER

    Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
    Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream goop, $280
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  4. LIFTS—AND HELPS PUSH NUTRIENTS
    DEEP INTO SKIN

    Jillian Dempsey Gold Sculpting Bar
    Jillian Dempsey Gold Sculpting Bar goop, $195
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THE LAST (MOST IMPORTANT) STEP:
MINERAL SUNSCREEN

If you want any of your results—from your vitamin C or the treatments you apply afterward—to last, preventing sun damage is absolutely critical. Truly, there is no more powerful youth-boosting cream on the planet than sunscreen.

  1. SPF 30 FOR FACE

    Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
    Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen goop, $29
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  2. SPF 50 FOR BODY

    The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Sun Cream SPF 50
    The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50 goop, $69
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