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Five Best vitamin C serums 2011

Reviewed by Marta December 30, 2011 46 Comments

This post has been updated: Five Best with Vitamin C 2014

It is always gratifying to go back to an old Five Best and find that a year can be a long time. Since our 2010 Five Best with vitamin C, we have made found some really good products that focus on vitamin C. Although prized for its antioxidant qualities and its well-known role in boosting the immune system and synthesizing collagen, it is a tricky ingredient that can be unstable and drying. Get it right though, and it repairs DNA damage, fades hyperpigmentation and corrects rosacea. Here’s our Five Best with vitamin C for 2011.

E’shee Vitamin C Serum ($119 in the TIA shop). Junko promised that even my sensitive skin would like this C Serum and she was right. Here, liposomes stabilize the vitamin C and ensure that it is delivered more efficiently into the cells. Along with liposome vitamin C this serum gives us copper PCA, antioxidants mulberry and ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba is an anti-inflammatory too. Read the full review

Collametics Collagen Building Factor ($100). This collagen building formula gets straight to the point with a high dose of vitamin C and amino acids.  I use this regularly as it is one of the best vitamin C serums that I have found. It is designed to build collagen with inclusion of two amino acids. One of them, L-lysine is also supposed to play a synergistic role with vitamin C. The pithy ingredients list also includes glucosyl hesperidin, which improves blood circulation and may stimulate the surface circulation of the skin. Expect slight tingling at first. But, at least in my experience, Collametics does not dry out the skin or irritate. Read the full review.

CSS C + E Ferulic ($39) The best thing about this is that it is about $100 cheaper than the exact same formula by Skinceuticals. The second best thing about it is that it comes with ferulic acid. It has been found to act synergistically with other antioxidants and, specifically, renders vitamins C and E more powerful. A Duke University study found it particularly good for preventing sun damage, and studies elsewhere have demonstrated that exposure to ultraviolet light actually increases the antioxidant power of ferulic acid. Reader, Marsha, has had good results with this.

John Masters Organics Vitamin C Antiaging Face Serum ($29.99). Don’t expect miracles from this, but younger (not yet too damaged) skins will appreciate its natural ingredients and keen price point. The vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid polypeptide is in a base of aloe vera juice, sunflower seed oil and rose flower water. There is yet more vitamin C from acerola berries. These are supposed to be packed with enough vitamin C to put oranges in the shade.

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Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum  ($48). One of our 2010 Five Best Serums for Under $50, after it was reformulated to be paraben-free. It still contains such brighteners as grapefruit and orange extract (which contributes to how great it smells). Antioxidants like green tea, and a powerful vitamin C derivative (sodium ascorbyl phosphate) help fight free-radical damage, which another vitamin C salt in the form of calcium ascorbate helps boost collagen production. The serum also contains hydrating sodium hyaluronate, which penetrates the skin to promote nutrient absorption for softer, fuller skin. And you gotta love the name!

Update - Five Best Vitamin C Serums 2012

Ingredients in Collametics

Water, propanediol, L-ascorbic, L-glycine, L-proline, L-Lysine, glucosyl hesperidin, zinc gluconate, copper gluconate, silica

Ingredients In E’shee:

Aqua, Liposome Vitamin C, 1.3 Butylene Glycol, Cyclomethicone, Phenyltrimethicone, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Polysorbate 80, Morus Alba (Mulberry) Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Polyglceryl-3 Diisostearate, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Copper PCA, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, D-Limonene, Citral.

Ingredients in John Masters

Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice,* helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil,* glycerin,* rosa damascena (rose) flower water,* populus tremuloides (aspen) bark extract, ascorbic acid polypeptide, lecithin, phospholipids, superoxide dismutase, malphighia glabra (acerola) fruit extract,* oryza sativa (rice) extract,* spirulina platensis (algae) extract,* tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, ascorbyl palmitate, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter,* triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, rosa damascena (rose) flower oil,* citrus sinensis (blood orange) oil, tilia cordata (linden) blossom oil,* xanthan gum, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract,* sclerotium gum powder, potassium sorbate.

Ingredients in CSS

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Asorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate.

Ingredients in Ole

Water (Aqua), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Calcium Acerbate, Sorbitol, Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Euphrasis Offinalis Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Oleth-20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Benzophenone-4, Sodium Hyaluronate, Thioctic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6 (CI 15985).

  • October 13, 2016

    by Marta

    Hi Maria, here is a link to a more recent article on copper peptides and how it can boost collagen in the skin (and help hair growth):
    The reason why you don't see it very often is that it is difficult and expensive to formulate with. I don't know of any drugstore brands that use it that I can recommend. Sorry.

  • October 12, 2016

    by Maria

    Hi Marta -
    Can you comment on copper peptides? Your last article was years ago and I rarely see or hear about copper but it's supposed to be very rejuvenating. Can you recommend any drugstore products that contain it? I cannot afford the very expensive brands you sell on the website unfortunately and I'd like to visit more often but I notice that you don't recommend many affordable items. I used a Neova retinol with copper once and got great results. Why aren't these ingredients put together more often. I'm confused- thanks

  • April 5, 2012

    by NDO

    I have to agree with the comments on Dr Denese's Wrinkle Rx Pro Extreme...15% vit c, stem cells, 7 different peptides and a host of other anti-oxidants like astaxanthan! how could this have been omitted???

  • January 11, 2012

    by Becky

    Great info but where is the Mad Hippie Vit C Serum?
    I have been using is for 6 months and my skin looks great!

  • November 10, 2011

    by spo

    oops, sorry! I'm a fool.. This question was answered in this thread by Darrell of YBF and now, I understand the difference between the copper salts and a copper peptide..

    I read the thread too quickly -- sorry about that!

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