The 5 Best Vitamin C Serums for Acne Prone Skin
Featured Image by Angela Zhong

If you’re wondering what the best vitamin C serums for acne-prone skin are, chances are you won’t find these claims on the packaging. 

Vitamin C has potent antioxidant properties, which makes it an excellent go-to for brightening hyperpigmentation and dark spots caused by acne or the sun. So while it won’t directly target and kill your acne-causing bacteria, Vitamin C can still help with the aftermath of your pimple.

If you’d like to incorporate this wonder of an ingredient into your routine, we selected the best Vitamin C Serums for Acne Prone Skin with added ingredients that can help speed up your pimple’s healing process.

How Do We Choose The Best Vitamin C Serums for Acne Prone Skin?

Vitamin C Before and After
A before and after shot of using Vitamin C serums | Best Vitamin C Serums for Acne Prone Skin

We may not be skincare experts or specialists, but we do lots of research!

For this selection of the best Vitamin C Serums for Acne Prone skin, we focused on the types of vitamin C that are best suited for addressing specific concerns, especially for acne prone skin, hyperpigmentation, dark spots/marks, and acne scars.

And to help us narrow down our long list of Vitamin C serums, we looked at reviews and the ingredients complementing the serums that can help address other areas of concern. We’re also aware how costly effective Vitamin C serums can be, so we selected the best serums under $60 that we think give the most bang for your buck.

Benefits of Vitamin C

We may know Vitamin C is a great source for antioxidants and for brightening the skin. But what else make Vitamin C a popular skincare ingredient?

  • The antioxidants can help reverse free-radical and UV damage from prolonged sun exposure
  • It can help fade dark spots from sun-caused hyperpigmentation
  • It can also help slow down the darkening of the skin from melasma
  • Got uneven skin tone? This ingredient can help even it out and restore skin radiance
  • With prolonged use, Vitamin C can even smooth fine lines by stimulating collagen production

What not to mix with vitamin C?

If you’re feeling hesitant about what ingredients you shouldn’t mix, you don’t have to worry! As of 2023, you can find plenty of vitamin C serums with stabilized formulations that combine different active ingredients.

But you prefer to create your own “D.I.Y” mixture, we suggest you take caution with the following combinations:

Vitamin C + Benzoyl Peroxide

Too much of a good thing can be bad, and this combination is one of them! Benzoyl peroxide and Vitamin C are potent ingredients that, when mixed, can likely increase irritation, redness, stinging, and dryness – quite the opposite of what we want! 

If you have products containing either of those ingredients, we recommend using them on separate days to avoid experiencing any unpleasant side effects. 

Vitamin C + Chemical Exfoliant (AHA/BHA)

Should you combine the two? The answer is: it depends! 

For Vitamin C serums with AHAs and BHAs already included in the formulation, you can feel rest assured and confidently slather them onto your face. That’s because the Vitamin C used in these products can most likely be derivatives and are less potent than the pure form of Vitamin C. 

As for combining a separate Vitamin C serum with a chemical exfoliant product, we’d say to take extra caution when doing so. 

Vitamin C + Retinol

Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C and retinol can be a safe and effective combination in your skincare routine for brightening up and restoring skin radiance. If you’re unsure whether your skin can tolerate the duo, you can apply your vitamin C serum and retinol products in separate routines. 

For best results, we recommend applying your vitamin C serum during the day and retinol product during the night. 

Vitamin C + Niacinamide

This combination has a lot of debate in the skincare community, but the truth is that Vitamin C and Niacinamide can make an excellent tag team! 

When used correctly, vitamin C and niacinamide can help restore skin radiance, refine the appearance of pores, and fight against free-radical damage for a youthful-looking and smoother complexion. As for application, you can apply according to the textures of your product. 

For example, suppose your vitamin C serum has a watery or liquid texture, and your niacinamide comes in a moisturizer. In that case, you can apply the serum and layer it on the niacinamide moisturizer afterward. 

Top Rated Best Vitamin C Serums for Acne Prone Skin

What is the best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin (Overall)?

Medicube Deep Vita C Ampoule

Medicube Deep Vita C Ampoule | Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin

Vitamin C type: 13.5% Pure Ascorbic Acid

Other key ingredients: Alpha-Bisabolol, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Adenosine, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea buckthorn) Water

Qualities: Hypoallergenic, water-based


Vitamin C serums can come in all sizes at various price points. But this water-based and hypoallergenic ampoule tops our list as best overall Vitamin C serums for acne prone skin with the best bang for your buck. 

Although the serum isn’t cheap (priced at $45), you’ll quickly realize this tiny ampoule comes with two additional refills – each encased in a protective bottle that preserves the potent Vitamin C so that you don’t have to worry about the product oxidizing or losing its efficacy over time. 

As for the Vitamin C serum itself, this ampoule’s got 13.5% Pure Ascorbic Acid, coupled with additional skin brightening, hydrating, and calming ingredients to minimize hyperpigmentation and dark spots without irritating the skin. We like to say it takes time to see results, but we swear you’ll see this tiny bottle working its magic on any acne scar or mark you have in less time. 

Stellar Review:

“The Deep Vita C Ampoule Serum is astonishing. I can tell it is much more concentrated than vitamin C products I have tried in the past. I was a little concerned it might make my oily skin break out, but it actually cleared my blemishes overnight! I highly recommend this product.” – Elizabeth

Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin

Naturium Vitamin C Super Serum Plus

Naturium Vitamin C Super Serum Plus | Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin

Vitamin C type: Ascorbic Acid

Other key ingredients: Retinol, Salicylic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide

Qualities: Fragrance-free, Vegan


If you’re going through multiple skin concerns simultaneously (sensitive, acne-prone, and dehydrated skin, anyone?), consider the Naturium serum to help you tackle them all in one go. 

Along with vitamin C, this serum includes retinol, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide – all of which can give your skin a helping hand in sloughing away dead skin, unclogging congested pores, restoring skin radiance, and, most importantly – killing acne-causing bacteria. 

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, this serum acts quickly, has a lightweight texture that sinks delightfully into your skin and is gentle for sensitive skin types to use everyday without irritation. 

Stellar Review:

“I LOVE this serum. I thought it might be a little gimmicky since it combines so many ingredients but they formulated this beautifully! My skin tone is more even, my pores are less clogged, and my acne has been reduced. It truly cut like three products from my routine, and there’s nothing better than a hardworking multitasker. Might be intense for very sensitive skin but I recommend this for everyone!!” –  Willow

Best Vitamin C Serum for Hyperpigmentation

Derma E Concentrated Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid

Derma E Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid | Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin

Vitamin C type: Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (stabilized form of pure Vitamin C)

Other key ingredients: Vitamin E, Aloe, Hyaluronic Acid

Qualities: Vegan


Don’t underestimate the power of stabilized Vitamin C! This serum may not be as fancy as its counterparts; but after seeing one of our colleagues even out her hyperpigmentation with only one month of use, we know this is the real deal. Check out that article here.

This baby uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate to work its brightening magic without degrading and losing potency (which pure forms of Vitamin C are notorious for), while aloe and vitamin E calm and hyaluronic acid plump up the skin to leave it glowing from the inside and out.

Although our colleague used this serum for the back of her hand, we can still rate this as one of the best Vitamin C serums for acne prone skin, since it’s great for fading post-acne marks and sun-induced hyperpigmentation, along with calming inflammation on the skin.

Stellar Review:

“Wish I could give this more stars!! This product right here…bestseller! I can see the difference in my skin in less than a month. My skin is brighter, less blemishes and just overall has this natural healthy glow. I’m new to Derma E products after trying their Charcoal Detoxifying Face Scrub and [am] sooo glad I stumbled upon this brand, because so far, all the products have been awesome and gentle to my sensitive skin. Keep it up, Derma E!” –  Tiffany

Best Vitamin C Serum for Dark Spots

Goodal Green Tangerine Vita C Dark Spot Care Serum

GOODAL Green Tangerine Vitamin C Serum | Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin

Vitamin C type: Ascorbyl Glucoside (Vitamin C Derivative), Tangerine Extract

Other key ingredients: Niacinamide, Arbutin, Turmeric Root Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract

Qualities: Lightweight, gel-like texture, artificial-fragrance & essential-oil free, silicone free


It’s budget-friendly, super gentle, AND has a cult following! As the most affordable option in this list, we can’t skip out on Goodal’s Vita C Dark Spot Care Serum as one of the best Vitamin C serums for dark spots and acne-prone skin.

The sleek gradient packaging encases a gel-like texture that refreshes as it glides across and sinks into the skin.

As for the Vitamin C goodness, this serum includes stabilized ascorbyl glucoside and green tangerine extract to even out skin discoloration and dark spots and calm inflammation and acne. Best of all, it’s gentle enough to use daily, making this serum a go-to Vitamin C for beginners.

Stellar Review:

“I love this non-sticky, ultra brightening serum! It lightens dark spots, and makes my skin look smoother and more radiant without aggravating my sensitive, dry skin.” – Catherine K.

Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Scars

Glow Recipe Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum

Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum | Best Vitamin C Serum for Acne Prone Skin

Vitamin C type: Guava Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Other key ingredients: Tranexamic acid, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate

Qualities: Vegan, non-allergenic, lightly fragranced, silky gel texture


Guava isn’t precisely an ingredient we’d expect to see in a skincare product, but it makes a great vitamin C serum! We picked this product as the best vitamin C serum for acne scars because the potent yet gentle formula tackles and lightens those stubborn dark post-acne marks.

Not to mention that this serum also uses five stable forms of vitamin C, tranexamic acid, and ferulic acid to give a boost to the brightening properties. Your skin will look evened out in no time!

Stellar Review:

“I have acne scarring on my cheeks from when I was a teen. This has helped to reduce their appearance and give my complexion a smoother, more even tone and texture.” –  Mandy R.

Frequently Asked Questions on Vitamin C

What’s the difference between dark spots/marks and hyperpigmentation?

Dark spots/marks and hyperpigmentation are technically the same terms, so they’re often used interchangeably.

Dark spots and marks can appear as discolored or darkened spots and patches that can cause the skin to appear uneven with the natural skin tone.

Hyperpigmentation is the official term to describe areas on the skin that appear darker or discolored than the rest. Examples include melasma, sunburn, sunspots, age or liver spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from inflammation, acne, or trauma to the skin.

Is Vitamin C serum better than hyaluronic acid?

Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are two different ingredients that play different roles for the skin.

Vitamin C is great if you want to address uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation and free radical damage. But if your skin is dry, dehydrated, and dull, hyaluronic acid can be your best bet to help hydrate and plump up your skin.

You can also combine both ingredients for extra benefits!

Do you put vitamin C serum on before or after moisturizing?

Since serums come in fluid textures, you would normally apply them after your cleansing or toning step, but before your moisturizer. This would help the serum absorb and sink into your skin so you can reap the benefits. 

But you can also apply the serum after moisturizing, especially if you believe the vitamin C’s effects are too much for your skin to handle. This can be helpful if you want to minimize any potential irritation or redness to your skin.

What is the most effective form of vitamin C?

“L-Ascorbic acid” or “Ascorbic acid” are the most effective forms of vitamin C. They’re for evening out skin tone, rejuvenating dull skin, and reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles – to name a few!

But keep in mind that Vitamin C can produce unwanted and unpleasant side effects such as redness, stinging, and irritation, especially for sensitive skin. They’re also notorious for being fickle and can degrade once exposed to air, light, and heat, losing its potency over time.

What percent of vitamin C serum is best for face?

The best concentration for vitamin C would range from 10-15%, but it would ultimately depend on the types of vitamin C used and your skin’s toleration levels. To be safe, start at small concentrations (around 5%) and gradually increase as your skin adjusts. 

How do I choose vitamin C serum for my face?

If you’re a newcomer to this ingredient, the best Vitamin C serums would be anything formulated with Vitamin C derivatives or with pure Vitamin C (ascorbic acid; L-Ascorbic acid) at percentages as low as 5%. By incorporating lower concentrations, you can greatly reduce potential irritation while gaining all the benefits of Vitamin C! 

For faces that are used to incorporating stronger potencies, you can try any vitamin C serum with higher concentrations or price point.

Want to learn more about the best Vitamin C serums for acne prone skin? Check out our video:

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