The 7 Best Vitamin C Serums for Hyperpigmentation (2024 Review)

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: January 6, 2023

In this article, we've rounded up the best vitamin C serums for hyperpigmentation, including dark spots, melasma, age spots, sun damage, and uneven skin tone. But that's not all! We […]

In this article, we've rounded up the best vitamin C serums for hyperpigmentation, including dark spots, melasma, age spots, sun damage, and uneven skin tone.

But that's not all! We explain the science behind each product and why we recommend it so you know what you're getting for your cold hard cash. #SolvingSkinMysteries

Grab your favorite melanin inhibitor and let's get started!

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What Is The Best Vitamin C Serum for Hyperpigmentation?

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Editor’s Choice: Vichy Liftactiv Vitamin C Serum
  2. Best Drugstore Brand: La Roche-Posay Vitamin C Serum
  3. Best Professional Brand: IMAGE Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
  4. Most Popular Pick: TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Facial Serum
  5. Best for Dark Spots & Melasma: Meladerm by Civant Skin Care
  6. Best for Fine Lines & Wrinkles: ISDIN Flavo-C Ultraglican Daily Antioxidant Serum
  7. Best for Sensitive Skin: Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

Now, for the differences:

  • Vichy uses pinus pinaster bark extract (a.k.a. Pycnogenol), rich in plant antioxidants and derived from French Maritime pine trees, instead of 0.5% ferulic acid
  • Vichy uses hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, a lower molecular weight and "chopped up" version of its bigger brother, hyaluronic acid, instead of sodium hyaluronate
  • Vichy is miles more affordable versus SkinCeuticals plus the smaller bottle size limits vitamin C oxidation

Unfortunately, Vichy doesn't disclose the pH (one customer said it's 2.5) whereas SkinCeuticals is formulated at a pH between 2.0-3.5, in line with the Duke Antioxidant Patent.

Nonetheless, I'd bet that Vichy is using a pH below 3.5 since research has shown it's required for L-ascorbic acid to effectively penetrate your skin barrier (Pinnell, 2001).

Our Verdict: Vichy Liftactiv Vitamin C Serum is our Editor's Choice because it's simple, effective, and affordable for everyone! Featuring 15% pure vitamin C, vitamin E, pine bark extract, and hyaluronic acid, this popular vitamin C serum is almost identical to the world-class SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic for a fraction of the price.

Finally, salicylic acid clears blemishes and unclog pores while thermal spring water, rich in minerals like selenium, soothes sensitive skin and quenches dry skin (Seite, 2013).

On the other hand, La Roche-Posay is not alcohol- or fragrance-free and uses 30 ingredients (including silicones) compared to only 11 for Vichy and 12 for SkinCeuticals.

Our Verdict: Why travel to France when you can have La Roche-Posay Vitamin C Serum with 10% pure vitamin C, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, neurosensine, salicylic acid, and spring water in the palm of your hand (or face).

Hyaluronic acid restores moisture to dehydrated skin while an antioxidant blend of grape seed, algae, green tea, and Indian gooseberry extract nourishes and protects your skin.

All of these ingredients are kept safe in an opaque bottle that limits light and air exposure, which helps preserve the potency of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea.

While IMAGE Skincare uses 4 types of vitamin C, the actual percentage is not disclosed, making it difficult to determine its relative effectiveness, especially as it uses 3 vitamin C derivatives.

In addition, Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum includes a whopping 79 ingredients compared to only 30 for La Roche-Posay, 11 for Vichy, and 12 for SkinCeuticals.

Having said that, there's plenty of amazing ingredients in there (you get a lot for what you pay!) but if you have allergies or sensitive skin, I recommend reviewing the ingredient list first.

Our Verdict: An apple a day keeps the doctor away but Vital C once a day keeps signs of aging at bay with a complete multi-vitamin complex of vitamin C, vitamin E, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants like grape seed and green tea.

Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and botanicals like aloe vera, gotu kola, horsetail, dandelion, and geranium round out this formula with their hydrating and soothing properties.

However, it's not as potent as my earlier recommendations (SAP is not as effective as L-AA) and the actual concentration of vitamin C is not disclosed, either.

For a little more, Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum is an outstanding budget option as well with 15% L-AA instead of SAP (just keep in mind it's a 0.34 oz bottle size).

Our Verdict: TruSkin Naturals is truly the most popular vitamin C serum on Earth (and maybe Mars, too) with sodium ascorbyl phosphate, MSM, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and botanical extracts, to keep your skin smooth, youthful, and glowing!

  • Licorice Root: a staple in skin lightening circles, licorice root contains glabridin and liquiritin, both compounds that reduce melanin production and uneven skin tone (Yokota, 1998 and Hollinger, 2018)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide): this popular and powerful brightening agent prevents melanin from reaching the upper levels of your skin by interrupting melanosome transfer (Hollinger, 2018)
  • Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate): this popular vitamin C derivative helps brighten and protect your skin while also stimulating collagen production.
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The 7 Best Vitamin C Serums for Hyperpigmentation (2024 Review) 3
  • White Mulberry: derived from dried mulberry leaves, one study found 75% mulberry extract provided significant improvements in melasma patients (Alvin, 2011)
  • Alpha Arbutin: a chemically modified version of bearberry (beta arbutin) that's even more effective based on a company-sponsored study (Civant Skin Care)
  • Azelaic Acid: a fungus-derived compound that inhibits tyrosinase, especially in highly active melanocytes. In other words, your new BFF for uneven skin tone! (Hollinger, 2018)

In addition, Meladerm features a number of trademarked ingredients, including:

  • GigaWhite™: a proprietary blend of 7 organically Swiss alpine plants that were selected for their melanin inhibiting properties (LotionCrafter)
  • SymWhite®: an antioxidant derived from pine tree bark that helps brighten your skin without the side effects of harsh ingredients (SpecialChem)
  • Sepiwhite™: derived from phenylalanine, this compound inhibits melanin synthesis from the hypothalamus according to the manufacturer (LotionCrafter)

Overall, Meladerm is an excellent option if your regular vitamin C serum isn't delivering results.

Our Verdict: Harness the power of vitamin C and a dozen more brighteners with Meladerm, a scientifically proven skin lightening serum with no hydroquinone, parabens, or fragrances to treat and prevent severe hyperpigmentation like melasma, age spots, and uneven tone.

That's why I recommend ISDIN Flavo-C Ultraglican for fine lines and wrinkles as it combines 3 powerful anti-aging ingredients - vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and proteoglycans - to repair damaged skin structures and promote collagen growth for brighter & smoother skin.

However, this isn't completely unreasonable when you consider the additional manufacturing and packacing costs of ampoules compared to traditional glass bottles.

Our Verdict: Cheaper than a dermatologist visit, ISDIN Flavo-C Ultraglican uses state-of-the-art UltraGlycans (proteoglycans and pre-proteoglycans), vitamin C, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid to restore healthy, radiant, and bouncy skin with less noticeable wrinkles and fine lines.

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Meanwhile, amino acids like lysine and proline and peptides like sh-olgopeptide-1 help your skin rebuild both dermal and epidermal skin tissue for a smoother-looking complexion.

Finally, two types of tea extract (camellia sinensis callus culture and theanine) lets your face "keep calm and carry on", no matter how crazy your day (or night) gets!

Our Verdict: With over 1 million units sold, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop by Wishtrend is a blockbuster Korean vitamin C serum that's perfect for sensitive skin types as it uses 5% L-AA and includes skin soothers like centella asiatica, amino acids, peptides, and tea extracts.

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Article written by Tom Qiao
Tom is the founder and editor of TheDermDetective.com where he applies his decades of personal experience with skincare problems like acne and acne scarring to provide readers with practical advice and product recommendations.

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