5 Best Vitamin C Serums for Sensitive Skin (2021 ✅)

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Find the best vitamin C serum for sensitive skin! Overall, my top recommendation is cocokind vitamin C serum with sea grape caviar.

Having a vitamin C serum in your routine can help with brightening, hydrating, anti-aging, and protecting your skin (Pullar, 2017). However, most formulations may be too potent for sensitive skin.

And so, in this article, we rounded up five vitamin C serums with gentle and non-irritating formulations. We also broke down their ingredients so that you know which one would work best on your sensitive skin.

Read on to find out more!

RELATED:

What Is The Best Vitamin C Cream?

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Editor’s Choice: cocokind Vitamin C Serum with Sea Grape Caviar
  2. Best Drugstore Brand: Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum
  3. Best Clean Beauty Brand: DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum
  4. Best for Dark Spots: Neogen Dermalogy Real Vita C Serum
  5. Best for Redness: Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
cocokind Vitamin C Serum with Sea Grape Caviar
1
EDITOR'S CHOICE

cocokind 
Vitamin C Serum with 
Sea Grape Caviar

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Best For:

✅ A
✅ B
✅ C

Key Ingredients:

⭐ A
⭐ B
⭐ C

Key Features:

👍 A
👍 B
👍 C

Caviar applied on skin sounds a tad excessive, even for skincare enthusiasts. But not if we’re talking about sea grape caviar!

The cocokind vitamin C serum utilizes this rare ingredient, regarded for its high antioxidant activity (Susilowati, 2019). cocokind also claims that it’s great for hydrating the skin and improving water retention, as it uses moisture absorbed from the air.

It contains a variety of other hydrating ingredients, each with its own added benefit:

  • Hyaluronic Acid: penetrates the deeper dermis without causing irritation 
  • Aloe Vera: calms redness and inflammation
  • Passion Fruit: supports the skin barrier
  • Rosehip Fruit: assists in cell regeneration

And of course, there’s the vitamin C, which comes in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP). It is less potent than other forms of vitamin C, making it safe for sensitive skin types. Nonetheless, it is just as beneficial as it fights free radicals, improves skin texture, and boosts collagen production (Byrdie)

According to cocokind’s website, this vitamin C serum has a pH of 5.0-5.5, which aligns with our skin’s natural pH range. This makes it less irritating than serums that use l-ascorbic acid, since those require an acidic pH (<3.5) for skin penetration (Pinnell, 2001).

Our Verdict: pH-balanced and fragrance-free, the cocokind vitamin C serum with sea grape caviar, hyaluronic acid, and SAP is a great brightening serum for sensitive skin!

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Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum
2
BEST DRUGSTORE BRAND

Avène 
A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum

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Best For:

✅ A
✅ B
✅ C

Key Ingredients:

⭐ A
⭐ B
⭐ C

Key Features:

👍 A
👍 B
👍 C

Avene is a brand that has built a reputation for creating products for sensitive skin, and it continues that legacy with Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum.

This serum uses ascorbyl glucoside (AG), a vitamin C derivative that’s considerably gentler than l-ascorbic acid. It’s great for brightening the complexion and diminishing fine lines and wrinkles (Byrdie).

Pre-tocopheryl, a photostable precursor to vitamin E, is also added to protect the skin from free radical damage. Meanwhile, GP4G, hyaluronic acid, and the famous Avène Thermal Spring Water work to nourish, hydrate, and repair the skin.

With over 500 reviews and an average of 4.7 stars on Amazon, users with sensitive skin have attested to its efficacy. Some even highlighted how comfortable it felt when applied, as the dry-down was quick and smooth. 

And although no one complained of an adverse reaction from this serum, just keep in mind that it contains fragrance.

Our Verdict: A gentle vitamin C serum from a trusted brand for sensitive skin, Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum ticks all the right spots with its performance. The caveat is that it’s a little pricey at around $40/oz.

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DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum
3
BEST CLEAN BEAUTY BRAND

DERMA E 
Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

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Best For:

✅ A
✅ B
✅ C

Key Ingredients:

⭐ A
⭐ B
⭐ C

Key Features:

👍 A
👍 B
👍 C

Don’t want unnecessary preservatives and sulfates on your skin? Check out DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum and its clean formula!

This product is somewhat reminiscent of cocokind’s vitamin C serum, as they’re both organic and share several ingredient similarities. Both use SAP, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, rosehip, and citric acid. Both are formulated for sensitive skin.

What makes DERMA E’s different is that it is completely free from irritating preservatives, parabens, and sulfates. It also contains more beneficial ingredients, including:

  • Green Tea: reduces skin irritation and redness
  • Vitamin E: protects the skin from sun damage
  • Rosa Canina Seed Oil: promotes skin regeneration and reduces dark spots and wrinkles
  • Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide: prevents skin water loss (Paula’s Choice)
  • Allantoin: soothes and softens the skin

All these ingredients point to the product’s soothing abilities, making it great for dry and sensitive skin types. It garnered almost 3,000 reviews and 75% five stars on Amazon, with some users praising how lightweight and fast-absorbing it is. It is easy to layer with moisturizer and sunscreen, and it holds great value at $8/oz.

Just be careful since several buyers complained about receiving expired or fake serums.

Our Verdict: Free your skin from dark spots and irritation with DERMA E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum and its 100% cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and altogether gentle formula!

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Neogen Dermalogy Real Vita C Serum
4
BEST FOR DARK SPOTS

Neogen Dermalogy 
Real Vita C Serum

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Best For:

✅ A
✅ B
✅ C

Key Ingredients:

⭐ A
⭐ B
⭐ C

Key Features:

👍 A
👍 B
👍 C

Get that famed Korean glow with Neogen Dermalogy Real Vita C Serum and its 22% vitamin C!

This formula has several different vitamin C sources, including:

  • 12% Vita C Acerola-plex: brightens skin tone and promotes skin elasticity
  • 10% SAP: boosts collagen production and fights free radicals
  • 5 Citrus Fruits (Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit): fades acne scars, detoxifies the skin, and counters signs of aging (American Spa)

It even contains niacinamide, which is famous for its anti-aging, brightening, and hydrating benefits.

Such a mix of ingredients sounds great for its efficacy, but the high potency of active ingredients may be irritating for some skin types. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t be a problem since the hydrators and antioxidants on the ingredient list offset such negative effects.

These include:

  • Vitamin E: has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Panthenol: attracts moisture to the skin and strengthens the skin barrier
  • Collagen: smoothes wrinkles and keeps the skin plump
  • Hyaluronic Acid: increases skin elasticity

Thus, the Neogen Vitamin C Serum is great for all skin types -- even those with sensitive and acne prone skin. 

But if you’d rather not risk the possibility of skin irritation, you can also consider goodal Green Tangerine Vita C Dark Spot Serum+. It uses 70% green tangerine water from Jeju Island, a natural source of vitamin C. 

I personally use this serum, and it faded dark spots and brightened my acne prone skin after two weeks of regular use. It’s also free from fragrance, parabens, mineral oil, and alcohol, making it appropriate for sensitive skin.

Our Verdict: Experience a powerful (yet non-irritating!) dose of vitamin C with Neogen Dermalogy Real Vita C Serum and its Vita C Acerola-plex, SAP, citrus fruits, antioxidants, and hydrators!

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Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
5
BEST FOR REDNESS

Mario Badescu 
Vitamin C Serum

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Best For:

✅ A
✅ B
✅ C

Key Ingredients:

⭐ A
⭐ B
⭐ C

Key Features:

👍 A
👍 B
👍 C

Straightforward, natural, and effective, Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum lets the results speak for themselves.

It has around 1,000 reviews and 80% five stars on Amazon, with many users stating that it helped fade hyperpigmentation and brighten skin.

This can be attributed to the tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD) and 3-O-ethyl-l-ascorbic acid (3-O-C), two stable and soluble vitamin C derivatives.

The latter is different from L-AA, contrary to the listing on Amazon. While this makes it less potent, this formulation is also more tolerable for sensitive skin.

It also contains:

  • Cucumber: soothes skin and preserves the skin barrier
  • Ginseng: reduces redness and puffiness
  • Hyaluronic Acid: increases skin moisture and reduces wrinkles and fine lines
  • Soluble Collagen: gives the skin a firm and youthful texture
  • Lavender Oil: reduces discoloration and fights acne

The lavender oil may irritate skin types with essential oil sensitivities though, so be mindful of that one.

Our Verdict: Expensive at $45/oz., but effective, Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum soothes and brightens the skin with THD, 3-O-C, cucumber, ginseng, hyaluronic acid, and collagen!

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