COMPLETE Vitamin C serum Pharmacist Review |2020

Simply, this is the best and biggest Vitamin C serum review EVER! I spent the last 2 weeks researching, in meticiolous detail, every top selling vitamin C…

complete vitamin c serum brand review

complete vitamin c serum brand review

Simply, this is the best and biggest Vitamin C serum review EVER!

I spent the last 2 weeks researching, in meticiolous detail, every top selling vitamin C serum brand.

Here are my findings!

To find out more about vitamin C serum and how i carried out this project; read to the end of the article.



We will soon go through each brand and analyse it in depth,

But let me first tell you a little bit more about vitamin C serum and why it is one of the best things you can put on your skin.

in depth research of vitamin c serum


Skinceuticals C E Ferulic

skinceuticals vitamin c serum review

Made 15% L-ascorbic acid, a good and stable form of vitamin C..
1% vitamin E is also included, together with 0.5% ferulic acid.

The PH of this formula is 2.5 which is ideal for maintaining potency and stability of the final product.

“This is an exceptional vitamin C serum. Skinceuticals is a leading brands in this field. I particularly like the formulation, which ticks all the boxes in terms of maximising absorption, stability and potency. Yes it is on the expensive side but I think it is value for money. An outstanding products”

it generally has very good reviews from buyers, but there are suggestions that some sellers are not selling the genuine skinceutical product. So my advice to buyers would be to stick with reputable platforms to ensure that you are getting a 100% genuine product made by Skinceuticals themselves.

I noticed the packaging Advises to apply this product before exposing the skin to Sunshine.

I personally think you should apply it afterwards as well, because as I explained, UV light breaks down vitamin C in the skin. So by the time your skin has been exposed to sunlight you would probably lost the vitamin C you applied. so it makes sense to top up by applying more vitamin C serum after exposure to the sun.


  • It is based on the duke antioxidant patent; which is a well-established formula for making extremely high quality vitamin C serum.
  • The pH of this product is ideal for stability and absorption, being on the acidic side.
  • Ferulic acid and vitamin E a both proven to improve the potency and absorption of vitamin C across the skin layers.
  • Amber bottle with dropper minimised contamination of product.


  • it is very expensive compared to other brands. And it is even more expensive for UK consumers than US consumers.
  • Some concerns that some batches may not be from the original manufacturers. Although these reports seem to be 2-3 years ago now.

(Basically some buyers have been reporting inconsistencies in the packaging and in the product itself which raised their suspicion that some sellers maybe pretending to be from skinceuticals, but are in fact fake sellers)


vitamin C serum


22% vitamin C as sodium ascorbyl phosphate /

1% ferulic acid/

Hyaluronic acid and 1% vitamin E

Serumtologie have made a good product here, although it’s not my absolute favourite.

They have a solid line up of ingredients and a huge amount of positive reviews. But I still think they have some way to go to match the formulation of skinceuticals. I think the pH of their product is too high which can impact negatively on stability and shelf life.

The products price is incredible for the value you get.


  • Reasonable price
  • Hyaluronic acid is a nice addition as a proven moisturizer. Along with other moisturizers such as jojoba oil.
  • No animal testing and no use of harmful preservatives
  • Dark blue bottle and dropper minimise contamination and improve product stability.
  • A huge amount of positive reviews online


  • PH at 6.5 is too alkaline, and this may risk product stability and potency.

Using magnesium ascorbyl phosphate would have been preferable, although the vitamin C used in this product is also good but it’s not the best.

Lilyana vitamin C serum

lilyana vitamin c

This product contains Vitamin C serum 20% in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate. A good and stable form of vitamin C, but not the very best.

It also contains hyaluronic acid 5% and vitamin E.

As usual for the serums we have been seeing so far, it contains a lot of moisturizers such as aloe vera, jojoba oil and also some herbs such as dandelion. The idea being to counteract the potential drying effect of vitamin C serum.

According to the customer service team of Lilyana, the PH of this product is about 7. This isn’t an optimal PH as we highlighted in previous sections.

In terms of reviews, this product has nearly 2000 views online. It has 72% 5 star rating and 6% 1 star rating at the time of writing this article.

“The most common reason people gave this product five stars was due to the good results it delivered, specifically improving fine lines and dark spots”

The most common reasons people gave this product one star, included acne breakouts and a bad skin reactions.


  • A good percentage of vitamin C, using a good stable form.
  • Hyaluronic acid is included at 5% concentration
  • Highly rated by online reviews. 72% five-star rating.


  • PH of around 7, which isn’t optimal and can risk potency and stability of the product.
  • Perhaps it is not suitable for acne prone skin

Viola vitamin c serum

vitamin c serum by viola

Another popular brand with 20% maximum potency vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.

It contains no paraben preservatives and alcohol; which is good news for people with sensitive skin and people who do not want alcohol-based products for one reason or another.


  • Maximum strength vitamin C of 20%
  • Hyaluronic acid is included
  • No parabens and no alcohol
  • A huge amount of online reviews


  • Only 65% 5 star rating reviews, which is slightly below its rivals.

Truskin naturals vitamin C serum

vitamin C serum review

This brand has over 9000 reviews online which is absolutely remarkable.

They use of vitamin C at 20% strength plus hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.

They use the well-known vitamin C isomer of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is a good stable form. included in this serum are witch hazel and jojoba oil to give a moisturising effect.

Truskin give a remarkable 2 year shelf life guarantee. This means that if the product is spoils before the two year. You should be entitled to your money back.

The only concern I have is the pH being 6.5, which is not the optimal pH for vitamin C serums.


  • High quality ingredients
  • Shelf life guarantee of 2 years
  • No parabens or animal testing


  • Sub-optimal pH, which casts doubts on the product’s stability and potency. But given that the company give a 2-year shelf life guarantee, they are clearly confident about the stability of their product; so this may not be such a worry after-all.

Kleem organics Vitamin C serum

vitamin c serum review Kleem organics

This brand uses 25% strength vitamin C with 10% strength hyaluronic acid. they also include vitamin E in their formulation.

Kleem give a guarantee of 1 year shelf life and they use something called airless packaging, which maintains stability and delivers on their shelf life promise.

they have an enormous amount of reviews online with very good ratings.

The pH of this product is reportedly 3, which is exactly within the right range for optimal effectiveness and stability.


excellent lineup of ingredients

1 year shelf life guarantee

airless packaging for improved stability

free from parabens and alcohol

no animal testing

Enormous amount of reviews online


Doubtful if 25% vitamin C strength brings any extra benefit over a 20% strength. Studies have shown benefits of vitamin C serum, in terms of concentration, caps out at 20%.

Kleem organics Vitamin C serum

vitamin c serum review Kleem organics

This brand uses 25% strength vitamin C with 10% strength hyaluronic acid. they also include vitamin E in their formulation.

Kleem give a guarantee of 1 year shelf life and they use something called airless packaging, which maintains stability and delivers on their shelf life promise.

they have an enormous amount of reviews online with very good ratings.

The pH of this product is reportedly 3, which is exactly within the right range for optimal effectiveness and stability.


  • excellent lineup of ingredients
  • 1 year shelf life guarantee
  • airless packaging for improved stability
  • free from parabens and alcohol
  • no animal testing
  • enormous amount of reviews online


  • Doubtful if 25% vitamin C strength brings any extra benefit over a 20% strength. Studies have shown benefits of vitamin C serum, in terms of concentration, caps out at 20%.


This brand uses 25% strength vitamin C. L-ascorbic acid to be precise.

They have two packaging options, a pump bottle and a dropper bottle option.

They also provide 90 day money back guarantee which is extremely generous.

They have a huge number of reviews online, but they are rated a slightly lower than the brands we have seen so far.


  • High quality ingredients
  • Excellent choice of packaging
  • Very generous 90 day money back guarantee


  • Slightly less rated on the online reviews, compared to their rivals.

Natural Earth laboratory


  • A fine line up of ingredients including 20% of vitamin C, vitamin E and a collection of plant extracts and herbs
  • Generous 60ml bottle supply. Almost all its rivals supply 30ml bottle size
  • Suitable for vegans
  • Generously price
  • Good review rating


  • PH is between 7 and 8 which is far too high for the stability of vitamin c. The risk of oxidation and product spoiling is increased.



vitamin c serum review Kleem organics

Kleem organic’s vitamin C serum is my clear winner in this review article.

Not because it is necessarily the best technical product, but because it combines good formulation, good packaging, and excellent customer feedback. A superb all rounder.

I also like the fact that this brand is available to both UK and US customers.

I still think is skinceuticals is the best technical product in this short list. But where Kleem has the edge is in terms of customer reviews. the feedback for Kleem has been exceptional.

This is why I am voting this brand as best for value. the best all-rounder



Skinceuticals is clearly very costly, but I believe it is the best technical brand in the lineup

it is based on a patented formulation and has a long track record of success.

The reason it has come in second place in my ratings overall, is purely because of the customer reviews, which kleem Organics just edges.

it is a strange thing to say about a product that comes in second place but if you have the budget I would give serious thought to try Skinceuticals. particularly if kleem does not work for you.

The back-story

Vitamin C- The antioxidant warrior

Vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant.

so what is an antioxidant? I hear you ask.

To answer this question, we need to discuss something called reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals.

These are very damaging little molecules produced by your own body as a waste product. And if they circulate the body long enough they can cause damage to cells, tissues and DNA.

They can cause particular damage to the skin by accelerating the ageing process. so it is imperative they are removed or neutralized as soon as possible. And antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, neutralise these free radicals, thereby protect our body.

In fact, vitamin C sacrifices itself to neutralize these horrible free radicals.

What a hero!

vitamin c source

Where does vitamin C serum

come from?

Plants produce vitamin C by converting sugar with the help of a very special enzyme.

Unfortunately we, as humans, do not have this special enzyme so we are not able to make our own vitamin C from sugars, and we rely on taking in vitamin C orally or applying it directly to our body.

This is why your mum tells you to eat more fruit!

Another interesting fact about vitamin C is that there are different versions of it existing in nature, with very slight differences in structure. But only one version is biologically active and it’s the one that we as humans use and make into pills and serums.

This active version is called L- ascorbic acid.

What is so great about vitamin C serum anyway?

Vitamin C increases the production of collagen in the skin.

Collagen is the big base tissue of the skin that gives it structure.

As we age, and through the damage caused by free radicals, the level of collagen in the skin is slowly reduces leading to the appearance of wrinkles and fine Lines.

So anything that can protect or restore collagen will improve the appearance of the skin.

benefit of vitamin C for skin

As we age we also start to lose elastin, which as the name suggests, is the tissue responsible for the elasticity of the skin.

Again this damage to elastin is caused by long-term exposure to free radicals and UV light. Vitamin C protects and perhaps regenerate elastin keeping the skin nice and , well, “elasticy”.

Vitamin C is also known to protect against skin inflammation. Inflammation of the skin can be caused by injuries or by skin conditions such as eczema and acne. So vitamin C is useful in managing inflammatory skin conditions.

A much-underrated use of vitamin C serum is its ability to reduce skin pigmentation. Melanin is the pigment in our skin which causes the skin to appear darker, and vitamin C has been proven to prevent the production of this pigment.

This is particularly useful for people who suffer with areas of hyper pigmented skin, For example darkening caused by scarring or Burns. Using vitamin C serum regularly will likely reduce the pigmentation of these areas making the skin appear more even in tone.

Why it is so difficult to overdose on vitamin C

Only a small amount of vitamin C is absorbed from our stomach when we take it by mouth, which is part of the reason why it is so difficult to overdose on vitamin C.

Unfortunately oral intake of vitamin C is inadequate for the skin because it doesn’t really reach the skin in sufficient amounts.

This is why we resort to applying the vitamin C directly to the skin to reap its benefits.

buying the best brand of Vitamin C serum

AVOID these vitamin C


UV light – the silent threat

The bad news for sunbathers is that UV light actually causes the skin to produce damaging free radicals. in particular UVA light, which has been shown to penetrate 30-40 times deeper into the skin then UVB light. And the really bad news is that sunscreen only blocks 55% of the free radicals formed.

But the good news is, using vitamin C serum AND sunscreen reduces the danger from UV light MASSIVELY. Provided you are using a good, well made, brand of vitamin C serum

role of vitamin c serum in protecting against UV sun damage to the skin

Smoking – an enemy of vitamin C serum

Smokers have been shown to have low levels of vitamin C circulating in their skin.

Although we are not 100% sure as to the reason for this, we think smoking somehow reduces the level of vitamin C in the body, even if the smoker is taking in adequate amounts of vitamin C or applying adequate amounts directly to the skin.

So, put it out!!

smoking impact on vitamin C levels

Factors that affect stability of

Vitamin C serum

A huge concern with using vitamin C , as a serum or cream on the skin, is it’s volatile nature.

vitamin C is very unstable and it quickly degrades on exposure to light, air and water. Recent research has been focusing on discovering the most stable form of vitamin C and the best ways to store it and prolong its shelf life.

Let’s have a look at some of the key factors which play a role at the stability and potency of vitamin C serum

factors that affect vitamin C stability

Vitamin C type

Not all vitamin C serums are equal.

As we stated earlier, the most active version of vitamin C is called L-ascorbic acid.

however this version is very unstable. it gets oxidised and hydrolysedby oxygen and water, so it is not very useful because it has a very short shelf life.

vitamin c hydrolysis and oxidation

The most stable versions of vitamin C used in cosmetics is called magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. This is my preferred version of vitamin C.

The reason it is so good is because it is easily absorbed, because the vitamin C has been coated with a fatty layer to improve it’s penetration through the skin. it also reduces water loss from the skin.

Other good types of vitamin C include:

ascorbyl 6 Palmitate

ascorbic acid sulfate

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate has also been shown to be good and stable.


PH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity.

Anything with a ph above 7 is defined as alkaline and anything with a ph below 7 acidic.

A PH of 7 is neutral, i.e. water.

And all you need to know is that vitamin C is generally more stable and more Potent at slightly acidic conditions.

The more neutral or alkaline the conditions the higher the risk of the vitamin C degrading and becoming useless.

The specific processes that lead to this degradation are called oxidation and hydrolysis.

affect of PH on vitamin C serum stability

The technical Challenge for manufacturers is how to make a stable vitamin C serum at slightly acidic conditions, without causing the user dry skin irritation.

Some manufacturers combat this by adding lots of moisturisers such as Vitamin E and jojoba oil. Other manufacturers simply make the vitamin C serum more neutral and hope to stabilise it by adding preservatives.


Vitamin C serum can also be damaged by exposure to the air.

The oxygen in the air causes a chemical reaction called oxidation, which renders the vitamin C inactive. So it is best to keep vitamin C serum away from air as much as possible.

Exposed Skincare


Temperature also effects the stability of vitamin C serum.

If the storage temperature is too high it may encourage the degradation of the products. and of course the same applies if the temperature is too cold,

Research has shown that’s the ideal temperature to store vitamin C serum is at fridge temperature, typically between 2 to 5 degrees centigrade. if this is not possible then room temperature may be appropriate.

The quality of the other ingredients

This is a huge factor in making potent and stable vitamin C serum.

Let’s look some popular ingredients added to vitamin C serum brands.

Vitamin E – the perfect partner for vitamin C

Studies have shown that using vitamin E together with vitamin C increases the potency of vitamin C by up to four fold.

Hyaluronic acid

You will notice vitamin C serum is often combined with this molecule.

Hyaluronic acid is used to improve the moisture of the skin.

it is capable of capturing enormous amounts of water for its weight, and delivering it to the deeper layers of the skin.

Ferulic acid

This is a Potent antioxidant often combined with vitamin C to improve it’s effectiveness and absorption.

Tyrosine and zinc

Research has shown that combining vitamin C with zinc and tyrosine improved it’s potency by up to 20 times.

The perfect concentration

Contrary to logical thinking, the efficacy of vitamin C serum does not increase indefinitely with increasing vitamin C concentration.

The efficacy only increases in proportion to the concentration of vitamin C till up to 20% concentration.

This means that concentrations of 30%, 40% or higher; are pretty much a waste of time. because you simply will not get any additional benefits in terms of effectiveness.

Vitamin C serum gone bad!

Yellowing or crystallising

You may notice that after a few days of using your vitamin C serum that it changes in colour; often to a yellowish appearance.

This is a tell tale sign that your solution has started to oxidize and break down into a chemical called dehydroascorbic acid.

Unfortunately you often get this with poorly formulated vitamin C serums, that are either too unstable or poorly preserved.

The formation of crystals also indicates the product has started to break down and it’s probably not fit for purpose any longer.

How to optimise the use of vitamin C serum?

Studies have shown that 8 hourly application of vitamin C serum to the skin maintains sufficient Reservoir to gain maximum benefit, in terms of vitamin C’s antioxidants and anti-aging effects

Are there any side effects to

using Vitamin C serum on the


Applying vitamin C to the skin is generally safe provided you use a reputable brand. But on rare occasions it can cause itching, stinging and redness, especially on first use.

The good news is these tend to subside quickly.

Role of packaging

role of packaging in vitamin C serum stability and shelf life

The packaging of vitamin C serum it’s not just a way to showcase the product, but it plays a vital role in maintaining the stability and the potency of the vitamin C serum inside.

The packaging is there to keep out the four main enemies of vitamin C serum. Namely water, oxygen, light, and microbes.

All of these either risk the stability and potency of the serum, or introduce contaminants such as bacteria which puts the user at risk.

In the light of this, vitamin C serum packaging must meet the following criteria:

They must never react with the vitamin C serum

They must be dark coloured to block out light

They must let in as little air as possible


This is why most manufacturers have dropper bottles, pump bottles and airless bottles. All have the smallest possible exposure to air. Jar containers with their wide mouths would be inappropriate for vitamin C serum

They must minimise potential exposure to water


Again making bottles with as small a opening as possible will help with this


Minimise contamination is also done by including preservatives and specifying storage conditions on the packaging

How to store

I would advise is storing vitamin C serum in the fridge.

Most manufacturers advise to store vitamin C serum at room temperature, but I think the stability and potency of the serum would be maintained better in Lower temperatures.

Should you make your own

vitamin C serum?

Only if you are 100% confident of your formulation, your skill and you intend to use it quickly.

I would not recommend you try and make vitamin C serum to store and use over a prolonged period. simply because it’s such a technically difficult ingredient work with, that most people with no access to sophisticated equipment and ingredients, will not be able to pull it off.

Having said that, if you feel confident you can try to make small batches to use over 2 or 3 days at most.

The making of this Vitamin C

serum review

The first part was to analyse the ingredients of each brand to see if they are using the right ingredients, and the right types.

I then analysed the quality of the formulation. Specifically in terms of PH used and additional ingredients.

And finally, to wrap up the technical analysis, i looked at the quality of the packaging.

After the technical analysis, it was time to move on to the review analysis.

I analysed the online reviews of every brand in depth.

I did not simply rely on the average rating of each product. but I also looked at the percentage of five star reviews and the percentage of one star reviews.

I also looked at the common theme in the best reviews. I looked at the reasons people gave a product 5-star reviews to see if there’s a common theme that comes up again and again. And of course, I did the same thing for that one star reviews to see some of the reasons people didn’t like a particular product.

How long should you wait for


Let’s think about it, you wrinkles and fine lines did not form over lights, so why would you expect to get rid of them overnight?

vitamin C serum works slowly to rebuild collagen and elastin. the minimum time you will see results in it’s likely 3 months to 6 months. in the short term, especially in the first few days or weeks , you will probably see your skin becoming brighter and lighter and a reduction in acne breakouts if this is a problem for you.

for optimal results in terms of reducing fine lines and wrinkles significantly, I think he would probably take 8 to 12 months of Regular use.

in terms of treating hyper pigmented skin, you are looking at a minimum of three months of use before you see significant improvement. of course this depends on the severity of the condition.

How do I think you should use

vitamin c serum?

Of course you should use vitamin C serum as directed on the product packaging. but I think there are a few tips that will help you get the most out of it.

never put vitamin C serum on at the at the same time as you put on other creams or makeup. because this will clash with a Vitamin C serum and impede it’s absorption

Avoid applying vitamin C serum immediately before you go to bed. this is because rubbing against your pillow will probably take off most of the serum that you put on. so I would wait at least one hour to allow for the vitamin C serum to be absorbed before going to bed.

wash your hands before using vitamin C serum and dry them. you do not want to introduce any microbes to your product by touching it with dirty hands. and it’s also very important to dry your hands because water also harbours microbes.

when applying vitamin C serum you should tap the serum on rather than rub it on. I always believe the action of rubbing leaves more of the serum on your finger, with an on your skin which is where you need it.

open and closed the bottle as quickly as possible. so when you are applying the vitamin C serum avoid taking the Dropper out and leaving it out while you apply and massage the vitamin C serum into your skin. the longer your serum is exposed to air the higher the chance of contamination and spoiling.

keep your serum in the fridge. so even if one’s get into your serum they will have less than ideal conditions in which to thrive and multiply. and you keep your serum fresh for longer as a result


I was generally impressed by the standards of the vitamin C serum that i reviewed. There was no one brand which i thought was dangerous to use or caused me any serious concerns.

But it is clear Kleem and Skinceuticals are some way ahead of the rest. There is not much to chose between the other brands.

I was impressed by how all brands used no animal testing and no harmful preservatives.

If you enjoyed this article, check out one of my other popular articles


It seems Amazon have launched their own version of Vitamin C serum called “Instanatural”. I am not totally sure it is an amazon brand but i suspect it is, because it is listed under “Amazon choices”.

There is a new brand on the scene with extremely impressive review ratings on Amazon. It is called Generation skincare. They have over 1000 reviews on Amazon!

7 thoughts on “COMPLETE Vitamin C serum Pharmacist Review |2020

  1. Can you do a review of DRMTLGY Advanced C E Ferulic. This product is seen on a lot of dermatologist’s Instagrams and is supposedly a dupe for Skinceuticals C E Ferulic.

  2. Hi J. I like all your videos because you cut to the chase to tell consumers what they need to know.
    I too wondered about the Cellex C brand who started the vitamin C craze in the early 90s. I find the C serums very acidic and drying to skin. Could you please do a comparison review between Skinceuticals Vitamin C and Cellex C and how to solve the dryness?

    I’d also like to see you do a vid on your skin care routine morning and evening.

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