The 6 Best Facial Moisturizers Packed with Vitamin C

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The 6 Best Facial Moisturizers Packed with Vitamin C

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR SENSITIVE AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN

ZELEN Life Moisturizer

It is well known that Vitamin C protects against photoaging, ultraviolet-induced immunosuppression, and photo-carcinogenesis.

Studies have shown that Vitamin C is photo-protective. Face moisturizers that are rich in Vitamin C are one of the must-haves for those who are looking to prevent sun-injuries to their skin.[1]

Our list will take a closer look at the best facial moisturizers packed with Vitamin C.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Moisturizer
  • Loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants
  • Fast aborbing, non-greasy formula
  • Organic jojoba and calendula hydrate and protect
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bb2-table__imagePerricone MD Vitamin C Ester Photo Brightening Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
  • Vitamin C esters help Vitamin C absorb into skin
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Sun protection SPF 30
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bb2-table__imageMario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C
  • Lightweight formula
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Brightens and revitalizes skin
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bb2-table__imageBoscia Revitalizing Black Charcoal and Vitamin C Daily Hydration Gel Face Moisturizer
  • Black charcoal detoxifies and refines pores
  • Light, gel-based formula
  • Helps to reduce breakouts
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bb2-table__imageJuice Beauty Stem Cellular Moisturizer
  • Vitamin C resveratrol rich grapeseed formula
  • Reduces wrinkles
  • Fights free radicals
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bb2-table__imageMurad City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturizer - Vitamin C Night Cream
  • Enriched botanical blend
  • Vitamin C brightens skin tone
  • Strengthens the skin’s barrier at night
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Before you buy: 7 Questions to consider when purchasing a moisturizer with Vitamin C

Before you buy a Vitamin C rich moisturizer, there are a few things that you should ask yourself and think about:

1. What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is also known as L-ascorbic acid. It is a water-soluble vitamin. Citrus fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C. Human beings cannot synthesize Vitamin C in their bodies, so it should be a vital component of our diet.

Vitamin C is necessary for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. It is also involved in the metabolism of proteins.[2]

2. Is Vitamin C suitable for you?

Vitamin C in high concentrations can irritate your skin. Especially if you have sensitive skin. Have you tried a Vitamin C moisturizer before? Or used a fruit peel? Did you have any stinging or redness?

If not, then you can go ahead and use a Vitamin C loaded moisturizer. If you’re new to Vitamin C based products, do a patch test and see if it agrees with you.

3. What’s your skin type?

Knowing your skin type is a cardinal rule as you choose a moisturizer. You could have dry skin, oily skin, sensitive skin, or even combination skin. Combination skin is where your T-zone might be oily, but the rest of your face is dry.

As you pick a moisturizer, you want to select ingredients that are suitable for your skin type. Choosing something that contains alcohol will dehydrate skin and is therefore wrong for dry skin types. However, for oily skin, using a petrolatum-based product might make your skin feeling gunky.

4. Do you wear sunscreen?

Vitamin C does become less effective when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, many moisturizers come with SPF protection so that Vitamin C can be effective in its role in preventing photoaging.

5. Do you have problem areas?

A lot of products on our list are dual-acting. That is, they not only provide radiance to the skin but also act on other skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, frequent bacterial infections, and loss of elasticity.

Do you have other associated skin conditions that need to be taken care of? If yes, you can choose a Vitamin C rich moisturizer with ingredients that will also address your other concerns. So make a list of your problem areas and then decide which formula best suits you.

6. What’s your budget?

Vitamin C infused moisturizers can run on the pricier side, mainly because of the concentration of Vitamin C that goes into making them. You have to consider how much you’re willing to spend on a product that you will apply at least once a day, especially in the summer.

Our list features the best facial moisturizers with Vitamin C, from the most expensive to affordable. There are a few pocket-friendly choices for those who don’t want to splurge.

7. What other products are you using?

You may already be using a product containing Vitamin C. It can be named as ascorbic acid, or ascorbate, or a Vitamin C ester. Fruit stem cells, peels, seeds, stems, or extracts are all rich in Vitamin C.

Are you already using Vitamin C without even knowing it? Also, do you use products that have a similar mechanism of action as that of Vitamin C like retinol?

Keep in mind that these products do not work synergistically; instead, they negatively influence each other. So if you’re using a Vitamin C based product already, there is less need to use another.

The 6 best facial moisturizers with Vitamin C

We rounded up the best facial moisturizers that contain Vitamin C.

Each moisturizer has its pros and cons listed along with its best features to help you pick the one that suits your skin the most.

1. ZELEN Life Moisturizer

ZELEN Life Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Non-greasy and lightweight texture
  • No parabens, sulfates, synthetic colors, and fragrances
  • Quickly locks in hydration and protects

The best facial moisturizer for:

Those of all skin types, particularly sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Overview:

The ZELEN Life Moisturizer is formulated by hand using premium organic ingredients such as jojoba, calendula, and clary sage. These ingredients are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids that are significant for healthy skin.

While lightweight and non-greasy in texture, it absorbs quickly and still manages to provide powerful hydration that lasts all day.

Due to its occlusive and non-comedogenic ingredients, it is suitable for all skin types (including sensitive). It is also free from harmful chemicals such as parabens, silicones, synthetic fragrances, alcohols, etc.

Its organic ingredients are so light that it moisturizes without blocking the skin pores. It smoothes and revitalizes the skin leaving it refreshed and calm.

While it doesn’t contain SPF, it does protect the skin from harsh environmental elements and acts as a protective barrier.

The ingredients:

Jojoba is a carrier oil, and it is specifically known for its anti-aging capabilities. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles due to its powerful antioxidant properties while balancing out sebum.  Also, due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial abilities, it helps to accelerate wound healing.

Calendula oil provides long-lasting hydration while soothing the skin. It also assists in reducing redness and treatment of wounds due to its antiseptic properties.

Clary sage is an anti-inflammatory that prevents skin irritation and tightens skin while giving it a youthful, radiant look.

It’s also an antibacterial that curbs the growth of bacteria. Studies have shown that clary sage oil is active against Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, and S. xylosus. This helped control bacterial infections.[3] They also have high activity against fungal skin infections.

The good:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Ultra-calming and soothes any signs of inflammation
  • Contains essential vitamins, essential fatty acids, as well as essential antioxidants

Things to think about:

  • No SPF

Bottom line:

This is an organic Vitamin C-rich moisturizer that is kind to sensitive and problem skin types.

2. Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Photo Brightening Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Photo Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30

Best features:

  • SPF 30
  • Anti-aging moisturizer
  • Vitamin C esters allow more absorption of Vitamin C into the skin

The best facial moisturizer for:

Those looking for a moisturizer with SPF

Overview:

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Photo Brightening Moisturizer is an oil-free moisturizer that contains SPF 30 mineral-based protection. Its formulation includes vitamin C esters which create a very hydrating cream that is balanced in thickness.

As it contains SPF it is advisable to be used in the mornings.

What are Vitamin C esters:

Vitamin C esters are a highly differentiated, fat-soluble form of Vitamin C. This delivers a high concentration of Vitamin C to your skin.

Alpha-lipoic acid reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a more potent anti-aging face cream. Earlier, studies disputed its efficacy topically. However, recent studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid reduces facial lines and almost completely resolves them in the periorbital region and upper lip area.

It also improves skin color and texture.[4] Perricone’s patented Vitamin C ester brightens and smoothes the skin from irritations due to its richness in antioxidant properties. It also gives the appearance of collagen-rich skin by visibly smoothing, and minimizing discoloration over time.

All and all, Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Photo Brightening Moisturizer provides great long-lasting hydration, however as it is not the most lightweight moisturizer on the list it is advisable to apply only a small amount for quicker absorption.

The good:

  • Sun protection
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

Things to think about:

  • Need a separate night moisturizer with Vitamin C

Bottom line:

This is an excellent moisturizer for those looking for sun protection with SPF 30.

3. Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C

Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C

Best features:

  • Lightweight, antioxidant moisturizer
  • Hydrates tired, dry, dehydrated skin

The best facial moisturizer for:

Those with flaky, dry skin.

Overview:

Vitamin C, squalene, and lemongrass form the cornerstone of Mario Badescu’s Hydro Moisturizer formulation.

Recent studies have provided the very first evidence of the anti-inflammatory activity of lemongrass in human skin cells. It is an excellent therapeutic ingredient for treating inflammatory conditions of the skin.[5]

Its lightweight and antioxidant-rich formula helps flaky, dry skin regain its clarity and health.

The good:

  • Alcohol-free, so does not dehydrate
  • Does not clog pores
  • Vitamin C brightens the skin

Things to think about:

  • Can cause people to break out
  • Feels slightly greasy

Bottom line:

This is a great moisturizer for those with dry skin as it deeply hydrates.

4. Boscia Revitalizing Black Charcoal and Vitamin C Daily Hydration Gel Face Moisturizer

Boscia Revitalizing Black Charcoal and Vitamin C Daily Hydration Gel Face Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Ultra-light gel consistency
  • Absorbs excess oils
  • Provides a healthy, glowing complexion

The best facial moisturizer for:

Those with oily and combination skin and those with large pores.

Overview:

Boscia’s Revitalizing Black Charcoal is a cooling gel moisturizer. Its main ingredients are charcoal, artichokes, vitamin C, and glycolic acid.

The inclusion of activated charcoal balances sebum and impurities, while detoxifying and exfoliating, leaving the skin free of irritation and fresh. Its light gel texture and hydration make it great for combination to oily skin types.

Vitamin C brightens the skin tone and minimizes the effects of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. The artichoke leaf extract tightens the size of pores and increases elasticity.

Artichokes are rich in polyphenols, inulin, vitamins, and minerals. Studies have shown that they are a potential anti-inflammatory agent. They protect the lymphatic vessels from oxidative damage.

Additionally, the artichoke extract improved the expression of genes involved in anti-aging pathways.[6] Clinical testing on human skin indicated reduced roughness and elasticity.

The good:

  • Charcoal refines pores
  • Prevents breakouts
  • Leaves the complexion instantly feeling smooth, refreshed, and clarified

Things to think about:

  • Can cause peeling and flaking due to glycolic acid

Bottom line:

This a charcoal-based moisturizer that is a refreshing, pore-tightener.

5. Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Moisturizer

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Resveratrol that fights free radicals
  • Contains fruit stem cells
  • Rich in vitamin C
  • Improves skin tone and radiance

The best facial moisturizer for:

Those with pigmentation and looking to improve skin tone.

Overview:

Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular Moisturizer contains a mixture of fruit stem cells, jojoba, shea, and resveratrol-rich grapeseed. This combination provides a formula that is very hydrating, and rich in anti-aging properties.

Juice Beauty’s blend of fruit stem cells contains apple, grape & lemon leaf. Its formulation is organic, vegan, and rich in antioxidants.

Some of these antioxidants are jojoba and shea, which fight free radical damage and firm skin. Apples are a rich source of phytochemicals. They have a lot of antioxidant action, can stop cancer cells from growing, and reduce lipid oxidation.[7] They influence aging via oxidative stress.[8]

This moisturizer suits all skin types, specifically for skin that shows signs of aging.

The good:

  • Hydrates skin with organic antioxidant-rich ingredients
  • Powerful antiaging properties

Things to think about:

  • Has a light lemon scent
  • Can be dehydrating

Bottom line:

This is a quality moisturizer for those looking to reduce fine lines and wrinkles due to loss of elasticity rather than sun damage. The blend can be dehydrating for dry skin types. Consider a patch test before purchase.

6. Murad City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturizer – Vitamin C Night Cream

Murad City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturizer - Vitamin C Night Cream

Best features:

  • Vitamin C helps brighten and even tone
  • Nourishing botanicals plump skin to help visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates

The best facial moisturizer for:

Those looking for an overnight skincare routine.

Overview:

Murad’s City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturizer is a Vitamin C night cream. Its main ingredients are marrubium plant stem cells, sunflower, cucumber, and barley. These ingredients work together to detoxify and revitalize the skin.

Marrubium plant acts as an excellent antioxidant agent, due to its high proportion of phenolic compounds. In traditional medicine, it is used to treat skin damage, ulcers, and wounds.[9]

It cleanses the skin by eliminating pollutants and enhancing its natural repair mechanisms. Marrubium vulgare has a lot of bioactive compounds.

Sunflower, cucumber, and barley hydrate the skin, while locking in the moisture, creating a barrier that protects from dehydration. The blend also assists in reducing signs of aging, such as wrinkles by promoting youthful texture.

Sunflower seed oil also maintains cutaneous homeostasis and preserves the integrity of the outermost layer of the skin.[10]

It is formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. But it does contain some alcohol and perfume.

The good:

  • Plant stem cells neutralize toxins and promote skin repair
  • Formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates & gluten

Things to think about:

  • Can be allergic for sensitive skin
  • Pricey; it’s an expensive luxury moisturizer

Bottom line:

This is great as an overnight moisturizer for sun-damaged skin with wrinkles and fine lines.


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How we chose these products

The first thing we looked at was the Vitamin C content. We wanted to provide a comprehensive list of the best facial moisturizer with Vitamin C out there on the market.

We chose products that had Vitamin C in water-soluble forms that work for younger skin and Vitamin C esters that would deliver more of the ingredient to mature skin.

We also added products that had sun protective factors. Since people are looking to minimize the steps in their skincare routines, we decided to look for products that had dual actions.

The skin types were also considered. We have included a Vitamin C-rich moisturizer for every skin type and that addresses various concerns, such as acne, dark spots, or fine lines, etc.

We also looked at the budget. This is a long-term product, especially in the summer. We added a whole range to satisfy every budget. If you’re looking for a luxury patented formula or a blended formula that is not so pricey, we got you covered.

Frequently asked questions

Should I use Vitamin C?

Well, it is good to have an antioxidant in your moisturizer. Vitamin C will give you radiant, healthy skin, and yes, you need it. It fades dark spots, evens skin tone, tightens the skin, and brightens it while also protecting it from free radicals. So why not?

Can’t I just eat more fruit?

You can. Dietary Vitamin C is often used for the many chemical reactions in the body. Whatever is left is used for the skin. Often, the damage is external, and so we require Vitamin C from an external source applied directly to uneven skin, damaged skin, and fine lines.

Since Vitamin C is generally distributed all over the body, there’s little chance that your skin’s problem areas will be addressed by dietary Vitamin C.

How to use Vitamin C?

Vitamin C can be used in serums. In the case of serums, they are often used freshly cleansed skin before you moisturize your face. However, a Vitamin C moisturizer is used as the last step in your skincare routine.

How much Vitamin C is necessary for my skin?

Vitamin C is present in various concentrations in moisturizers. This could be from 5% to 30%. It’s a wide range. If you have skin allergies and sensitive skin, 5% is what you should start with. Work your way up from there if you can manage it. For others, you can try higher percentages and see if its enough for you.

How to store Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is always available in dark, opaque bottles. This is because sunlight oxidizes Vitamin C. Therefore, make sure your Vitamin C moisturizer is stored in a dark, cool place. If you notice the color of your moisturizer has changed, it means your formula has oxidized and is no longer effective.

What other products should I avoid while using Vitamin C?

Vitamin is an ingredient that can easily be affected by other products. For example, benzoyl peroxide. You cannot use them in the same sitting as the benzoyl peroxide oxidizes Vitamin C.

You can use one in the morning and the other in the evening just not in the same skincare routine. Another product you have to be careful about is retinol. They have similar effects on the skin, and therefore you should be cautious about using them together.

When should I apply a Vitamin C moisturizer?

It is best to apply it in the morning when UV radiation is the most. However, bear in mind that Vitamin C does get oxidized as it is exposed to the sun. After applying your moisturizer, wait until it is absorbed into the skin and then head outside.

Is a Vitamin C serum better than a Vitamin C moisturizer?

Serums provide antioxidants and Vitamin C swiftly. This makes the skin radiant by brightening, exfoliating, and hydrating the skin.

Contrarily, moisturizers have larger molecules than serums. Therefore, they don’t penetrate the epidermis or outermost layer of the skin. Their main goal is to seal the skin, to lock in moisture and nutrients. These thicker, emollients can lock out the antioxidants and Vitamin C. It depends on what effect you’re looking for.

What to do if I develop a reaction?

It is possible that you may experience some initial redness to Vitamin C, especially if you’re using it for the first time. Wash away with cold water. Try reducing the percentage of the Vitamin C.

Ideally, do a patch test on your neck and see if the formula works for you. Any redness, itching, wheals, and swelling, are signs of an allergic reaction and should be seen by a dermatologist.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best facial moisturizers with Vitamin C, we’d love to hear from you.

Do you use Vitamin C moisturizers or other products containing Vitamin C?

If yes, let us know what you use in your skincare routine and how it has changed your skin.

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References

  1. Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.
  2. Li Y, Schellhorn HE. New developments and novel therapeutic perspectives for vitamin C. J Nutr. 2007;137(10):2171-2184. doi:10.1093/jn/137.10.2171
  3. Sienkiewicz M, Głowacka A, Poznańska-Kurowska K, Kaszuba A, Urbaniak A, Kowalczyk E. The effect of clary sage oil on staphylococci responsible for wound infections. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2015;32(1):21-26. doi:10.5114/pdia.2014.40957
  4. Sherif S, Bendas ER, Badawy S. The clinical efficacy of cosmeceutical application of liquid crystalline nanostructured dispersions of alpha lipoic acid as anti-wrinkle. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2014;86(2):251-259. doi:10.1016/j.ejpb.2013.09.008
  5. Han X, Parker TL. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) essential oil demonstrated anti-inflammatory effect in pre-inflamed human dermal fibroblasts. Biochim Open. 2017;4:107-111. Published 2017 Mar 21. doi:10.1016/j.biopen.2017.03.004
  6. D’Antuono I, Carola A, Sena LM, et al. Artichoke Polyphenols Produce Skin Anti-Age Effects by Improving Endothelial Cell Integrity and Functionality. Molecules. 2018;23(11):2729. Published 2018 Oct 23. doi:10.3390/molecules23112729
  7. Boyer J, Liu RH. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J. 2004;3:5. Published 2004 May 12. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-5
  8. Palermo V, Mattivi F, Silvestri R, La Regina G, Falcone C, Mazzoni C. Apple can act as anti-aging on yeast cells. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:491759. doi:10.1155/2012/491759
  9. Aćimović M, Jeremić K, Salaj N, et al. Marrubium vulgare L.: A Phytochemical and Pharmacological Overview. Molecules. 2020;25(12):2898. Published 2020 Jun 24. doi:10.3390/molecules25122898
  10. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

About The Author

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Doctor and Seasoned Medical Writer

Doctor of Medicine MD (Angeles University College of Medicine)

United States

Pamela Q. Fernandes is a doctor and medical writer. Born and raised in Kuwait, she graduated from Angeles University College of Medicine, Philippines in 2007. Soon after that, she started her career as a medical writer and physician. Pamela is an advocate of preventive health, rural medicine, women’s health and tele-medicine having been active in these roles for the majority of her decade long career in medicine. As a seasoned medical writer, she has worked with many medical publishing houses and doctors, as well as pharmaceuticals, hospitals and practices. She specializes in training material for doctors and patient education material. As an academic writer, she is a qualified writer of articles for medical journals, case reports and medical presentations.

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