vitamin C-ish serums (4)


Many to most of these are fine as antioxidant serums (though plain vitamin C is probably a better choice for boosting sun protection during the day). Vitamin C serums they ain’t.

Some might be vitamin C serums proper, but due to a poorly-formulated description and ingredient-list—specifically, not declaring what percentage of vitamin C is present—it’s hard to tell. They are therefore indistinguishable from fruit cocktails. Some of those below may be hidden gems. Serum-makers: label your stuff properly. It can only help…

But, like the Jason serum that started off this discussion: if your skin can’t use straight-up vitamin C serums, or if you can’t use the DIY LAA one, or you can’t afford MAP serums: then this kind of general serum containing vitamin C is one way to go. Might be the way, for you. And what works for you has to remain the most important thing.

So I’m listing the following things here:

  • serums that contain vitamin C (sometimes quite a lot) but aren’t vitamin C serums;
  • serums that don’t contain enough vitamin C or of the right form to do proper vitamin C stuff
  • serums that don’t declare their percentage of vitamin C
  • serums with fragrance, especially in the form of photosensitizing/phototoxic essential oils such as lavender and citrus-peel ones;
  • and/or otherwise not recommended and maybe even contra-indicated and warned against by Your Truly;

Please please please: do let me know if you think I’ve done any of the serums on this post a gross injustice. By which I mean: if they actually contain ≧ 10% LAA, ≧ 3% MAP, or equivalent for other forms of vitamin C.

NB: ON THIS POST, DUE TO CURRENT WORDPRESS POLICY, LINKS TO MANUFACTURER AND SELLER SITES ARE NOT ALL NECESSARILY ACTIVE: you’ll have to copy-paste them into a new tab/window. I’m providing them here as references for my information prices, ingredients, etc. Apologies on behalf of WP: the policy’s for a good reason, basically triggered an alert because it’s got a higher than usual ratio of external links : unlinked plain text.


Nearly made it into the previous two posts’ lists of actual vitamin C serums—

vitamin C serums (2) = near-misses with respect to vitamin C serums (1) due to niggles about irritants, but decent prices (and cruelty-free)
vitamin C serums (3)
= near-misses due to indecent prices

—but failed to hit the mark: insufficient or undeclared percentage of vitamin C.

I’ve marked those that are mercifully cheap or cheapish with
* (under $50 / 1 oz),
** (up to $30 / 1 oz), or
*** (from $15 / 1 oz down to “way cheap”).

  • *** Derma E Ester-C Serum:
    $14.00 – 16.95 / 2 oz
    includes calcium ascorbate; fragrance
    ✓ cruelty-free
  • ** Mad Hippie:
    $27.19 – 33.99 / 1 oz
    ?? % sodium ascorbyl phosphate + ferulic acid
    ✓ cruelty-free
  • Murad Active Radiance Serum:
    $89.00 / 1 oz
    includes sodium ascorbyl phosphate + chitosan ascorbate + tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
    ✗ cruel


* = cheapish (up to $50 / 1 oz)
** = cheap (up to $30 / 1 oz)
*** = way cheap (up to $15 / 1 oz)

There’s also about a bazillion antioxidant serums, treatment oils, and other assorted magic potions and elixirs of eternal youth out there that contain some vitamin C, or ingredients that contain some form of vitamin C (ex. rosehip seed oil). Which I’m not going through here, because there’s an awful lot of them. Like, a bazillion.

But what the heck, for purely illustrative and entertainment purposes, here’s a glowing “what not to wear” / The Emperor’s New Clothes example. CAD$ 229.00 + taxes etc. Meet Z. Bigatti (motto: “luxury with a purpose”) Re-Storation Deep Repair Facial Serum:


  • Destroy bad skin memories and rescue your skin with this supreme age-fighting formula.
  • Deep Repair Facial Serum is a highly concentrated, mega-dose of visible age-defying elements- including hydrolyzed silk, algae extract and soy protein.
  • Enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants, perform to visibly diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while helping to prevent any further skin damage.
  • The abundance of antioxidants and extensive use of botanicals provide an instant lift to the skin, improving elasticity, bringhtness and tone.


  • Apply Deep Repair Serum morning and evening to face and neck. Serum may be applied throughout the day for a “visual lift”.
  • Color of product may change with time due to natural ingredients.
    [LOL: that would include oxidation…]


Water (Aqua), Ethyl Ester of Hydrolyzed Silk, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Algae Extract, Caffeine, Arginine, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Vitis Vinifera, (Grape) Seed Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Panaz Ginseng Root Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycerin, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Glycol Distearate, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Glyceryl Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Red 33.

NEXT, AND LAST: post #5 in the series: master-lists of all the vitamin C serums and serums-with-vitamin-C covered in these last four posts…


  • vitamin C serums (1), (2), and (3) (= previous post)
  • vitamin C serums (5):
    • a top ten: vitamin C serums with at least 10% l-ascorbic acid (or similar equivalent), cruelty-free, unscented, for at most $40.00 / 1 oz
    • the short-list: vitamin C serums with at least 10% l-ascorbic acid (or similar equivalent) for at most $50.00 / 1 oz + C-containing serums under $30.00
    • the long list: vitamin C serums + serums containing vitamin C for at most $50.00 / 1 oz
    • and the whole list (there’s about 100 or so here)
  • vitamin C serums (6): categorized by type of vitamin C (ex. l-ascorbic acid).


  1. Pingback: Source Naturals Skin Eternal Cream, with Lipoic Acid, DMAE,
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  3. Adel

    I’m new to building websites and I was wondering if having your blog title related to your articles and other content really that vital? I notice your title, “vitamin C-ish serums (4) | The Praise of Folly ” does seem to be spot on with what your blog is about yet, I prefer to keep my title less content descriptive and based more around site branding. Would you think this is a good idea or bad idea? Any kind of assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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  6. Donnatella de Poitiers

    Thank you for this impressively comprehensive review. Do you know anything about the inexpensive Orange Daily line, whose serum is clearly labelled 10%? Although hard to find and often available only by mail, it has a lot of fans, including dermatologists who cite it to show that good products do not necessarily have to be high priced. You are so right about the way many companies seem to go to great lengths to conceal the actual percentage of vitamin C in their product. I was disappointed to see that the low-priced Lumene products you mention are no longer available. Do you have any experience with their Bright Now vitamin C day cream SP15 or their Time Freeze firming night cream?

    • gingerama

      Hi there,
      I’ll do some ferreting around and add some info about that vitamin C serum. Thanks for the info!
      Sorry, I don’t know about those Lumene products. Not seen, not used (much of their stuff is fragranced and/or contains other ingredients that are known irritants on my skin), I haven’t actually actively been looking but I don’t think I’ve seen Lumene here in Vancouver in shops at all, or not in so long I can’t remember when I last saw it in drugstores here? I do remember seeing it in CVS and suchlike in the USA ten years ago, and my mind is blanking on more recently.
      The other thing is that I’m not going to be testing out–and indeed not even going to be looking at–anything skin-wise, under doctor’s orders, for the next couple of months until skin is not only healed by stabilised (see yesterday’s post for why). Need to be clear of staphylococcus infection first, as a priority…

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