The water-like texture makes it great for all skin types and sinks in quickly. Whether you have oily, dry or sensitive skin (or all the above – skin can be picky!) there’s a brightening serum for your skin type and budget below. “Otherwise you are literally throwing your money away investing in other skin-care products,” she adds. Dr. Kim backs this up, adding that SPF combined with vitamin C in the morning minimizes UV damage, prevents excessive melanin production, and contributes to a brighter complexion overall go here.

So now that you know everything there is to know about brightening serums, go ahead and get your glow on! While we’re not super impressed, this serum does give the skin an immediate glowy look that some shoppers may like. Paired with moisturizing glycerin and dimethicone, it doubles as a skin-illuminating primer that gives a dewy look whether it’s worn alone or under makeup. It can work for all skin types, but those with oily skin may find that it makes them look greasy rather than dewy.

  • “It has kojic acid and niacinamide, which is a form of Vitamin B that also helps to brighten and reduce inflammation, as well as tranexamic acid, which decreases pigmentation in conditions like melasma without irritation,” says Dr. Caufield.
  • Alpha arbutin, a plant-based alternative to hydroquinone, is a serious radiance booster.
  • “This is packed with antioxidants that help improve uneven skin tone, loss of firmness, and brightness,” says Shereene Idriss, M.D., an NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist.

We will also provide tips on choosing the right product and incorporating it into your regular skincare routine. Additionally, we’ll explore the role of skin-lightening and whitening products in achieving a brighter complexion. Maybe it’s the lack of vitamin D, perhaps it’s the clogged pores from laying on our couch for far too much of the day, but our skin has a dull pallor we haven’t been able to shake.

Chief among J.Lo’s beauty essentials is the singer’s namesake serum from her JLo Beauty line. That Jlo Glow Brightening & Firming Serum, which Lopez has described as a skincare “game-changer,” is formulated with niacinamide and brightening serum peptides to help firm and brighten the skin. If you’re wanting to brighten up on a budget, this is a great purse-friendly option. It contains niacinamide , vitamin C for radiance and liquorice root extract that helps to fade skin discolouration to reveal a luminous complexion.

Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty. This is a great all-rounder for anyone in need of a radiance boost, though it’s best for those with a bit of patience, as results may take time. If you’re looking for a splurge-worthy pick that’s guaranteed to deliver results and is dermatologist-approved, this is it. Allow the serum to sink into your skin completely, and then follow it up with a moisturizer or sunscreen.

Heraux Molecular Anti-Inflammaging Serum

At 2% it’s available over-the-counter, but any higher and it requires a prescription. It is the fastest-acting and most powerful option for reducing pigmentation, although it can also have side-effects like irritation. The reason why we azelaic acid works well for darker skin is its unique method of action. It has a selective effect on abnormal melanocytes, so it brightens hyperpigmentation without changing the overall skin tone. Even if you’re just dealing with dull skin, this serum is still a great choice.

Vitamin C also promotes collagen production, giving skin more support and structure. Finally, it’s a radiance-boosting agent, so a serum that features it can work to even skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation. In addition to its radiance-boosting effects, most brightening serums can help protect against environmental aggressors, which is why Levin recommends applying it each morning.

“Using a brightening serum at night aids in the natural repair process while sleeping,” explains Levin. When in doubt, make sure to consult with a dermatologist about the best treatment and maintenance plans. For normal skin, look for a serum that contains a combination of potent ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid, and niacinamide. Some great options for normal skin are SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid Serum or Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, which effectively targets pigmentation while providing antioxidant protection. Apply a few drops of the serum onto clean, dry skin in the morning and evening, followed by a moisturizer.

People with acne-prone skin know that trying new skincare products can often lead to breakouts and irritation. We found that this product actually helped improve the appearance of our oily skin overall. The formula contains L-ascorbic acid, the purest form of vitamin C for powerful antioxidant protection, as well as hyaluronic acid for an added boost of hydration. The simplest way to revive dull, lackluster skin is by using a brightening serum. “This serum contains vitamin C and phytic acid, giving it a powerful antioxidant effect in a mild formula suitable for all skin types,” says Levin. “This gentle serum helps to improve uneven skin tone and discoloration for a brighter complexion without irritation. The addition of grapeseed oil boosts antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties for smooth, bright, and even skin.”

At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any radiance-boosting serums from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us we will evaluate the product ASAP. This class of ingredients can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s extremely important to use sunscreen while using them. This makes the skin look brighter and allows it to absorb hydrating and depigmenting ingredients. It also speeds up the overall repair and renewal process that’s needed to eliminate pigmentation in the skin.

Okay, it’s expensive, but this serum is magical for targeting sun damage and discoloration. “It has kakadu plum, recognized as the world’s highest source of vitamin C for brightening,” says Rhea Souhleris, director of aesthetics at La Suite Skincare at Union Square Laser Dermatology. Ciara recently launched a skincare brand, and this vitamin C serum from the new collection does not disappoint. It’s a clinically-proven formula with three forms of vitamin C to brighten dull skin, vitamin E to help moisturize, and vitamin A to promote a smoother-looking complexion overall. While the celebrity-backed serum has earned hundreds of five-star reviews, some note it “doesn’t mix well” with other skincare products and “only works well when used alone.”

They include chemical exfoliants like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as retinol. Because of the lactic acid, it’s extremely important to use sunscreen diligently while using this serum. Be aware that hydroquinone is usually not recommended for those with darker skin tones because overuse can lead to ochronosis.

If you’re going to invest in just one, board-certified dermatologist Diane Madfes, MD recommends opting for a vitamin C serum. This serum is uniquely formulated to stimulate collagen production while you sleep. “It delivers a pure concentration of vitamins A, C, E, and other nutrients to exfoliate, renew, and replenish skin overnight,” says Dr. Green, who created the brand.

Murad’s all-over glycolic acid serum helps speed up cell turnover and sheds away the surface cells that make you look less radiant. We appreciated how user-friendly the packaging is, that the formula absorbed into the skin quickly, and that it left us feeling moisturized and looking glowy. After the six-week period, our skin was left looking hydrated, illuminated, and refreshed.

Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate

Using a combination of brightening niacinamide, tranexamic acid and bakuchiol, this serum is a triple threat for brightening discolouration and preventing them from appearing in the first place. Because serums are lightweight and absorb easily, they are best applied after cleansing and before moisturizing, says Dr. Garshick. “This ensures proper penetration,” she says, adding that serums may be used day or night, depending on the specific ingredients. All of those aforementioned, typically unwanted spots on the skin fall under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation.

Last, but not least there’s Camomile Extract Bisabolol, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and anti-microbial properties. Whether you’re dealing with uneven skin tone or pesky dark spots, this treatment is the answer to all your discoloration woes. It has Norwegian Kelp Extract in it, a property that’s known to increase controlled exfoliation and remove excess pigment, along with other anti-agers that promote cellular turnover and brighten. Discover the science behind brightening serums, their benefits, and how to choose the perfect one for your skin. Learn how these powerful formulas work to unveil a radiant complexion and why selecting the right serum is crucial for achieving optimal results. And tt’s fruiter ingredients – mango, lychee and Japanese mandarin- are far from a vanity addition as they work to even out skin tone and boost the skin’s radiance.

Once applied, it doesn’t immediately make the skin look radiant, but over time we did notice an improvement in the overall brightness of our complexions. We also noticed that it helped visibly reduce some of our hyperpigmentation, resulting in a more even, less dull-looking skin tone. We didn’t feel that this formula made our face look or feel greasy, rather, it provided the necessary hydration and a bit of glow. Over time, we noticed a real improvement in the radiance and texture of our skin. It didn’t do much in terms of firming the skin, but if improving radiance and skin texture is your goal, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this product. If you struggle with dull skin, incorporating this brightening vitamin C serum into your skincare routine might be just what you need to achieve a more radiant complexion.

Additionally, vitamin C blocks the enzyme responsible for melanin production, which means it can help brighten skin. Dr. Yadav explains that because vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, it can be used topically in many different forms, including face serums. If you’re on the hunt for a dermatologist-approved drugstore serum, Dr. Wang says to try CeraVe’s Resurfacing Retinol Serum. “This product contains vitamin B3 and retinol, which is actually a vitamin A derivative,” he says. Those who are sensitive to retinol’s intensive properties will be happy to know that this formulation encapsulates the ingredient in soothing, conditioning ceramides and hyaluronic acid to reduce any chances of irritation.

The strongest anti-pigmentation serum on our list is the PCA Skin Pigment Gel, but it’s also the most likely to have negative side-effects. If you heave hearty, non-sensitive skin, you can combine this serum with renewing treatments like the Eva Naturals Skin Clearing Serum for faster results. This formula is patented so other brands using this combination of ingredients have to reduce the pH to avoid patent infringement. Brightening serums are rarely cheap, but they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. While there are a few higher-priced options on our list, they offer something special that justifies their cost. Sometimes it seems like a product is cheap when it actually comes in a smaller quantity, so we also mention how much serum you get in each bottle.

While this might not sound super appealing, it spreads easily and sinks into the skin quickly. We also appreciated the squeeze-tube packaging, which made dispensing the right amount of product easy. The one con we found is that, unlike some other vitamin C serums that immediately leave the skin looking radiant due to oily or luminous formulas, this one doesn’t. Another pick that’s suitable for all skin types, this gel contains vitamin C and asafetida extract, an ancient Asian powerhouse that’s highly effective at improving dull skin and hyperpigmentation. “Plus, it can be used anywhere else on the body, making it a great ‘bang for your buck’ multipurpose product,” says Omaha-based board-certified dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, M.D., founder of the brand. Radiance-boosting serums that don’t contain any exfoliants should be safe for most, if not all, skin types.

She was previously the Assistant Beauty Editor at VOX Media where covered beauty trends, product recommendations, skincare advice, and more. This is a nice pick for anyone with serious spots since it relies on several different skin-tone-evening ingredients. We noticed that our skin looked healthier, luminous, and generally more even after a few weeks—and saw an improvement in texture after just a few days. The strongest renewing option on our list is the Eva Naturals Skin Clearing Serum which is made with both retinol and salicylic acid.

For best results, use this at night while using a gentle melanin-inhibitor like the CeraVe Vitamin C Serum in the daytime. If you love the idea of skin renewal but don’t want to use something so strong, you can try the L’Oreal Revitalift 10% Glycolic Acid Serum, instead. While there is vitamin C in here, it’s a stabilized form that has antioxidant and anti-acne effects but doesn’t reduce existing pigmentation. It breaks down the connective material between dead and live skin cells and helps the skin to shed its top layer. Any company can take a liquid, slap the word “brightening serum” on its label, and charge big bucks for it. We don’t want you to spend a ton of money and end up disappointed, so we kept some important factors in mind when selecting the best brightening serums for our list.

“I love its fresh — not cloying! — citrus scent,” says GH Institute Deputy Editor Jessica Teich. Ren Skincare’s Glow and Protect Serum is powered by kakadu plum extract, which is rich in discoloration- and dullness-reducing vitamin C, but that’s not the only reason why Dr. Greenfield says it’s one of her favorite formulas. This intensive serum partners the additive with vitamin E and pomegranate-derived polyphenols for a hefty dose of antioxidants in just a few drops. “This serum has a powerful combination of antioxidants combined in a formulation that provides protection against some of the most damaging environmental toxins and can even skin tone in as little as 2 weeks,” she says. Look out for products that contain stabilized forms of vitamin C, such as l-ascorbic acid, and pair this ingredient with other antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid along with your favorite sunscreen to boost its skin-nourishing effects. Other antioxidants Dr. Wang recommends adding to your routine include glutathione , niacinamide , retinol (a fine line- and wrinkle-targeting powerhouse), and resveratrol (a skin-smoothing moisturizer found in grapes) into your routine.

The best pigmentation fighting ingredients, like vitamin C, arbutin, azelaic acid, and hydroquinone, disrupt the melanin-production process which evens out the skin tone over time. It’s a slow process, and results usually take a couple of months at a minimum. The main ingredient in here is alpha-arbutin, a derivative of the much more intense and slightly controversial hydroquinone. It’s a promising pigmentation treatment, and many users find that it helps reduce post-acne marks, melasma, and sunspots.

With wrinkle-reducing bakuchiol and reishi, an adaptogen that improves cell rejuvenation to even out your tone. There has been much debate about whether it’s better to use the ingredient to protect skin during the day, or replenish it at night, but Dr. Herrmann says you can choose which time of day to apply— just be consistent. If you’re a vitamin C newbie and worry about the adjustment period when skin might be slightly more irritated this product is ideal. It doesn’t contain a laundry list of other actives so you can ease into your new regimen seamlessly. Overall, our favorite radiance-boosting, illuminating serum is the derm-beloved SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic thanks to its use of vitamin C.

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