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6 Vitamin C Alternatives For Those With Sensitive Skin

There are other ways to glow...

Whether your skin simply can’t tolerate the antioxidant or you’re just downright tired of having to guess whether or not your serum has turned after a month of opening it, these alternatives also deserve a reserved spot on your vanity.

Who among us doesn't want healthier, dewier, brighter, and smoother skin? That's why vitamin C is such an essential skincare ingredient. The antioxidant protects the skin from UV damage, stimulates collagen production, and lifts away dark spots revealing bright and glowing skin. The easiest way to work it into your routine is by way of a serum. Just a few drops, applied before your moisturiser in the morning, will leave skin protected all day long. 

That said, not everyone can reap the many benefits of slathering it onto their skin because it can sometimes be irritating to sensitive skin types. Allergic reactions to vitamin C-infused skincare products are fairly common, often resulting in red bumps and itchy skin after application, and it’s also one of the more difficult ingredients to tolerate if you suffer from rosacea or simply have highly reactive, sensitive skin. What's more, even if your skin can endure vitamin C, chances are you've been left with a gone-off brown gloopy liquid after a few uses.  Because of its less-than-stellar shelf life, many Vitamin C products contain silicone bases, which is a common culprit for triggering breakouts and clogged pores.

The goods, however, is that when it comes to stamping out dullness, vitamin C isn't the only ingredient in town. While it is best to speak with a dermatologist when deciding which ingredients will be most compatible and effective for your skin type, it's worth noting that there are products that feature many of the same benefits as vitamin C but offer a more gentle touch. Ahead, we've rounded up six vitamin C alternatives to consider if you have sensitive skin. 

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% HA Serum

Alpha Arbutin is a form of Arbutin (a derivative of bearberry plants) and while it remains largely under-the-radar, it also happens to be one of the most reliably effective compounds for fading dark spots and melasma. Just like Vitamin C, it’s also an incredible agent for tone correction overall brightening, but because it has a sustained release, it's far gentler and doesn't present as high of a risk of irritation. In The Ordinary's iteration, the alpha arbutin is supported with a form of hyaluronic acid for enhanced delivery and efficacy.

 €8.75, BUY IT HERE. 

SkinCeuticals Phyto+

Botanically-based kojic acid — found in this serum, which calms, hydrates, and brightens — is great for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and for those whose skin may not tolerate vitamin C. The grass-green gel also includes arbutin (above) to break up hyperpigmentation, while cucumber and thyme work their anti-inflammatory and antiseptic magic to calm redness and irritation; a hyaluronic-acid base delivers hydration, to boot.


Derma-E Sensitive Skin Moisturising Cream

This hydrating cream is infused with a lesser-known antioxidant called Pycnogenol, which, according to the brand is actually 50 times more effective at preventing free radical damage than Vitamin E. This oil-free cream does contain Ascorbyl palmitate, which is a mild form of Vitamin C that tends to be safer for those with rosacea and sensitive skin compared to pure Vitamin C.


The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum

While often marketed as an anti-acne ingredient, Niacinamide (a B vitamin) is quickly emerging as the rising star in skincare thanks to its laundry list of skin-enhancing benefits. In addition, to keeping oil levels at bay and treating acne, it’s been clinically shown to a powerful anti-ager as well. Not only does it improve texture and brighten tone, like topical Vitamin C, it’s also been found to significantly reduce the visible signs of photoaging.

€5.80, BUY IT HERE.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Moisturiser with Niacinamide

Viniferine—an ingredient extracted from grapevine sap—visibly lightens dark spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation. According to Caudalie, a brand with formulas which often feature viniferine as a star ingredient, it does all of these things 62 times more effective than vitamin C. Caudalie's Vinoperfect Brightening Moisturiser also features niacinamide, so you get double the bang for your buck.

€39.25, BUY IT HERE.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum

While this serum does tap vitamin C to help boost its brightening cocktail, it also incorporates kojic acid and arbutin making it kinder on the skin and ultimately being quite the vitamin C-alternative powerhouse.

€112, BUY IT HERE.

Main image by @thebeautybloss on Instagram

READ MORE: Are You Following The Right Skincare Regime For Your Age?