Stores & Services
Find a Sephora

Happening at Sephora

View all


From makeovers to personalized skincare consultations

Free Classes

Get inspired, play with products & learn new skills

Showing results forย 
Search instead forย 
Did you mean:ย 
Post in Skincare Aware

Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

Has anyone (I'm sure people have) experienced this? i have tried multiple serums/products from multiple brands (kiehls, drunk elephant, ole henriksen, mario badescu) and break out with all of them.  My skin is normal/combination and generally not acne prone or sensitive. Once in a while a pimple will pop up on my chin, usually around my period.


But the vitamin C serums have me breaking out on my cheeks, forehead, everywhere!  I even broke out on my neck (what?!).  Is this just a breaking in period I have to suffer through or is there no hope?  Is there an alternate product I can try to brighten dark spots/sun damage?

RE: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

Breaking out after introducing a new active ingredient can often be attributed to purging, but if thatโ€™s the only thing youโ€™ve changed and it keeps happening regardless of what brand or formulation, I agree that it could be that your skin just doesnโ€™t agree with vitamin C. In addition to increasing your vitamin c intake in your diet, specifically for dark spots I recommend gentle regular exfoliation as well as adding The Ordinaryโ€™s Alpha Arbutin. It also targets dark spots but tends to be much more agreeable with not only sensitive skin but also other active ingredients. It plays well with everyone, it just may not be quite as effective. But worth a try.

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

@gnells Could it be that the Vitamin C concentration is too strong for you?  I was just reading up on Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL and it seems to have a much lower concentration than the DE, The Ordinary, etc.


You also might like to try other antioxidants than Vitamin C.  Good luck!  ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

@gnells I am sensitive to it as well. I avoid it now.

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

@gnells Another thing you might try if you REALLY want to try vitamin C is to choose a format other than a serum and see if that works better for you.  It's typically not quite as stable in a moisturizer--although maybe the lower concentration/potency would actually be in your favor--or you might check into some of the vitamin C powders.  A couple of brands that come to mind like Neogen or Versed (not sold at Sephora, however) have created a stabilized vitamin C powder and the format allows you to add it at whatever concentration you desire to your normal serum, moisturizer, etc.  That way YOU have control on how much you use and maybe something like that--a formula that you could play around with and customize--might actually work for you.

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

@gnells @Iโ€™m quite sensitive to it as well. I am using the Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment 1.7 oz/ 50 mL right now ! I got it during the sale so itโ€™s way too soon to say if it works but Iโ€™ve been using it for over a week with no breakouts so thatโ€™s good for me. I also had a very good experience with CAUDALIE - Vinoperfect Anti Dark Spot Serum and probably would have purchased that again if I didnโ€™t hear such good things about the ptr 

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

Thanks! I will try the PTR since I already use so many PTR products in my skin care routine and love them!

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?


It sounds like you have a sensitivity to Vitamin C, I do as well. I cannot use anything with Vitamin C or my skin goes haywire. 

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

@gnells  What vitamin c brands have you tried? 

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

I've tried drunk elephant, kiehls, Mario badescu, and ole Henriksen

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

I  had this issue as well and realized I was applying way too much. Try using the product one a week then increasing to once every other day and if you can tolerate it then move to once a day. Some people are really sensitive to serums and highly concentrating ingredients. 

Re: Breaking out from vitamin C serum?

Thank you! I did notice if I use it one day it's fine but I was hoping to incorporate it more into my routine! Slowly incorporating may be a good idea.

11 Replies
Conversation Stats
  • 11 replies
  • 20 Hearts Given
  • 9 Contributors