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The Best Brightening Serums for Beautiful, Glowing Skin

 The hallmark of healthy skin is the lit-from-within glow that not even the best makeup products can replicate. We’re talking clear skin, poreless texture, and an even complexion.

To achieve this lively glow, we look to brightening skincare products but specifically brightening serums. The best brightening serums will strip away dullness and dead skin cells restricting your glow and lighten any dark spots or acne scars, too. By adding this simple step to your skincare routine (after cleansing), you’ll begin to wake up with illuminated, radiant skin—no makeup needed. 

Ahead, discover 9 of the best brightening serums that will help you achieve beautiful, glowing skin. These formulas are loved by professionals and skincare junkies alike and contain some of the best ingredients for treating dullness and hyperpigmentation, so you’re bound to find a serum you swear by.

Look For These Brightening Skincare Ingredients

When it comes to skin brightening and complexion luminosity, there are some key ingredients you want to look for. These skin brighteners will either block the pigment melanin from causing hyperpigmentation or speed up skin cell turnover to fade existing dark marks and dullness.

  1. Vitamin C
  2. AHAs (Glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids)
  3. Retinol
  4. Azelaic acid
  5. Ferulic acid
  6. Alpha arbutin
  7. Niacinamide
  8. Fruit enzymes (papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin)
  9. Kojic acid
  10. Licorice extract

The Best Brightening Serums for Glowy Skin 

Ready to find your new favorite brightening serum? Keep scrolling.

Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30%

THD ascorbate is the skin-brightening hero behind this best-selling serum. A 30 percent concentration of this highly stable vitamin C derivative promotes clarity and overall evenness by controlling the overproduction of melanin and fighting signs of aging. It also contains hydrating ingredients like glycerin and squalane; radish root ferment to support the skin barrier; and patent-pending MelaPATH technology to protect and correct damage caused by free radicals, including the blue light emitted from your phone.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

Ask any celebrity, dermatologist, or esthetician what their favorite brightening serum is, and you’ll probably hear C E Ferulic by SkinCeuticals. Suitable for all skin types, this iconic serum combines a high-performing dose of vitamin C to defend skin from environmental damage (like sun rays), support collagen production, and give your complexion a youthful glow. The addition of vitamin E and ferulic acid boosts the skin-brightening effects of vitamin C and complements your daily sunscreen.

La Roche-Posay Glycolic B5 Serum

Glycolic acid is one of the best skin-brightening ingredients to incorporate into your routine. The AHA exfoliant effectively buffs away dullness and lightens dark spots and discoloration for a more even-looking complexion. This lightweight serum also supports glowy skin with tranexamic acid, kojic acid, lipo-hydroxy acid (a salicylic acid derivative), and ultra-soothing panthenol.

SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum

For super stubborn discoloration, the 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum is your best bet. This highly potent serum produces impressive brightening results at 12 weeks, thanks to powerhouse pigmentation fighters like niacinamide, tranexamic acid, and algae extracts. It can be used on its own or in combination with in-office skin treatments like laser, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels. Plus, it’s suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin types.

PCA Skin Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum

Niacinamide isn’t always the brightening skincare ingredient people reach for, especially when compared to vitamin C and glycolic acid. But this multi-tasking vitamin is fantastic at lightening dark spots and promoting an even skin tone, courtesy of its ability to curb excess melanin production. This niacinamide formula – boosted with green tea, plankton extract, and glycerin – also helps with dullness, redness, and age-related skin yellowing.

RescueMD DNA Repair Complex

If your concerns involve acne scars or past skin damage, consider the DNA Repair Complex. The treatment serum was specifically designed to improve the appearance of scars and support the skin’s natural healing process, thanks to ingredients like lapachol and peptides, meaning it’s also fantastic at treating discoloration, uneven texture, and sun damage. It’s also armed with anti-inflammatory ingredients like allantoin, black currant seed oil, and aloe vera.

ClarityRx Let There Be Light Brightening Serum

Let There Be Light helps you get that lit-from-within glow with its energizing combination of naturally sourced botanicals, hyaluronic acid, and alpha arbutin. Rumex occidentalis extract (derived from the Canadian native Field Dock plant) partnered with alpha arbutin effectively treats unwanted hyperpigmentation, whether that’s sunspots, melasma, or age spots.

Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%

Avid vitamin C users love the Professional-C Serum from Obagi. This derm-approved serum contains a 20 percent concentration of pure vitamin C (the highest concentration you can get in an over-the-counter product) for maximum antioxidant defense. L-ascorbic acid improves skin texture and clarity by targeting fine lines and wrinkles and banishing stubborn dullness. The result? Your skin looks and feels visibly younger after just a few uses.

Biopelle XCP Brightening Serum

If your skin is in need of a pick-me-up, add Biopelle’s XCP Brightening Serum to your morning lineup. The radiance-restoring formula contains a powerhouse blend of active ingredients (vitamin C included) to brighten your complexion and protect your skin’s collagen and elastin fibers. The addition of phytic acid, green tea, and grape seed extracts helps diminish existing dark spots while preventing future spots from developing. Work it into your morning skincare routine to boost your antioxidant sun protection.