CeraVe Vitamin C Serum Review: Best Drugstore Serum?

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum Review: Best Drugstore Serum?

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CCeraVe sells a vitamin C serum that’s used to renew skin quality and have an anti-aging effect. The brand suggests that their product can “help visibly brighten your complexion and support soft, radiant, and healthy-looking skin.”

But does CeraVe’s serum contain research-backed ingredients for anti-aging, or are these just marketing claims? Does it contain any questionable additive ingredients? How do real users rate and describe its effects? And which retailer sells it for the best price?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in CeraVe Vitamin C Serum based on medical studies to give our take on whether the serum is likely to have an anti-aging effect, or if it’s a waste of money.

We’ll explain if topical vitamin C can reverse the effects of aging skin, feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand and provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells this product for the best price.

Ingredient Analysis

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum ingredients

The ingredients in CeraVe Vitamin C Serum are shown above.

Like every CeraVe product we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health, this formulation contains a large number of research-backed active ingredients.

Ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C, is clinically shown to improve skin quality.

A 2017 medical review reported that vitamin C at the exact same concentration as in CeraVe’s serum (10%) significantly reduced wrinkling when applied to skin.

Panthenol is clinically shown to moisturize the skin, as we documented in our SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic reviews article.

Ceramide NP, ceramide AP and ceramide EOP are members of a class of compounds called ceramides from which the brand CeraVe gets its name.

All CeraVe products we’ve reviewed contain ceramides, and for good reason. This class of compounds were shown in a clinical trial published in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology journal to enhance skin barrier function when combined with other bioactives.

Phytosphingosine is a compound produced by the body that was shown to increase skin moisture content in a 2017 clinical trial.

Tocopheryl acetate is a form of vitamin E, and this vitamin is clinically shown to help to protect against DNA damage from UV ray exposure.

Clearly there are a number of effective ingredients in this serum. However, there are also a few inactive ingredients that may be questionable.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative shown to be toxic to human cells in a 2020 clinical trial.

Sodium hydroxide is a pH balancer that can irritate the skin, as we documented in our Skinbetter Science reviews article.

Overall, we consider CeraVe Vitamin C Serum likely to improve skin quality, have an anti-aging effect and to have a moisturizing effect. 

We don’t currently recommend this product due to the two inactive ingredients highlighted above, but these are relatively minor considerations and not ingredients we consider highly questionable like fragrance or synthetic dye.

But how do real users rate and describe the effects of CeraVe’s serum? We’ll feature some unsponsored customer reviews in the next section of this article.

Real People Try CeraVe Vitamin C Serum

A YouTube creator named Lavinia Rusanda tested the effects of CeraVe Vitamin C Serum on her acne scars for two weeks:

A popular beauty vlogger named Abbey Yung shares her thoughts on whether or not CeraVe’s serum is the “best drugstore vitamin C serum” for the face:

Our Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging.

Momentous Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM is our top moisturizer pick.

It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." 

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Experts Review CeraVe’s Serum

A board-certified dermatologist named Daniel Sugai shared his thoughts on CeraVe’s serum:

A pharmacist named Yaseen Arselan compared CeraVe’s serum to a popular La Roche Posay vitamin C serum:

Where to Get the Best Price

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown at the time of publishing this article:

Walgreens: $27.99 (plus shipping)

Target: $24.99 (plus shipping)

Walmart: $19.32 (plus shipping, link)

Amazon: $19.32 (plus shipping, link to Amazon listing)

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum is not currently sold on the brand’s website, and is 31% cheaper on Walmart and Amazon than at Walgreens.

Real Customers Review CeraVe Vitamin C Serum

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand’s website in our opinion.

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum has been reviewed over 36,000 times on Amazon, with an average customer review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “ShannaR” who gives the product a 5/5 star rating and appreciates the product experience and aesthetic effects:

“I didn’t know I needed it but my skin absolutely LOVES it! I love how my face feels after adding it to my daily routine. Like water for my skin. 4 cerave products in and I love what this 44yo face is looking like since making the switch.”

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “Jamie” who claims to have experienced side effects due to a packaging issue:

“After using for only two weeks, I noticed it darkened my skin. After doing my research, it seems the product probably arrived oxidized. The poor packaging probably caused this.”

CeraVe has an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Facebook.

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum has an average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google.

Pros and Cons of CeraVe Vitamin C Serum

Here are the pros and cons of CeraVe Vitamin C Serum in our opinion:


  • Many research-backed ingredients
  • Should reduce wrinkles
  • Should improve skin barrier
  • Should increase skin hydration
  • Affordable
  • Mostly positive online customer reviews
  • High-quality brand


  • Doesn’t appear clinically tested
  • Contains phenoxyethanol
  • Contains sodium hydroxide
  • Not available for purchase on brand’s website
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


Like every CeraVe product that we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health, we consider this serum likely to be effective for its intended purpose: it should have an anti-aging effect, hydrate the skin and improve skin quality in most customers.

We don’t currently recommend this product due to the inclusion of phenoxyethanol and sodium hydroxide, although we do not consider this product likely to be harmful.

Most of the online customer reviews of CeraVe Vitamin C Serum that we came across while researching this article were positive.

For consumers who plan to purchase this product, Walmart and Amazon currently have the best prices.