18 of the Best Brightening Serums for the Ultimate ‘Glow Up’

By Tara | Updated: 08/01/2024

Are you tired of looking in the mirror only to see dull, lacklustre, or dry skin staring back at you? You’re not alone. As someone with very fair skin, I often find it lacks vibrancy and radiance.

The good news – an elusive, healthy glow is attainable with the right products.

Vitamin C has long been celebrated as the gold standard for skin brightening, renowned for its ability to invigorate and illuminate the skin.

In this article, we acknowledge the powerhouse that is Vitamin C, while also including products with a range of formulations and ingredients, each with unique properties to deliver that much-desired bright and radiant complexion.

So, whether your skin is crying out for hydration, battling uneven tone, or simply in need of a reviving boost, consider these highly-rated brightening serums.

Top Picks

Best Overall: Go-To Skincare Much Brighter Skin
Best Budget: artnaturals Vitamin C Brighten Serum
Best Luxury: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum
Best Organic: KORA Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum
Best for Acne Prone Skin: Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum

18 of the Best Serums for Brightening Dull Skin

Go-To Skincare Much Brighter Skin

Go-To Skincare Much Brighter Skin
$59.00

30ml

Google Review Rating:
4.8
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An all-encompassing brightening serum packed with 10% sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a stable, gentle form of Vitamin C), niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid to deliver bouncy, beautiful bright skin.

This serum targets hyperpigmentation, dark spots from acne, UV damage, or hormonal changes, improving skin tone and radiance. Enriched with Kakadu plum, rosemary extract, and vitamins C and E, it offers antioxidant protection and deep hydration.

Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum

Beauty of Joseon, Glow Serum
$29.14

30ml

Price at time of publish – 07.01.24

Google Review Rating:
4.7
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A choice for oily and acne-prone skin, this serum soothes breakouts and minimises pores while boosting radiance.

artnaturals Vitamin C Brighten Serum

artnaturals, Vitamin C Brighten Serum
$18.41

30ml

Price at time of publish – 07.01.24

Google Review Rating:
4.4
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This serum is a rejuvenating blend that harnesses the age-defying properties of Vitamin C. Infused with natural antioxidants and nourishing botanicals, it’s designed to combat signs of aging and bring a youthful radiance to the skin.

JSHealth Pro-Collagen Vitamin Serum

JSHealth Vitamins Pro-Collagen Vitamin Serum
$74.99

30ml

⭐️ Global Green Beauty Awards 2022 – Winner

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Targets signs of aging and dullness with a blend of vitamins and collagen-boosting ingredients, suitable for all skin types seeking a youthful glow.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair
$238.00

75ml

Google Review Rating:
4.6
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A classic choice for mature skin, this serum addresses dullness, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. Its overnight application promises a rejuvenated, glowing complexion by morning.

KORA Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum

Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum
$93.00

⭐️ 2019 Allure Best of Beauty Award

Google Review Rating:
4.5
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Blends natural, vegan ingredients to protect, brighten, and hydrate. Ideal for normal to dry skin, especially those with hyperpigmentation issues.

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum

Dermalogica Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum
$132.30

30ml

Google Review Rating:
4.6
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Rich in vitamin C, this serum targets melanin production, helping to fade dark spots and even skin tone. Suitable for those seeking a more uniform complexion and reduction in hyperpigmentation.

Origins Ginzing Into The Glow Brightening Serum

Origins Ginzing Into the Glow Brightening Serum 30ml
$82.00

30ml

Google Review Rating:
4.5
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03/02/2024 10:45 pm GMT

This serum combines vitamin C with exfoliating acids to brighten skin and tackle hyperpigmentation. Part of the Ginzing collection, it’s suitable for those wanting a comprehensive glowing skincare routine.

Sand & Sky Pro Youth Dark Spot Serum

Sand & Sky Pro Youth Dark Spot Serum
$54.00

30ml

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03/02/2024 10:50 pm GMT

Focuses on dark spots with glycolic acid and lilly pilly. It’s particularly effective in improving hyperpigmentation, as shown in user trials.

Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

LANEIGE Glowy Makeup Serum 30ML
$51.95
Google Review Rating:
4.5
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03/02/2024 10:55 pm GMT

A K-beauty favourite, it primes skin for makeup or can be worn alone. Contains hydrating ingredients and diamond mineral powder for an immediate dewy finish.

SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF

SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF
$242.00

30ml

Google Review Rating:
4.6
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Developed for combination, oily, and acne-prone skin, this serum hydrates and brightens while diminishing acne scars and pigmentation.

Cosmedix Simply Brilliant 24/7 Brightening Serum

Cosmedix Simply Brilliant 24/7 Brightening Serum
$119.00

30ml

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A high-performance serum that reduces discolouration and prevents further pigmentation, suitable for photodamaged and inflamed skin.

Biologi Bd Luminosity Face Serum

Biologi Bd Luminosity Face Serum
$108.00

30ml

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A water-based treatment with Davidson Plum for all skin types, tackling various skin concerns like congestion and pigmentation while promoting radiance.

Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening & Tone Correcting Serum

Antipodes Apostle Sensitive Skin Renew Serum
$52.00 $24.94

30ml

Google Review Rating:
4.5
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03/02/2024 11:10 pm GMT

Gently exfoliates and reduces pigmentation signs. Uses natural ingredients, suitable for all skin types.

The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%

The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5%
$19.10

15ml

Google Review Rating:
4.6
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A high-concentration antioxidant serum ideal for sensitive skin. Prevents and reduces dullness and redness while rebuilding skin elasticity.

The Jojoba Company Vitamin C Glow Potion

The Jojoba Company Australia Vitamin C Glow Potion
$59.95

30ml

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A potent blend of vitamin C and jojoba oil, designed to brighten and hydrate the skin. Ideal for those seeking a natural, nourishing serum.

Dope Skin Co Glow Serum

Dope Skin Co Glow Serum
$39.95

30ml

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Enriched with botanical extracts and antioxidants, this serum is perfect for achieving a natural glow while nourishing the skin.

By BEAUTY BAY 5% Squalane + Grapeseed Oil Serum Hybrid

By BEAUTY BAY 5% Squalane + Grapeseed Oil Serum Hybrid
$18.00

50ml

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Ideal for dry skin, this serum combines the hydrating properties of squalane and grapeseed oil with vitamin C-rich Kakadu oil. It delivers instant glow and moisture, making skin appear brighter and healthier.

What to Look For in a Brightening Serum

Woman enjoying sunlight, natural makeup look, subtle glamour.
@yurisinata

Ingredients

Vitamin C is a go-to when it comes to delivering bright and glowing skin, however, it’s not the only ingredient that brightening serums can be formulated with. These are some of the key ingredients to look for and their benefits:

  1. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): A potent antioxidant that inhibits melanin production, fades dark spots, and enhances skin radiance. It also helps in collagen synthesis, contributing to skin firmness and overall health.

  2. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Reduces inflammation, evens out skin tone, improves skin texture, and diminishes dullness. It also helps in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  3. Alpha Arbutin: A natural derivative of hydroquinone, alpha arbutin is effective in treating hyperpigmentation and dark spots. It works by inhibiting the enzymes that stimulate melanin production.

  4. Kojic Acid: Commonly used in Asian skincare, kojic acid lightens visible sun damage, age spots, and scars. It works by inhibiting the production of melanin.

  5. Licorice Root Extract: Contains glabridin, which brightens the skin, and liquiritin, which disperses melanin. It’s known for its soothing properties, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

  6. Azelaic Acid: Often used for treating acne and rosacea, azelaic acid also reduces skin pigmentation and blemishes, resulting in a more even complexion.

  7. Glycolic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells and promoting new cell turnover. This reveals fresher, brighter skin.

Texture & Consistency

Vitamin C is particularly beneficial to wear during the day given its ability to combat oxidative stress, enhance sun protection, and improve the efficacy of sunscreen. 

For daytime use, you will want a serum that sits well under makeup and other skincare products. It should be lightweight, non-greasy, and absorb quickly into the skin without leaving any residue.

This ensures that it can be easily incorporated into your morning routine, layering seamlessly with sunscreen and makeup. A well-formulated serum should enhance, not hinder, the application of subsequent products.

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Tara Lusk is the founder and creator of Beauty Space
Tara Lusk is a Sydney-based beauty enthusiast and the founder of Beauty Space. She launched the blog in 2018 to showcase the best beauty and skincare brands emerging from Australia, while also providing insider tips and tricks for hair and skincare. With a focus on tried-and-true products, Tara puts the latest cult products to the test to separate hype from substance.

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