Elf Vitamin C Serum Review

There’s no such thing as a miracle treatment when it comes to combating age, though vitamin C comes pretty close. It’s a powerful antioxidant that’s known to combat environmental stressors, fight signs of aging, and even out skin tone.

Just as the name suggests, vitamin C is the star ingredient in Elf Vitamin C Serum, along with a brightening blend of antioxidants and a few hydrating ingredients.

At just $16, Elf Vitamin C Serum is pretty affordable, but before hitting ‘Add to Cart’, keep reading to get all the details you need to know about this serum.

We’ll discuss the key ingredients in Elf Vitamin C Serum, as well as the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skin care. We’ll also share some Elf Vitamin C Serum reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of this product.

Is Elf Vitamin C Serum Right For You?

Before we get into the details, here’s the TL;DR if you just want to know whether or not Elf Vitamin C Serum is right for you.

    • Key ingredients? Vitamins C and E, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pomegranate Extract
    • Skin type? All
    • Texture? Lightweight serum
    • Fragrance? Yes
    • Cruelty free? Yes
    • Cost? $16 USD
    • EWG Rating? 4

What Are The Key Ingredients in Elf Vitamin C Serum?

In order to determine how well Elf Vitamin C Serum performs, we’ll have to evaluate the key ingredients in this formula. Let’s get started.

3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

The form of vitamin C that’s used in Elf Vitamin C Serum is called 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, a vitamin C derivative that’s very stable and soluble in both water and oil.

One way vitamin C provides benefits to the skin is by functioning as a potent antioxidant.

Specifically, vitamin C donates electrons to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as the superoxide ion and peroxide that are generated when the skin is exposed to UV light.

This is important because the harmful effects of ROS occur as direct chemical alterations of the cellular DNA, the cell membrane, and cellular proteins, including collagen. Damaged collagen manifests as signs of premature skin aging, including wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin.

Since vitamin C can protect collagen, the Elf Vitamin C Serum can help prevent signs of aging.

Furthermore, researchsuggests that when vitamin C is applied to the skin, it significantly reverses aging-related structural changes by influencing collagen and elastin synthesis.

As if that wasn’t enough, vitamin C also has the ability to reduce the appearance of dark spots and improve uneven skin tone. This is accomplished through inhibition of melanin synthesis.

Melanin is a pigment that gives our skin color, but too much of this pigment can lead to undesirable dark spots called hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C decreases melanin formation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that is required for melanin synthesis. The result is skin that appears brighter with less dark spots and a more even skin tone.

Vitamin E

Another antioxidant in the Elf Vitamin C Serum is vitamin E. It’s great to combine vitamins C and E in a skincare product because these ingredients are referred to as “network antioxidants”.

A publication in the journal Dermatologic Therapy explains, “because vitamin C regenerates oxidized vitamin E, the combination in a cosmeceutical formulation is synergistic — particularly in UV protection.”

Another function of vitamin E is to help the skin retain moisture by strengthening the skin’s barrier function. When vitamin E is delivered to your skin through the sebaceous (oil) glands, it improves water-binding capacity and hydrates the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin).

Pomegranate Extract

In addition to the antioxidant protection provided by vitamins C and E, the brand also includes pomegranate extract in Elf Vitamin C Serum.

Pomegranates are an excellent source of ellagic acid, ellagitannins, anthocyanins and other phytochemicals. These phytochemicals have antioxidant activity, therefore, they minimize oxidative damage and should help to prevent and reduce signs of aging.

Sodium Hyaluronate

The final key ingredient in Elf Vitamin C Serum that we’d like to introduce is sodium hyaluronate, the sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid.

Sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid are basically the same and the two names are used interchangeably in the skin care industry.

Once applied to the skin, sodium hyaluronate provides the same benefits of hyaluronic acid. Those benefits include improved skin hydration, as well as a more plump complexion with fewer lines and wrinkles.

How to Use Elf Vitamin C Serum?

After cleansing, apply 4 to 5 drops of Elf Vitamin C Serum and massage onto the face, neck, and chest. Allow 3 to 5 minutes for it to dry. This serum can be used in the morning or at night.

Where to Buy Elf Vitamin C Serum?

Elf Vitamin C Serum and other Elf skin care products are sold on the brand’s website (elfcosmetics.com), as well as many third party online retailers, such as Target, Walmart, Amazon, and more.

How Much is Elf Vitamin C Serum?

Elf Vitamin C Serum costs $16 USD.

What is The Elf Return Policy?

The Elf return policy states, “We apologize, but due to the low cost nature of our products, we are unable to offer any returns (except as noted below) or exchanges.” Therefore, if you aren’t satisfied with Elf Vitamin C Serum or any other Elf skin care products, you will not be able to return it.

Is Elf Cruelty Free?

Yes, Elf is cruelty free. The brand does not test their ingredients or finished products on animals, and neither do their suppliers. In addition, Elf skincare products are not sold in places where animal testing is required by law.

Is Elf Vitamin C Serum Vegan?

Yes, Elf Vitamin C Serum is vegan.

Elf Vitamin C Serum Reviews

Elf Vitamin C Serum reviews on the brand’s website are mostly positive, but there aren’t very many reviews, so we went over to Amazon.com to see what customers think about this product.

On Amazon, Elf Vitamin C Serum reviews average to 4.5 out of 5 stars after 333 customer ratings.

There are many 5-star reviews for Elf Vitamin C Serum from customers who love that it’s lightweight, hydrates well, and is affordable.

For example, one review says, “I use this as my 2nd step in my morning skincare routine. This is very gentle. I think it really just helps even out and slightly brighten my skin over time. It has a nice smell and doesn’t irritate my eyes or eczema. I’ve worn this in the summer out and about and my skin hasn’t burned from the vitamin C. So this is really gentle. Plus this is one of the best prices for this type of product out there.

And another 5-star review says, “Amazing! I have tried so many expensive products and all they do is dry my skin out or make me breakout (combo skin problems)… this does not! It absorbs into the skin quickly and instantly hydrates without irritating my skin or giving me acne. Definitely recommend. Also great for my sensitive skin. I have been using this for a few weeks now and have had no issues.”

However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the Elf Vitamin C Serum, which are mostly from customers who dislike the texture of this serum. Many found it to be too sticky, and others said it felt more like water than a serum.

For example, one review says, “This serum has the worst smell to it. It feels nothing like a serum, but more like water mixed with a nasty fragrance. It did nothing for my skin besides break me out. Will not be buying again.”

Other customers experienced breakouts after using this serum, for example, “At first I loved this product. I do not have sensitive skin, but it broke me out. I figured it was just my skin adjusting, so I kept using it. Used it for a whole month and still broke out. Does moisturize though.”

Our Verdict

Overall, we think that Elf Vitamin C Serum is a decent, budget-friendly vitamin C serum, although we wish the brand would remove the fragrance from this formula!


  • Beneficial key ingredients (vitamins C and E, pomegranate extract, sodium hyaluronate)
  • Many positive Elf Vitamin C Serum reviews
  • Elf is cruelty free


  • Formula contains fragrance
  • Some Elf Vitamin C Serum reviews mention that the product caused breakouts

What Are Some Alternatives to Elf Vitamin C Serum?

If you’re looking for skin care products to address the signs of aging, one brand we recommend is Formulyst. Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in clinically advanced skin care solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.

For example, Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Concentrate can help to address multiple signs of aging at once. This serum contains natural ingredients like squalane, green tea, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which provide powerful antioxidant activity to protect the skin against environmental free radicals that are known to degrade collagen. In addition, this serum contains Matrixyl 3000, a peptide complex that works to restore and maintain the skin’s youthful appearance by signaling to cells to produce more collagen.

Another brand that balances the power of plants with cutting edge science is Carrot & Stick. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products.

Sources:“Nutrients. 2017 Aug; 9(8): 866.

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