The Vitamin C Serum Crisis: Uncovering the Dark Side of Skincare's Golden Child


Vitamin C serums have garnered a reputation as a skincare powerhouse, offering numerous benefits like brightening, anti-aging, and improved skin texture. However, beneath the glowing facade lies a darker reality. In this article, we delve into the vitamin C serum crisis, shedding light on the unethical sourcing of ingredients, exploitative packaging practices, and the risk of over-exhausting this precious commodity. Let's peel back the layers and explore the lesser-known side of vitamin C serums.

The Unethical Sourcing of Ingredients:

The key ingredient in vitamin C serums, L-ascorbic acid, is often derived from citrus fruits or corn. Unfortunately, the production of these sources can involve unethical practices such as unsustainable farming methods, deforestation, and exploitation of workers.

In Brazil, for instance, the rapid expansion of citrus farming has been linked to deforestation and loss of biodiversity (1). Similarly, corn production in developing countries often involves heavy pesticide use, which negatively impacts the environment and local communities (2).

To address these concerns, consumers should opt for vitamin C serums made from ethically-sourced ingredients, such as those with certifications like Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance.

The Packaging Problem: Exploitative Tactics and Environmental Impact

The packaging of vitamin C serums is another critical aspect of the crisis. Many brands use exploitative tactics, such as excessive packaging or single-use materials, to make their products appear more luxurious. These practices not only deceive consumers but also contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Moreover, vitamin C serums often come in transparent or translucent bottles, which can expose the product to light and accelerate oxidation. To combat this issue, companies should use opaque, airtight containers that protect the serum's potency and reduce waste.

The Commodification Crisis: Preserving the Efficacy of Vitamin C

As vitamin C serums gain popularity, there is a risk of over-exhausting this valuable commodity. The market is flooded with subpar formulations that use low-quality ingredients or improper concentrations, which not only dilute the benefits of vitamin C but also lead to potential skin irritation (3).

To ensure the integrity and efficacy of vitamin C serums, consumers should prioritize products with scientifically-proven formulations and concentrations, as well as those that incorporate stabilizing ingredients like ferulic acid or Vitamin E (4).


The vitamin C serum crisis highlights the need for consumers to remain vigilant and well-informed when choosing their skincare products. By considering the ethical sourcing of ingredients, responsible packaging practices, and the importance of maintaining vitamin C's efficacy, we can make a difference and support a more sustainable and ethical skincare industry.


  1. Siqueira, G. et al. (2018). Land use change in Brazil: Historical and future trends in the supply chain of an expanding agriculture frontier. Land Use Policy, 76, 81-91.

  2. Seufert, V., Ramankutty, N., & Mayerhofer, T. (2017). What is this thing called organic? – How organic farming is codified in regulations. Food Policy, 68, 10-20.

  3. Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. C. (2017). The roles of Vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866.

  4. Al-Niaimi, F., & Chiang, N. Y. Z. (2017). Topical Vitamin C and the skin: Mechanisms of action and clinical applications. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 10(7), 14-17.