Vitamin C is not only useful when you have a cold or during flu season it is great for your skin all year round. Yes, that’s right it helps just as much as it helps your immune system.
You’re likely already getting Vitamin C in your diet (or at least you should be), but there are still benefits to using a topical form of Vitamin C on your skin.
Experts say that Vitamin C is part of the holy trinity of skincare, along with Retinol and SPF. So let’s dive into the what, why, and how of Vitamin C for skincare.
Related: New To Skincare? Start Here.
How to pronounce Vitamin C?
You got this, it’s not complicated.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals. (If you haven’t read my post about what free radicals are go here next.) Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties help your skin’s regeneration process and repair damaged skin cells.
So an antioxidant helps boosts the protection that sunscreens provide for the skin. Any UV rays that are able to penetrate the shield put up by the SPF will be disrupted by the antioxidant, offering the skin an added layer of protection.
Pretty cool huh! However, this in no way means that an antioxidant can replace your sunscreen. Always apply your sunscreen, rain or shine.
Need some suggestions for my favorite sunscreens – go here.
What does Vitamin C do?
Vitamin C products are designed to help fade pigmentation, even out skin tone, and reduce dullness. It can literally make you glow!
It helps with aging gracefully too. How so? Well, two ways:
- Vitamin C can impede melanin production which often leads to sunspots or signs of aging. So, with the help of Vitamin C, this is one less thing for you to worry about.
Additionally, sun damage is often caused by free radicals and with antioxidants fighting that for you, aging is slowed even further. Vitamin C has a high concentration of antioxidants and it protects our skin by stabilizing these free radicals and preventing them from damaging the skin.
- Vitamin C also promotes collagen and elastin production. As you know, collagen is a protein that depletes over time. Low levels of collagen lead to wrinkles.
Who should use Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a great addition to your routine if you are struggling with hyperpigmentation or dull skin.
However, everyone can benefit from using Vitamin C in their routine. As an antioxidant Vitamin C will slow the aging process and keep your skin looking youthful and glowy for much longer.
Different types of Vitamin C
There are a variety of vitamin C derivatives used in skincare products. Although the ultimate effect these have on the skin is pretty similar these varying derivatives are of differing potency levels and even have different pH levels.
- Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbic acid is one of the most commonly found vitamin C ingredients in skincare products. This is because it is potent and highly effective.
This is the type of vitamin C that improves hyperpigmentation quickly.
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is a less potent and more stable version compared to ascorbic acid. It is a better option for those that are sensitive to ascorbic acid and it offers the same result only over a longer period of time.
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is one of the most stable forms of vitamin C. It is also very hydrating and extremely soothing for the skin.
- Sodium Ascorbate
Sodium ascorbate is technically a mineral salt that converts to ascorbic acid when applied to the skin.
It is slightly less potent than the ascorbic acid form but it is much more stable even when exposed to light and air.
- Calcium Ascorbate
Calcium ascorbate is yet another mineral salt that is often referred to as Ester-C. Calcium ascorbate has the ability to support collagen synthesis and help with tissue and wound repair.
Since this is a form of vitamin C that is effective at a neutral pH it is great for those with sensitive skin.
- Ascorbyl Palmitate
Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble derivative of vitamin C. It has much milder effects compared to ascorbic acid but still is beneficial to boost collagen, reduce hyperpigmentation and improve skin texture.
Related: Why You Need Sunscreen Every Single
Favorite Products with Vitamin C
- Best Vitamin C Serum For Beginners – Josie Maran Argan Bright Skin Vitamin C Serum
- Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serum – La Roche-Posay Vitamin C Serum
- Best Vitamin C + Moisturizer Combo – Sunday Riley CEO Glow
- Best Vitamin C for Sensitive Skin – Paula’s Choice Vitamin C Serum
- Best High Potency Vitamin C Serum – Glow Recipe Guava Serum
Who should not use vitamin C?
If you have extremely sensitive skin you might not be able to tolerate vitamin C. It is best to avoid the ingredient if your skin reacts poorly.
On that note, it is possible to be allergic to topical vitamin C as well so whenever you are trying a new ingredient be sure to do a patch test. Apply a little behind your ear and wait 48 hours before you commit to applying it on your face.
How to add vitamin C to your routine
Vitamin C should only be used in the morning. This isn’t up for debate. Download my free cheatsheet below to know which products to use at what point in the day.
As with any new products, you should patch test on your forearm 24 hours before application to ensure that you don’t have any skin sensitivities.
Mixing Vitamin C with other products
First of all, always layer your skincare! Apply each product and give it a moment to shine – actually to sink in.
Now let’s talk about the next set of rules. Vitamin C is great to be applied with your SPF we’ve discussed this. Additionally, it pairs well with other antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid.
You can also layer vitamin C on hyaluronic acid.
Next, don’t layer vitamin C over or under an AHA or a BHA. Using a chemical exfoliant alongside another acidic ingredient will harm your skin barrier causing damage over time.
Final Thoughts on Vitamin C Serum Benefits
Any Vitamin C serums should come packaged in an opaque bottle. Why? Because this product will oxidize if it’s exposed to light. Also, you want to choose a product that has an airless pump. You want to ensure that there is no way that air can enter the pump. If your product doesn’t have this, it will oxidize very quickly from the first time the bottle is opened – rendering the product’s shelf-life nonexistent.