I’ve received a lot of questions regarding my acne: how long I took Accutane, which products did I use and how to fade scars. I’ve researched and paid a lot of attention to the skincare ingredients and potency of the products I use: I want to heal my scars (they look quite faded right now) and also prevent further damage to my skin. Today I want to highlight one of my favorite skincare ingredients: Vitamin C! There has been a lot of Vitamin C talk in the beauty community lately, thanks to some best-selling products, but not all Vitamin C products are made equal. I hope this post is helpful! Enjoy!
*Medik8 serum in photos is a PR sample I’m testing out!
Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare
Vitamin C is well-researched ingredient and studies show a wide range of skincare benefits when applied topically. When used in daily routine it is:
a great antioxidant
helps to fade hyperpigmentation / brown spots
stimulates skin’s own collagen production
fights against photo damage caused by the sun
protects against free radicals
Collagen is extremely important in skincare when it comes to (lack of a better word) “anti-ageing”: it promotes skin elasticity, making it soft, supple and smooth. Lack of collagen causes deeper wrinkles and sagging, making the skin look older. Using a potent Vitamin C product can minimize these signs of ageing for a brighter, tighter and more youthful appearance. It also reduces pigmentation by slowing down melanin production for more even and bright skin tone.
Combining Vitamin C with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid can further protect the skin from photo damage aka exposure to sunlight (UVA and UVB). I’ve talked many times about the importance of sunscreen: read more. It’s a great idea to use a Vitamin C serum under your SPF - not instead of it!
Cons of Using Vitamin C in Skincare
Like with all ingredients, there is a possibility that large % of Vitamin C can be irritating to super sensitive or rosacea prone skin. If you’re new to this ingredient you can start from lower concentrations or natural sources of Vitamin C (fruit and berries in natural skincare). Patch test your serum before use and start from once per day application. Other ingredients such as Arbutin can be an alternative for fading pigmentation if Vitamin C makes your skin flare.
Formulating Vitamin C products is also tricky, as the ingredient is extremely unstable, doesn’t penetrate the skin easily without a proper pH and oxidizes quickly. It’s important to choose your product wisely and store it properly. High concentrations of potent Vitamin C serums are often rather expensive, which makes wasting them even more annoying.
How to Use a Vitamin C Serum
Because Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin its water based solutions are very unstable and need a correct pH to work (<3.5). There are waterless formulations on the market, but these are often silicone based and have somewhat gritty texture. Still worth checking out!
Like all antioxidants, Vitamin C starts to degrade when exposed to light or air: make sure to choose a dark glass or opaque packaging, preferably with an air-tight pump. Store the serum somewhere else than your humid bathroom cabinet, again preferably somewhere dark. I would avoid stocking up on Vitamin C products and instead use them up as quickly as possible. If the color starts to turn amber/tan/brown color the product has oxidized and should be discarded. Oxidized products will harm your skin by generating free radicals instead of protecting from them.
Usually adding a Vitamin C into skincare routine is beneficial for all skin types and can be used morning and night. Apply as your 1st treatment step after toning and before your moisturizer. Moisturizers with added Vitamin C may be beneficial, but serums are the most potent and efficient. Always top with an SPF in day time.
Above: Medik8 serum and waterless The InkeyList Vitamin C
Best Forms of Vitamin C in Skincare
L-Ascorbic Acid (or Ascorbic Acid) is the most potent - and notoriously unstable - bioavailable form of Vitamin C. It’s needed for collagen synthesis while all derivates need to be converted to Ascorbic Acid inside cells. When choosing a treatment with Ascorbic Acid: look for at least 10-15% concentration and use it up as soon as possible. Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E are excellent antioxidant companions to Vitamin C as they increase its stability. Vitamin C can also turn inactive Vitamin E back to its active antioxidant form.
Some forms of Vitamin C:
Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate
Ethyl Ascorbic Acid
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
The derivates are esters (oil-soluble) or salts (water-soluble), both pretty common in skincare products. They are less irritating and more stable with longer shelf life. Of course derivates are also less potent, but a noteworthy option if you find Ascorbic Acid too strong, too expensive or don’t use up your serums quickly enough. Remember that all Vitamin C products will still break down if exposed to light and air.