Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare

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 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

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!

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

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.

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog @laurantaina

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:

  • L-Ascorbic Acid

  • Ascorbyl Glucoside

  • Ascorbyl Palmitate

  • Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate

  • Ethyl Ascorbic Acid

  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

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.

Do you love Vitamin C? What are your favorite products?

A Simple Guide To Acne Scars and How To Tackle Them At Home (w/ Before-and-After Photos)

I don't know which was more annoying - an actual red angry spot on my cheek or the mark that was left behind for weeks to come. I've talked about my acne journey on this blog, but little how to clear marks, scars, pigmentation whathaveyou that are left behind. Today I'm writing a simple beginner-friendly guide what are possible pigmentation issues and what are the options in treating them.

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Different types of "acne scars"

Most common types of "acne scars" can be divided to three types:

  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

  • Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

  • Atrophic scars

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin overproduces melanin and there are several forms like freckles, age spots, birthmarks, melasma and PIH. PIH is temporary hyperpigmentation caused by inflammation; when a wound or irritation becomes inflamed the skin naturally heals itself by producing melanin, a protein that gives skin its color. These causes of inflammation can be acne, rash, injuries, chemical peels etc.

All skin types can get PIH but it's more prevalent in dark tones of skin because of overactivity of cells that produce melanin. PIH usually looks like red, pink, brown or dark discoloration depending on the skin tone and depth of discoloration. Although the sun doesn't cause PIH it can darken the marks and prolong the fading time.

Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

PIE are pinkish red spots that can also be result by acne, injuries, sun exposure, etc traumas. The color is different as this is not a melanin-induced problem, but caused by broken capillaries (small vessels) under our skin. This triggers the increase of blood flow to heal the wound.

There's a DIY (non-accurate) test to determine if your marks are PIE: apply pressure on the wound to see if the pink spots temporarily disappear. PIH or rosacea is not affected by this, but often people may have the combination of both PIE and PIH.

Atrophic Scars

Sometimes called icepick, boxcar or rolling scars, atrophic scars are indentations left behind by acne, chicken pox or inflammation. Atrophic scars are loss of tissue that may look like dents, uneven skin tone, enlarged large pores or holes. These scars are often permanent or difficult to treat without professional help.

A Simple Guide to Acne Scars | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

I don't have many pictures of my acne, but I found old iPad selfies from ~4 years ago. 

acne-scars-post2.jpg

And here's me today (with cat fluff on my face haha) with zero makeup. Read more about my acne journey.

How to treat acne scars At Home?

First of all, you should see a dermatologist if the pigmentation changes it's shape, size, color or itches/bleeds. If you're prone to moles, getting them checked once a year doesn't do any harm! Treating pigmentation and scaring at home with over-the-counter products isn't an instant process and might take several months to fade, For more abrasive (prescription) ingredients, vascular lazers and chemical peels, again, check your dermatologist or even local GP. Here's what I've learned to be effective at home:

1) Sunscreen. If sunscreen isn't already a part of your daily routine please consider adding it! Sun protection can protect and even prevent from many health and pigmentation issues. Also, if you choose to exfoliate your skin the 'fresh' skin underneath is more prone to sun sensitivity and burning. I've told many of my friends that it's a waste to spend big $$$ in wrinkle serums or pigmentation treatments if you neglect sunscreen.

2) Increasing the cell turnover. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), especially glycolic acid, are excellent for treating pigmentation. Acids exfoliate the surface of the skin by loosening up the dead skin cell bonds on the epidermis, leaving skin feeling fresh, more even and smooth. Faster your cells renew the quicker you can get rid of PIH. Personally I like using a gentle daily toner with AHA, natural fruit enzymes and humectants. Sometimes I opt for a stronger mask.

3) There are prescription ingredients (Hydroquinone, Azelaic acid, Retinoids), that inhibit tyrosinase aka an enzyme that catalyses the production of melanin, but personally I prefer gentler ingredients with "skin lightening" properties that have high antioxidant content such as licorice root, Arbutin, Niacinamide and Vitamin C. Perhaps look for a serum that has a high concentration of these ingredients.

4) Don't pick, pop or abrasively scrub and monitor your skin's irritation. You don't want more inflammation, bacteria or further damage the skin!

5) Take your time, be kind to yourself. Frustrating advice, yes, but don't get depressed as most scaring is not permanent. (Meanwhile there's always concealer..).

Share your thoughts!

Have you battled with acne scaring? What has improved your skin the most? Also, is there anything acne related you'd like me to talk about next? Click here to read my previous posts if you fancy.

And finally, happy September! To be honest I'm baffled that August is gone. Just a moment ago we were whining about the heatwave in Europe and then the weeks just flew by! I love it how bright it is in Helsinki during the Summer time, I can't stand the idea the mornings are going to be dark soon. Sigh.