Vitamin C in skincare is legendary for a reason: it really works. Think of it as a shield of the skin, protecting its barrier from environmental stressors such as pollution and sun damage. It also works wonders for a whole range of skin concerns: uneven tone, rough texture, fine lines, acne scars, and general dullness. We’ll cover how this powerhouse ingredient works on the skin, what it does, and how to incorporate it in your routine.
What is Vitamin C?
In terms of skincare, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals. It aids in your skin’s natural regeneration process, helping it to repair damaged skin cells.
The first form of vitamin C worth mentioning is the pure form, L-ascorbic acid. This is the most biologically active and well-studied form, but there are also many other derivatives. These derivatives are not pure vitamin C – they’re combined with other ingredients to help keep it stable. When these derivatives come into contact with the skin, they release the pure vitamin into the skin.
How it works
To understand how this amazing ingredient works, we need to first cover how free radicals damage the skin. There are different types of free radicals, but in terms of skincare, we are mainly concerned with the reactive oxygen species (ROS). We’re exposed to ROS on a daily basis from the air we breathe, UV rays, stress, smog and so on. The effects can be quite damaging to the skin: they damage the dermis of the skin (aka the deeper layers underneath the epidermis), the moisture barrier, skin texture, colour, and cell functioning. Vitamin C can prevent oxidation and therefore protect the skin from the negative effects of ROS.
- Protects against environmental stressors: Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning one of its main functions is to protect the skin. Environmental stressors create free radicals in the skin which are inherently unstable molecules that damage cells. By scavenging those free radicals, vitamin C protects the skin, keeping it healthy and improving visible signs of ageing.
- Lightens pigmentation: Vitamin C is also great for lightening unwanted dark spots (such as acne scars or discolouration) by blocking the pathway of pigment synthesis.
- Promotes the production of collagen: Collagen gives our skin support and structure and helps the skin to remain supple. However, as we age, it starts to degrade and we begin to notice wrinkles and lines. Vitamin C promotes collagen production in the skin as it is a necessary cofactor for building collagen bundles.
- Brightens the complexion: Vitamin C is a key component to brightening the skin as it interferes with pigment production and keeps inflammation at bay. If your skin needs an extra radiance boost, this should be your go-to!
Generally speaking, vitamin C is safe for daily use. In high concentrations, however, it can cause irritation (particularly to those with sensitive skin). It’s also best to take caution when mixing it with other active ingredients such as exfoliating acids and benzoyl peroxide.
Pure vitamin C is a relatively unstable ingredient and can oxidize when exposed to heat, light, air and other chemicals. Once it has oxidized, it loses its antioxidant properties. To prevent this, use products that are stored in air-tight opaque packages and keep them in a cool, dark environment. If your product has turned brown (yuck), it’s best to toss it and replace it with a new bottle. The change in colour often indicates that the formula has oxidized and is no longer effective.
How to Use It
Vitamin C can be used once daily in either your AM or PM routine. A highly debated topic is what time of day is best for application. Some argue that using it in the morning is best as it protects the skin for the day. Others argue that it’s best used at night when the skin’s vitamin C is most depleted. Either way, whether you choose to use it in the morning or at night (you really can’t go wrong with either), just avoid using it with benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and exfoliating acids.
This serum is formulated with 3% Ferulic Acid, another great antioxidant that works well to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and brown spots. This is a potent and affordable option for a vitamin C serum!
As one of the more popular K-Beauty vitamin C products, this serum brightens the skin and stimulates collagen production. Its formula includes sodium hyaluronate for added hydration and camellia sinensis leaf extract, another powerful antioxidant.
This skin-restoring serum includes all kinds of vitamins – from vitamin A, B, D, E, and K to the star ingredient: vitamin C. It’s also formulated with centella asiatica to help with acne scarring and to calm inflammation, making this a great serum for those with blemish-prone skin. This is one of my favourite serums at the moment, click here to check out my full review of the product!
With key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, this vitamin C serum is a great product to add to your daily routine. This serum is designed for skin concerns such as early ageing, dullness and lack of vitality.
This is a deeply hydrating and rejuvenating serum with key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. This serum works to firm and plump the skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and revitalized. A bonus: it contains no parabens or artificial fragrances!