01. What is Vitamin C?
- An iconic ingredient with many clinically proven benefits
02. What does Vitamin C do for the skin?
- It’s a powerful antioxidant that battles free radicals
03. What kind of Vitamin C should you use?
- Ascorbic acid is the most stable and effective form of vitamin C in skincare;
04. When and how should you use Vitamin C?
- Vitamin C products can be used both day and night
05. What to know when using Vitamin C
- The fresher the product, the more effective it will be
Vitamin C is an iconic ingredient for one simple reason: It works. Turns out that it’s not just for fending off colds; it’s also a clinically proven and efficacious ingredient that you can (and should) add to your skincare routine. Vitamin C is frequently recommended by dermatologists because of its multiple benefits, such as:
- Protecting your skin from UV damage
- Stimulating collagen production
- Fading dark spots
Plus, Vitamin C is safe to use on most skin types (dry skin, oily skin or acne-prone skin) and it is often favoured over more irritating anti-aging ingredients such as retinol .
Sounds pretty good, right? But before you head to the drugstore to stock up on vitamin C serums and moisturizers, read on: Here, Dr. Sonya Abdulla, a Toronto based dermatologist, shares her take on the benefits of vitamin C for your skin—and everything you need to know about using this powerhouse ingredient.
1. What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is an essential vitamin, which means it can’t be produced by your body; instead, you have to acquire it from natural sources such as citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. Here’s more bad news: It’s water-soluble, which means that no matter how much orange juice you drink or kale you eat, it can’t be stored in your body.
Now for the good news: It’s a powerful antioxidant. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods helps the body shut down highly reactive molecules known as free radicals; topical antioxidants, like vitamin C serums, do the same for skin, since we’re constantly battling harsh free radicals caused by pollution, stress and sun damage, also known as exposome. The exposome are all the exposures an individual encounter in a lifetime, and how they affect their health.
“L-ascorbic acid is a scavenger of free radicals, which is the silent damage that contributes to aging,” says Abdulla. Antioxidants neutralize the production of free radicals by giving up their own electrons. In other words, they function like an “off switch.”
2. What does Vitamin C do for the skin?
If you’re looking for a workhorse ingredient, look no further. When it’s taken orally, vitamin C can boost your immune system, and when it’s applied topically (and only topically), it can benefit your skin in a big way. Uneven skin tone, fine lines, rough texture, acne scars, lacklustre skin tone… for almost any complexion concern, there’s a vitamin C skincare product that can help you achieve a healthy, bright and incredibly smooth skin.
Vitamin C is one of the few ingredients that can both protect your current collagen reserve through its antioxidant properties and improve collagen production, both are essential in reducing signs of aging. This improves skin quality, texture and luminosity. Vitamin C also helps fade and prevent brown spots and pigmentation from previous inflammation like acne. “It’s effective at inhibiting melanin, thus improving hyperpigmentation,” says Abdulla.
3. What kind of Vitamin C should you use?
Unfortunately, not all vitamin C products are created equal. “Many derivatives exist, including ascorbyl palmitate and retinyl ascorbate,” says Abdulla. “These precursor molecules need to be converted to the active form for maximum skin benefits.” What you should be looking for is ascorbic acid which is the most stable and effective form of vitamin C in skincare.
“Look for formulations with a concentration of 10% or more for maximum effect,” says Abdulla. The higher the percentage the faster you’ll see healthier, smoother and younger-looking skin. Just remember: You can’t store vitamin C in your body, so its effectiveness will max out at around 20%.
The best vitamin C serums are formulated with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Case in point: Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid. It contains 15% pure vitamin C and vitamin E and a few other active ingredients, such as fragmented hyaluronic acid and Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water.
4. When and how should you use Vitamin C?
Some active ingredients, like retinol, are recommended to be used at night due to their photosensitivity, but vitamin C products can be used both day and night. Vitamin C’s neutralizing effect on pesky free radicals makes it the perfect skincare ingredient to add to your daytime routine.
If you have acne-prone skin, vitamin C works wonders on acne scarring and pigmentation. Vichy LiftActiv Peptide-C Ampoule Serum is a 10-day treatment containing 10% pure vitamin C that targets marks and sunspots.
The super-vitamin also has anti-aging properties. Enter Vichy LiftActiv Collagen Specialist Advanced Anti-Aging face moisturizer. This hydrating combination of vitamin C, phyto peptides and Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water softens wrinkles, firms’ skin and targets skin discoloration while brightening the complexion. Simply apply any of these forms of vitamin C products all over your face in the morning under your daily sunscreen.
5. What to know when using Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a difficult ingredient to include in formulas because it’s a molecule that is unstable—this means it breaks down when exposed to oxygen and light. Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C With Hyaluronic Acid face serum and Vichy LiftActiv Peptide-C Ampoule Serum are housed in tinted glass bottles to help maintain their stability and, consequently, their efficacy.
It’s important to note, however, that once you open one of these products, especially a vitamin c serum, you should use it until it’s finished. This means no putting it on the back shelf because something new comes along that you’re tempted to try. The fresher it is the more effective it will be, and you’ll see these results on your skin.