Everyone knows that Vitamin C does a body good — but have you thought about using it on your face? The powerful antioxidant is known for its anti-aging properties that make skin glowy and supple, but there’s more than meets the eye with this skincare superhero.
If you’re not yet using this ingredient in your routine, listen up: Vitamin C will not only increase your skin’s radiance, but it will also work overtime, protecting you from environmental pollution, increasing collagen production, and more. Pretty amazing, huh?
Here are 7 more things you need to know about this skin savior.
It’s Both Preventative and Restorative
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it fights off free radicals, a.k.a. unbalanced molecules caused by environmental hazards like UV exposure and pollution. In doing so, it protects skin from future damage, while also undoing past damage.
“Essentially, that translates into the actual visual benefits that we end up seeing when we apply Vitamin C,” says Dr. Marisa Kardos Garshick, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers. “Over time, it can help to brighten the skin, eliminate brown spots, stimulate collagen, and improve the overall texture of the skin.”
But, Not all Vitamin C Works the Same
Vitamin C can be found in a lot of different dietary forms, whether you’re getting your fix through supplements, gummies, or fresh fruits and vegetables. The same holds true in skincare. “Ascorbic Acid is Vitamin C in its purest form, where as fruit-based Vitamin C ingredients are derivatives,” explains Rhea Souhleris Grous, Medical Aesthetics Director at La Suite Skincare at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Ascorbic acid is the most potent antioxidant.”
While more derivative forms of Vitamin C are best for those with extra-sensitive skin, ascorbic acid (sometimes referred to as L-Ascorbic Acid), is the best choice for people who want to see maximum effects. According to Dr. Garshick, it’s also the most-studied form of Vitamin C and has been clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation, and it’s considered fully effective when it’s in a concentration over 8-10%. Our latest Korean Beauty finds, the Pineapple-C Bright Serum, Liz K’s Super First Serum Pure Vitamin C, and the Make P:rem C-10 Radiance Amplifying Serum feature high concentrations of vitamin C, giving you maximum skin-brightening benefits.
It Plays Nice With Other Ingredients
Although Ascorbic Acid has the greatest impact on skin, it’s also pretty unstable, so it needs the help of some other ingredients to balance it out — that’s why you’ll frequently find Vitamins C and E paired together in skincare formulations.
“Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can be helpful with sun protection, as well as anti-aging,” says Dr. Garshick. “There have been clinical studies that have shown that Vitamin C and E together have a synergistic antioxidant effect, so the two [actually] work better together than either one alone.” Vitamin C generates collagen, while Vitamin E keeps collagen fibers bonded, according to Grous, so the duo also works overtime to give you smoother, bouncier skin.
When you’re introducing Vitamin C to your routine, do so with a product that combines it with other antioxidants, for maximum skin benefit. The Pineapple-C Bright Serum pairs antioxidant-rich Pineapple, Ascorbic Acid, 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, and Vitamin E together for a mega-dose of brightening power. Liz K’s Super First Serum pairs Ascorbic Acid with succulent extract (rich in Vitamins A and E), Fullerene (another free radical-fighting antioxidant), and Green Tea extract (also — you guessed it — chock full of antioxidants). The Make P:rem’s C-10 Radiance Amplifying Serum pairs Ascorbic Acid with your daily dose of 8 multi-vitamins, including B vitamins and Vitamin E, to brighten, soothe, and create visibly firmer looking skin. All of these Vitamin C serums work extra-hard to keep your skin healthy and radiant.
It Works Best All Over
Just because Vitamin C works wonders on hyperpigmentation doesn’t mean it should only be used in problem areas. “Don’t just spot treat,” says Dr. Garshick. “Sometimes because people notice the brightening effect [of Vitamin C], they’ll just put Vitamin C on dark spots. But technically, it’s an ingredient that provides a full-fledged preventative benefit.” When you apply a Vitamin C serum like our newest Vitamin C addition, the Pineapple-C Bright Serum all over your face and neck every day, you’ll combat dark spots while also preventing new ones from appearing.
But, You Should Start Off Slowly
Vitamin C works well on any skin type, but as with any antioxidant-based topical ingredient, it should be introduced little by little. Start by testing it on the back of your hand to see if you develop any irritation, and then introduce it to your routine every other day, before you start using it each morning.
“One of the most common side effects of using Vitamin C, for sensitive skin, is irritation and redness,” says Grous. “It’s best to not apply retinol, glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid when you first start using Vitamin C, and then slowly build up to see your tolerance.”
It Requires Specific Storage
There’s nothing worse than mistakenly letting a skincare product go to waste — so learn how to treat them right! “Avoid prolonged exposure of the bottle to air and light, because it can cause the product to break down faster,” advises Dr. Garshick. “Although some people do recommend keeping [Vitamin C serums] in the refrigerator to increase their shelf life, generally we recommend a cool, dark area.” A good way to tell if you’re product has been compromised, says Dr. Garshick, is to check the color. ” If you notice the product you are using getting darker, it can be a clue that the Vitamin C is becoming oxidized and breaking down, and may no longer be as effective.”
It’s in It for the Long Haul
Vitamin C’s anti-aging, damage-repairing, and UV-protecting powers make it a Holy Grail ingredient, but it’s not something that will give you a quick and dramatic transformation — it takes time and regular application to see the best results.
“Although many clinical studies show significant differences in the skin thanks to Vitamin C, it’s an ingredient that works over time,” says Dr. Garshick. “It’s not something I would use for a season and then stop. You have to maintain usage to see the benefits.” Like with many things in life, if you want to see the results, you’ve got to stick with it — and glowing, healthy skin is most definitely worth the dedication.
Fortunately, the Pineapple-C Bright Serum, Make P:rem’s C-10 Radiance Amplifying Serum, and Liz K’s Super First C serum Pure 13% make it easy to commit to incorporating Vitamin C into your daily routine. The bouncy watery textures sink into skin and won’t leave behind a sticky feel. They’re perfect in the morning as a pre-cursor to your SPF, and at night works fabulously with a Vitamin E-rich moisturizer like the Blithe Gold Apricot Pressed Serum, which features both olive and sunflower seed oil, two of the most potent sources of Vitamin E in nature.
Now that you’re in on the Vitamin C secret, we see glowy, even, dark-spot-free skin in your future.
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