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Vitamin C: 7 Things Everyone Needs to Know

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: It 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.

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Vitamin C Is Both Preventative and Restorative

It’s 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 Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. “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 of It 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, aesthetics director at La Suite Skincare at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Ascorbic acid is the most potent antioxidant.”

While more derivative forms 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 and has been clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation, and it’s considered fully effective when it’s in a concentration over 8%. 

Vitamin C 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 vitamins 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 it 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. It works extra-hard to keep your skin healthy and radiant. 

Vitamin C Works Best All Over

Just because it 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 its brightening effect, 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 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

A vitamin C serum works well on any skin type, but as with any active 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 it, and then slowly build up to see your tolerance.” (Here’s how to layer your favorite acids with vitamin C.)

Vitamin C 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 [these 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 it’s 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 makes it easy to commit to incorporating a vitamin C serum into your daily routine. The bouncy watery textures sink into skin and won’t leave behind a sticky feel. Now that you’re in on the secret, we see glowing, even-toned skin in your future.

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  • cosmoshineblog May 30, 2019 5:13 am

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  • Catherine Nov 2, 2018 3:59 pm

    What vitamin c serum do you recommend for those of us with sensitive skin and can’t handle the asorbic acid at this intensity? Or do you have any derivative serums here? I had a vitamin c serum once and it made my skin burn.

    • The Glow Recipe Team Apr 15, 2019 10:29 am

      Hi Catherine! We'd recommend our Sweet Chef Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot, for more sensitive skin types. This plant-based serum uses ginger, turmeric and a proprietary concentration of Vitamin C to gently brighten the skin over time. It's gentle on sensitive skin, and also perfect for mixing. One of the best ways to use this is to mix a drop in with your go-to moisturizer, to create your own custom brightening moisturizer. Read more here:

  • Jasmine Frink Oct 24, 2018 9:52 am

    Maybe I am using too much at once, but my face is drying out and gets stiff. That started after i added this to my regimen. What can I do? I see if working on my skin.

  • Chiara M Sep 9, 2018 8:04 pm

    Is this good for darker skin tones? I’m nervous about this because the last time I used a brightening product I started to get hypopigmentation spots on my face. So I’m wondering if it’s better for lighter skin tones, if so can I use this as just a spot treatment then?

    • The Glow Recipe Team Sep 11, 2018 5:23 pm

      Yes! Vitamin C helps to brighten pigmentation but it doesn't lighten your overall skin tone. You can use it either as a spot treatment or as an all over one, it's up to you! Let us know if you have any other questions :)

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