When someone mentions vitamin C you may think of a tall glass of orange juice or some leafy kale, but did you know this great supplement is also a powerful — and highly regarded — skincare ingredient? What does this multitasking vitamin do? Who should use vitamin C products? We’ve got answers for you.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it can be absorbed by the skin when applied topically. Since humans cannot produce their own vitamin C, it’s an essential supplement, both internally and externally!
What forms does vitamin C come in?
In skincare, the most researched, and common, form of vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid. You find this supplement naturally (mostly in fruits and dark leafy greens) and it’s also created synthetically, but they are chemically identical — there’s nothing to prove that they affect the skin differently.
Other forms of vitamin C frequently found on skincare ingredient labels include vitamin C ester, ascorbyl palmitate, and 3-0 Ethyl ascorbic acid, a more newly developed additive. Of course, all skincare brands will argue that their form of vitamin C is the most effective, but the type with the most scientific backing is L-ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C can be found in everything from cleansers to serums to brightening products. However, to get the best results, vitamin C needs to remain on the skin so it can do its best work.
What makes vitamin C such a powerful skincare ingredient?
Even at a strength of 0.6%, vitamin C has a multitude of skin benefits. It’s an antioxidant that protects the skin against free radical and environmental damage; it’s an anti-inflammatory; it brightens the skin and boosts radiance; and it’s a key anti-aging ingredient that boosts collagen production and firms the skin.
At higher strengths (typically 10% and above), vitamin C also has reparative properties and the ability to regulate melanin in the skin. This allows high concentrations of the vitamin to reduce the appearance of age spots, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage.
It’s important to note that vitamin C is an acid, so the substance may cause a tingling sensation and can potentially cause skin irritation. If you are trying a vitamin C product, use a small size on a small area to test for any negative reaction.
Who benefits from having vitamin C in their skincare products?
Everyone! Really, people of all ages can benefit from including a vitamin C product in their skincare regime. Unfortunately, most of us struggle with dull, tired-looking skin at some point, and while there are a multitude of ways to tackle a dull complexion, vitamin C is the perfect ingredient because it brightens and reduces inflammation.
The strength of vitamin C you choose, however, should depend on the specific issues, and age of, your skin. Lower strengths of vitamin C are used mainly as a skin protection ingredient and are best used in the morning. This helps ensure you get the most of vitamin c’s antioxidant properties and also helps to boost the potency of sunscreen! Alternatively, higher strengths of vitamin C are more repairing but tend to be a little more gritty and greasy in texture, so these are best used at night.
Vitamin C products should come in air-tight, opaque containers — this helps to keep them stable and stop them from oxidizing before they make contact with the skin.