The Ultimate Guide to All Things Vitamin C

You gotta C it to believe it!
BY Sarah Lim
| July, 2021
vitamin c for skincare

Ask any skincare expert if you should slather on Vitamin C as part of your daily skincare routine, and we’ll wait for one of them to say no. 

We’re waiting…

Yup, didn’t think so! That’s because this vitamin can work wonders for your skin, helping to brighten your complexion, improve skin texture and even help heal stubborn scars.

Your skin naturally has a high amount of vitamin C in it. In fact, it holds the most prevalent antioxidant properties for human skin. All these vitamins supports healthy collagen production, which keeps skin looking youthful and supple.

But what exactly is vitamin C? What form should you be using, and what are the benefits? Welcome to your ultimate guide to all things vitamin C for skincare!

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It fights free radicals, which are the unstable molecules that exist naturally in the body. Still, when antioxidants don’t offset them, they can cause cellular damage. The damages can be accelerated aging, inflammation, and even diseases such as cancer.

It can help prevent skin cell damage as it’s a potent antioxidant. Even it can help repair existing damage. This same process happens internally as well—when you eat foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, you help fight inflammation and cell damage in the body.

One of vitamin C’s best attributes is that it can both prevent and repair damage in the skin. For example, this vitamin works to protect skin from sun damage when applied topically, but it can also repair existing UV damage.

Vitamin C can also help prevent premature aging by boosting collagen production in the skin. Collagen is essential for youthful-looking skin, but collagen production slows down as you age.

Hyperpigmentation is a condition where dark areas can form on the skin. It has also been shown to be helped by vitamin C—and it can even prevent hyperpigmentation.

Different Forms of Vitamin C for Skincare

forms of vitamin c for skincare

You can typically use different forms of this type of vitamin, and each of them has its respective benefits.

However, the most popular—and beneficial form—is ascorbic acid, sometimes called L-ascorbic acid, on a product label. Ascorbic acid is considered to be the most potent form of vitamin C in skincare. However, since it’s so potent, this vitamin may not be the best choice for people with sensitive skin.

Fortunately, there are other forms of this vitamin that you can use, and they are all gentler than ascorbic acid. Some different forms you may see on the label of your skincare products include:

• Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

It’s a great form of vitamin C to get started with if you have sensitive skin, as it’s less irritating than ascorbic acid.

• Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Less potent than ascorbic acid and not as irritating, sodium ascorbyl phosphate has the advantage of being more potent than magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.

• Sodium Ascorbate

This form of vitamin C is typically less irritating and more stable than ascorbic acid.

• Calcium Ascorbate

Calcium ascorbate has a hydrating effect that’s comparable to vitamin E, which makes it beneficial for those who have dry or mature skin.

• Ascorbyl Palmitate

This oil-soluble form of vitamin C is the least effective and least stable of the bunch, making it not as popular in skincare formulas.

Serum as vitamin c

A serum is generally the best product to use when applying vitamin C. It’s best if you apply it in the morning to help prevent sun damage to the skin throughout the day. If you’re using ascorbic acid, you only need a small amount of serum since it’s so potent.

If your skin is sensitive, probably it’s a good idea to use vitamin C like you would retinol. Build up your habit to regular use slowly, using it only every other day or even every third day until the skin can develop a tolerance.

How low should you go? A 10-20% concentration of vitamin C is best (anything over 20% is not any more beneficial). Still, suppose you have very sensitive skin. In that case, you might start with an even lower percentage of ascorbic acid or with a different form of this vitamin to reduce any potential irritation.

The integrity of ascorbic acid is essential when using it for your skin. It’s because the structure of vitamin C can be damaged when exposed to oxygen or light. If you’re ever wondered why your vitamin C serum is in a dark bottle, it’s to protect the ingredient integrity!

Benefits of Adding Vitamin C to Your Skincare Routine

Benefits of Adding Vitamin C to Your Skincare Routine

There are so many benefits of adding this vitamin to your skincare routine! As we’ve seen, it can boost collagen production for anti-aging power and help repair skin that’s been damaged by sun exposure.

Since it boosts collagen, and can also help prevent wrinkle formation, therefore supporting younger-looking skin. Not smoking, limiting alcohol, exercising regularly, and getting enough antioxidants in your diet can help support vitamin C’s positive effects on the skin even more!

Some forms of this vitamin (most notably magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and calcium ascorbate) help hydrate skin and prevent transepidermal water loss. Thus, using those can help your skin stay supple and protect the skin barrier. Vitamin C works well combined with other hydrating ingredients, such as vitamin E and aloe, for a moisturizing effect.

This kind of vitamin can also help irritated, red, and inflamed skin, including certain skin conditions such as rashes and dermatitis.

Another bonus: Applying this vitamin topically can help tighten skin. But getting enough vitamin C in your diet can help amplify this effect even more!

(Pssst: foods highest in this vitamin include berries, guava, kiwi, bell peppers, oranges, and papayas!)

Learn How to Layer Your Skincare Products

What step of vitamin C should come in your skincare routine? Find out by checking our article on how to layer skincare like a pro! Have you got your favorite vitamin C serum or another product containing this vitamin that you use? Let us know in the comments below!

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