It's really hard to think of a reason why you wouldn't want to incorporate vitamin C into your skincare regimen. It is the hardest working ingredient - the key is to make sure you find the right type of vitamin C, in the right concentrations and apply it consistently. Let's dive into all the reasons why vitamin C is such a hero ingredient.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, an essential nutrient and a powerful antioxidant. It is found naturally in fruits and vegetables and commonly produced synthetically in skincare products.
What is an antioxidant?
Simply put, an antioxidant is a molecule that prevents the oxidation (a type of damage that occurs when molecules lose electrons) of other molecules.
What is a free radical?
Free radicals are molecules that have lost electrons, making them unstable and likely to damage other cells. They are linked to aging and a host of diseases. When linked to aging, free radicals are caused by sun damage and other environmental factors.
Why is vitamin C so important in skincare?
When properly formulated for topical application in a skincare product, vitamin C has been shown to neutralize skin-damaging free radicals.
Is all vitamin C created equal?
In order for vitamin C to be effective in a skincare formulation, it must be properly formulated. Typically, there are three factors to consider - the form of vitamin C used, it's concentration and the pH of formula.
Ascorbic acid (aka L-ascorbic acid) is the most stable and effective form of vitamin C in skincare. This form has consistently proven most effective in penetrating the skin barrier. Products containing L-ascorbic acid typically have a lower pH for optimal absorption, with an ideal concentration between 10-20%.
Delivered to the skin in the form of a serum is ideal - serums contain a higher concentration and more easily absorbed. Cocktail the vitamin C serum with vitamin E (or find a formulation that combines the two powerhouse antioxidants) and it's a one-two punch of skincare goodness.
Benefits of Vitamin C include:
- Plumps skin and fills lines & wrinkles - clinical studies show that the absence of vitamin C resulted in decreased collagen (a protein that plays an essential role in the structure and function of the skin).
- Protects against environmental damage - as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C works to neutralize and remove oxidants. It is particularly effective when combined with vitamin E (another potent antioxidant).
- Prevents hyperpigmentation, brightens and evens out skin tone - vitamin C interferes with how tyrosinase works, thereby obstructing melanin production.
- Promotes more even textured and hydrated skin through the enhanced production of barrier lipids.
When should you apply vitamin C?
Some argue that applying in the morning (which is what I do) provides the skin with the support to fight against daily aggression. Some argue that it should be applied in the evening because the skin is depleted of vitamin C by that time. I would simply focus on applying it consistently. As long it's tolerable, I believe vitamin C should be applied everyday. I prefer my topical in the form of a serum, but will also use it in the form of a moisturizer (during the winter months).
Who should avoid vitamin C?
Those with ultra-sensitive skin may want to slowly (not daily) introduce vitamin C into their regimen and start at lower concentrations.
There is a reason why almost EVERY skincare product line utilizes vitamin C - it is one of the hardest working ingredients in skincare, capable of delivering so many benefits.