Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient that has been making a lot of buzz recently in the beauty industry due to its ability to fight free radicals, repair signs of aging, brighten skin and produce collagen. Think of an ideal world where you had a solution to all your skin problems – hyperpigmentation, fine lines, sun damage and wrinkles. Well, the ideal world isn’t impossible to achieve, thanks to the miracle Vitamin C serums!
Vitamin C and Its Benefits
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health. Dietary and topical ascorbic acid have beneficial effects on skin cells, and some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photo damage. Vitamin C has the ability to protect and strengthen the skin like no other. As an antioxidant, it provides protection from free radicals, helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brightens and promotes an even skin tone. It also works to help shield the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental aggressors, while increasing protection against sun damage. Vitamin C is present in your skin but since it is water soluble, it’s not stored in the body. And the excess that is consumed is easily eliminated through the body. That’s why it’s so important to topically apply products spiked with the powerhouse ingredient.
Vitamin C limits the damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure by boosting cell turnover and regeneration. It is not a “sunscreen” because it does not absorb light in the UVA or UVB spectrum. Rather, the antioxidant activity of vitamin C protects against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals. It basically works by deactivating UV-induced free radicals. Free radicals are created from pollution such as smog, dust and cigarette smoke, as well as sun. Skin damage done by free radicals may appear in the form of brown spots, loose and saggy skin as a result of damaged elastic fibers. They can also break down the skin’s collagen and create wrinkles. Vitamin C even helps protect the skin from UV light exposure by neutralizing free radicals.
Incorporating this anti-aging all-star ingredient into your daily skin care routine is simply a must. Vitamin C is naturally occurring in skin and it plays a role in collagen production. As you age, your body produces less collagen which results in fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C is known to boost skin’s collagen production, thereby, giving you more firm and plump skin. It regulates the synthesis of collagen and it does this by hydroxylating collagen which makes it more stable and improves the way it supports the epidermis. This miracle anti-aging ingredient hence smoothens out fine lines and wrinkles.
It doesn’t just work for wrinkles, being a collagen booster, it plays an important role in preventing stretch marks. Along with incorporating Vitamin C rich food in your diet, applying it topically might help you get rid of those stubborn stretch marks. It also helps to lighten blemishes and cure hyperpigmentation by restraining melanin production. It not only reduces melanin production but also reduces oxidation of the melanin that is produced. It’s also thought to reverse the conversion of DOPA to o-DOPA Quinone (which is a skin pigment). It also brightens your complexion and helps even out skin tone and discoloration. People dealing with an uneven skin tone can include this in their routine to get brighter and even-toned healthy skin.
Vitamin C is anti-inflammatory, and a vitamin C serum can both help clear up acne and reduce the redness associated with it—as well as improve skin texture. In addition, when topically applied it is thought to help heal acne, increase the barrier function of skin to decrease moisture loss and makes the skin healthy-looking. The free radicals are one of the root sources of acne. They break down the proteins and fatty acids that make up the skin, disturbing the normal pH of the skin and harming the sebaceous glands. This increases the production of sebum and causes bacteria. Vitamin C fights those free radicals, thereby, preventing acne. But this would not work if you’re suffering from hormonal acne.
How to Use Vitamin C Serums
Vitamin C serums contain a high concentration of vitamin C as an active ingredient, mainly in the form of L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA) as well as a few other variants. The serums typically include a higher concentration of ingredients to penetrate the skin and efficiently target skincare concerns such as hyperpigmentation or signs of aging. Vitamin C serums are usually applied to freshly cleansed skin so that they can enter deep into the skin. Vitamin C serums often are formulated in combination with other skin-saving and beneficial ingredients —if you have dry or lacklustre skin, look for a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, which is incredibly moisturizing. The concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA) in vitamin C serum can vary anywhere from 10% to 15-20%. It’s a good idea to start with a lower concentration and wait until your skin adapts before moving on to a higher concentration in your skincare regimen.
- Always apply Vitamin C Serums in the morning! L-Ascorbic Acid based treatments are intended for daytime use because of their ability to neutralize free radicals. Using your serum at night isn’t necessary because it creates a reservoir that remains in the skin when used daily. If your Vitamin C serum is suggested to be used in the evening it may use a form that isn’t stable for daytime. If you’re unsure use this rule: if your serum is advertised as an antioxidant, use it during the day; if it’s promoted as a collagen, anti-aging treatment use it in the evening.
- Apply Serum After Cleanser and Toner But Before Moisturizer: It is advisable to use Vitamin C serums after you cleanse and tone, but before you use moisturizer. Serums differ from moisturizers in that serums penetrate the layers of the skin, targeting deep into the skin tissue. This is why serums are usually of a thinner consistency compared to moisturizers, which help them get absorbed and penetrate into the surface and deeper layers of skin. The serum is applied to cleansed skin before the moisturizer because the serum can seep deep into the skin layers as the moisturizer can be applied to the surface, yet it doesn’t work the other way around, since the serum won’t be able to seep into the skin if applied on top of a moisturizer. Because vitamin C serums are able to provide such protective and anti-aging benefits, it is important that the vitamin is delivered to the deeper skin tissue beyond the superficial surface. It is generally advisable going from lowest to highest pH, like using either an alpha or beta hydroxyl acid cleanser in the morning followed by the vitamin C serum. A vitamin C serum will not lose its potency if applied in an incorrect order, but applying lowest to highest pH when layering skin products will increase absorption.
- Do Not Use a Vitamin C Serum in Place of Sunscreen: Vitamin C protects the skin against sun damage, but from the inside out. Therefore, it should be used in conjunction with a daily sunscreen applied after the moisturizer, since sunscreen needs to work on the very top of the skin to protect it. Vitamin C facial serum is not a substitute for SPF protection, even though it works as a strong anti-oxidant from deep within the skin. The vitamin can thicken the dermis layers of the skin and strengthen the skin barrier, and can even reduce the appearance of skin discoloration, but it is important to remember that it works from the inside out.
- Things to remember:
- Always apply vitamin C serum to freshly cleansed and slightly damp skin. If you follow your cleanser with a pH balancing toner, wait for the toner to completely dry before applying the serum. If you’re using a vitamin C moisturizer, apply after any serums or target treatments. Use clean fingers to spread the serum or the moisturizer over your cleansed face, and don’t forget your neck! It benefits from the same skincare you give your face.
- This comes down to personal preference. For serum, generally, start with a few drops. Many serums will tell you how many drops to use on the instructions label.
- Wait 15 minutes for the serum to completely absorb before moving on to moisturizer. If there’s still a layer of serum sitting on the surface of your skin, reduce your amount. It should fully absorb into the skin.
- Follow-up with any targeted treatments, and round out your routine with a moisturizer and eye cream. If you’re heading out for the day, make sure your moisturizer includes SPF protection (yes, even if it’s cloudy outside and even if your makeup contains SPF!).
- Ingredients That Are Often Included With Vitamin C:
- Hyaluronic Acid: HA is a powerful humectant that works to grab onto moisture and bind it to the skin. It improves your skin’s ability to hold hydration and infuse it into deep layers. This helps diminish fine lines and signs of aging, and provides skin with intense moisture!
- Vitamin E: Vitamins C and E are both members of the antioxidant gang, and they work better together by fighting collagen-busting free radicals and supporting skin’s lipid barrier. This means more supple, youthful skin for you!
- Ferulic Acid: This is another antioxidant which helps boost and stabilize both vitamins C and E. It also aids in fighting free radical damage to support collagen production.
- Zinc: Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, zinc is especially beneficial for inflammatory acne and related scarring.
- Alpha Arbutin: Alpha Arbutin reduces the looks of spots and hyper-pigmentation
- Vitamin F: Provides skin with Essential fatty acids with anti-inflammatory benefits that help to improve ingredient penetration.
- How to store Vitamin C Serums Correctly:
- Keep It Away From Light: LAA is vulnerable to oxidation from light exposure. That’s why vitamin C serums typically come in those pretty dark glass bottles. Keep the serum somewhere dark and away from direct light.
- Keep It Airtight: Oxygen can also break down vitamin C serum. Always put the cap back on and make sure it’s is screwed on tight to keep air from seeping in.
- Keep It Cool: High temperatures will degrade vitamin C. Some manufacturers suggest storing vitamin C serum in the fridge, but some advise against it, so consult your serum’s storage instructions or customer service if you have questions. Either way, if you store your serum in a cool, dark place, you should be good!
- A few tips to using vitamin C serums in your skincare!
- If you have dry or sensitive skin, skip the L-ascorbic acid and go with the magnesium Ascorbyl phosphate, which is gentler on the skin.
- Do not mix vitamin C serums containing L-ascorbic acid with retinol (vitamin A) or niacinamide (AKA vitamin B3, commonly used in skincare formulas).
- Always pay attention to things like colour, smell, and consistency of your vitamin C serums to make sure it hasn’t oxidized.
Best Vitamin C Serums
1. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum:
In addition to hyaluronic acid, the Mad Hippie formula contains ferulic acid (which, as we mentioned, can make Vitamin C more stable) Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%) and vitamin E, which has been shown to increase vitamin C’s photo protective effects.
Price: $33.99. (BUY NOW)
2. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic:
As the name suggests, the SkinCeuticals formula also contains ferulic acid and Vitamin E. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamins C (15% Pure Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. This SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum helps neutralize free induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA) and ozone pollution (O3). In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, C E Ferulic improves signs of aging and photo damage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion.
Price: $166 (BUY NOW)
3. Obagi Professional-C serum:
The Obagi serum comes in 3 strengths, 10, 15, or 20 percent, so you can build up your tolerance to a higher percentage of vitamin C. Obagi Professional-C Serum 20% infuses your skin with L-ascorbic acid, the only form of vitamin C suitable for topical application. Designed to penetrate deep into your skin, this vitamin C serum provides effective antioxidant protection from UV damage as it brightens away hyperpigmentation and encourages the growth of collagen and elastin fibres. Hyaluronic acid binds moisture to your skin to prevent dryness.
Price: $127 (BUY NOW)
4. Revision Skincare Vitamin C 30% Lotion:
Revision Skincare Vitamin C 30% Lotion contains a high concentration of this extract to create a radiant appearance. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties to defend the complexion against free radicals that cause signs of aging. This lotion also brightens a dull complexion and promotes a more even tone while minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Because this anti-aging lotion contains hydrating ingredients, it creates a soft and smooth texture that appears more youthful. Hydrate, protect and correct skin by using this product daily.
Price: $119 (BUY NOW)
5. Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate 12.5% Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid:
This Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate is infused with 10.5% L-Ascorbic Acid and 2% Ascorbyl Glucoside along with Hyaluronic Acid. The formula helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin’s texture and radiance.
Price: $62 (BUY NOW)
6. CosRX Triple C Lightning Liquid:
Launched in 2017, Triple C sold out within four hours of launching, and has since become a cult favorite! This fragrance-free formula has a pH of 3 and is manufactured in small batches to make sure it’s fresh and effective. It has 20.5% pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and is unbeatable when it comes to reducing sun spots, acne scars, and general hyperpigmentation and discoloration. It is known to cause slight tingling initially but shows results really fast, thanks to its higher concentration.
Price: $27 (BUY NOW)
7. Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster:
It is 100% fragrance-free, non-irritating, and never tested on animals. A blend of 15% stabilized vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) at a pH of 3.0, potent antioxidants including vitamin E and ferulic acid, and skin-smoothing peptides help diminish visible signs of aging for smoother, brighter, and firmer-feeling skin.
Price: $49 (BUY NOW)
8. Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum:
A super-potent vitamin C day serum packed with a powerful antioxidant complex, essential nutrients, and fruit enzymes, all working together to firm and brighten the appearance of skin, while improving the signs of photoaging. C-Firma has a pH level of 3.3 – 3.5, which Drunk Elephant believes is the key to a non-irritating, effective formulation that delivers real results. It contains pure L-ascorbic acid.
Price: $80 (BUY NOW)
9. Dermalogica Age Smart Biolumin-C Serum:
A high-performance Vitamin C serum that works with skin’s own defenses to brighten and firm. Advanced bio-technology fuses ultra-stable Vitamin C and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, helping to dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Price: $87 (BUY NOW)
10. Niod Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network:
This highly concentrated network complex combines a 30% concentration of highly-stable Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in an antioxidant network of Superoxide Dismutase, Selenium and Zinc to support a strong fight against oxidation while enhancing barrier function, balancing visible discolouration, reviving skin tone, and supporting collagen production and repair mechanisms. While the initial tone-enhancing benefits of ELAN will be noticeable from the third day of once-daily use, benefits at-large are continuing and cumulative.
Price: $50 (BUY NOW)
11. The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% :
Improve and brighten the look of your skin with The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres, a water-free and silicone-free stable suspension of Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid. Formulated with 23% of pure Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid, which remains completely stable due to the absence of water), the formula helps to reverse signs of ageing whilst boosting natural radiance. Its dose of dehydrated spheres of Hyaluronic Acid plump skin with moisture and promote smoother, younger-looking skin.
Price: $5.80 (BUY NOW)
It’s high time that you include vitamin c serums in your skincare routine. Choose any of the serums and use it regularly to have a clear, youthful skin.