Hello, my friends! After taking a break for several months on my Skincare Stories, I’m finally back at it today. Today’s installment is all about Vitamin C, a very important ingredient that should be a part of all of our skincare routines.
We all know that we need Vitamin C in our diets, and we mostly get it from our citrus fruits. However, this powerful antioxidant does just as much good on our skin as it does for our health! Continue on to read all about the benefits that Vitamin C gives to our skin, the different kinds of Vitamin C available on the market, and how to incorporate it into your routine!
WHAT IS VITAMIN C?
Ascorbic acid, more commonly known as vitamin C, is a potent antioxidant that is used to prevent and treat oxidation that comes from free radicals as a result of UV rays. What exactly is oxidation? You know how when you cut a fruit up and leave it sitting out for some time, and it turns brown? That’s oxidation at work! If you cut an apple in half and squeeze some lemon juice on one half of the apple, you’ll actually notice that that the side without lemon juice turns brown as usual, but the side with lemon juice applied still looks perfect. This is because the ascorbic acid in the lemon juice creates a barrier, preventing the apple from browning. Vitamin C actually works the same way on your skin as it does for that apple! It is an antioxidant, which means it prevents oxidation.
It can get a little confusing, because there’s actually a few different types of Vitamin C. L-ascorbic acid is pure Vitamin C. L-ascorbic acid is the most powerful and potent type of Vitamin C, and gives the most effective results. The biggest problem with L-ascorbic acid is that it is quite unstable. It can oxidize quite easily, and you can tell when this has happened by the colour of the serum. Vitamin C serums tend to be generally clear, but they turn amber once they start oxidizing. The more amber it is, the more it has oxidized. The best method to keep Vitamin C from oxidizing is to keep it away from light and air, or better yet, store it in the fridge.
L-Ascorbic Acid vs Vitamin C Derivatives
If you find the oxidation of L-ascorbic acid too fussy to deal with, you can also choose to use a Vitamin C derivative. Derivatives are much more stable and therefore have a longer shelf life, and they tend to be less irritating than L-ascorbic acid. The downside is that they are less potent than L-ascorbic acid, and may take longer to see results. Derivatives of vitamin C include:
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid
THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN C
Vitamin C has a plethora of benefits to our skin. The great thing about it is that it works for any skin type, whether you are dry or oily, sensitive or acne-prone. Vitamin C can do great things such as:
- Brighten skin and fade hyperpigmentation
- Even out skin tone
- Protects against sun damage
- Promote collagen production
Vitamin C is probably best known for its skin-brightening properties. What does this mean? Vitamin C will help fade hyperpigmentation or dark spots left over from acne and sun damage, leaving you with a more even skin tone. It also inhibits melanin production, which is what causes the dark spots.
Vitamin C also has anti-aging properties, meaning that it’s a good anti-aging skincare product. Collagen is a protein naturally found in our skin that makes our skin plump, and as we age, our collagen production slows down. This is why our skin starts wrinkling and sagging as we get older. Vitamin C is able to stimulate our collagen production, so it helps to keep those wrinkles from forming, in addition to softening the ones that have already formed.
This powerhouse of an ingredient can also protect your skin against sun damage and reverse any damage that has already been done – such as sun spots! With that being said, it’s not a sunscreen – make sure you continue to wear your sunscreen as per usual!
VITAMIN C USAGE
The first thing I did when I was researching vitamin C was try to figure out how to fit it into my current skincare routine. This meant finding out the best time of day to use it, what order to insert it into my routine, as well as what products are compatible with it.
To begin with, Vitamin C can be slightly irritating, so I would recommend starting with a serum that has a lower concentration of Vitamin C to begin with, and only use it 2-3 times a week. As your skin becomes acclimated to it, you can up the usage to once, or even twice daily.
If you’ve ever tried to read up on what products you can use Vitamin C with, you’ll know that there’s a lot of conflicting information over whether Vitamin C can be combined with Niacinamide. Personally, I think every user should do their own research and then make an educated decision based on that information. From what I’ve read, it seems that the research regarding combining Vitamin C with Niacinamide is outdated, and there’s not a lot of research that says these two ingredients cancel each other out; there’s also not a lot of research that says they’re fine to use together, either!
What we do know is that putting these two products together creates Niacin. Niacin is not harmful to the skin, nor does it cancel out the effects of Vitamin C, but it may cause some mild flushing if you have sensitive skin. If you have more sensitive skin, it’s better to stay on the safe side and use them separately. After doing my own research, I personally believe it’s fine for my skin to use both products together, because my skin is pretty tough.
In terms of the time of day to use it, there’s also been some conflicting information about whether Vitamin C is safe to use in the morning or night. In general, Vitamin C is photo-protective and is safe to use in the morning, but be sure to wear sunscreen on top. In fact, Vitamin C actually increases the efficacy of your sunscreen. Vitamin C helps protect against free radicals, which are caused by UV rays, so it only stands to reason that they should be used during the day. However, make sure you know what type of Vitamin C product is in your particular serum, and/or follow the directions according to the brand you are using. With that being said, my bottle of Timeless Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid is formulated using L-ascorbic acid, and is specifically recommended by the brand to use in the PM, so I follow these instructions.
How do you incorporate Vitamin C into your routine? Let me know what your favourite Vitamin C serum is!