Everyone has heard of vitamin C, you find it in oranges right? But why should you be using it in your skincare and how does it help skin?

Pure vitamin C is also known as L-ascorbic acid and it is a powerful antioxidant. When eaten as part of a balanced diet, antioxidants help your body fight off free radicals. These nasties are highly reactive compounds that can cause damage to our cells. Our bodies are unable to produce vitamin C by themselves, so eating a diet rich in vitamin C is important to help our bodies fight free radicals from the inside.

Similarly, adding a topical Vitamin C product into your skincare routine can give you the same benefits on the outside. Helping to reduce damage to your skin that can be caused by the harmful effects of UV rays and air pollution.

Healing and Firming Properties

And it’s not just its antioxidant properties that can benefit our skin. As vitamin C is acidic, when applied topically, it triggers the skin to heal itself. This leads to increased collagen and elastin production. These two proteins are known to plump and firm the skin, helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This healing effect also helps those red marks you can be left with from spots.

Brighter Skin

Another property of vitamin C is its ability to reduce overproduction of melanin in your skin. This evens out skin tone and helps to lighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation, leaving you with brighter skin.

The effects of vitamin C are maximised when combined with other antioxidants such as vitamin E so they are often formulated together.

How to include Vitamin C in your skincare and what to look for?

Vitamin C in skincare comes in serums and creams. The most potent form of vitamin C to check ingredients for is ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid. Pure ascorbic acid has been shown to penetrate the skin barrier most effectively. Other vitamin C derivatives include tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and methylsilanol ascorbate. Although these are not ‘pure’ vitamin C, once applied to the skin they are converted into the active form of vitamin C.

How to store Vitamin C

Vitamin C can break down when exposed to light and air so formulations should be in opaque or amber coloured bottles. Store them in a cool, dark environment and make sure the lid is replaced to avoid too much air getting to the product.

Who should avoid vitamin C?

Vitamin C products can be strong so we would recommend that you start with a lower concentration and work your way up. Concentrations vary from 5% all the way up to 30%. They are not recommended for those with overly sensitive skin as you may find that their use causes redness and irritation.

If you are concerned about sensitivity, do a patch test first. Be aware that vitamin C is no quick fix, it can sometimes take up to 6 to 8 weeks to really start to notice the benefits.

It is also important to note that retinol products can make vitamin C less stable so less likely to penetrate the skin. Don’t use these two active ingredients at the same time. We suggest using vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night.

+Skinfluential products containing vitamin C

Obagi Professional C Serum (10, 15 and 20 %)

This vitamin C serum from Obagi Medical contains pure L-ascorbic acid and comes in three different strengths 10,15 and 20 %. The lowest concentration is best for dry and sensitive skin.

ZO Skin Health Self Activating Vitamin C

This pump-action ZO skin health serum contains both 10% ascorbic acid and Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. The formulation also contains squalane which mimics our body’s own natural moisturiser factor.

Medik8 C-Tetra serum

This light vitamin C serum from Medik8 contains both Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate and vitamin E. These two ingredients complement each other perfectly. All the benefits of vitamin C with the soothing and nourishing effects of vitamin E.

Medik8 C-Tetra serum image

Medik8 Daily Radiance Vitamin C

This is a 2-in-1 moisturiser and sunscreen from Medik8. It contains Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate and SPF 30 and in also formulated with vitamin E. This is a great multi-technology product.

Medik8 Daily Radiance Vitamin C image

Obagi Pro C Microdermabrasion Polish and Mask

This Obagi product contains a massive 30 % L-ascorbic acid. This 2-in-1 product can be used as both an exfoliating polish and a face mask to reveal brighter, more youthful-looking skin. This is perfect for more experienced vitamin C users.

Obagi Professional C Suncare Broad Spectrum SPF30 Sunscreen

This dual-function, non-comedogenic sunscreen combines broad-spectrum SPF 30 in a 10% L-ascorbic acid formulation. This multitasker helps protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays while addressing the appearance of skin aging.