One ingredient that has gotten much attention in recent times is Vitamin C. This can be credited to many reasons including, the pandemic as immunity is crucial, and Vitamin C is known to boost our immune systems. But there is another area where Vitamin C has made it to the spotlight – in skincare.
Being a water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin C is also a well-known antioxidant and, as mentioned earlier, an immunity booster. Vitamin C is abundantly available in fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits. For the skin, Vitamin C offers several benefits:
- Vitamin C brightens dark spots and reduces hyperpigmentation
- Builds collagen and firms the skin, while smoothening fine lines
- Limits melanogenesis, which means it prevents discoloration in the skin due to sun damage
- It can be used on every skin type
While you can get the antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C through diet, it’s not as effective as applying it topically, in the form of a serum or another skincare product. However, there is much confusion regarding this. What are the best products for Vitamin C? What is the best way to apply it?
We tackle these questions in our guide to using Vitamin C products. After this, you can be sure of being a pro at using Vitamin C for your skin!
Tips to Use Vitamin C Products the Right Way
- Choose The Best Vitamin C Product
Vitamin C is available in a variety of products and concentrations, varying from 5% – 20%. Each concentration has a different effect on our skin.
People with dry or irritated skin should stick to lower concentrations, about 5%, which are less likely to irritate them. Higher concentrations can be used by those with more oily skin or with more severe pigmentation issues to tackle. However, after 20 percent, the effects start to plateau, and there’s typically no need to go higher than that.
The most common Vitamin C derivatives are L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and methylsilanol ascorbate. The most stable and most effective form of Vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid or ascorbic acid, which is most easily absorbed by the skin.
L-ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbyl phosphate are more suitable for oily skin. In contrast, dry skin will do better with ascorbyl palmitate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. Products with tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, are less irritating for the skin. Read the label carefully before you choose your product.
- When to Apply?
Once you get your Vitamin C product, the next question is about when to apply it. Should it be used during the day or at night? The opinion on this appears to be divided, although most experts agree that the best time is in the morning.
Since one of the most significant benefits of Vitamin C is protection against sun damage, it makes sense to apply it when you face the most sun exposure – which is during the day. The free radical protection also plays a more prominent role when UV rays and pollutants are at their strongest.
Vitamin C can be used every day and is safe for all skin types. Once a day is usually sufficient since the effects of the Vitamin C product last for up to 24 hours.
- Add Vitamin C to Your Skin Regimen
Now you know you have to apply your Vitamin C product in the morning. But you might already have an established skincare routine for the day – so how does Vitamin C fit in?
For any skincare product, the rule of application is to go from thinnest to thickest consistency. It is recommended to first wash your face and then use a toner. Once your skin is clean, apply Vitamin C serum all over your face, applying the excess to your neck and décolletage. After this, you can apply moisturizer, eye cream, and, finally, sunscreen.
Vitamin C is best absorbed in the skin that is exfoliated. If not exfoliated, the build-up of dead skin cells can hinder the absorption of the product. Once applied, wait for the product to be absorbed entirely before stepping outside.
If you are using other serums for specific skin problems, you can layer them with the Vitamin C serum, following the thinnest to thickest rule. For instance, if you’re applying hyaluronic serum as well, apply it after the Vitamin C serum and before the moisturizer. Just wait for each one to be absorbed before applying the next.
- Combine It With The Right Ingredients
Vitamin C is often combined with other skin-friendly ingredients to improve its efficacy. One of the best combinations is with Vitamin E. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, and together, they form a powerful free radical-fighting combo.
Vitamin C works well with most other ingredients, but some require caution. Benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide can make Vitamin C less effective, so it’s best to avoid using them together. In such a case, you can apply Vitamin C during the morning and the other product in the evening.
The same goes for retinoids – they can cause irritation for some people if used with Vitamin C at the same time. Due to this reason, retinoids are better applied during the night, while Vitamin C is more suitable for the day. Also, be careful while using chemical exfoliants that contain AHAs or BHAs – using a Vitamin C serum right after this can cause irritation.
- Store Your Vitamin C Products Correctly
An important part of using your Vitamin C products correctly is knowing how to store them the right way. Vitamin C is water-soluble and sensitive to light and air. Due to this, it can break down when exposed to oxygen, and becomes a less stable and less effective version of itself.
This is why Vitamin C needs to be stored in opaque and airtight containers at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. It’s best to use a bottle with an airless pump instead of a dropper bottle, which will need to be un-cap every time you use it.
Vitamin C products don’t have a long shelf life – most of them last for up to three months, at most. To reap the best benefits, use fresh Vitamin C as it is potent. As it ages or oxidizes, it turns yellow and eventually brown, indicating that its efficacy has greatly reduced.
As mentioned earlier, Vitamin C is safe for most skin types, but it’s still recommended to do a patch test to check. Apply a coin-size amount of the product to the inside of your elbow and wait for 24 hours. If no side effects appear, it’s safe for your skin. If you develop any allergic symptoms, avoid using it.
Most new users of Vitamin C may experience a slight tingling, which is expected due to the low pH of the product. If it’s uncomfortable, you can start with a low frequency until your skin gets adjusted to the product. Those with sensitive skin may find it better to avoid L-ascorbic acid and opt for magnesium ascorbyl phosphate instead.