Vitamin C has been one of the most touted antioxidants in skincare for a few years now. It's a superstar ingredient....but it's also a complicated one. I'm going to try to keep it simple!
Although it can do lots of things - the two main things it's really great at are:
- anti-aging (reducing fine lines & wrinkles)...accelerates production of collagen and elastin
- brightening (reducing acne scars, dark spots, and sun damage)...protects from UV damage and supresses pigmentation
- our body doesn't actually produce or store vitamin c on its own; we have to get it either through diet (citrus, kiwi, spinach, kale, cherries, broccoli, yellow peppers, and more) or through products (ideally both!)
- using vitamin c topically will be much more efficient at targeting a specific spot (i.e. your face)
- but....if you don't eat well and get proper amounts of vitamin c and other essential nutrients, your skin won't look good regardless of what products you use...a healthy nutrient-filled diet is essential to good skin
- day and/or evening
- using it in your morning skincare routine helps to protect your skin against free radicals (those pesky molecules that speed along skin aging - UV damage. pollution, etc) - used at night, vitamin c can help to repair damage and renew the skin cells while at rest. Use after cleanser/toner and before moisturizer/spf
- if you can afford it and feel you need the benefits, by all means use it morning and night...otherwise once a day is the normal usage - even using a few times a week is better than none at all; do what's best for you and your budget
- some people with very sensitive skin may (or may not) have issues....it is an acid (like a lemon is) and therefore does have exfoliating properties
- if you're using one that has too high a percentage, it can irritate/damage your skin
- try to find a vitamin c serum formulated for sensitive skin or buy a product that offers a trial size you can test out first; also....start using it a couple times a week and working your way up to daily
- higher is not necessarily better; the body (and skin) can only absorb so much vitamin c at once and the rest gets wasted - higher amounts are also more likely to cause unnecessary irritation...percentage does not necessarily represent effectiveness at all; a well made stable product in which the vitamin c is still active by the time you use the product is much more important (and effective) than what percentage it's at
- yup it does; it's really unstable and exposure to light and air degrades it quickly; if used improperly it can either be useless or it can even lead to skin damage - also the vitamin c ph level has to be carefully tuned with the ph level of the rest of the ingredients in the product to be effective
- the purest and most effective form is called L-ascorbic acid - but it's also the most unstable and prone to going rancid; so if a company is using this form make sure they are using dark bottles, an 'anhydrous' formula (not water-based), and have instructions to use within six months
- there are also quite a few vitamin c derivatives - you'll see these on an ingredients list as: magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl glucosamine, and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate
- vitamin c derivatives have the advantage of being more stable and potentially less irritating, but are not quite as potent as L-ascorbic acid
So with all that info I'm sure many of you are still wondering, "so which one do I buy?!"....
Buy from a company you trust. In my humble opinion, this is not an ingredient you want to be buying from an inexperienced DIY type of skincare brand....nor is it one you want to be buying off a big box store that sells it for cheap promising great results. It's a really picky ingredient and it can work wonders when used in a product by a brand that knows who to use it properly.
But even above that - my even bigger piece of advice in picking a vitamin c serum is...
I've seen countless brands espouse the benefits of vitamin c but when you read their label you see that it's surrounded by other ingredients that are damaging to your skin and to your health. There is no point spending money on vitamin c if the rest of the ingredients in the product are going to negate any benefits you may have derived from it.
Buy from companies you trust to use the ingredients properly and to surround it with other ingredients that will also help your skin to thrive.
p.s. for those of who you want to know about the ones we carry:
- the Marie Veronique Vitamin C Serum(and Vitamin C Therapy- their version for sensitive skin)....is one of the best I've seen and I trust this company completely to make formulas that are clean, effective, and stable; they use the pure Vit C
- the Body Deli Vitamin C Serum is a made from a derivative and continues to delight me regularly with the great feedback I get on it; it's a really great option at a more budget-friendly cost; it's one of my favourite Body Deli products
- the Suki Radical Results Serum - not marketed as a vitamin c serum specifically but it is one...Vit C being one of the key antioxidants; also a fantastic option (and has other great anti-aging ingredients which we'll get into another time)
- please note that although the best way to get vitamin c benefits is by using a serum dedicated to it, you can also find some vitamin c as an additional ingredient in other products (Suki Nourishing Cream, Body Deli Nourish Cream) and can also be found in different oils used for face oils (that's a whole other topic!)
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