If your current skincare routine doesn’t already include vitamin C, you may be curious about this legendary ingredient. What makes it so legendary, after all? For starters, protecting the skin from environmental aggressors and renewing collagen levels are just a couple of the many benefits of using topical vitamin C. What’s more, just about any skin type can benefit from using vitamin C, from combination to acne prone to aging skin, and everything in between.
However, in order to ensure efficacy, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re using the right form of vitamin C, formulated into the ideal type of product, and housed inside of the ideal type of packaging. In other words: To get the most out of this all-star ingredient, there are a few things you’ll want to know—not least of which is the long list of its many potential benefits. Here, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about vitamin C, including how to properly use it in your own skin care routine.
WHAT IS VITAMIN C?
In regard to skin care, the most stable and effective topical form of vitamin C to look out for is ascorbic acid, or L-ascorbic acid. Although there are handful of other forms of vitamin C that are utilized in skin care products, L-ascorbic acid is the most researched, and its superior ability to penetrate the skin barrier is widely documented.
Vitamin C itself, in all of its forms, is an antioxidant—and a potent one at that. Antioxidants aid the skin (and body) in fighting off free radicals, such as UV rays and air pollution, which are molecules that cause damage to our cells. In neutralizing these harmful molecules, antioxidants keep our cells healthy, both inside and out. The result of this antioxidant protection, as it pertains to the skin, is the prevention of signs of premature aging and reduced sun damage.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF VITAMIN C
Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties make it one of the most sought-after skin care ingredients. As noted, in fending off free radicals, vitamin C helps prevent and reverse signs of premature skin aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. It also prevents and helps heal UV damage, including fading hyperpigmentation, or dark spots. In essence, applying topical antioxidants such as vitamin C help keep your skin cells healthy and resilient.
Another benefit: Brightening. Topical vitamin C works to reduce the skin’s natural melanin production, thereby fading and preventing the formation of dark spots. In this way, vitamin C works to even out skin tone and produce an overall brightening effect.
When applied topically, vitamin C also triggers the skin’s natural repair cycle, thereby promoting the production of collagen and elastin—both of which are necessary for smooth, firm skin. Collagen and elastin are the two most abundant proteins in the skin, and our natural reserves of both decline as we age. By increasing the natural production of collagen and elastin, vitamin C keeps skin supple, firm and younger-looking in appearance.
HOW TO USE VITAMIN C IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
Because serums deliver a high dose of concentrated, active ingredients, they are considered the best way to reap the many benefits of vitamin C. In addition to the type of vitamin C (again, L-ascorbic acid ranks highest), something else to consider is the packaging of the product itself. Vitamin C can oxidize when exposed to air and sunlight, thereby becoming less effective over time, so you’d be wise to look for a vitamin C serum that is housed inside of a dark or opaque bottle. Naturium’s Vitamin C Serum 22% and Vitamin C Super Serum Plus are both packaged opaque bottles, so as to properly preserve the stability of the L-ascorbic acid inside.
As a general rule of thumb, skin care products should be layered according to their consistency; Apply the thinnest products first then build up to finish with the thickest (usually moisturizer or oil). To make the most of your vitamin C serum, apply it onto freshly-cleansed skin in the morning, then layer your go-to moisturizer on top before applying your makeup for the day. Because it is an antioxidant, applying vitamin C in the morning (rather than at night) is the ideal time to reap its benefits; It will help protect your complexion from all of the daily environmental aggressors you encounter.