Skin Care Ingredient Focus: Vitamin C

Written by Corina Cardenas, LA, Licensed Aesthetician on December 1, 2020 3 Comments

vitamin c

Vitamin C has become an increasingly popular skin care ingredient thanks to its anti-aging properties. This powerful antioxidant occurs naturally in healthy skin, but vitamin C levels do diminish as we age. Sun exposure, smoking, or a poor diet can also accelerate the loss of vitamin C in the skin.

In this post you’ll learn more about the benefits of Vitamin C as a skin care ingredient and why you should consider adding a little C to your current skin care regimen.

How Vitamin C Improves Skin

Vitamin C works to prevent and improve the visible signs of aging skin. In general, the daily use of Vitamin C can reduce the appearance of fine lines and evens skin tone for a glowing, more youthful look.

Improves Discoloration

Vitamin C blocks the production of melanin which dissolves dark spots and reduces hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C minimizes rosacea and redness for a more even skin tone.

Reduces Inflammation

Vitamin C acts as an inflammatory which helps reduce redness and smooths the skin’s surface. Reducing inflammation heals damage caused by sunburn, allergies, and even physical abrasions.

Increases Hydration

Vitamin C improves skin hydration by fortifying the protective outer layers that prevent loss of moisture. Increased hydration can improve the appearance of wrinkles, and reduces under-eye bags.

Neutralizes Free Radicals

Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage skin and accelerate aging by causing oxidative stress. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it neutralizes free radicals and slows the aging process.

Boosts Collagen Production

Vitamin C boosts collagen production which plumps and tightens skin and improves its elasticity. Collagen also prevents and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

Increases Skin Cell Turnover

Vitamin C speeds healing from wounds, sunburn and other skin damage by stimulating skin cell turnover. Newer, younger skin cells improve skin’s overall appearance.

Skin Care Products with Vitamin C

Cleansers with Vitamin C as an active ingredient may be labeled as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid. Choosing a cleanser with Vitamin C is the easiest way to add it to your daily routine, without the need for additional products.

Exfoliators with Vitamin C tend to be gentle and increase the effectiveness of the active ingredient. Vitamin C does its job better when the layer of dead skin cells on your skin is removed through exfoliation.

Serums like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic are a popular and effective way to deliver Vitamin C to the skin. They may be used in the morning, at night, or both. Serums typically contain a higher percentage of active ingredient than other skin products.

Moisturizers containing Vitamin C protect the skin from free radicals and oxidative damage throughout the day. Vitamin C helps hold in the hydration your moisturizer provides. A great Vitamin C moisturizer is Revision Vitamin C Lotion.

Sunscreens with Vitamin C are effective in preventing sun spots. Vitamin C has protective qualities that prevent damage from UV radiation, which also boosts your sunscreen’s SPF.

How and When to Use Vitamin C

When using Vitamin C in any product it’s generally best to apply the thinnest product first and the thickest product last. Typically, this is ordered as cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer and then sunscreen.

Because Vitamin C is water soluble, avoid using a soap-based cleanser before applying. If you have sensitive skin, be cautious about combining vitamin C with retinoids or hydroxy acids. Vitamin C can safely be mixed with niacinamide if in its gel form, such as ascorbic or l-ascorbic acid.

Vitamin C will quickly break down if exposed to air or light. For best results, your vitamin C product should be stored in an opaque, air-tight container.

Can you Use Too Much Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is relatively safe for all types of skin. Those with dry or sensitive skin may want to start with a lower percent of active ingredient, while oily skin can handle higher concentrations without becoming overly dry.

When using a new skin product, always do a small patch test on your arm before using the product on your face.

The strength of Vitamin C products varies, allowing for a wide variety of applications for different skin types.

  • Less than 1% Vitamin C at concentrations as low as 0.6% has been shown to be effective and provides antioxidant benefits. Products with low concentrations work best as leave-on treatment. The cumulative effects build throughout the day or overnight.
  • Between 1-5% If you have dry or sensitive skin, it may be best to find a product with less than 5% active ingredient to prevent over-drying or irritation.
  • Between 10-20% Higher strengths of vitamin C are normally found in serums. Serums provide the widest range of benefits for your skin. For evening skin tone, serums are most effective.
  • Greater than 20% Studies show there’s little change in benefit at concentrations greater than 20%. At high concentrations, you may be paying for a stronger product that you don’t really need.

In the battle against aging, Vitamin C has proven effective as an all-around solution that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin. There’s no reason not to experiment with adding Vitamin C to your daily routine. Begin by introducing one product that aligns with your specific skin care goals. Discuss with your doctor for more specific advice.

Corina Cardenas, LA

Corina Cardenas is a Licensed Aesthetician and Laser Technician who focuses on ethical and results-driven aesthetics. Corina obtained her aesthetics license from Paul Mitchell the School, and her laser license and advanced acne certification from Texas Laser and Aesthetics. She specializes in Laser Hair Removal, Extractions, Hydrafacial MD, Microneedling, Dermaplaning, Thermage, Chemical Peels, Acne Facials, CoolTone, and CoolSculpting.

3 Responses to “Skin Care Ingredient Focus: Vitamin C”

  1. Avatar Mohs Tek says:

    Nice Blog! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Avatar Albertina says:

    Vitamin C is very important and I have also started using vitamin C skin care products and it really helps to improve the skin. Thank you for sharing this informational post.

  3. Avatar Shirley says:

    If you’re wondering when to apply a vitamin C serum, the answer is both morning and night, after cleansing and toning. One study even recommends applying a vitamin C serum every eight hours, or twice daily for the pinnacle of protection.

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