Skin Care Ingredient Focus: 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.
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.
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.