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. 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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