Skincare Demystified: A Guide To Vitamin C

Vitamin C in skincare guide

Welcome to a new series on my blog; demystifying ingredients and finding out exactly what specific skincare can do for the skin. I find so many products tend to sing the praises of the included ingredients but without actually specifying how the ingredient performs in skincare. It can get a little overwhelming, so I’m taking ingredients back to basics and starting off with the ever-popular Vitamin C.

What does Vitamin C do for the skin?

Vitamin C primarily acts as an anti-ageing property when it’s in skincare. It brightens and smooths the skin, but most importantly protects the skin against free-radicals. Free-radicals are what speed up wrinkles in the skin and what breakdown the collagen so the skin… so they’re bad. In a city, or where there is a lot of pollution, Vitamin C will be particularly beneficial. As an ingredient it can also help the skin to heal and leave everything looking a little more dewy. I think Vitamin C has those immediate connotations of being healthy, and in skincare it does work to protect skin too & it helps pigmentation. It’s also pretty fab for most skin concerns and ages, as it benefits every type.

How do you use it in your skincare routine?

Most products I come across claiming high-strength Vitamin C are serum-based – I think this is the best way to incorporate into the routine. You can use it underneath SPF in the morning and then know your skin is protected, which seems pretty straight-forward to me. Generally anything claiming to include L-ascorbic acid means that it’s good stuff. You can use it at night, but I tend to opt for using it in the morning and then go for something hydrating in the evening.

What are the drawbacks?

Vitamin C, as an active ingredient, is rarely stable. Meaning it can less effective quickly, so a cream packaged in a pot open to the air a lot will de-stabilise quickly. Look for brands with good scientific claims behind the product and bottles with dark glass so sunlight can’t affect it. Also, try keeping serums somewhere dark and cool to make sure it lasts for as long as possible.

Which products have Vitamin C?

The Ordinary, obviously (see my in-depth post here). One of my favourite science-based skincare brands, their range is extensive and caters to all skin types. My personal pick would be the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% which is completely stable as it has no water. I also love the Medik8 C-Tetra® Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum – it that smells satisfyingly like oranges. It also contains Vitamin E to boost the antioxidant effect, and the levels within the serum make it a safe option for trying Vitamin C for the first time as it’s gentle. For something innovative, the Clinique Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser with Pure Vitamin C comes in individual sachets and offers gentle exfoliation as well.