Vitamin C is garnering more and more attention as a powerful anti-aging tool. Though you may see Vitamin C listed as an ingredient in moisturizers, it’s most potent in serums. Here is everything you need to know about Vitamin C serums and how to choose the one that’s right for you:
Why Is Vitamin C Such a Boss?
It’s an antioxidant, so it offers protection against free radicals. When placed directly on the skin, it has a host of benefits:
- Reduces wrinkles
- Increases collagen production
- Reduces hyperpigmentation
- Evens skin tone and brightens the complexion
- Guards against pollution and sun damage
But I Eat Lots of Oranges! Isn’t That Enough?
Humans can’t create this powerful, naturally-occurring antioxidant within our own bodies, so we have to consume it via citrus fruits, broccoli, leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables. Although healthy, normal skin is naturally high in Vitamin C, sun damage and aging can deplete that C supply. Unfortunately, very little of the edible Vitamin C finds its way to our skin. The topical application of Vitamin C offers a faster, more potent dose of this antioxidant directly to the skin.
How to Choose a Vitamin C Serum
Be sure to look for L-ascorbic acid within the top five ingredients. This is the most powerful form of Vitamin C, available in a concentration of up to 20 percent. Anything more than that offers no additional benefit. Since Vitamin C can be a bit irritating to the skin at first, those with sensitive skin can choose a serum with a lower concentration to start (try 10 percent) and work their way up.
Another option is to mix a drop of serum in with your moisturizer. Complementary ingredients may include Vitamin E, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin B. Because L-ascorbic acid is unstable and will oxidize quickly with exposure to UV light, you should choose a serum that comes in a dark bottle. If the product has turned brown or orange, it has probably lost its effectiveness.
Finally, consider the price point. This is one product where more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. As long as you’ve got L-ascorbic acid listed as a primary ingredient in a dark or opaque bottle from a company you trust, you can give it a try and see how it works for you.
How to Use Your Serum
Vitamin C is usually applied in the morning after your cleanser and toner but before your moisturizer and sunscreen. As long as it’s absorbed by the skin by the time you expose it to sunlight, you won’t decrease its effectiveness—and it doesn’t take long to absorb. You can maximize its protective abilities by applying it every eight hours, though you should keep in mind it is not a substitute for sunscreen.
Vitamin C serums are generally considered safe for long-term use, though you should be careful not to get it in your eyes, and to watch for signs of skin irritation. It will take several weeks of consistent applications before you may start to see results.
Take care when using Vitamin C with other skincare products, as certain ingredients can diminish the effectiveness of your C or cause more irritation. For example, benzoyl peroxide, an acne-fighting ingredient, will oxidize your Vitamin C and make it ineffective. You can still use it, but it’s best not to do so on the same day as you use Vitamin C. Retinol, which offers many of the same benefits of C, should also be used on alternate days.
Given its safety and effectiveness, a good Vitamin C serum is a must for your skincare routine.