Vitamin C serums have long been reputed as an effective at-home remedy for everything from uneven skin tone and rough texture to fine lines, acne scars, and general dullness. With interest in the ingredient at an all-time high, a deeper dive into the wonders of vitamin C felt necessary.
What is vitamin C, exactly?
Where your skin is concerned, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce and even prevent damage to our cells by neutralizing the production of free radicals. You may have heard of antioxidant-rich foods. Topical antioxidants do the same thing for your skin, helping to offset aggressors like UV damage and exposure to air pollution.
So, vitamin C helps your body repair damaged skin cells, aiding your skin’s natural regeneration process. And that’s critical not just for staving off the signs of premature aging. Vitamin C may also help protect the skin from precancerous changes set off by UV exposure.
Beyond its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C is highly acidic. When it’s used topically, it accelerates the production of collagen and elastin, enabling the skin to heal itself. Collagen and elastin are naturally occurring protein fibers that help keep skin plump and firm. By promoting collagen production, topical vitamin C can help keep the skin from aging prematurely.
Vitamin C also contains a property that inhibits your skin’s melanin production, which is what causes dark spots and hyperpigmentation. With consistent topical application, vitamin C can help prevent dark spots from forming in the first place.
How can you incorporate vitamin C into your daily routine?
With vitamin C, the vehicle is important (more on that in a moment), but the form trumps all. Look for ascorbic acid (or L-ascorbic acid), which is the most stable and effective form of vitamin C for skin care. Pure ascorbic acid has been shown to be the most consistent at penetrating the skin barrier.
Now, back to the vehicle: Find a serum that contains vitamin C because serums are more effective than creams and toners. While you’re at it, add vitamin E to the mix. Vitamin C’s effectiveness grows when it’s combined with other antioxidants, like vitamin E. It shouldn’t be difficult. The two are often combined in serums.
If you’ve never used a vitamin C serum before, start slowly, with a few drops for each application. And start out with a low concentration and gradually work your way up as your skins gets more accustomed to it. Five percent serums are generally gentle enough for sensitive skin. They go all the way up to 20 percent.
That said, if you have sensitive skin, you may experience some redness or even an allergic reaction to the vitamin C. Try a test area before your first full-on application to make sure that no allergy exists.