Vitamin C enriched skincare products are everywhere, you can find them at every price point meaning vitamin C’s popularity is higher than ever before. But are you fully confident you understand what vitamin C is and how it can benefit your skin? We’ve put in the leg work for you and found out everything you need to know about this sought-after skincare ingredient.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in fruits such as oranges, lemons and other fruits such as pomegranates. It has the power to neutralise any form of free radical that your skin encounters. This means that when added to a product formulation it can treat an impressive amount of skin concerns, such as ageing and uneven skin tone. Though considered great to have in your diet you will find vitamin C is most effective when applied topically onto the skin this is because it can aid your skin’s natural process of regenerating skin cells and helping to heal any damage from such factors like UV rays, pollution and other daily aggressors.
You will also find that vitamin C, which also goes by the name of ascorbic acid, is part of the extensive Alpha hydroxy acid family and can give your skin a healthy glow in no time at all.
What are the benefits of using Vitamin C for the skin?
The benefits of using vitamin C in your skincare routine are plentiful, here are the main ones in more detail;
- Vitamin C Is a Powerful Antioxidant
This means the damage caused by free radicals and other toxins are prevented and reduced when using a vitamin C enriched skincare routine. This, in turn, keeps the body and skin cells healthy whilst fighting off daily aggressors such as harmful UV rays and exposure to air pollution.
- Vitamin C Fights the Signs of Premature Ageing
Vitamin C is highly acidic and packed with skin-healing properties and when used can trigger the skin’s production of collagen and elastin, which are the two factors that give the skin it’s youthful bounce and firmness. Elastin and collagen both naturally occur in the body and are helped by the introduction of vitamin C to keep the first signs of ageing at bay.
Your body and skin will love you for keeping a healthy diet and focus on the intake of some vitamin orally and in skin care products due to the fact it is a water-soluble molecule and doesn’t appear in the body naturally.
- Vitamin C Helps to Even Out Skin Tone
Vitamin C contains a property that is very similar to the skin’s melanin production. Melanin gives the skin and hair it’s pigment and when it becomes damaged by too much exposure to UV rays than dark spots and uneven skin tone become very visible on the skin. Vitamin C acts as a superior brightening agent that works to fade any brown spots on the face and makes them appear less noticeable without causing any imbalance to the skin’s normal pigmentation.
It's not only age, dark spots or uneven skin tone that vitamin C can treat acne scarring which is left behind from spots and blemishes that have been picked and squeezed.
- Vitamin C Can Give You A Glowing Complexion
As you are aware, vitamin C also goes by the name of the Alpha hydroxy acid called ascorbic acid. AHAs are chemical exfoliants which means they can slough away any dead skin cells and debris from the top layer of the face. It is these skin cells that if allowed to build-up can cause the skin to appear dull and blemishes such as blackhead and spots can occur regularly if left.
- Vitamin C Works Better When Applied Topically
Consuming your vitamin C is a great way of putting the right antioxidants in the body, these will not only help your nutrition but build your immune system too. One factor to remember is that if you are wanting to use vitamin C for any skin concerns than a topical application using the right skincare product is the best way to get the vitamin to absorb into the skin.
How to Introduce Vitamin C into Your Skin Care Routine?
When you are looking for a product containing vitamin C you need to keep a lookout for either ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, you will also find that L-ascorbic acid is the most stable available. It doesn’t matter which product you decide to try its the form and percentage of vitamin C in the formula that will allow you to see the benefits to your skin.
Pure ascorbic acid has been proven to be the most effective at penetrating through the skin’s barrier and working at evening out the skin tone and reducing the appearance of fine line and wrinkles. Here are some simple steps to follow when introducing vitamin C to your routine
- Choose a serum enriched in vitamin C as this is the most effective product due to its ability to work further down in the skin and have the most amount of time absorbing into the skin. Face washes and cleansers are rinsed off the skin too soon for vitamin C to have an impact on the complexion.
- Look out for ascorbic acid in the inky list when shopping for your serum. The ingredient should be listed 5th or higher to have enough in the formula to make a difference to the skin. Vitamin C’s potency decreases rapidly over time and so a high amount of concentrate is a great starting point.
- Always ensure you perform a patch test before using a new product, apply a 10p sized amount onto your forearm and leave for 24 hours. If there is no skin irritation you are good to go!
- Use vitamin C in the morning. The glow and vibrancy this ingredient gives your skin is too good to waste whilst you sleep, be sure to apply a high factor SPF after to keep the skin safe from UV rays.
- Experts have suggested that using vitamin C and retinol can be risky, but you can safely use both if you use vitamin C in the mornings and retinol in the evening. This will not overload the skin and you will see the best results.
- Team your vitamin C with other antioxidants such as vitamin E to increase its effectiveness. Vitamin C is also not to be confused with citric acid, though they are both AHAs they do indeed perform differently on the skin.
- Be mindful of where you store your vitamin C as it is light and air-sensitive, keep the products stored away from direct sunlight and opt for ones that come in opaque bottles to prevent the product from oxidising too quickly.
Following these main tips will help you obtain the best results and seamless transition when introducing vitamin C into your skincare routine. If you have any concerns about using vitamin C than consulting your GP or dermatologist is advisable for more information and peace of mind.
What are the side effects of using vitamin C?
The most common side effects when using vitamin C are;
- Burning and skin irritation
- Tingling sensation after application
If you find you are suffering from any of these symptoms then stop using the product immediately. If you have sensitive skin it is best to avoid using vitamin C, as although it is beneficial for brightening the complexion, it does tend to be too harsh for hypersensitive skin.
What are natural sources of vitamin C?
One of the most powerful natural sources of vitamin C is found in the Australian superfood, the Kakadu plum. This remarkable fruit that is no bigger than a large olive actually contains more vitamin C than 100 oranges. It is very potent and its benefits are starting to be introduced into skincare products, such as our Pink Clay Face Mask for its brightening and antioxidant properties. If you wanted to find out more there is a dedicated blog post on the skin benefits of the Kakadu plum.
Vitamin C can treat the skin effectively and bring a uniformed glow back to the complexion without too much difficulty, which is probably why it is one of the favourite ingredients for beauty experts and industry insiders for a few years running. Orange you glad you found out more about this skin-saving ingredient?
Still wondering which AHA is the right one for your skin? Check out our guide on AHAs and BHAs.
Vitamin C FAQs
What are the benefits of Vitamin C for skin?
The skin benefits of vitamin C are;
- Helping to even skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots
- Preventing and reducing the appearance of acne scars
- Promoting the production of elastin and collagen in the skin to prevent premature ageing
- Remove dead skin cells that can lead to a lacklustre complexion and breakouts
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Does the skin synthesize vitamin C
Vitamin C does not naturally occur in the body but can synthesis well, due to the fact it has high levels of antioxidants which helps play a vital role in skin health and the production of collagen for the skin. The full effects of vitamin C, however, is not completely understood due to the lack of research behind it.
Does skin produce vitamin C
No, the skin and body do not produce vitamin C naturally but it is water-soluble so can absorb into the body easily. Adding this vitamin to your diet will boost your immune system and help with general health. To treat the skin it is best applied topically to allow it to absorb into the layers of the skin and treat such concerns as fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tone.
Does vitamin C help skin tone?
Yes it does, vitamin C contains a similar property to melanin, which gives your skin and hair it’s pigment, it can prevent and reduce the appearance of any dark spots and even out skin tone without disturbing the natural balance of melanin in the skin.
Does taking vitamin C lighten skin?
Vitamin C is a powerful brightening agent and can lighten the appearance of pigmentation from brown spots or uneven skin tone. It does not, however, lighten the skin that does not have any areas of pigmentation due to the fact it works with the natural melanin production of the body.
Does vitamin C clear skin?
Yes in a way, vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, does help to keep the skin clear. It is part of the AHA family and can buff away dead skin cells that can lead to blackheads and spots. However, if you are suffering from severe breakouts and have a more blemish-prone skin than another alpha hydroxy acid may be worth looking at to help treat the concern.
Does vitamin C darken the skin?
No, vitamin C is known for its brightening benefits for the skin, with continuous use you will find you have an even complexion that is luminous and glowing.
Is vitamin C good for dry skin?
Dry skins should use vitamin C with caution, though you may find your skin to look radiant if overused it can become too harsh for the skin, especially if you find your skin to be sensitive too. If you have any concerns it is best to get some advice from your GP or dermatologist.
Does vitamin C brighten skin?
Yes, vitamin C is a face acid which is known to chemically exfoliate the skin sloughing away any layers of dead skin to reveal an overall brighten complexion.
Does vitamin C exfoliate skin?
Yes, vitamin C is part of the AHA group of chemical exfoliants that work on the outer layers of the skin which if left can start to appear dull and grey in appearance. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can buff away at the skin without the need of any manual exfoliation such as face scrubs.
Does vitamin C help even skin tone?
Yes, vitamin C can work with the melanin production of the skin and prevents the development and pigmentation of the skin if there are any areas of uneven tone. Brown spots and discolouration are lightened and become less visible to the naked eye.
Can skin absorb vitamin C?
Vitamin C is water-soluble and can penetrate it’s way into the skin easily. Opting for a serum that contains vitamin C is the best way at allowing it to absorb into the skin without it being disturbed, like cleansers and face washes that need to be rinsed off.
Does vitamin C help skin discolouration?
Yes, vitamin C can help with discolouration of the skin due to the fact it contains the same properties as the skin’s melanin. It will work at prevention the discolouration becoming more pigmentated when there is exposure to UV rays or other daily aggressors. Over time your skin will become less discoloured and even.
Does vitamin C help skin elasticity?
Yes, vitamin C is full of skin-healing properties and when applied to the skin can kick start the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, it will appear plumper, firmer and more youthful.
Does vitamin C make skin glow?
Yes, vitamin C is highly acidic and can buff away the outer layers of the skin. It is the build-up of dead skin cells than makes the skin appear dull so once they are exfoliated away and the new skin cells are revealed the skin instantly has a wonderful glow!
Does vitamin C make your skin sensitive to the sun?
Much like all facial acids, vitamin C needs to be used correctly to stop any sun damage to the skin. Due to its exfoliating and revealing new skin which is susceptible to overexposure to UV rays, this can result in the skin becoming burnt. It is vital for your skin’s health to wear a high factor of SPF every day to protect it from damage and discolouration.
What are the particular types of Vitamin C we should look out for?
When it comes to skincare products you need to be looking for the ingredient ascorbic acid in the ingredients list. You will also find one called L-ascorbic acid which is a more stable version of vitamin C and added to a lot of formulas. When checking the ingredients list (inky list) on your products ascorbic acid should appear no lower than 6th to ensure it has the right amount of concentrate which will show results quicker.
Where should vitamin C be used within your skincare routine?
Vitamin C can be used in any stage in your skincare routine, you will find it in almost every product such as cleansers, moisturisers and serums. However, some experts have said that using a serum will increase the opportunity for vitamin C to absorb into the skin compared to cleansers that are rinsed off.
How often should you put vitamin C on your face?
There is no real limit to how often you can apply vitamin C to the skin. You can, however, see a more impressive set of results if you team vitamin C with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E. You may also find that using vitamin C products in the mornings will give your skin a radiant glow leaving the evenings to try another product, such as retinol. Finding the routine that works for your skin will give you the best set of results.
Can you use too much vitamin C on your face?
There is no need to overuse vitamin C on the face, though it is great for evening skin tone and helps to reverse the signs of ageing you will find your skin will benefit more from using a selection of products and ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, retinol and glycolic acid to name a few. By using these you will find different areas of your skin are treated effectively.
Does vitamin C cause skin irritation?
Yes, vitamin C can sometimes irritate the skin, you must always perform a patch test for 24 hours before using a product. If you find you have had a reaction stop using the product immediately. For those of you with a sensitive skin type, it is best not to use vitamin C altogether.
Should I use sunscreen after applying Vitamin C Serum?
Yes, you must always use sunscreen every day to protect the skin from daily exposure to the sun’s UV rays. UVB is the ray that causes the skin to burn and UVA is the one that causes the ageing of the skin. It is UVA that is present daily, even on overcast days as it can penetrate through clouds and even glass.