Odds are you’ve heard you need Vitamin C in your skin care routine, and for good reason. This ingredient is a fan-favorite of dermatologists for its powers to help improve uneven skin tone, rough texture, fine lines, acne scars, and general dullness.
You don’t have to overhaul your whole routine to sneak in the benefits of this must-have ingredient. Hang with us as we dive into what Vitamin C is, and how to make it work best for your skin.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of the naturally occurring antioxidants in nature. As an antioxidant, it helps prevent or reduce damage to our cells by neutralizing the production of highly reactive molecules call free radicals.
Since humans can’t make our own Vitamin C, we need to absorb it from eating Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus, strawberries, leafy greens and broccoli. That’s great for your body and overall health, but all of that Vitamin C you eat isn’t bioavailable in your skin, so applying it your skin too is the best way to get its full antioxidant benefits.
The Skin Benefits of Vitamin C
It’s more than just an antioxidant for your skin. Vitamin C comes with a laundry list of benefits:
*Improves skin texture and appearance
*Protects against environmental stressors
*Promotes collagen production to keep skin plump
*Helps lighten dark spots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Who Should Use Vitamin C
Most people can use Vitamin C, but if you have very dry or sensitive skin you may have some irritation if you come in fast and furious. Start slow and watch for any redness or signs of reaction.
On the ingredients label, look for ascorbic acid, also known as L-ascorbic acid, which is the most common form (and gold standard) of Vitamin C in skin care.
Other options are Vitamin C esters, which become active once they’re applied to your skin and are easier on more finicky skin types. Some Vitamin C esters to look for: sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and tetrahexydecyl ascorbate.
How to Use Vitamin C
Since the antioxidants in Vitamin C protect your skin from free radical damage, using Vitamin C products makes the most sense in the morning. When layered under your daily SPF , the protective powers of both help give more protection against UV damage.
Look for serums and other leave-on skin care to get the most bang for your buck. When you pair with other antioxidants like Vitamin E, this essentially turbo-charges the antioxidant effects of Vitamin C for a boost.
Don’t Use Vitamin C With These Ingredients
Not all skincare ingredients play nice together. For the sake of your skin, it’s best not to use Vitamin C with benzoyl peroxide, found in some acne treatments, since it can oxidize the Vitamin C and make it less effective.
Using Vitamin C at the same time as retinol and exfoliating acids like BHAs and AHAs (we’re talking glycolic acid and salicylic acid) can cause irritation, too. It’s fine to use these ingredients in your routine at separate times, but try not to layer them all at once to give your skin a break.
Your response to skin care products may vary.
Ask a healthcare professional about the most suitable skin care regimen for you.