- Topical vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is often added to facial creams, moisturizers and serums for its range of skin care benefits.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is proven effective at protecting against photoaging of the skin.
- The right vitamin C cream for your needs can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, speed up wound healing, and boost collagen growth, among many other skin care concerns.
Vitamin C is a common ingredient found within a wide variety of skin care products. From moisturizers and creams to serums, vitamin C has been proven to promote skin health.
These different formulations are specifically suited to different skin types and conditions, so it’s important to choose your vitamin C cream carefully.
Benefits of Vitamin C Creams
Topical vitamin C has been steadily growing in popularity for its powerful ability to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, stimulate collagen production to firm up and brighten skin, fight damaging free radicals and even fade dark spots caused by prolonged exposure to UV light.
Difference Between Vitamin C Creams, Moisturizers and Serums
The biggest difference between a vitamin C serum and a cream or moisturizer is found in its texture.
Serums tend to be thin and silky in texture, with a higher concentration of ingredients geared at penetrating the skin in order to target specific concerns.
A vitamin C moisturizer offers similar benefits but is primarily focused on hydrating the skin.
How do You Know You Need a topical Vitamin C product?
Vitamin C’s potent antioxidant properties are what make so many of its benefits possible. If you struggle with any number of skin conditions or simply want to better protect your skin from damaging UV rays, pollution, smoking or stress, antioxidant vitamin C cream may be the right product for you.
Vitamin C cream has been shown to:
- Inhibit the production of melanin, helping to reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation or dark spots on the skin.
- Stimulate collagen growth, smoothing out the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin for an overall brighter, more youthful appearance.
- Protect skin from the free radicals that cause sun damage, and provide a visible improvement in photodamaged facial skin.
- Improve inflammatory dermatoses which often presents as redness or swelling, producing a brighter, more even complexion.
- Speed up cell turnover to facilitate wound healing.
- Hydrate skin by reducing water loss while allowing your skin to better retain moisture.
How to Choose a Vitamin C Cream or Moisturizer
Vitamin C is available in a wide variety of formulations and derivatives to address many different, yet common skin concerns. When it comes to choosing the right vitamin C cream or moisturizer, always read the label to find out what it is formulated with and try a product that has been well researched.
Following are the most common skin conditions and concerns and the forms of vitamin C most well-suited to each:
Normal or oily skin
L-ascorbic acid (LAA) is the most potent form of vitamin C, and has the most research behind it. However, it degrades more easily than other forms and can cause skin irritation in high doses. If you do a test patch and do not experience irritation, this one’s your best choice.
Dry or sensitive skin
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C that won’t degrade as quickly as LAA, and causes less irritation, making this a good choice if you have sensitive skin. Additionally, MAP has been shown to have a hydrating effect, making it beneficial for those with dry skin.
Free radical damage
Ferulic acid helps boost the antioxidant, sun-protecting ability of both vitamins C and E; a vitamin C cream with all three ingredients makes a powerful team in the fight against free radical damage.
Although more research is needed, ascorbyl palmitate has also been shown to fight free radical damage with its antioxidant powers, protecting against signs of aging. However, ascorbyl palmitate is not as potent as other forms of vitamin C.
N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) is a chemical that is derived from the outer shells of shellfish; it can also be manufactured. NAG is sometimes added to vitamin C products for its ability to reduce melanin, thereby improving hyperpigmentation and skin tone. Some research has also shown that MAP-based vitamin C creams may offer an effective treatment for hyperpigmentation.
General skin treatment
Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD ascorbate) is a fat-soluble form of vitamin C able to penetrate deep within the layers of skin. In one study of women with hyperpigmented and photodamaged facial skin, a vitamin C moisturizer containing 30% THD ascorbate, along with vitamin E produced significant improvements.
Brightening and acne
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C that is gentle on the skin. It works to effectively brighten skin as well as battle free radical damage with its antioxidant properties. SAP additionally has a strong antimicrobial effect, making it effective in the fight against acne.
Fine lines and wrinkles
Vitamins E and C are both potent antioxidants, therefore vitamin C creams formulated with both are a highly effective way of fighting collagen-busting free radicals and supporting your skin. The result is generally more supple, youthful skin.
When Should You Avoid Vitamin C Products?
If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to be wary of formulations that contain alcohol or fragrance, since these can cause allergic reactions or irritation. Although incorporating topical vitamin C cream or moisturizer into your daily skin care regimen will likely not cause any irritation, as with any skin care product you should always do a patch test beforehand to make sure your skin can tolerate it.
If your skin is sensitive, it’s best to avoid vitamin C products with LAA as an active ingredient. MAP is less likely to cause irritation and is considered safer for those with sensitive or dry skin.
How to Use Your Vitamin C Cream or Moisturizer
Since vitamin C creams and moisturizers offer protection from daily skin irritants such as pollution, UV light and free radicals, morning use is popular as it is believed to be the most effective time to do so. The earlier you apply your topical vitamin C, the more comprehensive daily protection it can provide.
Others, however, recommend applying it at night for better absorption since most people apply fewer products to their skin at that time, and the absence of sunlight means the products degrade more slowly.
Still others apply vitamin C cream twice a day as a way of maximizing its many skin care benefits. Ultimately, it’s important to find what works for you and properly follow the instructions and recommendations on your chosen vitamin C product.
The regular topical application of vitamin C cream or moisturizer offers a number of palpable benefits. From helping heal wounds, to stimulating collagen growth, keeping skin hydrated, protecting it from sun damage, and much more, it’s no surprise that its use continues to gain popularity.
Although vitamin C creams and moisturizers are known for leaving your skin brighter, firmer and more youthful looking, a consistent skin care regimen is key for best results.
Since there are such a wide variety of vitamin C creams and moisturizers on the market, be sure to choose your product for its overall quality and suitability to your specific skin type over other considerations.
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