- Vitamin C boasts many powerful anti-aging, collagen-boosting, UV-protecting skin care benefits.
- Topical application of Vitamin C serum brightens and evens skin tone, corrects hyperpigmentation, enhances elasticity and hydrates the skin.
- These skin care products are very safe, with minimal side effects.
Naturally acidic, vitamin C serums work to cast off dead skin cells, leaving skin smoother, brighter and noticeably rejuvenated. Additionally, they speed up the regeneration of healthy skin cells.
The Role of Vitamin C in Skin Care
When applied topically, vitamin C facilitates the skin’s healing process by reversing the depletion of collagen and elastin that commonly occurs as a result of aging.
Collagen and elastin are proteins that maintain an appearance of plumpness and prevent sagging, for an overall more refreshed and youthful look.
Vitamin C and your skin type
Topical vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can be beneficial in addressing a variety of common skin concerns. There are many different types, from pure vitamin C serum to combination formulas. Some are better suited to certain skin types or conditions than others.
L-ascorbic acid (LAA) is a highly effective active ingredient in many popular vitamin C serums. It is appropriate for both normal and oily skin types and is likely your best choice for a serum with strong antioxidant benefits. It is capable of improving skin tone, hydration and firmness, as well as reducing hyperpigmentation.
However, it is less stable than other forms of vitamin C and can cause skin irritation in high doses due to its low pH, which makes it more acidic. While concentration of at least 10% LAA is typically recommended, some products have higher concentrations from 15–20% as well.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) is a more stable form of vitamin C and is considered an effective treatment for acne-prone skin.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP)—another stable derivative of vitamin C—works best at a neutral pH, meaning that it is less acidic than LAA, and a strong choice for dry or sensitive skin types.
Additionally, there are many different vitamin C combination serums on the market, including the following:
- Hyaluronic acid has the unique ability to retain skin’s moisture, making it ideal for dry skin, while having a plumping and smoothing effect as well. Studies show a significant improvement in wrinkles, skin texture and elasticity, without any notable adverse effects when hyaluronic acid is used in conjunction with vitamin C.
- Some vitamin C serums combine additional antioxidants and boosters such as vitamin E and ferulic acid.
What Is a Vitamin C Serum?
A serum is a commonly available skin care product, typically with a thin, smooth or silky texture; vitamin C has become a key ingredient in many cutting-edge serums. Although sometimes compared with moisturizers, there are however, key differences between the two.
Serums usually contain a higher concentration of ingredients to better penetrate the skin and are able to directly hone in on skin care concerns.
How to use vitamin C serums
Vitamin C serum is powerful and should be applied sparsely. Typically, you’ll want to apply no more than a few drops, just after washing your face.
When it comes to deciding the appropriate time in your routine for applying your chosen vitamin C serum, much depends on which serum you have chosen.
Since there are many types of vitamin C serums available and many with differing indications, there is no set rule for proper application. Generally, however, it’s best to apply skin care products in order of the thinnest to thickest consistency.
Thinner water-based LAA serums, for example, should be used sooner in your skin care routine, such as right after washing, whereas thicker water-free LAA serums should be used later, before or after moisturizing.
SAP, MAP or any other stable vitamin C derivatives can be used mid-routine—after the application of toner, for example—but again, it largely depends on the consistency of your chosen serum.
Benefits of Vitamin C Serums for Your Skin
Both aging and damage caused by the sun’s rays trigger the loss of collagen, which in turn leads to wrinkles and drooping skin. Vitamin C works to boost your skin’s collagen production for smoother, firmer, plumper-looking skin, and a reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It has even shown promise for fading dark circles around the eyes.
Fights free radical damage and signs of aging
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help to neutralize potentially carcinogenic free radicals, including reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are formed when skin is exposed to UV radiation.
The bonus: an overall more youthful appearance, thanks to the anti-aging properties that accompany vitamin C’s free radical fighting abilities. Vitamin C serum can also effectively fade age spots.
Vitamin C serum works to promote skin health by repairing damage and collagen loss already caused by exposure to the sun or by the natural aging process. Vitamin C works to facilitate healthy cell turnover, and some research has shown it can also help fade acne scars.
Helps protect the skin against sun damage
Additionally, vitamin C serums can provide a layer of added sun protection—in addition to sunscreen—by thickening the skin’s dermis layer, thus helping shield it from damaging ultraviolet rays which cause unsightly sun spots.
» In addition to serums, Vitamin C can be added to facial cleansers. Learn more about the benefits of using a cleanser infused with Vitamin C.
Vitamin C Serums Side Effects
Reactions to vitamin C serum can occasionally occur for those with allergies or sensitive skin. These may include skin irritations such as redness or tingling. If you have dry or sensitive skin, forego the LAA and chose the MAP, which is a gentler alternative.
Regardless of what type of vitamin C serum you choose, always do a patch test first to observe how your skin reacts before including it within your skin care routine.
Do Vitamin C Serums Cause Acne?
While many tout vitamin C serum as a pure and effective treatment for acne-prone skin, others have wondered if it may in fact be a cause of acne. Interestingly, the key to these concerns boils down to the potent antioxidant effects of vitamin C.
Although antioxidants help protect the skin against free radical damage, some research suggests that small amounts of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) are good for us. Some evidence suggests that ROS have antimicrobial effects. In theory, this could mean that ROS may actually help to prevent acne by halting the overgrowth of bacteria. However, this research is limited at best.
How to pick a vitamin C serum for acne-prone skin
LAA vitamin C serum, although known for its effectiveness, is unstable due to its relatively low pH and high acidity level, which causes it to lose potency more quickly, and may increase the chances of irritation for some users. As previously mentioned however, SAP is a more stable form of vitamin C and is considered a more effective treatment for acne prone skin.
Additionally, since a concentration of vitamin C over 20% has not been shown to be more effective, it may serve to increase irritation. Lower concentrations may be more effective at treating inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. The best vitamin C serums for you will depend on your unique skin type and vitamin C product preference.
Vitamin C serums are available in many concentrations. They are formulated with a variety of additional ingredients capable of treating a wide range of skin conditions hyperpigmentation, signs of aging and UV ray sun damage, among many others.
The application of vitamin C serum stimulates the natural replenishment of collagen and elastin to help skin appear brighter, firmer and more youthful. It also works to neutralize free radicals and even fights acne.
Given the many types of vitamin C serums on the market, choosing one with your specific skin type and needs is your skin’s best guarantee of reaping all the powerful benefits of vitamin C.
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