- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that addresses a wide variety of common skin concerns.
- Many serums are formulated with vitamin C, each designed to target different skin conditions.
- Those coping with skin sensitivity, hyperpigmentation, redness, uneven tone and fine lines will benefit from vitamin C serums.
Vitamin C plays an essential role in many cellular and skin functions, including collagen growth, skin elasticity, skin brightening, wound healing, free radical neutralization and UV protection.
A serum is a widely available skin care product, typically with a thin or silky texture. Although sometimes likened to moisturizers, serums typically contain a higher concentration of ingredients to penetrate the skin more effectively.
As part of an effective skin care regime, the combination of vitamin C and serum is growing in popularity.
Vitamin C and Your Skin
Vitamin C is hailed as one of the most powerful antioxidant ingredients available—one that helps maintain a smooth, even complexion and counter signs of aging.
While eating foods that contain high levels of vitamin C are good for your health, applying vitamin C serum topically has also been shown to offer a number of tangible skin care benefits:
- Inhibits the production of melanin, helping to fade hyperpigmented or dark spots.
- Boosts the growth of collagen, a naturally occurring protein that depletes in age, leading to fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.
- Neutralizes the free radicals that cause sun damage, rendering them harmless.
- Improves a variety of inflammatory dermatoses (which often present as red or swollen skin), minimizing redness to produce a brighter, more even complexion.
- Reduces redness and speeds up cell turnover, to promote wound healing.
Do You Need a Vitamin C Serum?
In short, yes. For anyone seeking an advanced skin care tool that works to address dullness, hyperpigmentation, redness or the fine lines and laxity associated with aging, vitamin C produces remarkable results when applied regularly.
Although most people tolerate vitamin C serums very well, occasionally they can cause irritation in those with sensitive skin. Fortunately, there are many different varieties to choose from, so finding one specifically designed for your skin type is likely.
How to Choose a Vitamin C Serum
As beneficial as vitamin C is to a comprehensive skin care regime, not all vitamin C serums are created equal. Following are the most common ones available on the market:
L-ascorbic acid (LAA)
Serums with an LAA form of vitamin C as an active ingredient are most popular due to their effectiveness.
Known for improving skin tone, hydratation and firmness, as well as reducing hyperpigmentation, they are suitable for many skin types. LAA is also ideal for those seeking potent antioxidant benefits.
However, LAA can be fairly unstable, as exposure to light, heat and air may cause them to break down or degrade, resulting in diminished potency. Choose an LAA vitamin C serum with airless pump packaging and/or opaque containers to delay deterioration of the product. Store in a cool, dark place.
Anhydrous (water-free) LAA serums, or those which include ferulic acid, are stable and therefore sustain potency for longer. Consult the product label to know what ingredients are included and whether or not water is among them.
Although LAA is a strong choice for those seeking a form of vitamin C serum with potent antioxidant effects, those with sensitive skin may find it irritating due to its lower pH, which renders it more acidic.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP)
Vitamin C serums with SAP as an active ingredient offer a more stable form of vitamin C, which means they are less reactive to light, heat and air. They are considered well suited to those with sensitive skin since they function best at a neutral pH, meaning they are less acidic. Additionally, they act as an effective treatment for acne.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP)
Suitable for those with sensitive or dry skin types, some research has shown that neutral pH MAP-based serums may offer an effective form of vitamin C to treat hyperpigmentation.
» 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.
How to Use Your Vitamin C Serum
As a general rule, vitamin C serum is potent and should therefore be used sparingly. Apply just a few drops to your face after thoroughly cleansing.
The proper protocol for applying your vitamin C serum depends on what kind of serum you have chosen and the other products within your skin care regimen.
Although there is no “one size fits all” approach, typically, it’s best to apply your skin care products in order of thinnest to thickest consistency.
LAA serums that are water-based tend to be thinner, so use them immediately after cleansing.
Water-free LAA serums, usually thicker in consistency, should be applied after cleansing but before moisturizing.
MAP, SAP, or other vitamin C serums might be used mid-routine, such as after the application of a toner, if you use one.
How often should you use it?
There are many different types of vitamin C serums, but since they offer protection from daily skin irritants such as pollution, UV rays and free radicals, morning use makes the most of the product’s effectiveness.
There are however, those who recommend applying it at night for better absorption and effectiveness, since most people apply fewer products to their skin at that time.
Many proponents of vitamin C also apply the serum twice a day as a way of maximizing its anti-aging benefits. Ultimately, it’s important to follow the instructions and recommendations on your chosen vitamin C serum.
How Do You Know If Your Vitamin C Serum Has Gone Bad?
Potent, viable vitamin C serum usually appears clear, possibly with a slightly white tint. The best indicator of whether or not your vitamin C serum has gone bad is its color. If the serum is yellow, brown, orange or any other unusual color, discard it.
Smell is another strong indicator of your serum’s freshness. If it has an odd or sour scent, your vitamin C serum should no longer be used. Be sure to also check your product’s expiration date.
To protect the effectiveness of your vitamin C serum, store it away from direct sunlight and heat. Additionally, be sure to seal the container after each use to prevent oxidation.
Vitamin C Serum Alternatives
If you are unable to tolerate vitamin C serum for any reason, there are several viable alternative types of skin care serums available including:
- Epidermal growth factors (EGFs) are enzymes that repair damaged DNA and act as a powerful brightener in league with vitamin C.
- Plant-based kojic acid serums are known to calm, hydrate, brighten and depigment the skin.
- Arbutin, a natural derivative of the hydroquinone found in the bearberry plant, can hinder the development of melasma or dark patches of skin.
A vital ingredient in any highly effective skin care regimen, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and discoloration.
The application of vitamin C serum is also helpful for reducing inflammation and irregular or uneven pigmentation, and stimulating collagen growth.
Since there are such a wide variety of vitamin C serums on the market, choose your serum for its overall quality and suitability to your specific skin type.
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