When you think of vitamin C, a fresh cup of OJ might come to mind, but today I’m not here to talk about the edible kind. This post is all about vitamin C serum benefits for your skin!
When applied topically, can do all sorts of wonderful things for your skin. It’s a is a natural skin care ingredient that has been popping up just about everywhere.
Dermatologists and estheticians alike sing the praises of vitamin C serum benefits for its preventative and antioxidant power and ability to brighten skin and reverse the signs of aging.
So today I’m sharing all the benefits of vitamin C along, advice for how to introduce it to your current routine, and a few of my favourite vitamin C products. Keep reading to learn more!
What does vitamin C do for the skin?
“Vitamin C is essential in the skin’s process to synthesize collagen. ” says Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a Board-Certified Dermatopathologist in the Boston Area, “it helps address free radicals and infuses antioxidants into your skincare routine.”
Vitamin C serum benefits include firmer and brighter skin, improvement in skin tone and texture, and even protection against environmental damage.
“Vitamin C is a great ingredient that can be used to promote healthy skin in patients of various skin types, conditions and phases of aging. ” says Dr. Frieling.
Just think about all the benefits vitamin C has for your body when you ingest it. It’s known to ward off colds and boost your immune system, and is essential for the growth, development and repair of body tissues. Well it does all that and more for your skin too!
But before you start adding in more citrus to your diet, know that topical application of vitamin C serums to your skin is much more effective for your skin than ingesting it.
When you eat your vitamin C, your body gobbles it up and utilizes it for all the major metabolic functions, so not much as you like actually goes to your work on your skin.
But by applying a vitamin C serum topically your skin can reap all the benefits at a much more potent level, so that you can expect to see real results.
Benefits Vitamin C Serum for Skin
Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it helps with slowing the aging process by preventing free radical damage.
But what are free radicals you ask? Well they’re those pesky rogue molecules that cause premature aging and often come in the form of environmental factors that we can’t escape, like sun damage, pollution and oxygen.
Free radicals assault our skin on a daily basis, and that’s where using a topical vitamin C serum comes in. It helps to decrease signs of aging that are caused by the sun, such as UV-induced fine lines and wrinkles, collagen degradation, sun spots, and even melasma.
“As we age, the layers in the skin experience a decrease in the vitamin C content. This is true of both the dermis and the epidermis. Including vitamin C in your skincare regimen can help alleviate signs of aging and even help prevent damage to the skin from overexposure to sunlight.”
-Dr. Gretchen Frieling
Vitamin C serums benefits aren’t just all talk either. Many scientific studies have put these claims to the test, and the results are pretty darn compelling! Long-term topical use of vitamin C serums have been clinically shown to regenerate collagen and improve the appearance of wrinkles.
Vitamin C also lightens pigmentation and brightens over all skin tone. It’s quickly becoming a staple ingredient in a many anti-aging and brightening products and fade creams.
Vitamin C serum also provides a small amount of UV protection. But don’t skip on your SPF just yet. Using vitamin C is not comparable to the protection you get from a regular sunscreen, it does give your sunscreen an extra boost. This is partially why it’s recommended to use vitamin C during the day instead of at night.
Vitamin C Serum Benefits include:
- Reduce the appearance of brown spots and other types of sun damage
- Helps boost healthy collagen production for firmer skin
- Protection from free radical damage and pollution
- Reduces redness, inflammation and irritation (great for Rosacea sufferers!)
- Fades post-breakout scars & marks by improving skin’s natural healing response
- Increases the effectiveness of sunscreen & boosts your defence against UV exposure
- Inhibits melanin production for evening skin tone and brightness.
What to look for in a vitamin C serum?
Ready to give vitamin C a try? There are a few things you should look for when searching for a vitamin C serum:
Vitamin C serums come in concentrations up to 30%. Typically a 10%-20% vitamin C serum is good for daily use, with concentrations up to 30% for use as medical grade products.
But keep in mind more isn’t always better. The right concentration for your skin depends on your skin type as well. If you’re fairly sensitive, a lower concentration might be more suitable to prevent irritation.
You’ll want to carefully read the ingredient list on the packaging. The most commonly recognized ingredient for vitamin C products is L-ascorbic acid.
L-ascorbic acid is considered the purest form of vitamin C, but also quite unstable as well. This means that your vitamin C serum needs to be kept in and air tight container, stored away from heat and light to help prevent it from oxidizing. And by this I mean reacting with the environment and changing into turn a dark orange colour.
There are also serveral derivatives of vitamin C that are effective in skin care products, as well. These include tetrahexyldecyl (THD) ascorbate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, and ascorbyl glucoside.
Products that contain vitamin C derivatives tend to be higher in concentration, but this doesn’t mean they are as potent as their ascorbic acid equivalent. But they lack in potency is often a trade off in stability and shelf life. What’s best for you is really a matter of preference and overall formulation.
Vitamin C in serum form are considered to be the most effective form of topical vitamin C. Serums are considered to be the most concentrated form of vitamin C.
While Masks, moisturizers, or essences are great too, but they may not be as effective per se. That being said, if you have sensitive skin or new to using vitamin C, one of these other forms may be a better fit for as they are usually gentler for the skin.
How to incorporate a vitamin C serum into your skincare routine?
Vitamin C can be incorporated into any skincare care regime. It’s not just for people who want to use it for its anti-aging capabilities.
You don’t take vitamins just when you’re sick right? You take them on a daily basis for better overall health, and Vitamin C serum works the same way.
The fact that it prevents, repairs and protects the skin makes it one of the most desirable products on the market at the moment.
Even if you are in your teens, it would be a good addition to add to your skincare routine as a preventative measure. And as you get older, it only becomes more essential to add to your skincare regimen.
Vitamin C Serum Do’s and Don’ts
For optimal vitamin C application, follow these do’s and don’ts for the best results:
- Do apply your vitamin C product in the morning. The best time is morning because Vitamin C fights against environmental damage, UV rays, and protects your skin from pollution when you’re out all day. That being said, you can use it at night as well, but it shouldn’t be mixed with certain skincare products. And on that note…
- Don’t combine your vitamin C with retinol. Vitamin C and retinol don’t mix, it can reduce the efficacy of retinoids so it’s best to use vitamin C during the day and your retinol at night..
- Do wear SPF with your vitamin C products in the morning. Applying sunscreen on top of your vitamin C allows both products to work better together protect your skin from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen also helps in preventing the vitamin C from oxidizing on your skin which makes it less effective.
- Do wear your vitamin C every day. Make vitamin C application a part of your everyday routine to reap the benefits it provides. Note that you may have to work up to this frequency if you’re new to the ingredient or have sensitive skin.
- Don’t use a product that’s oxidized in the bottle. A fresh bottle of vitamin C serum is generally clear or has a slight yellow tint. When it starts to become dark orange/brown, this means it has oxidized too much and has loss its effectiveness. (This rule only applies to the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C. If you’re using a derivative, they’re typically more stable and you won’t find it oxidizing as quickly.)
- Do store your product in a cool, dark, dry place. To prevent expedited oxidation, keep your vitamin C serum out of the light and in a cool, dark place. Also, make sure the lid is completely sealed to prevent any excess air getting into the product.
Vitamin C Serum FAQ’s
If you’re new to the world of vitamin C in skin care, you have a lot of questions. Below is an FAQ for some of the most commonly asked questions regarding vitamin C and how it’s used:
Q: Where does vitamin C fit into my skincare routine?
A: Vitamin C will usually come after you cleanse your face and apply toner/essence and before your apply you moisturizer and sunscreen.
It’s best to use alone as the only serum for maximum efficacy and is suggested for daily use in the your morning routine.
Q: Is vitamin C safe for skin?
A: Vitamin C serums are generally safe for most skin types. Vitamin C has an excellent safety profile. Most people can use topical vitamin C for an extended period of time without ever experiencing any adverse reactions.
If you have sensitive skin, you can try using a formula that has a lower concentration or a more gentle formulation.
Q: Can vitamin C help treat rosacea?
A: Vitamin C has been to treat a huge variety of inflammatory skin conditions including rosacea. It helps to minimize redness can create a more even complexion.
It also helps ward off free radicals in the environment that penetrate through the already compromised skin barrier that may cause rosacea flare ups.
Q: Does vitamin C fade dark spots?
A: Yes! When it comes to acne scaring, minimizing further sun damage is one of the ways that vitamin C helps to brighten the skin. It’s also a chemical exfoliant and over time helps to sloughs off discoloured skin.
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C aids your skin’s natural regeneration process, which helps your body repair damaged skin cells and produce new ones.
It even contains a property that inhibits your skin’s melanin production, meaning less dark spots will be created in the first place so you’ll have clearer, brighter, more even skin overall.
Q: Can I use vitamin C serum everyday?
A: Yes! Using a vitamin C serum daily in the morning is recommended for best results.
However if you have sensitive skin, you may need to adjust frequency to every other day depending on the needs of your skin.
Q: How do I apply vitamin C serum to my face?
Take a few drops in the palm of your hand and massage gently into the skin of your face and neck with your fingertips. Then pat all over to help with absorption. Wait until the serum is completely absorbed before applying your moisturizer and sunscreen.
Q: How often should you use vitamin C on your face?
It’s recommended for daily application in the morning to reap maximum benefits of additional SPF, as well as to help protect your skin during the day when you’re exposed to sunlight, pollution and free radicals.
Some of my favourite vitamin C Products
Regardless your skin type there is a vitamin C serum out there that is right for your skin. It traditionally comes in the form of serums, but also comes in moisturizers, masks and more. Here are a few that I’ve personally used and loved. (P.S. all of these products are cruelty-free too!)
Best Vitamin C Serums
BioLumin-C Serum by Dermalogica – $87
The Dermalogica Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum is a long time favourite for for me. It utilizes bio-technology to create an ultra-stable vitamin C complex. And optimizes the skin’s own defences to brighten, firm and fight the appearance of skin aging before it even begins.
Some addition ingredients that are part of the serum are Lactic Acid to accelerate cell turnover, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract to help calm skin, and Salvia Hispanica (Chia Seed) Oil to hydrate and help quench free radicals.
I like that the Dermalogica Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum has a nice light scent, and leaves my skin dewy and fresh, and not greasy. And it also layers well with my other skincare and makeup, which is important since vitamin C is a product that’s recommended for morning use.
All Dermaologica products are cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan, has recyclable packaging, free of sulfates, paraben-free, formaldehyde free!
Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil by Biossance – $95
I’ve been loving the Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil from Biossance! It’s a hydrating vitamin C oil that visibly brightens and firms for radiant-looking skin. In addition to vitamin C it contains squalane which helps to hydrate your skin.
I would recommending this one for dry skin types as it’s more of a skincare oil. My skin looks radiant and supple after applying it. I love how it penetrates without leaving a residue and the nice light scent is a bonus.
Vitamin C Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% by The Ordinary – $17
Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% Serum from The Ordinary is a no fuss, no frills vitamin C that gets the job done. It’s much more affordable than most vitamin C’s and I would say it’s just a good.
The formula is lightweight and non-irritating and is effective in brightening skin. This product is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free!
Scentuals Vitamin C Facial Serum $45
Formulated with Vitamin C, E, Hyaluronic Acid and Edelweiss Plant Stem Cell, the Scentuals Vitamin C Facial Serum will hydrate, soften, brighten and protect the skin leaving it healthier and rejuvenated.
I find the serum has a light feel with with a bouncy texture. It absorbs quickly into the skin and plays well with my other skincare and makeup.
This vitamin c serum also comes in a big 60ml bottle at a very reasonable priced, and I find is effective as many of the pricier serums.
Scentuals products are natural, organic, cruelty-free, fair trade, vegan, gluten-free and Canadian too!
My Favourite Vitamin C Moisturizers and Masks
Morning Expert Vitamin C Power Mask by This Works -$80
The Morning Expert Vitamin C Power Mask helps to wake up your skin with 10% Vitmain C , jojoba and almond oil. It exfoliates, brightens, cleanses, and revitalize tired-looking skin in just one minute. (But you can also leave it on for up to 10 minutes if you want an extra boost!)
It’s super easy to add to your morning routine as you can replace your morning cleanse with this exfoliating treatment balm instead. I like to apply it before I hop in the shower, and let in marinate while I wash and rinse it off right before I get out.
This formula is suitable for all skin types and I find it really helps when my skin is looking dull, dry, and blotchy. It has a gentle exfoliating grain and a fresh citrus scent that just wakes up and revives my skin especially after a night out.
This Works also has a great Hyaluronic Vitamin C Serum which I also love that I blogged about here as well. This product is free of sulfates parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mineral oil, and is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.
C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream by Sunday Riley – $86
The Sunday Rilely C.E.O. apid Flash Brightening Serum has been a huge hit when it comes to vitamin C serums, but personally I love the C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream even more.
It’s ultra rich and moisturizing with a high-potency, advanced vitamin C. It is more stable and less irritating than ascorbic acid and other vitamin C derivatives, so this is a great option if have sensitive skin.
Personally I just love how supple it leaves my skin after I use it. The Sunday Riley C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream is formulated without parabens, sulphates, phthalates and is cruelty-free as well!
Rodial Vitamin C Brightening Mask $89
The Rodial Vitamin C Brightening Mask is my go-to whenever my skin needs an emergency refresh. It’s infused with 5% pure vitamin C to smooth and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, and a blend of 10% exfoliating fruit AHAs to even skin tone and resurface the complexion to reveal glowing skin.
The mask is a cool lightweight gel which soothes and calms the skin. After using Rodial Vitamin C Brightening Mask, my skin looks and feels facial fresh. My skin feel feels hydrated and smooth and has a great luminosity that lasts all day long. Rodial is cruetly-free and doesn’t test on animals.
Do you have a favorite vitamin C that’s part of your skincare routine?
Let me know in the comments below!
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DivyaJune 25, 2021
I have started using vitamins, and the benefits you have mentioned are literally true. It’s been a few months since I am using Vitamin C serum and your hope your article will encourage many more people.
EileenJune 27, 2021
Thanks so much!
PalomaJune 1, 2021
Didn’t know about all the vitamin C benefits for the skin, thanks a lot for sharing!
EileenJune 8, 2021
Thanks Paloma! It’s such a great ingredient for skincare!
AshleyJune 1, 2021
What a comprehensive vitamin C post! I love it. I am a huuuuge fan of this skincare ingredient- it’s such a powerhouse!
Le Stylo Rouge
EileenJune 8, 2021
Agreed! It’s one of my fave skincare ingredients as welL!
Judy Lynn RobertsonJune 21, 2020
Have you tried Avon Vitamin C Serum & mask?
EileenJune 24, 2020
No, I haven’t tried Avon’s version! But I would love to give it a go too! I’m always looking for new Vitamin C’s to try!
kathrineeldridge1August 30, 2019
Thanks so much for sharing these Vitamin C products! I tried to add Vitamin C to my routine as well. I love Pixi’s Vitamin C body lotion!
EileenAugust 30, 2019
Thanks Kathrine! I’ll need to try that Pixi Vitamin C body lotion too!
luxhairshopAugust 29, 2019
（づ ̄3 ̄) づ╭❤~ Love your blog, thank you for sharing.
EileenAugust 29, 2019
Thank you so much!
poutineandpradaAugust 28, 2019
Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Face Oil is one of my favourite vitamin c products. It’s gorgeous!
EileenAugust 28, 2019
Thanks for the recommendation Sarah! I’ll need to try that, I’ve tried another Korres Black Pine Serum and loved it!