Vitamin C & Skin Health: A Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Vitamin C for Skin

Vitamin C Benefits for Skin - A Guide to Vitamin C SerumsWhen you think of Vitamin C, a fresh cup of OJ might come to mind, but today I’m not here to talk about Vitamin C of the edible kind, I’m talking about Vitamin C for your skincare routine! When applied topically, Vitamin C can do all sorts of wonderful things for your skin.

Vitamin C has been trending for several years now and for good reason. It’s a is a natural skin care ingredient that has been popping up just about everywhere. A few years ago it was only found in only high-end beauty regimes, serums, creams and lotions, but lucky for us it’s becoming a common ingredient for skincare products of all price ranges.

Topical Vitamin C is arguably one of the best skin care ingredients you can incorporate into your daily skincare regimen, and I’m not just saying this because I’m a bonafide skincare junkie. Dermatologists and estheticians alike sing the praises of Vitamin C for its preventative and antioxidant power and ability to even out your complexion.

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? All your questions answered

What does Vitamin C do for the skin?

“Vitamin C takes part in the skin’s process to synthesize collagen. ” say Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a Board-Certified Dermatopathologist in the Boston Area, “it helps address free radicals and infuses antioxidants into your skincare routine.” 

The benefits of Vitamin C 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 for warding off colds and boosting your immune system, and essentials for the growth, development and repair of all 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 to your skin is much more effective for your skin than ingestion. 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 it topically your skin can reap all the benefits of Vitamin at a much higher, more potent level so that you can expect to see real results. 

How Topical Vitamin C Benefits the Skin

Since Vitamin C is an antioxidant, it helps with slowing the aging process by preventing free radical damage. 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, but that’s where using a topical Vitamin C serum comes in. It can help to decrease signs of aging that are caused by the sun, such as UV-induced fine lines and wrinkles, collagen degradation, and even sun spots and 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

The benefits of Vitamin C aren’t not all talk either. Scientists have put these claims to the test, and the results are pretty darn compelling. Long-term topical use of Vitamin C serums has 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. Though using Vitamin C is not comparable to the protection you get from your 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 for Anti-Aging & Brighter, Healthier Skin

When incorporated into your daily skincare routine, Vitamin C provides a wide range of benefits that help keep your skin younger looking and better for longer! Here’s a recap of all the Vitamin C can do for your skin:

  • 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 Product?

Ready to give Vitamin C a try?  There are a few things you should look for when searching for a Vitamin C serum:

One of them is potency. 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 the right concentration for you also depends on your skin type as well. If you’re fairly sensitive, a lower concentration might be more suitable to prevent any irritation.

Also, to get the right product, 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.  This is considered the purest form of  Vitamin C, but also quite unstable as well, meaning it 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 in this case).

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 what it lacks 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 tend to be the most potent and concentrated form of Vitamin C. While Masks, moisturizers, or essences are great too, but they may not be as effective per say. 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.

Vitamin C and Skin Health - A guide to Vitamin C for Skin

How to incorporate Vitamin C 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 line reducing capabilities. I mean 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 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 of an essential ingredient to add to your skincare regimen.  

Vitamin C 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 them 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 benefits for the skin

Vitamin C 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: It’s 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.

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 lighten the skin.  It’s also a chemical exfoliant, which over time 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! For most people Vitamin C is recommended to be used daily in the morning. 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/or 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.

Best Vitamin C Serums

Some of my favourite Vitamin C Products

Regardless your skin type there is a Vitamin C out there that is right for you.  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!) 

My favourite Vitamin C Serums

Vivier Kine-C Serum – $120
Vivier Kine-C Serum is a great Vitamin C that I always seem to come back to.  It has an effective and stable formulation of  L-ascorbic acid to prevent it from oxidizing quickly and also has the added benefits of peptides help balance the skin’s hydration and repair abilities. It plays well with my other skincare products allowing me to layer it with other products like moisturizer, sunscreen and makeup without issues.

I love that Vivier has 8 different types of Vitamin C’s with slight variations to its Vitamin C forumlas so you can find one that’s right for your skin type and targets the skin concern that bother you most. They are cruelty-free and as well as Canadian! 

Dermalogica Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum $87
The Dermalogica Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum is a new favourite for for me and utilizes bio-technology to create an ultra-stable Vitamin C complex.  It optimizes the skin’s own defences to brighten, firm and fight the appearance of skin aging before it even begins. Some other key 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 really 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! 

Alumier MD EverActive C&E $179
The Alumier MD EverActive C&E is also another one of my favourites and has a  unique delivery system ensures the Vitamin C complex is always fresh and optimally active. The Vitamin C powder is kept separate in a unique cap and only mixed into the bottle of serum only when you are ready to use it. To further ensure freshness the product is also housed in three 15mL bottles so you can have a fresh bottle every month. 

The EverActive C&E serum also includes Vitamin E to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And the combination of the two vitamins help fight free radicals, repair skin. It has a little bit of a higher price point, but keep in mind you’re getting three 15 ml bottles with your purchase where as most Vitamin C serums are one 30 ml bottle. Alumier is also cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals! 

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.  It 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!&nbsp

Pixi Beauty Skintreats Vitamin C Serum $24
Pixi known cult fave beauty brand known for their fuss-free, results-driven and innovative products, while also incredibly budget friendly. So you can imagine how excited I was when they launched their Vitamin C collection earlier this year. The full line is 7 products, but their Skintreats Vitamin C Serum is probably my favorite. Price at just $24, its just a fraction of the cost of many of the others, according to all the reviews online, it seems to be a big hit.

The Pixi Beauty Skintreats Vitamin C Serum combines Vitamin C and ferulic acid help reduce the effects of sun damage and free radicals. It has a fresh citrus scent, goes on smoothly and absorbs well into the skin. I find the formula gentle, non-drying and well suited for sensitive skin types. Pixi is cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals.

Swiss Line Cell Shock Age Intelligence Radiance Booster 10% Vitamin C $125
The Swiss Line Cell Shock Age Intelligence Radiance Booster 10% Vitamin C  is a fairly new product that has just come out this year.  It is an ultra concentrated Vitamin C booster that utilizes the idea of augmented beauty, so it can be applied conjunction with their Recovery Serum or any of your usual face cream by mixing in the palm of the hand. The formula combines pure L-ascorbic acid -the most active, yet less stable for a Vitamin C – and an ascorbic acid salt form to creating a more stable potent form of Vitamin C. 

The serum itself it light-weight and has a luxurious feel to it. As a booster, it’s an easy product to incorporate into your current routine but you can simply add it to the skincare products you already use.  It’s also the winner of the Marie Claire Beauty Award 2019 for the The Best Skin Brightener Of The Year!  Swissline does not test on animals.

Vitamin C serums for skin brightening

My Favourite Vitamin C Moisturizers and Masks

This Works Morning Expert Vitamin C Power Mask $80
No much sluggish skin mornings when you have this mask! 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 shower 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. 

Sunday Riley C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream $86
The Sunday Rilely C.E.O. Rapid 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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Share your thoughts...

  • poutineandprada
    August 28, 2019

    Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Face Oil is one of my favourite vitamin c products. It’s gorgeous!

    • Eileen
      August 28, 2019

      Thanks for the recommendation Sarah! I’ll need to try that, I’ve tried another Korres Black Pine Serum and loved it!

  • luxhairshop
    August 29, 2019

    great post
    (づ ̄3 ̄) づ╭❤~ Love your blog, thank you for sharing.

  • kathrineeldridge1
    August 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!

    • Eileen
      August 30, 2019

      Thanks Kathrine! I’ll need to try that Pixi Vitamin C body lotion too!

  • Judy Lynn Robertson
    June 21, 2020

    Have you tried Avon Vitamin C Serum & mask?

    • Eileen
      June 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!

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Vitamin C & Skin Health: A Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Vitamin C for Skin