By Celia Shatzman
Question: How many times have you heard the importance of adding vitamin C to your skincare routine? Answer: Probably a lot. You’ve heard the not-so-secret ingredient is a skincare superstar, but do you know why? To sum it up, it’s a multitasking miracle worker, making vitamin C essential in skincare.
“Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps to fight free radical damage,” says Marisa Garshick, MD FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City. In other words, it protects skin from environmental aggressors like pollution. “Additionally, it helps to increase collagen production and may provide additional protection against UV-induced skin damage.”
Vitamin C also takes the grand prize for its brightening abilities, as it brightens—not lightens—the complexion over time because it helps slow down excess production of melanin.
Says Laura Cline, Director of Education at Youth To The People, “Vitamin C slows down the look of hyperpigmentation, but it takes some time to see, and that’s why consistent use is really important. We often start to use vitamin C when we already see signs of damage, but we should use it as a preventative step as well; it sets you up for an easier time with a skincare routine down the road.” If you’re someone who suffers from dark marks left behind from old breakouts, vitamin C can even help clear up that discoloration. For more on that, click here.
Since vitamin C helps collagen synthesis, it keeps skin firm as we age. Though it’s fine to apply products with vitamin C at any time, it gives an extra boost in the mornings because its antioxidant protection works overtime.
“I love that vitamin C helps sunscreen benefits work even better, thanks to its high antioxidant protection against UV damage throughout the day,” Cline says. “It gives the skin immediate benefits, but if you really stick with it long term and make it part of your routine, like working out or eating healthy, it has amazing long term results.”
The beauty world is flooded with vitamin C products, so it’s important to know what to look for, such as formulas that are proven to be stable and effective.
“Vitamin C requires a certain pH for absorption, and exposure to air or UV light can cause the product to become unstable, so the formulation is key to ensuring stability and benefits,” says Dr. Garshick. “Some vitamin C's are formulated with other antioxidants to boost effectiveness or improve stability. In general, vitamin Cs are often formulated into serums. While ascorbic acid is a common formulation of vitamin C that is found in products, other formulations include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate”—and ethyl ascorbic acid. These are the three most stable—click here to learn more about them.
Another crucial thing to keep in mind is realizing that not everything works the same on everyone. “Ultimately, it comes down to knowing and listening to your skin and what it responds to positively,” Cline says. “If you’re already seeing visible hyperpigmentation or loss of firmness, I would go for a higher percentage of vitamin C or a stable source.” Check the label to see what kind of vitamin C it contains. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate penetrates deeper into your skin than other forms of vitamin C that are synthetic.
If you’re looking to get the biggest dose of vitamin C possible delivered to your complexion, serums are your best bet, since they have the highest concentration of the ingredient and are designed to penetrate skin differently than a moisturizer, giving them a higher impact.
“There are so many options, so if you haven’t tried a vitamin C serum that you love yet, be sure to compare results,” suggests Cline.
Written by Celia Shatzman for Youth To The People