Vitamin C 101: What you need to know about this powerful skincare active

Did you survive flu season? Apart from getting the flu shoot, many people normally add vitamin supplements to keep from getting sick. Vitamin C is particularly popular because it helps boost your immune system. It is an antioxidant that fights free radicals and promotes healing and collagen production, so it’s actually also a really effective skincare active!

What does vitamin C do?

Vitamin C can be used to lighten discolorations and hyperpigmentation. It has shown to improve inflammation on the skin, and give protection and rejuvenation to sun-damaged skin. It has also been proven to improve the appearance of wrinkles. In a study performed on women with sun-damaged skin on the neck and arms, vitamin C was able to decrease the deep furrows of the skin within six months of use. There was also evidence found on tissue repair of the skin because vitamin C stimulates collagen formation, which accelerates wound-healing and helps prevent scarring. So if you’re looking for skincare that can treat dark spots as well as counter the signs of aging, you may want to include this in your routine!

With all the good effects of vitamin C, it’s important to note that it can’t neutralize the bad effects of not wearing any sun protection. You really need to wear sunscreen daily but if you’ve already damaged your skin, using actives like vitamin C, retinoids, AHAs, peptides, and growth factors would greatly help.

How to use vitamin C?

Before you start popping pills though, it’s important to consider how to get your daily dose. Taking oral supplements can benefit your skin in addition to improving your overall health, but it’s still different from topical application. The effect of vitamin C can best be seen when you use products that are meant to be absorbed by the skin like serums, lotions, and moisturizers.

Absorption of vitamin C will depend on product formulation. Right now, there are mixed reviews regarding the best concentration for vitamin C to be effective, so you may need to try a few products before you find one that works for you. Be sure to read the labels and check reviews to see if a product worked effectively for others. As always, do a skin patch test before applying a new product all over your face to check if your skin will get bad reactions.

Because vitamin C is a potent skincare ingredient, it’s important to take some precautions with its use. Using vitamin C may cause your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. You’ll definitely need to use sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage, and it might be best to use vitamin C-infused skincare at night instead to lessen sun exposure immediately after application.

Vitamin C products have a tendency to oxidize so proper storage of your skincare is a must. Always seal them well, then keep them in a cool and dry place, away from sun exposure. A lot of vitamin C serums are usually clear, but they can change their color to yellow when they oxidize from prolonged exposure to air or improper handling. Sometimes, they can change color even when you take proper precautions simply because it’s the nature of vitamin C to do so. When this happens to your product, it’s usually best to replace it as the formulation has already been changed. It may do more harm than good to continue using oxidized vitamin C, and you put your skin at risk for allergic reactions and irritations.

What products are worth trying?

My fellow PV girls Gett and Claire have tried and gotten good results from using the TIA’M My Signature Red Serum and Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum for treating hyperpigmentation. Kim loves the Vitamin C Suspension 23% and Ha Spheres 2% from The Ordinary while Marielle likes the Kiehl’s bestseller, the Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. Personally, I’ve tried these three vitamin C serums:

TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C ($20 from Amazon.com) is a vitamin C facial serum that’s formulated in hyaluronic acid and has a concentration of 20%. It also has vitamin E. In the studies I’ve read, the combination of vitamin E and C improves and amplifies the effects of the serum, so it should be better able to help with sun damage and encouraging collagen formulation. The vehicle, hyaluronic acid, also improves the absorption of vitamin C to the skin. So far, this is the fastest acting, most effective, and therefore best vitamin C serum I’ve tried!

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% (P1,450 at theskincarecurator.com) is a milder vitamin C serum but I have found it to be effective as well. I think it’s a good vitamin C serum for beginners, and it uses a more stable form of vitamin C solution.

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Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective™ Dark Spot Solution (P2,995 at Kiehl’s counters) is another vitamin C product that has worked to lighten my hyperpigmentation. It also contains white birch and peony extracts that are supposed to also improve skin tone and clarity. There’s an entire product line-up built to complement this treatment, which is useful for building a complete regimen that targets hyperpigmentation and discoloration. The line-up includes the Clearly Corrective Purifying Foaming Cleanser, Clearly Corrective Toner, Clearly Corrective Brightening and Smoothening Moisture Treatment, and the Ultra Light Daily UV Defense.

Do you use vitamin C in your routine? How have they worked for you? I’d love to know what your favorite vit C products are!


References:

Mayoral, F. A., Kenner, J. R., & Draelos, Z. D. (2014). The skin health and beauty pyramid: a clinically based guide to selecting topical skincare products. J Drugs Dermatol, 13(4), 414-421.

Pinnell, S. R., Yang, H., Omar, M., Riviere, N. M., DeBuys, H. V., Walker, L. C., ... & Levine, M. (2001). Topical L‐ascorbic acid: percutaneous absorption studies. Dermatologic surgery, 27(2), 137-142.

Humbert, P. G., Haftek, M., Creidi, P., Lapière, C., Nusgens, B., Richard, A., ... & Zahouani, H. (2003). Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double‐blind study vs. placebo. Experimental Dermatology, 12(3), 237-244.

Ehrlich, M., Rao, J., Pabby, A., & Goldman, M. P. (2006). Improvement in the Appearance of Wrinkles with Topical Transforming Growth Factor β1 and l‐Ascorbic Acid. Dermatologic surgery, 32(5), 618-625.

Fan, L., Wang, H., Zhang, K., Cai, Z., He, C., Sheng, X., & Mo, X. (2012). Vitamin C-reinforcing silk fibroin nanofibrous matrices for skin care application. Rsc Advances, 2(10), 4110-4119.
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Lin, J. Y., Selim, M. A., Shea, C. R., Grichnik, J. M., Omar, M. M., Monteiro-Riviere, N. A., & Pinnell, S. R. (2003). UV photoprotection by combination topical antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 48(6), 866-874.