Vitamin C was the most searched beauty ingredient on Pinterest in 2017. The term’s saves and searches were up 3379% year-on-year, proving its popularity across the world. Here’s why Vitamin C skin care is so sought after, and how to choose the best Vitamin C skin products:
How Does Vitamin C Help Skin
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin naturally present in some food. As we all know, it is beneficial to our bodies in various ways – it strengthens the immune system to protect us from heart and eye disease, and reduces the risk of cancer or stroke.
We all love a glass of chilled orange juice in the summer heat. But did you know that Vitamin C can also benefit your skin tremendously when applied externally? Here are 6 major beauty benefits of topical Vitamin C:
1. Fight Melanin
Vitamin C inhibits the production of pyrimidine dimers, which are the primary cause of melanomas in humans. It lightens hyperpigmentation such as redness, freckles, dark spots, acne scars and age spots, resulting in a more even complexion.
2. Improve Acne
When used in high concentrations, Vitamin C can help reduce inflammation such as rosacea and acne. It improves broken capillaries, making them appear less prominent. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C also mean that it can neutralize free radicals and prevent breakouts.
3. Reduce Wrinkles
Vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis by increasing fibroblast production. Needless to say, extra collagen helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to make skin look smoother, firmer and younger.
4. Lock in Moisture
The collagen-boosting effect of Vitamin C helps strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and hence maintain skin moisture.
5. Prevent Sun Damage
While a Vitamin C serum or cream should not be considered an alternative to sunscreen, it is still great for protecting skin from UVA and UVB damage. Sun damage is an oxidative process, and a combination of two powerful antioxidants Vitamins C and E definitely help shield skin. They also protect DNA from photochemical reaction that can lead to tumors and skin cancer.
6. Heal Sunburn and Minor Cuts
High levels of Vitamin C can relieve itchiness, burning and other symptoms associated with sunburn while speeding up skin’s restoration process. It can also promote the healing of small cuts and blemishes.
Notes on Choosing the Right Vitamin C Products
Vitamin C serum before (left) and after (right) oxidation
Here are some general guidelines:
1. Look for the ingredient ascorbic acid. It is the most commonly used form of Vitamin C in skin care products because it’s comparatively stable and more penetrating than other forms, including non-acid varieties such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate and retinyl ascorbate. It’s also the most researched and proven derivative of Vitamin C.
However, ascorbic acid should not to be confused with citric acid. Though both can be found in citrus fruits, only ascorbic acid contains Vitamin C. The chemical formula for ascorbic acid is C6H8O6, while citric acid is C6H8O7.
2. Since ascorbic acid tends to oxidize in water, it would be wise to invest in a product in which water is not the main ingredient. Products with ascorbic acid are also less vulnerable to destabilizing with the help of a stabilizing agent, e.g. ferulic acid.
3. Serums may be more effective than creams and lotions. While lotions tend to add phosphate to ascorbic acid, thereby increasing its pH to 7, serums are able to keep the pH at 3.5 or below, which is the most stable pH level for ascorbic acid in aqueous form.
4. Optimum skin absorption of ascorbic acid occurs at 20% concentration, according to a research from Linus Pauling Institute. TheBeautyBrains.com suggests a 10-15% concentration for normal skin care. A 20% solution can be saved for targeted treatment on specific areas since it may cause irritation.
5. The power of ascorbic acid is enhanced by combining it with other antioxidants or cell-communicating ingredients such as green tea, Vitamin E, retinol or nicotinamide.
Must-Try Vitamin C Skin Care Products
Below are some of YesStyle’s bestselling products containing Vitamin C:
Cleansers, Masks and Peeling Pads
For starters, try My Scheming’s thin and gauzy Invisible 2.0 L-Ascorbic Acid Whitening Mask, which feels like a second skin and contains as much as 23ml of essence. If you’re into peeling pads, A’PIEU’s Vitamin AC Pad exfoliates and refreshes skin with multi-vitamins.
Formulated with 5% ascorbic acid, Dear, Klairs’s Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop is gentle enough for sensitive skin and remains a firm favorite among beauty junkies. A special technique allows the serum to remain clear and unoxidized. Meanwhile, Elizavecca’s Vitamin C 100% Powder maintains its potency by staying solid until dissolved in the complementary serum.
YEOUTH’s Vitamin C & E Day Serum with Hyaluronic Acid and Mentholatum’s Rohto Melano CC Concentration Measures Essence are added with Vitamin E to boost antioxidant power. Ascorbic salt or ester is used instead of ascorbic acid to make the formula more stable.
If you want to supplement your skin with more Vitamin C, try By Wishtrend’s Pure Vitamin C 21.5% Advanced Serum or even Cosmedica Skincare’s 79% Vitamin C Power Serum. The latter works in a way similar to Elizavecca’s powder.
Usage and Storage
Like all antioxidants, ascorbic acid tends to destabilize when exposed to air and light. That’s why these serums often come in opaque and air-tight bottles. The stability of ascorbic acid is also affected by temperature and humidity. Storing your product in the fridge can provide a more stable environment.
Ascorbic acid can cause a prickly sensation or redness due to its low pH value. If it does irritate, try switching to other derivatives of Vitamin C that may be less effective but gentler on your skin.
Products containing high levels of ascorbic acid are not to be used in conjunction with concentrated AHAs, BHAs, salicylic acid or retinol to prevent drying of skin or irritation. Ascorbic acid may also make your skin more photosensitive, so don’t forget to wear sunscreen when you go out!