Ingredient To Know: Vitamin C
With plenty of research on its many benefits, vitamin C is a long-established skincare essential that can help you achieve healthier and more radiant skin.
In any form, vitamin C provides powerful antioxidant protection, shielding skin from damaging free radicals that can speed-up the aging process. The most typical forms of free radical damage come from sun damage, pollution, and even oxygen - but that’s where topical vitamin C can help. Research has shown that concentrations as low 0.6% provide many benefits as explained below:
- Defends against free radicals
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which is good news. To get sciencey about it, vitamin C can donate electrons in order to neutralize free radicals created in skin after oxidative stress. Oxidative stress = sun damage. So while vitamin C can't protect skin like an SPF can, it can minimize the damage you can't see.
- Boosts collagen production
Very exciting news: Vitamin C is one of the factors in stabilizing and creating collagen molecules, meaning that it's one of the most reliable anti-aging ingredients on the market. Some research also shows that vitamin C can also increase the quality of the collagen created in the body. So while topical (and drinkable) collagen aren't necessarily doing you any good, your Amazon-sourced vitamin C serum's been pulling double duty.
- Reduces brown spots
Because vitamin C can aid in skin's ability to heal itself, it should be your go-to when looking to reduce red and brown spots. Add to that its anti-inflammatory properties (of interest if you're struggling with acne or rosacea), and even-toned skin is in your very near future. You already knew you were preventing damage with it, but now you're also fixing it post facto.
Vitamin C sounds simple, but there are actually several different kinds: Ascorbic Acid is vitamin C royalty and the most common when it comes to skincare—it absorbs the quickest and has the highest potency when applied topically. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) is another water-soluble derivative of vitamin C that can be effective in lower concentrations. Then there's Ester-C, a trademarked form of vitamin C that's been amped up with Calcium Ascorbate. This one comes with a lot of claims, but not a whole lot of data backing up. When in doubt, look for Ascorbic Acid. That's really the one you want.
For the best results, use vitamin C strategically and as part of a routine that includes a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen plus irritant-free products that contain a mix of antioxidants, skin-repairing agents, and science-backed ingredients.
My favourite is Skinceuticals CE Ferulic which contains an antioxidant combination of 15% pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), and 0.5% ferulic acid to strengthen skin’s natural protection from free radicals induced by environmental stressors such as UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA), and pollution, which may lead to visible signs of accelerated skin aging. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, C E Ferulic improves signs of aging and photodamage, the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and the loss of firmness, while brightening skin's complexion.
Note: All antioxidants, including vitamin C, are vulnerable to destabilizing when exposed to air and light. That means if you want to reap the reward of your antioxidant-enriched treatments, only choose those that are packaged in opaque tubes, air-restrictive bottles, or pumps that help keep their ingredients stable!