also available at:

Everything You Need To Know About Incorporating Vitamin C In Your Skincare Routine

Your L-ascorbic acid should work as hard as you do.

Any beauty junkie worth their chops will tell you that a vitamin C serum in the form of L-ascorbic Acid is something you should invest on. Known for two key benefits, it’s firstly an antioxidant that shields the skin from the damage of free radicals, and secondly, it helps collagen and elastin production to take on wrinkles and improve skin tone and texture.

While working on these factors of ageing, vitamin C, at the same time, also brightens skin tone, fades hyperpigmentation and age spots, and prevents future damage. We tell you how to go about incorporating it into your skincare routine.

#1: Why are there so many forms of vitamin C?

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is only beneficial at a cellular level if it remains active, penetrates skin’s barrier layer effectively and gets converted to its usable form once absorbed into skin. Since vitamin C is water-soluble and highly reactive, it has to be stabilised and converted into a bio-compatible form to be effective. This explains why some alterations to the form of vitamin C present in skincare formulations might be made in order to ensure its efficacy when applied.

Moreover, since vitamin C is water-soluble, it’s not readily absorbed by the skin as its barrier layer is more permeable to oil-soluble ingredients. In order to stabilise vitamin C and boost its ability to penetrate into skin, you’re likely to see vitamin C listed as sodium ascorbic phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate or ascorbyl glucoside, which either makes the compound more stable or more compatible to skin.

#2: Find a stable formula, and concentration matters

There’s a reason why good vitamin C formulas are costly — it has to penetrate past the surface of your skin where it matters. If it doesn’t, you might as well not be using it at all. The pH of topical vitamin C must be below 3.5 for skin to absorb it. Brands are usually willing and open to share product details with you, whether it’s their efficacy, questions on their formulation, and of course, the pH.

If they’re not willing to share, well, we’ll say don’t trust them. It’s worth noting that skin cannot absorbmore than 20 percent vitamin C daily, and that optimal serums contain between 10-20 percent. Of course, using a 20% formulation means you’ll get the most bang out of your daily dose.

We love Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum that contains a highly effective concentration of 15% L-ascorbic acid.

#3: Should you be using it in the morning or at night?

L-ascorbic acid-based treatments are meant to be used in the mornings because of their spiffy ability to neutralise free radicals. The product that you use daily will create a reservoir in your skin, so there’s really no need to use it at night. Your skin will be protected against photodamage that prevents the breakdown of collagen. The rule of thumb is if your serum is marketed as an antioxidant, use it in the
day; but if marketed as a an anti-aging treatment, it’s for night-time use. Use your serum daily for top notch free radical protection.

#4: What to avoid using with vitamin C

Use your vitamin C in the morning and your chemical exfoliating treatments like AHA, BA and Retinol at night. However, don’t use copper peptides since they have very similar benefits but, the pluses cancel out entirely when used with vitamin C.

Above, the products we recommend.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $248 for 30ml
This supercharged, synergistic formula contains 15 percent vitamin C, 1 percent vitamin E and 0.5 percent Ferulic Acid to repair and protect skin against free radicals, UV, pollution and even IR (Infrared) radiation. Powerful yet gentle, it is suitable for even those with dry and sensitive skin. Moreover, with each use, it forms an antioxidant reservoir in your skin that lasts for up to 72 hours and doesn’t wash off. Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, $120 for 30ml
With vitamin C at the heart of its formula, this serum also contains glycolic acid and soothing ingredients to reduce the appearance of dark spots, even out skin tone, refine skin texture and minimise redness. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum, about $108, at Net-A-Porter
A heaven-sent for those with a dull and lacklustre complexion, this powerful serum combines antioxidants like vitamin C, superoxide dismutase and CoQ10 to neutralise the hazardous effects of free radicals. At the same time, niacinamide soothes and brighten skin while lactic acid helps speed up cellular turnover. Drunk Elephant C-Firma™ Day Serum, $114 for 30ml
Boasting an impressive roster of antioxidants, skin-renewing enzymes and skin-replenishing lipids, this lightweight serum is readily absorbed into skin to gradually improve the appearance of photo-damaged skin for a smoother, plumper and brighter complexion. 3LAB Perfect “C” Treatment Serum, $205 for 30ml
Featuring two forms of vitamin C, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl glucoside, this gel-textured serum fends off free radical damage, boosts collagen production and inhibits melanin synthesis to improve skin elasticity and luminosity.