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.
#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.