Health Skin

Vitamin C in Skin Care: What Are the Benefits, How to Use It

There is one addition to your skin-care routine that has the ability to completely change the texture, appearance, and overall health: vitamin C. The hero ingredient is rich in antioxidants and improves pigmentation. And the best part is that it’s such an easy product to incorporate into your regimen. In no time, your skin will look more radiant and any stubborn acne scars will fade away.

To learn more about using vitamin C for skin, from the benefits to the precautions to take, we enlisted the help of Saira Vasdev, MD, cofounder and medical director of Skin and Sanctuary, who has a wealth of knowledge and information to share. Keep reading for more.

Vitamin C Benefits For Skin

“Vitamin C is a super antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental damage and prevents premature skin aging associated with UV rays and pollution,” says Dr. Vasdev. “It penetrates deep into the skin’s surface and acts to neutralize free radicals which are toxic to skin cells, as well as stimulating cell renewal and supporting new collagen synthesis. Visible benefits include brighter skin with improved texture, softening of fine lines and wrinkles, and increased firmness and elasticity.”

She also says that the vitamin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can be a great addition for those with acne and rosacea. Additionally, when vitamin C is used with a broad-spectrum SPF, it works in synergy to increase the power of the sunscreen, resulting in superior protection against atmospheric aging.

Finding the Best Vitamin C Products

You’ve probably seen the ingredient in everything from face masks to serums to moisturizers, but Dr. Vasdev points out that not all vitamin C products are created equal. She recommends finding a vitamin C serum that has a “higher concentration of active ingredients and smaller molecules, which are able to penetrate deeper into the skin.”

“It’s imperative to seek out stabilized preparations of vitamin C, as unstabilized forms oxidize rapidly and, when applied to the skin, can cause irritation and actually be harmful to your skin,” she says. “L-Ascorbic acid is the purest form of vitamin C and if formulated to a high standard, provides superior antioxidant defense to its derivatives. Always buy products that are packaged in bottles, which protect the product from sunlight. This prevents premature oxidization of the serum and prolongs its shelf-life.”

Who Should Use Vitamin C Skin-Care Products?

The ideal age to start introducing vitamin C is your early 20s, according to Dr. Vasdev, but people of all ages can benefit from using it. It should be used in the morning after cleansing and should be followed by a sunscreen to double up the damage defense. Dr. Vasdev says that vitamin C should be seen as a skin-care essential. Whether you want to prevent the onset of premature aging, reduce skin inflammation associated with acne or rosacea, or have mature skin with aging concerns — it’s an all-around skin-care hero.

She also notes that vitamin C comes in four different concentrations so it is important to select the right one for your skin. Five percent is ideal for use on the delicate eye area. Ten percent is for dry or sensitive skin. Fifteen percent is the most commonly used preparation and is generally suitable for all skin types. Twenty percent provides the highest concentration and is used for advanced photo-aging concerns or thicker skin types, including male skin.

Precautions For Using Vitamin C

Dr. Vasdev has some wise words when it comes to precautions. “L-ascorbic acid is an exfoliating acid and without use of a high factor broad spectrum SPF, it can increase photosensitivity, rendering the skin vulnerable to inflammation and sun damage,” she says. “If undergoing ablative skin treatments such as chemical peels or laser, it may be appropriate to take a short break from active products such as vitamin C or retinol to allow the skin’s barrier to repair.”

It’s also important to keep your vitamin C serums in a cool, dark place, which is why most bottles are opaque. “In general, vitamin C serums appear as champagne or light straw-colored liquids,” says Dr. Vasdev. If your product has a brownish discoloration, then discontinue use immediately. This suggests that the vitamin C has oxidized and can be harmful if applied to the skin.”

Additional reporting by Jessica Harrington

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