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Vitamin C in Skincare Products: Does it really work?


Most people associate vitamin C with illness.  When they get a cold, they reach for their supplements.  Over the past couple of decades it’s also been shown to benefit skin as well.  It can serve as a brightening agent, helps even skin tone, and may even help wrinkles.  

But can vitamin C really help your skin?  The answer is: yes!  And it can combat a lot of common problems.

What is Vitamin C?

In short, vitamin C is an antioxidant that our bodies require because we can’t produce it.  It is needed for tissue repair and growth.  Vitamin C is a nutrient that is found in fruits, vegetables, and can be produced synthetically for use in skincare products.  Entire lines of serums, toners, and moisturizers contain vitamin C.  

There are several forms of vitamin C.  It’s pure form is called L-ascorbic acid.  There are common derivatives that are not pure forms, but are combined with ascorbic acid to help keep it stable.  Just like anything, quality matters, so you want to be sure that the vitamin C you use is an active form.  The skin does not easily absorb vitamin C, so it’s best to use a concentration of at least 10%.  Taking oral doses of vitamin C has not been shown to help the skin, but it does have benefits for the body as a whole. 

How Vitamin C Works

Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it attacks free radicals.  Free radicals come from things like pollution, UV rays, and unhealthy food.  These things can all damage the skin and free radicals are linked to cancer.  We’ve got a detailed blog post about antioxidants and free radicals.  

When it comes to free radicals, oxidation is what we are concerned about.  Vitamin C provides protection against this process, particularly in topical form when it comes to the skin.  

You have to store vitamin C skincare products carefully because it can lose its antioxidant power quickly.  It is sensitive to air, temperature, and light.  Be sure to look for vitamin C products in airtight containers that are dark in color.  Store it in a cool, dark place, such as a drawer or cabinet.  If your product turns yellow, orange, or brown, throw it out.  

What does Vitamin C do for the skin?

Science has proven that topical vitamin C may slow skin aging, prevent sun damage, improve wrinkles, and even fight acne.  Let’s break down several studies and learn why dermatologists and estheticians love it.

Vitamin C and Anti-Aging

Wrinkles can be improved through the use of vitamin C.  One study showed that participants who used vitamin C for three months showed a decrease of wrinkles on the face and neck.  It also improved the skin’s texture, making it appear more smooth, supple, and full.

Dark spots are a hallmark of aging.  Another study showed that vitamin C improved the appearance of dark spots and had very little side effects.  It works by blocking the production of pigment, or melanin.

Vitamin C and Sun Protection

Vitamin C may also help protect the skin from dangerous UV rays from the sun when used along with sunscreen.  Clinical studies have shown that when vitamin C is combined with ferulic acid and vitamin E, it can diminish redness and potentially protect the skin from long term sun damage.  

Vitamin C and Acne

Another benefit of vitamin C for skincare is that it has been shown to help control oil production.  When compared to a placebo group, study subjects who applied it twice per day were shown to have fewer pimples and other acne issues with no serious side effects.  Although vitamin C doesn’t have a direct affect on active breakouts, it can help with redness, irritation, and inflammation.

How to Use Vitamin C

With so many benefits to this powerful antioxidant, it may be beneficial to add it to your skincare routine.  But, because it can go bad easily, there are steps you need to take and things you need to do in order to get the most bang for your buck.

What to look for in vitamin C products

Vitamin C is usually found in serums or moisturizers.  Because there are several derivatives and formulations, its strength and efficacy can range from strong to no effect at all.  The best place to buy good products is from your dermatologist or a trusted online retailer.  You’ll want to look for a formulation, ideally L-ascorbic acid, with 10% to 20% strength and an acidic PH, lower than 3.5.  

If you have acne-prone or oily skin, look for formulations that also combat oil production.  Some vitamin C products contain salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that benefits oily skin.  

Vitamin C in your skincare routine

There isn’t clear information on whether to use vitamin C in your morning or evening skincare routine.  It is generally gentle enough that most people can use it both times, but some experts say it is better to use it at night so that it can work while you sleep.  

Some people do get mild tingling when they first start using vitamin C, so if that happens, try using it every other day until your skin adjusts. No matter when you use it, the application is the same.

  • Cleanse your face.

  • Apply a few drops to your hands and rub on your face, blending well.

  • Let it dry and apply your moisturizer.

  • During your morning routine, be sure to apply sunscreen!

We have what you need!

Qyral’s line of skincare products has vitamin C formulated within!  We use sodium ascorbyl phosphate in our Accelerate Cellular Revitalizing Serum as a more stable form of vitamin C.  By taking our skin assessment quiz, we can help formulate all products for your precise skin type so that vitamin C can work in conjunction with other ingredients to give you the best results with your skincare routine!

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