One of the most recognisable ingredients over the past few years, vitamin C is a true powerhouse in skincare. Although its notoriety lies in its brightening capability, its antioxidant function makes it suitable for treating an array of skincare concerns.
Firstly, let's tackle what an antioxidant is and how it functions.
As the name suggests, this family of ingredients are “against” oxidation. But what is wrong with oxidation?
The damage caused by oxidation can cause quite the stir in the development of skincare concerns such as skin ageing, dark spots, blemishes and dullness. The culprits for inflicting oxidative damage are free radicals. These are unstable molecules as they are missing an electron (flashback to chemistry GCSE). Free radicals like to attack healthy cells to gain the missing electron, causing oxidative damage. The formation of free radicals comes from external aggressors such as UV exposure and pollution.
Environmental aggressors ➟ free radicals ➟ oxidative damage
Now it's time for vitamin C to work its magic. It sequesters (mops up) free radicals, stopping them from causing oxidative damage and therefore wreaking havoc on the skin.
So now we have determined how vitamin C works, how do we incorporate it into a skincare product?
It is important to note that there are a multitude of different forms of vitamin C available on the market.
The most researched and potent form, also known as L- ascorbic acid. This is a water-soluble form that is pretty unstable which is why you’ll often find it in opaque bottles. For it to function optimally, it requires a more acidic pH (<4), which can be irritating to the skin. If you opt for this form in a product, then start at 10% concentration and introduce slowly (as you should for any new active you’re adding to your routine). If you have sensitive skin, look for a higher pH of 5-6 or opt for an alternative form of vitamin C. More on this next…
Other Forms of vitamin C:
These include Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Palmitate Retinyl Ascorbate and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. They are more stable and can be better suited to those with sensitive skin or beginners looking to incorporate vitamin C into their routine.
How to use vitamin C in your routine.
· Use in your AM routine, after cleansing and before moisturising.
· Using both an SPF and an antioxidant product, such as a Vitamin C serum is the gold standard in skin protection. Always remember, your antioxidant doesn’t protect your skin in the way that an SPF does, but together they can work in synergy to offer even greater protection.
· If you love to use exfoliating acids, please use in the PM or on alternate mornings. It is possible to use both in the AM but only if you build up usage and your skin doesn’t feel irritated. In this case acid first, then Vitamin C.
If you are new to vitamin C, please remember to patch test before use and add to your routine slowly, before gradually building up to 3+ days per week.