In 2022, one of the most Googled beauty ingredients was vitamin C—and for good reason. This powerhouse antioxidant skincare ingredient is beloved by dermatologists because it helps to shield your skin from environmental damage and daily aggressors such as pollution.
So, if your search has landed you here, you’ve come to the right place. Get answers to all your questions about what makes vitamin C such a sought-after skincare ingredient and learn how to reap its many benefits.
- What is vitamin C?
- Why is vitamin C important?
- Is vitamin C good for skin?
- Does vitamin C reduce acne scars?
- Can vitamin C cream cause breakouts?
- Does vitamin C help with skin texture?
- Does vitamin C lighten dark circles?
- What is vitamin C serum?
- Why do I need vitamin C serum?
- Are all vitamin C serums the same?
- When can I use vitamin C serum?
- How long does vitamin C serum last?
- How do I prevent vitamin C from oxidizing?
- Should I use moisturizer after vitamin C serum?
- Can you use retinol and vitamin C together?
- Can you mix hyaluronic acid with vitamin C?
Vitamin C: The Basics
1. What is vitamin C?
Often referred to as the holy grail of skincare, vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid or ascorbic acid) is an essential vitamin. This means that it’s required to make the body function properly. However, it can’t be produced; it needs to be ingested or applied topically. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means that your body can’t store it, no matter how many leafy greens you eat. In terms of vitamin C for skin, you’ll need to apply it topically to experience its benefits, which include preventing and treating premature aging.
2. Why is vitamin C important?
Our environment (UV rays, pollution and stress) is constantly bombarding us, creating free radicals, which are unstable molecules that react with other compounds. Unfortunately, over time this causes cell damage, which leads to premature aging and even illness. Enter vitamin C skincare. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that provides protection against oxidative stress-induced cellular damage by acting as a scavenger for these free radicals—which are omnipresence in the environment, pollution and UV radiation.
3. Is vitamin C good for skin?
Absolutely. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that not only helps to reduce pigmentation and inflammation but also boosts the production of skin-plumping collagen and protects against pollution. This means it’s perfect for tackling age spots and uneven skin tone, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and even lightening acne scars. Plus, it gives dull skin a radiance boost!
BEST PRODUCTS FEATURING VITAMIN C
Vitamin C and Skin Concerns
1. Does vitamin C reduce acne scars?
When used daily, a vitamin C serum works to diminish acne scars—and also helps even out skin tone. However, if you’re looking to treat blemishes and fade acne scars, it’s best to use a two-pronged approach with a vitamin C serum and a salicylic acid treatment created specifically to treat acne-prone skin.
2. Can vitamin C cream cause breakouts?
There’s no link showing that vitamin C can cause breakouts, but because it’s often paired with vitamin E—which is an oil soluble vitamin—to increase its efficacy, the combo could potentially cause a breakout for someone with acne-prone skin, especially if it’s found in a heavy moisturizer. However, acne is a highly inflammatory skin condition, so this means it can be exacerbated by environmental stressors, including free radicals and evidence shows that vitamin C can play an important role in treating and protecting the skin from these stressors.
3. Does vitamin C help with skin texture?
Vitamin C doesn’t just help brighten skin tone; it’s also known for its ability to smooth out rough texture and bumps. While it’s not a chemical or physical exfoliant ingredient, it promotes healthy cell turnover (production of new skin cells), which helps tackle texture issues.
4. Does vitamin C lighten dark circles?
In short, yes. If your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, then a vitamin C serum is an effective treatment to brighten uneven skin tone. It works to decrease the production of melanin by inhibiting an enzyme (tyrosinase) that results in the making of melanin, therefore reducing hyperpigmentation from occurring at a cellular level.
Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin C Serum
1. What is vitamin C serum?
A serum formulation is an efficient way to deliver vitamin C straight into your skin because it can deliver a greater quantity of an active ingredient to a targeted area without invasive techniques.
2. Why do I need vitamin C serum?
Dermatologists agree that along with SPF and a gentle cleanser, vitamin C serum is a product that many people can benefit from. The antioxidant rich ingredient is generally considered safe and well tolerated on all skin types and concerns. However, some people with sensitive skin might find that a high concentration (between 15% and 20%) of vitamin C stings a little bit.
3. Are all vitamin C serums the same?
Not all vitamin C products are created equal. A lot of products out there don’t use active versions, so you’re not getting all the benefits. When it comes to the quality of the vitamin C in your skincare, you should be looking for ascorbic acid (or L-ascorbic acid), which is the most biologically active form, but it’s unstable. Also, pay attention to the ingredient list as different products contain different percentages of vitamin C. It's worth seeking advice from a dermatologist or skincare expert on what’s best for your skin needs, but most experts will recommend between 10% to 20% of vitamin C. However, its effectiveness maxes out around 20%, so no need to go higher.
4. When can I use vitamin C serum?
A common question posed is whether you can use vitamin C serum during the day. It can be used morning and evening, but it’s especially effective during the day because studies have shown that vitamin C protects skin from UV-induced damage by reducing the amount of free radical formation, which increases the effectiveness of sun protection from UV rays. It works best when you apply it to freshly cleansed skin, before you moisturize, and follow with sunscreen.
5. How long does vitamin C serum last?
Does vitamin C go bad? It can. Once you open a vitamin C serum, you shouldn’t it let sit unused in your bathroom cabinet. The expiration date depends on the type of serum and how its packaged, however, in general, experts say it stays potent between three and six months once opened. You can tell when the formula has oxidized because it will turn yellow or brown. It’s not harmful to skin, but it will be much less effective.
6. How do I prevent vitamin C from oxidizing?
Vitamin C is a difficult ingredient to include in formulas because it’s a molecule that is unstable—which means it breaks down when it’s exposed to oxygen and light. This is why LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum is housed in tinted-glass bottles to help maintain their stability and efficacy.
7. Should I use moisturizer after vitamin C serum?
When it comes to layering skincare products, order matters. With a product like LiftActiv Supreme H.A. Wrinkle Corrector, which is packed with great actives, use a moisturizer on top to help lock in the serum’s anti-aging ingredients and nutrients.
Moisturizers like Vichy’s daily anti-aging vitamin C moisturizer, LiftActiv Peptide-C, have added anti-aging ingredients into the mix, so they can more effectively work on your skin. But to properly address a difficult skincare concern, you’ll want to add a moisturizer to your vitamin C serum routine.
8. Can you use retinol and vitamin C together?
When it comes to anti-aging all-stars, vitamin C and retinol top the list, but do they complement each other? Yup! Using both ingredients in your skincare routine can help you achieve a radiant and youthful complexion.
Use your vitamin C serum in the morning, followed by sunscreen. And use your retinol serum at night, as it can cause skin sensitivity when exposed to sunlight. That said, pairing the two can be beneficial. Vitamin C can help stabilize retinol and allow it to work more effectively.
Explore our Vitamin C + Retinol Power Duo!
9. Can you mix hyaluronic acid with vitamin C?
Yes! This ingredient combo goes together like peanut butter and jelly. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are commonly paired in formulas because they complement each other to hydrate, protect and repair aging skin. Hyaluronic acid has the unique ability to bind and retain moisture, holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water, and due to its hygroscopic properties, it draws moisture to the skin. When combined with vitamin C, it can significantly improve the appearance of wrinkles and skin texture as well as elasticity.