Having a vitamin C serum as part of your skincare regimes has become an essential for many women.
Vitamin C is touted as one of the best skincare ingredients on the market. Name just about any common complexion concern, from general dullness, uneven skin tone, rough texture, fine lines or acne scars and there’s a good chance that a skincare product featuring vitamin C will be a recommended treatment.
Normal healthy skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C.
The big question is, is a vitamin C serum the best way to optimise the vitamin C content in your skin?
What is vitamin C and how does it help our skin?
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient which has a number of important roles in the body. It is particularly important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C helps maintain healthy skin by stimulating collagen production, reducing melanin production and acting as an antioxidant.
So what does all that mean? Here’s the skin science!
Firstly collagen is an important protein fibre found in the dermis layer of the skin. It is linked to skin elasticity and firmness. This naturally occurring protein that depletes over time which can result in wrinkles and skin sagging. Vitamin C appears to switch on the gene which makes collagen and activates the enzymes in the skin cells which ensure strong collagen molecules are produced. These two actions mean that skin rich in vitamin C will have lots of strong collagen fibres in it. These help keep skin plump and firm.
Melanin is the natural pigment found in skin. Over production of melanin causes skin discoloration like dark spots and hyperpigmentation. The good news is that vitamin C slows down the production of melanin and so slows down the appearance of dark age spots. THis is why vitamin C is sometimes referred to as a brightening agent.
Last but by no means least, let’s consider the antioxidant properties of vitamin C. This property means vitamin C neutralises and removes free radicals generated by environmental pollutants and exposure to the UV rays in sunlight. Free radicals damage cells and are one of the main sources of skin aging such as wrinkles.
More detailed skin science here if you feel you need it!
How can you ensure you have high levels of vitamin C in your skin?
Most of us get plenty of vitamin C in our diets, but if you are not eating as well as you perhaps should, or you are a smoker, you may consider taking a vitamin C supplement. This will certainly help boost the levels in your skin if you need it.
If you want to guarantee that it’s going straight to your skin, using serums and other topical products could also be helpful as you try to reap the benefits.
There are thousands of products on the market, and they won’t all be effective, so what do you need to look for when choosing a vitamin C serum?
What should I look for in my vitamin C serum?
The most important thing is the form of vitamin C that is being applied.
- The term to look for is L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. These are the most stable and effective forms of vitamin C in skin care.
- The serum must also be slightly acidic (pH4 or lower) for it to penetrate below surface of the skin effectively and should be a water free formulation.
- If the serum also contains some vitamin E, even better as this increases the effectiveness of the vitamin C in the serum.
- Finally, the packaging matters! An effective serum will come in a dark bottle or opaque packaging. Vitamin C actually breaks down when it’s exposed to light or air, so dark glass bottles help maintain its stability. It should also have an airtight seal. It will also help if you store your serum in a dark cool place.