Check out this beginner’s guide to Vitamin C, also known as the anti-ageing powerhouse.
If you go through the skincare products on your vanity, you’ll probably find vitamin C listed in several of them. And amongst the products that contain it, chances are, they span multiple concerns including anti-ageing, antioxidant and brightening products, giving you a hint at how well-rounded vitamin C is as a skincare ingredient. But if you zoom into the ingredients list of these products, you might notice the different versions of vitamin C that are being used. So what does it all mean? Here are the top facts about vitamin C you need to know about:
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of the most widely researched ingredients when it comes to skincare. It is a water-soluble organic compound which is known for its ability to neutralise free radicals, whether orally ingested or topically applied. In addition, vitamin C has also demonstrated to increase the rate of collagen production to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Why are there so many forms of vitamin C?
Vitamin C, or Ascorbic Acid, is only beneficial at a cellular level if it remains active, penetrates skin’s barrier layer effectively and gets converted to its usable form once absorbed into skin. Since vitamin C is water-soluble and highly reactive, it has to be stabilised and converted into a bio-compatible form to be effective. This explains why some alterations to the form of vitamin C present in skincare formulations might be made in order to ensure its efficacy when applied. Moreover, since vitamin C is water-soluble, it’s not readily absorbed by the skin as its barrier layer is more permeable to oil-soluble ingredients. In order to stabilise vitamin C and boost its ability to penetrate into the skin, you’re likely to see vitamin C listed as sodium ascorbic phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate or ascorbyl glucoside, which either makes the compound more stable or more compatible to the skin.
Does the concentration matter?
Yes, it does. Most vitamin C skincare products start at about 10 per cent concentration and can go up to about 25 or even 30 per cent. If you’re new to vitamin C, 10 per cent concentration is a good place to start. In addition, if you have sensitive skin, you might witness some redness so it’s wise to first do a patch test before applying a potent vitamin C serum all over your face.
When should I start using it and how often should I be using it?
As mentioned, vitamin C has been widely researched for its impressive collagen-stimulating and antioxidant properties. It is suitable for everyone, regardless of your age or skin concerns. Even if you’re in your 20s and might not notice fine lines or dark spots, vitamin C is perfect as a preventative measure, staving off these signs of ageing.
Results are not instant so you should be consistent about it. And like many other skincare ingredients, results are cumulative, which means that the more you stick to it, the better and more visible the results are in the long run.
What products should I try?
For a brighter, firmer and smoother mien, try these vitamin C serums:
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $248 for 30ml: This supercharged, synergistic formula contains 15 per cent vitamin C, 1 per cent vitamin E and 0.5 per cent Ferulic Acid to repair and protect skin against free radicals, UV, pollution and even IR (Infrared) radiation. Powerful yet gentle, it is suitable for even those with dry and sensitive skin. Moreover, with each use, it forms an antioxidant reservoir in your skin that lasts for up to 72 hours and doesn’t wash off.
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, $120 for 30ml: With vitamin C at the heart of its formula, this serum also contains glycolic acid and soothing ingredients to reduce the appearance of dark spots, even out skin tone, refine skin texture and minimise redness.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum, about $108, at Net-A-Porter: A heaven-sent for those with a dull and lacklustre complexion, this powerful serum combines antioxidants like vitamin C, superoxide dismutase and CoQ10 to neutralise the hazardous effects of free radicals. At the same time, niacinamide soothes and brighten skin while lactic acid helps speed up cellular turnover.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $114 for 30ml: Boasting an impressive roster of antioxidants, skin-renewing enzymes and skin-replenishing lipids, this lightweight serum is readily absorbed into the skin to gradually improve the appearance of photo-damaged skin for a smoother, plumper and brighter complexion.
3LAB Perfect “C” Treatment Serum, $205 for 30ml: Featuring two forms of vitamin C, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl glucoside, this gel-textured serum fends off free radical damage, boosts collagen production and inhibits melanin synthesis to improve skin elasticity and luminosity.