A Comprehensive Guide To Vitamin C Skincare

One of the most popular active ingredients in skincare, vitamin c deserves a place in pretty much every skincare routine. But there is a lot of misinformation out there surrounding the ingredient, as well as things to know that can help make it more effective – and therefore your skin healthier. 

In skincare, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which offers powerful protection against pollution, environmental damage and sun damage, It is the most abundant antioxidant found naturally in the skin, but depletes as we get older due to sun damage and age.

What does vitamin C do for your skin?

As well as offer powerful antioxidant protection, which is important given the amount of pollution and other external aggressors the skin is exposed to on a daily basis (especially for city dwellers), a good vitamin C serum applied daily stimulates collagen production to help plump and smooth the skin, increases the efficacy of sunscreen, improves the skin’s healing process, reduces inflammation and combats sun damage and pigmentation. A multi-faceted skincare wonder, I think you’ll agree. “It gives skin a supercharged glow,” adds aesthetic doctor, Dr Maryam Zamani. “It’s a must-have skincare ingredient.”

Vitamin C already occurs naturally in the skin but, as is so often the way, depletes as we age. Applying it topically can help replenish existing levels, to defend skin from further damage and repair past damage too, keeping skin strong, healthy and glowing for longer.

Are there different forms of vitamin C to look out for?

Yes – it can be confusing. “L-asorbic acid is pure vitamin C and it is the most stable and effective form that you’ll find in skincare,” says  Dr Emma Craythorne, consultant dermatologist for SkinCeuticals. But Begoun also advises looking out for ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbic palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate on ingredients (or INCI) lists, too.

What percentage of vitamin C should you use?

“In order for a vitamin C serum to be effective, it must be formulated with pure l-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) at an acidic pH within the 2.0 to 3.5 range, and have a concentration between 10 and 20 per cent,” explains Dr Craythorne (SkinCeuticals vitamin C products – from the cult C E Ferulic to Silymarin CF – are all formulated to these standards).