If you think it’s just something in your morning orange juice, think again.
When you think vitamin C, you probably think of those chewable tasty tablets you munch on when you feel a cold coming on. (Admit it, you popped a few just because they tasted yum.) But this potent vitamin can also do wonders for your skin as well. Think brightening, tightening and anti-aging goodness.
But before you start crushing down your vitamins to add to a moisturiser, or rubbing an orange over your face, let me break down which type of vitamin C does what and how best to deliver it right to your pores.
Why should you use it?
First of all, let’s talk benefits. A healthy dose of C can halt the aging process in its tracks and also helps simultaneously brighten and smooth the skin. It’s basically a super powerful antioxidant, kicking butt against damage caused by free radicals that would normally bring on wrinkles and break down collagen. It’s thought to help heal breakouts, protect from UV rays, prevent pesky age pigmentation and even form a sort of barrier to increase your skin’s ability to hold on to moisture.
So, how does it work?
Brace yourselves, folks, things are about to get sciencey. Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid that naturally occurs in the skin but sometimes needs a boost to help it continue to fight the good fight as we age. There are loads of different types of vitamin C types in skincare and each is thought to have a slightly different effect. A slathering of C in the form of a product containing L-ascorbic acid boosts collagen production and smooths the skin, at the same time as tightening it and warding off signs of sun spots.
Vitamin C comes in many moisturisers, serums and oils. It’s such a wonder ingredient that most packaging will shout from the rooftop if it contains the skin saver, but just incase it doesn’t, you’re looking for L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, or ascorbyl tetra-isopalmitate. You want to look for a moderate concentration of the product (look for 20 per cent or lower). Higher than that can not only have reduced effectiveness, but also irritate the skin. Studies have shown as little as 0.6 per cent can help fight the signs of aging in your skin, so really you can’t go wrong below the 20 per cent mark.
How should you use it?
There’s a lot of research to suggest that vitamin C is best put to good use during your morning routine, after cleansing and before any sunscreen or moisturiser. This is because one of the things this miracle ingredient does best is fend off environmental nasties and help prevent sun damage. And since there’s no sun at night, morning seems best. That’s not to say you can’t splash some on at night, as free radical damage continues to work its black magic on your skin overnight, too. I guess, it’s just like using a Swiss Army Knife as a can opener... it will do the job, but it does so many other cool things you’re not giving it the chance to do!
Also important to note: if you are using chemical exfoliants or toners with salicylic acid or retinol in them, make sure you leave it about five minutes before applying your C. If you’re too hasty, you might end up a bit red, blotchy and stingy, which is not fun for anyone.
My favourites are Ole Henrikson’s Truth Serum Collagen Booster ($64, Sephora), Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Multi-Effect Perfecting Facial Oil ($16.99, Chemist Warehouse), Pure and Precious Oils 20% Vitamin C Serum ($35, Pureandpreciousoils.com), and Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum ($66, Mecca). These are just a precious few that I’ve tried and loved, but there are so many others out there with different benefits and different price points, so get hunting!
Elizabeth Best is a beauty expert and writer with more than a decade of experience working for some of Australia’s most prolific media outlets. She enjoys long romantic walks along the makeup aisle, and fully expects for her profound love of travel and food to bankrupt her one day. You can follow her never-ending obsession with food and makeup on Instagram.