It is the most searched cosmetic ingredient on Google, with more than a million searches in India alone, ahead of other famous retinol or hyaluronic acid agents.
With the permission of the solar photoprotector (the antiaging ally in which all dermatologists agree when pointing it out as 80% of the skin anti-aging work), there is a leading cosmetic ingredient in anti-aging skincare. We’re talking about vitamin C, an asset that is not new to the beauty industry but is exploding right now: as published by Cult Beauty, vitamin C is the most searched cosmetic ingredient on Google in 2022, with more than a million searches in the UK alone, ahead of other famous agents such as retinol, hyaluronic acid or niacinamide. Our interest, moreover, seems exponential since it has increased by 204% compared to last year. Among all the questions about this ingredient, the most repeated has been: “What does vitamin C do for the skin?”
The answer is direct and long: vitamin C is an off-roader. Considered one of the best anti-aging ingredients, it activates collagen synthesis, a protein necessary for the regeneration of the skin, as highlighted by the National Institutes of Health, so its continued use helps prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But in addition, it is an epidermal repairer: it attenuates scars such as acne, helps to have a more uniform tone, provides luminosity, minimizes irritations, defends the skin from external aggressions (such as pollution), makes the absorption of other creams more effective and works from the deep layers of the skin, thereby improving its quality. Over time it leaves a smoother, brighter, and more uniform complexion. And although its benefits can be obtained through diet, serums and other topical products are the most direct way to apply them to skincare. So much for what we already know about it.
Benefits of Vitamin C Serum
1. FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.
After washing the face and before any other cream: dermatologists and facialists agree to recommend applying a serum or ampoule as the first cosmetic before the moisturizer and the solar photoprotection. “The first thing is the antioxidant, vitamin C: on clean skin, we let it dry for a few minutes. Next, we apply the photoprotector. This is usually sufficient for mixed and oily skin. In patients who require a plus of hydration, you can use a moisturizer based on Vitamin C before the protector or apply the first serum with Vitamin C. A moisturizer and finally the photoprotector” said recently in Vanity Fair Dr. Lidia Maroñas of the International Dermatological Clinic. The reason is that this creates an antioxidant protective barrier against oxidative stress that we will face during the day.
Dermatologist Ricardo Ruiz also agrees in his book Antiaging. How to keep skin younger: “The only recipe that works to keep skin younger is a serum or vitamin C cream in the morning along with photoprotector.”
2. FOR ALL SKINS AND LIFE.
Although the skin presents different needs over the years, vitamin C is a complete ingredient recommended to use from 20 to 100 years. It is suitable for all skin types, young and mature, dry, oily, matt or tired; yes, not in all stages of life should be used in the same formula or with the same concentration. That’s the key (which we explain below).
3. THE 8% RULE: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONCENTRATION.
For vitamin C to be really effective for the skin, it has to have a minimum concentration. “Below 8%, these effects begin to decrease and above 20% can lower their tolerability, especially in sensitive skin,” explained Dr. Maroñas. Keep in mind that the higher the concentration, the more effect, but from 20%, the skin has no capacity to absorb it, according to the Pauling Institute (created by Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize in Chemistry and one of the great specialists in vitamin C in history). We must also know that the higher the concentration, the greater the intolerance.
Vitamin C has several forms. The most beneficial for normal or oily skin is L-ascorbic acid, more potent, while for dry and sensitive skin, ascorbic phosphate and magnesium will be less irritating.
4. THE OTHER KEY TO CHOOSING IT RIGHT: THE pH
For vitamin C to have a more visible effect, it is essential to know that its absorption depends largely on its pH level. Normal skin will have optimal absorption with a low pH of about 3.5. However, the sensitive ones should raise it to a formula of 5 to 6, which corresponds to the skin’s natural pH, to be less aggressive for them.
5. TRANSPARENT OR BROWN BOTTLE: THE DIFFERENCE MATTERS.
There are two groups within vitamin C serums: those formulated based on water and those based on anhydrous (without water). The first is ascorbic acid, very effective and recommended but usually more unstable and sensitive to light: it oxidizes fast. That is why it needs to be protected with a brown or amber bottle (always opaque), and it is advisable to buy it in small format, either in a united ampoule or in a reduced bottle. It is important to keep it in a cool and dark place and beware: if the liquid darkens, it has rusted.
6. VITAMIN C CAN BE MIXED WITH…
Unlike other ingredients, vitamin C is easy to combine with other compounds, and cinluso gains ineffectiveness. It works well with other antioxidants such as vitamin E, ferulic acid, vitamin B, and hyaluronic acid. And although the general recommendation is to apply it in the form of serum before the rest of the creams, sensitive skin can benefit from replacing this step with a moisturizer that contains vitamin C since, in these formulas, its effect is usually milder.
What dermatologists agree on is that vitamin C and the photoprotector are the perfect matches: “The application of vitamin C before the photoprotector has been shown to enhance the beneficial effects of this,” added Maroñas in Vanity Fair. The reason is that this vitamin converts sunscreen into a biological protector: for example, if we previously apply a vitamin C serum to an SPF50, 90% of free radicals are blocked. Unlike other famous ingredients, it does not make the skin more vulnerable to sun damage but reinforces its protection. What’s more, from Sephora, they warn: “It can be used every day, but not at the same time as other potent active ingredients such as retinol or AHA.
7. IT’S NOT A MAGICAL ERASER, BUT IT REALLY TREATS STAINS.
In skin care, there are no shortcuts. And although vitamin C does not act directly on the spots, as depigmenting does, what it does is reduce the synthesis of melanin, which improves the characteristics and quality of the skin, favoring a much more uniform pigmentation of the skin melanocyte. In short: it is effective to control the appearance of spots and also to obtain a more homogeneous skin tone.
8. CREAMS WITH NATURAL VITAMIN C.
As is known, vitamin C is present in many fruits and, beyond chemical formulas, cosmetics look with interest at these natural ingredients. In organic cosmetics, there are actives far beyond orange: Kakadu, for example, contains five grams per 100, or what is the same, 100 times more than an orange. Camu (with three grams) and acerola (with one gram) are also valued cosmetic ingredients. Brands such as the botany Twelve Beauty, created by the pharmacist and cosmetologist Pedro Catalá, also use alternatives such as Artemisia extract, broccoli oil, or baobab.
9. GIVE IT TIME.
We said above that in skincare. There are no shortcuts. Well, no miracles either. Improving skin tone requires several weeks of continuous use, so you shouldn’t expect instant gratification. The first thing that is appreciated is an increase in luminosity, but the true benefits of this ingredient, such as preventing premature aging of the skin, are obtained over time.
10. IT REALLY WORKS.
Skin experts insist that vitamin C is the topical antioxidant par excellence, one of the most effective and powerful functions. “Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that directly influences collagen synthesis. The skin, tendons, ligaments, and even blood vessels are made up of collagen. And thanks to this, hyaluronic acid maintains the moisture of the skin, filling and reconstructing tissues,” explained recently in Vanity Fair Dr. Mario Arques, member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine and founder of the Arques clinics in Puerto Banús and Estepona.