Ask any beauty expert what their absolute-must-haves are in their skincare routine and this is what you’ll hear: facial sunscreens, retinol and vitamin C serums.
Why? Well, that’s simple. When used in conjunction, these three are your best chance at fighting the signs of ageing. Not only that, but this holy trinity promotes happy, healthy and well-functioning skin. You’ve probably got your best SPF moisturiser and you’re clued up on which retinol serum best suits your, so let’s look a little closer at vitamin C.
What does vitamin C do?
Vitamin C is something of a mega multi-tasker; it encourages collagen production, helps brighten dark spots and pigmentation from sun damage and works as an antioxidant to protect the skin from free radicals (unstable molecules that cause oxidative stress on skin cells a.k.a premature ageing. It’s not just our skin that suffers, our bodies are affected by oxidative damage, which is why vitamin C is so readily used to combat illness.)
Not only that, but it’s also great at reducing inflammation, softening rough skin texture and giving you one hell of a natural glow (meaning the best face serums will allow you to forgo even your very best highlighter).
How to use vitamin C
‘You have to pay a lot of attention to the form and the concentration you use on the skin,’ says Dr Emma Craythorne, a Consultant Dermatologist. ‘The optimal concentration depends on its formulation. In most cases, for a product to be of biological significance, it needs to have a concentration higher than 8%. Studies have shown that a concentration above 20% does not increase its biological significance, but might cause irritation. Reputable products of vitamin C available today are, therefore, in the range of 10 to 20%. Pure vitamin C is also known as L-Ascorbic Acid. This is the most effective form of vitamin C on the skin.’
It’s a fairly punchy active ingredient, so it’s a good idea to let your skin get used to it. Don’t worry, introduce it slowly by applying it every couple of days to start with. You can then gradually up your usage. Be sure to use your best SPF moisturiser on top.
Vitamin C is unstable – meaning that its efficacy and strength is affected by light, air and heat exposure. It’s also a bit of a lone wolf and doesn’t like to be paired with certain ingredients. We don’t recommend you apply an AHA/BHA toner beforehand (something with salicylic acid or glycolic acid in it) because it could destabilise the pH level of the vitamin C and stop it from working.
Keep scrolling for our beauty editor-approved round-up of the best vitamin C serums the beauty industry has to offer.