Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin C In Skincare Products

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Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, "Wow, I hope my skin looks dull today." The desire for a bright, glowing appearance exists no matter who you are, and that's why vitamin C for skin has long been one of the most popular essentials in routines worldwide. But as so many other trendy ingredients begin to take over and skincare continues to evolve, one of the questions on everyone's mind is whether the ingredient is still efficient. Turns out, its benefits remain, and you should incorporate it in your routine now more than ever.

Vitamin C For Skin: The Benefits

Also known as ascorbic acid, the vitamin, most notably found in citrus foods such as oranges, is one of the world's leading naturally occurring antioxidants. Its benefits for immunity has landed it on top vitamin and mineral lists by the World Health Organization, and according to the experts, its topical properties are almost equally as potent.

"Vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant," Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat cosmetics, a vitamin C-focused skincare brand, tells TZR. "An antioxidant is a molecule that slows or prevents cell damage." That said, vitamin C has become a staple in products aiming to improve skin texture, skin tone, as well as reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

The ingredient also helps oxidize — or neutralize — free radicals, Dr. Ashley Magovern, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Manhattan Beach, CA says. "Free radicals are formed from things like the sun, pollution, stress and smoking, and damage the DNA of the cell, which can lead to premature aging. Adding vitamin C to your skincare routine helps to fight these free radicals and keep your skin cells healthy, boosting collagen production and reversing cell damage, which helps keep the skin looking firmer and younger."

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Vitamin C For Skin: Determining The Best Product For Your Skin's Needs

With so many options for vitamin C — including serums, moisturizers, and cleansers, and even makeup — your skin's needs determine which formula is best for you. "Serums are a very common way to introduce vitamin C into your routine and they’re often the most potent, depending on the product," Dr. Magovern says. "They’re also easy to use. They can be applied in the morning under your makeup and sunscreen to help boost your sun protection, or at night under a moisturizer to help fight the free radical damage from the day."

However, Dr. Magovern insists that what's most important when selecting a vitamin C product is to find one that is well formulated and has good bioavailability and penetration — in other words, it needs to be able to get to where it needs to go and do what it needs to do. "Vitamin C comes in different forms: L-ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbyl palmitate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, among others," she says. However, not all of them are considered stable, meaning they can maintain efficacy when exposed to air, heat, and light. "If you’re using a stable form of vitamin C in a well-balanced product, it is generally effective." That bioavailability and penetration that Dr. Magovern speaks of, can be achieved through the use of products that also contain ingredients such as vitamin E, retinol, and hyaluronic acid, which are proven to work effectively in conjunction with vitamin C.

Robinson also cautions that you ensure that the product in question is both real and properly formulated. "L-Ascorbic Acid is the purest and most potent form of vitamin C, but it’s notoriously unstable," Robinson says, noting that the vitamin in its purest form should not be used topically. "Pure vitamin C may end up oxidizing and turning brown or orange over time and losing efficacy." However, using a derivative does not mean that the product will render the same results. "Products with derivatives means it's not pure, so you won't reap the same benefits," he says.

And the experts want you to know that it's okay to use multiple products boasting vitamin C. In fact, you should embrace it. "Simply because you use say a serum, that’s not to say you can’t and shouldn’t add vitamin C to your other skincare or makeup steps," Dr. Magovern says. "There’s a lot of great makeup products that also have active ingredients, so they can actually change your skin."

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Vitamin C For Skin: When To Use It

"Vitamin C is generally safe to use every day," Dr. Magovern says. "Some experts think that you can even apply it every other day and still get the same benefit — maybe our receptors get saturated —but I enjoy it so much, I tend to use it most days." She also notes that even her patients with extremely sensitive skin can tolerate vitamin C, both in the morning and at night. "I think everyone should be using a vitamin C at least every other day to help fight free radical damage from the sun and environment. Everyone’s skin is different, but it’s a great ingredient to start using in your twenties and thirties to prevent premature aging and help boost your skin’s collagen production."

So ahead, check out some of the best vitamin C products that are balanced, smell amazing, and will deliver a radiant glow to any skin type.

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Vitamin C Serums

Vitamin C Moisturizers

Vitamin C Makeup

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.


Dr. Ashley Magovern, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology in Manhattan Beach, CA.

Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat cosmetics.

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