As one of the most widely used and commonly misused ingredients, we all need a Vitamin C 101 class to help us navigate the benefits, types, pairings, and considerations when choosing skincare featuring this potent ingredient.
Olivier DuVillard, a seasoned beauty expert with 25 years in the beauty industry and 8 years as a Cosmetic & Brand developer, sheds light on the multifaceted world of Vitamin C in skincare and helps us choose the one that is best for our skin.
Forms of Vitamin C: Unravelling the Options
Vitamin C in skincare spans a range of molecules, with L-ascorbic acid being the most recognised and metabolisable form. While acclaimed for its antioxidant prowess and collagen-boosting effects, L-ascorbic acid’s instability and low pH can pose challenges. The early versions of vitamin C serums would oxidise quickly and cause adverse skin reactions. This prompted the emergence of derivatives like Ascorbyl Glucoside and Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, designed for stability while retaining efficacy.
Vitamin C Benefits and Adaptability
The power of L-ascorbic acid comes with a few caveats. Oxidation often leads to instability and its low pH can be harsh on sensitive skin. For an option with fewer drawbacks, derivatives step into the spotlight. These alternatives provide similar benefits without compromising on skincare goals.
Harmonious Pairings: Vitamin C and Allies
Vitamin C’s potency amplifies when combined with certain ingredients. Hyaluronic Acid and antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid prove to be worthy companions. These partnerships not only enhance stability but also bolster photo-protection.
Mindful Usage: Vitamin C and Incompatible Ingredients
Strategic usage is crucial when it comes to Vitamin C and layering of skincare. The big no no is layering with Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy Acids, as their pH-altering nature hampers Vitamin C’s efficacy. Benzoyl peroxide, too, can diminish its potency. Pro tip: Separate application times ensure harmonious coexistence and efficacy.
Choosing the Right Concentration
Finding the ideal concentration for your skin type is key. DuVillard suggests beginning with 10% and gradually increasing to 15% or 20% for L-ascorbic acid, while derivative concentrations vary. Products backed by clinical testing offer better insights into efficacy.
Tailoring Vitamin C: Skin-Specific Solutions
Different skin types demand tailored solutions. L-ascorbic acid suits oily or balanced skin, while magnesium ascorbyl phosphate offers gentler care for dry or sensitive skin. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) caters to acne-prone skin. Read the labels and choose according to your skin type.
Preserving Potency: Storage and Longevity
Derivatives offer stability, but protection remains essential. Opt for products housed in airless containers and store in a cool, dark storage to extend product effectiveness.
Expert Advice: Incorporating Vitamin C
DuVillard recommends incorporating vitamin C into morning routines. Its antioxidant prowess complements sunscreen protection beautifully. Evening use is possible with careful layering to prevent sensitisation.
Tried and Tested by Ageless Team
The votes are in. After almost 20 years of navigating the latest innovations in Vitamin C here are the ones (new and the classics) we recommend.
A beautiful and pure skincare brand from co-founders Trudi Jaye and the late Olivia Newton John, Retreatment Botanics are pioneering in their commitment to clinically proven bioactives, palm oil free and a feather light footprint on the planet. This super strength vitamin C features Kakadu to banish hyperpigmentation, sun spots and uneven skin tone. After only 3 days the skin glows with radiance.
This active skincare range was developed by Melbourne based Plastic Surgeon Dr Chris Moss. Three forms of Vitamin C plus a Brightening Peptide in an oil free formula, work to supercharge radiance, protection and visible signs of ageing. Vegan, and suitable for all, even sensitive skin types.
The Body Shop has doubled down on Vitamin C as a hero ingredient with an expanded and Vitamin C enriched collection of products. The Overnight mask is a standout featuring Ascorbic acid, resurfacing lactic acid (AHA) and brightening papaya enzymes. Their clinicals claim an 89% increase in radiance after 4 weeks. We noticed that the lightweight treatment gets to work on the first application where you feel a gentle tingling before it melts into the skin without any residue. Wake up to smoother, brighter skin.
A best seller and cult classic, this concentrated booster with 15% pure vitamin C can be used alone or added to your favourite moisturiser to brighten uneven skin while improving the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin C is joined by a cocktail of Vitamin E, Ferulic acid and Hyaluronic Acid for a featherlight and superabsorbent liquid formula.
A multi-use plant based, vegan serum suitable for all skin types featuring powerful phytonutrients from Kakadu Plum. Biologi’s extraction technology, developed by founder Ross Macdougald together with their in-house bottling system, keeps the formula potent without any synthetic stabilisers.
A sister to the gold standard C Ferulic Serum, this version of Vitamin C is ideal for combination and oily skin types who traditionally break out from Vitamin C. 2% phloretin, 10% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), and 0.5% ferulic acid, target environmental ageing.
Dehydrated skin and dark circles are targeted with these cult hydrogel patches. Infused with Vitamin C to strengthen the skin barrier, the skin around the eyes is instantly plumped and smoother. The anti-spot property of vitamin C helps to lighten under eye darkness without altering normal skin pigment. These always sell out so run.
5 x pads $19.95 exclusively at Priceline
And if you are not yet convinced on the virtues of Vitamin C in your skincare lineup, Desiree Stordahl, Director of Applied Research and Education at Paula’s Choice Skincare offers the following insights.
“Vitamin C is a natural component of healthy skin and a critical factor the body uses to make collagen. Unfortunately, ongoing environmental damage (think sun exposure, air pollution, etc.) depletes skin’s natural supply of vitamin C—this is where using topical vitamin C products can step in to help.
As a topical ingredient, vitamin C and its derivatives (such as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) help protect skin from environmental aggressors, aid in repair of signs of sun damage, soften fine lines, and visibly fade discolorations. One of the first things people notice is that it helps restore a healthy glow to skin. With long-term use, skin’s firmness and elasticity are visibly improved.”