If you’ve shopped for skincare, you know that there is no shortage of anti-aging ingredients on the market. Despite the marketing hype often assigned to a single ingredient, research is clear that using a range of beneficial ingredients is always best for keeping skin at its healthiest. There are some exceptions—standout ingredients that, whether included among a mix of beneficial ingredients or in a concentrated treatment, are among a select few that can treat multiple skincare concerns.
Vitamin C is one such example! Here, we’ll share the research-proven results you should expect from vitamin C, we’ll discuss whether one form is better than another, and share how you can incorporate this powerhouse antioxidant into your skincare routine.
In any form vitamin C provides potent antioxidant protection, shielding skin from damaging free radicals—those pesky rogue molecules that promote premature aging. The most abundant forms of free-radical damage are environmental factors we can’t escape—think sun damage, pollution and oxygen—that assault skin on a daily basis, but that’s where topical vitamin C can help. When incorporated into your daily skincare lineup, well-formulated products containing vitamin C can provide a range of benefits that keep your skin younger-looking, longer!
See what C can do:
- Reduce the appearance of brown spots and other types of sun damage
- Helps boost healthy collagen production (hello, firmer skin!)
- Reduce inflammation and irritation, both of which cause a cascade of damage
- Fade post-breakout red marks by improving skin’s natural healing response
- Increase the effectiveness of your sunscreens and boosts your skins defense against UV exposure
Ascorbic Acid: Vitamin C Royalty
Ascorbic acid—also known as L-ascorbic acid—has the most research of any form of vitamin C when it comes to benefits for skin. For that reason, ascorbic acid is the most form of vitamin C used in well formulated skincare products. When properly formulated, it helps create younger, firmer skin while fading signs of sun damage and post-acne marks.
Vitamin C: The Extended Family
Good news: There isn’t a single “best” form of vitamin C, but there are only a handful that research has demonstrated are the most stable and effective. Other effective forms include sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate—each derivatives of vitamin C, but all with less supporting research than ascorbic acid (but what research does exist is certainly encouraging).
Each of these forms of vitamin C has a range of benefits that include repair and protection from free- radical damage; the takeaway is that these are more beneficial when added to a blend with other proven antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients. Look for products that include these with ingredients such as green tea, ascorbic acid, retinol, and/or niacinamide.
Note: All antioxidants, including vitamin C, are vulnerable to destabilizing when exposed to air and light. That means if you want to reap the reward of your antioxidant-enriched treatments, only choose those that are packaged in opaque tubes, air-restrictive bottles, or pumps that help keep their ingredients stable!
With decades of research around its benefits, vitamin C is a long-established skincare superstar that can help you achieve younger, healthier and more radiant skin. However, like any ingredient, skincare will never be as simple as any single ingredient—just as no single food or nutrient can keep your body healthy, you need more than just one ingredient to keep your skin in good shape, too!
It’s important to mention that vitamin C forms are effective in lower concentrations, so don’t get caught up in the belief that only higher strengths are beneficial for skin. Research has shown that concentrations as low 0.6% provide antioxidant and anti-aging benefits to skin.
Depending on your concerns, you may do just fine using a regular-strength vitamin C product, especially is said product also contains a range of great ingredients to smooth, repair, and replenish skin.