INGREDIENT 101 | The Ins and Outs of Vitamin C (2019 Update)
As far as I'm concerned, Vitamin C is a well-researched powerhouse in the battle against wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis, provides protection from UV rays, lightens dark spots, and fights inflammation (including our very favorite form of inflammation - acne). You might be curious as to how Vitamin C accomplishes these hefty tasks. I know I was. (If chemistry makes you nauseous, feel free to skip to the end of this post.) Vitamin C plays multiple, critical roles in the synthesis of collagen - first, it aids in forming the polypeptide chains that make up collagen's precursor, procollagen, and second, it acts as a cofactor (a molecule that assists in biochemical transformations) for the enzymes responsible for converting procollagen to collagen. This means that Vitamin C is necessary every step of the way in collagen formation. More collagen means stronger, firmer, more youthful skin.
Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons just looking to cause trouble (i.e. cellular damage). Luckily, Vitamin C is an electron donor that is more than happy to pair up with wayward free radicals. Fewer free radicals mean fewer fines lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C's antioxidant activity also helps to reduce acne by preventing the oxidation of sebum. Oxidative damage lowers the oxygen content in sebum, which allows acne bacteria to thrive (acne bacteria love oxygen depleted environments).
Last, but certainly not least, Vitamin C lightens surface pigmentation caused by UV damage. UV damage causes melanin to pool in the upper layers of skin and Vitamin C has the remarkable ability to decrease melanin content. This lightening effect promotes a more even, luminous tone. Even skin tone is a hallmark of youth! But the key to reaping these benefits is not to eat more oranges; the key is topical application of Vitamin C. Topical Vitamin C is 20 times more effective than oral ingestion. (Vitamin C is water-soluble so most of what we consume is excreted through our urine.) But choose your topical preparations wisely – the gold standard, l-ascorbic acid, is quickly oxidized so packaging that reduces exposure to air is really, really important.
Pro tip - While l-ascorbic acid has long been the main player in the Vitamin C game, don’t shy away from tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. This fat-soluble form of Vitamin C is more stable and many researchers believe it to have a greater affinity for our skin, which allows for deeper penetration.
I recommend applying your Vitamin C serum in the morning, under your moisturizer and sunscreen.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Allies of Skin Vitamin C 35% Collagen Rebuilding Serum - The moment this serum launched last month, I snapped it up and believe me when I tell you that it has not disappointed. Honestly, I’m completely blown away by how bright and luminous my skin has become. I noticed a visible difference after 1 to 2 days of use! I’m not even kidding. This super-stable, waterless serum is comprised of 25% Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid + 10% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate PLUS Superoxide Dismutase and Glutathione so you get a lot of bang for your buck. The texture has a lot of slip and glides easily over the skin. It’s the perfect first step under your daily moisturizer, which for me lately has looked like two pumps of this combined with 5 drops of this followed by sunscreen. (Side note - over the past 2 months I’ve incorporated a number of Allies of Skin products into my routine and they have all exceeded my expectations and dramatically changed my skin for the better. I want to use them for a little while longer before I post a more thorough review on the whole line. So get excited and be on the lookout for that!)
Truth Treatments Transdermal C Balm - This line’s no-nonsense approach to skincare really appeals to me. They combine well-researched active ingredients with a delivery matrix designed to push the active ingredients deeper into the skin and that’s it. Pricey no doubt, but most of the products are available in a trial size, which is always a huge plus. I LOVE this balm as the final step in my nighttime routine because I feel like it really seals everything in and does a better job than most balms and creams at staying in place overnight. Most importantly, it’s a major skin brightener.
Marie Veronique Vitamins C+E+Ferulic Serum - Another powerhouse serum, this combines Vitamins C and E + Ferulic Acid + Co-Enzyme Q10 + a number of other antioxidant-rich botanicals. It’s a stunner. And it’s perfect for those who prefer a more creamy format for their serums. Additionally, this serum is also a very gentle option for those with ultra-sensitive skin.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum - According to the reviews on Sephora, this Vitamin C serum has transformed many people’s skin. It has a lovely texture and can easily be layered with other products. Personally, it was not the best for my skin, but I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from giving it a shot if they feel drawn towards it.
The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.