I can’t believe I haven’t already written a post just on Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a super star ingredient. It is part of my VIPs in my skin care routine. It should be a VIP (Very Important Product) in everyone’s skin care routine.
So, in starting out the year of skin care. I really should start with this ingredient.
What Vitamin C does for the skin
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are atoms that contain an unpaired electron. The build up of these free radicals is what causes oxidational stress on our skin. (We have all seen oxidation on something (think car bumper), that is kind of the same theory. Or at least that is the best way, I can think of to explain it). When we are young, we have a “army” of antioxidants but they break down over time with continued exposure to free radicals. Free radicals could be anything from pollutants, UV rays, chemicals and even some foods.
Vitamin C helps the skin repair it’s damaged skin cells, not only in the case of free radicals. But also in wound healing. It does this because it is highly acidic. When vitamin C is applied topically it triggers the skin to heal itself by accelerating the production of collagen and elastin.
Vitamin C has also been found to inhibit skin’s melanin production, which is what causes skin discoloration like dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C applied topically can help prevent dark spots and can help the skin fade those spots or uneven skin tone.
Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant potential and activity in preventing and reverting signs of aging, also by the collagen biosynthetic pathway. Photoprotective properties of topically applied vitamin C have also been demonstrated, placing this molecule as a potential candidate for use in the prevention and treatment of skin aging. A topically applied serum containing 20% vitamin C in different forms (ascorbic acid, ascorbyl methylsilanol pectinate and ascorbyl glucoside) associated with ferulic acid and Ginkgo biloba extract was tested on healthy female volunteers presenting photoaged skin on face to evaluate clinical efficacy of such treatment………….The results suggested a positive influence of Vitamin C……Reflectance confocal microscopy and image analysis to evaluate the efficacy of a topical facial serum with 20% vitamin C in improving signs of aging
Bianca Bretas, DO, Paula Bellotti Research Group; Ada Mota, PhD, ADCOS Cosmética de Tratamento; Mirela Gianeti, PhD, ADCOS Cosmética de Tratamento; Vitor Seixas, PhD, ADCOS Cosmética de Tratamento; Mariana Lima, ADCOS Cosmética de Tratamento; Richard Schwarzer, ADCOS Cosmética de Tratamento; Soraya Oliveira, ADCOS Cosmética de Tratamento; Paula Bellotti, DO, Paula Bellotti Research Group
Previous studies have shown that treatment with a facial cosmeceutical containing 15% L-ascorbic acid, 1% alpha-tocopherol and 0.5% ferulic acid has proven to protect skin against UV-induced erythema, sunburn cell and caspase formation.
A serum containing DAE/FA/VC has shown to improve skin barrier function, to reduce dark spots and to counteract the skin oxidative stress in women living in high pollution urban area.
Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019 May 29;12:393-399. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S204905. eCollection 2019. Also found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31213870
What form to use
There are a lot of forms of Vitamin C. That is because Vitamin C can be tricky to formulate. So, chemists have turned to other forms that are easier to formulate. I believe all forms work, just at different efficiency levels.
The gold standard of Vitamin C is L-ascorbic Acid. L-ascorbic Acid really is the form you should be using in your skin care. The problem is when mixed with water or oils, it becomes less effective or not effective at all.
L-ascorbic acid is the form shown in most studies and really is the most effective. The other issue with L-ascorbic acid is it needs to be at a ph of 3 or below to penetrate and be effective in skin care. Quite a few products formulated with water on the market aren’t at this ph level.
I know not everyone’s skin can tolerate L-ascorbic acid. However, there are some different application methods and/or products to try on your skin to see if it can work for you. L-ascorbic acid has the most studies and has been proven to work on the skin for all of the benefits. It is worth some experimentation to see if you can find a product that can work for you. The sensitivity or reaction, you are having may not be the acid. As we already have the acid in our bodies, it is probably the formulation. There are products with less L-ascorbic acid or you could try using the powder form (see below). If, you find you really can’t tolerate it, there are many other forms of Vitamin C.
I am not going to explore all of the other forms of Vitamin C in this blog, mainly L-ascorbic, but I will have a few. The reason is there are a lot of varieties of Vitamin C. This blog would go on for forever. Also, I have maturing skin and I really need to use the best form that I can to improve and help my skin.
Another problem with products that contain L-ascorbic acid is that once it is combined with other ingredients unless it is in a silicone base. It should be stored where it doesn’t have exposure to light or air. The formula can also start to oxidize even if you are careful with storing it. It will turn from white to cream to orange to brown. Orange you are reaching a questionable point. Once, it is brown don’t use it on your skin.
However, in it’s powder form, it can practically be stored anywhere. Well, anywhere away from moisture. A great product to try is:
Powder – L-Ascorbic Acid
The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is only $5.80 for 20 grams or .7 ounces. This product is super for travel. I taped the little scooper to the top so I don’t lose it. As you can see it is a small white powder. I only use 1/2 of the tiny scoop to whichever lotion or serum I am adding it to for the day.
Some people experience tingling when first using this product and you will if you have an open wound of any sort on your skin. By open wound, I mean – scratch, acne, chapped or over exfoliated skin. However, the tingling doesn’t last long and it has helped heal my skin issues from any of the above conditions.
This would also be a great product for those with sensitive skin. You can control the amount. Put in only 1/8 of a scoop or less until your skin can tolerate more. That way you are getting the benefits of Vitamin C without adding to your sensitivity.
The studies have concluded that serums are more effective than creams or lotions. They have also concluded that L-ascorbic acid is more affective when combined with some other anti-oxidants. Two of those anti-oxidants are Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid.
One of the most popular products formulated with these three anti-oxidants is SkinCeuticals’ legendary C E Ferulic. I call it Legendary because it was Legendary. They even patented it. They did independent studies on it. A lot of research went into it, but now the patent has expired.
SkinCeutical’s C E Ferulic it is as it states 15% L-ascorbic acid, 1% Vitamin E and .5% Ferulic acid and it is $156.00 to $166.00 for 1 fl. oz.
You will also notice that it is in a dark bottle for less light exposure, it has a dropper that has an air tight seal for air exposure. You can also keep this in the fridge, as I do for the serum below.
Now, you may not want to spend $166.00 on a bottle of this serum. I am all for affordable skin care for all, which includes me. I just can’t justify $166.00 for this serum, even though it is a great serum.
So, I have found an alternative, well a few alternatives really. They are still great serums and some even call them dupes. They aren’t exact dupes, because for one these other products contain more L-ascorbic acid.
My top pick is: Timeless Skincare Co.’s 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum. It has a 20% L-ascorbic formulation with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid.
I usually purchase from the website but I know they do sell it on Amazon as well. I prefer from the site because they company makes it is small batches and they ship it right away. That way you know it is fresh and hasn’t been sitting around for forever. It is responsible packaged with biodegradable packaging materials. They have sales on their website usually around most holidays.
The ingredients list is super short, so you know it isn’t full of a bunch of things that aren’t necessary. This is also a small company that you are supporting by buying their products. The product is made in the USA.
Ingredients and other information
Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.
Free of the following: Paraben, Fragrance, Dye, Cruelty.
The packaging of the product has changed to the image on the left. So, it no longer is packaged like the SkinCeutical’s brand.
I can’t say anything about the new packaging. It looks nice, but I haven’t tried it yet. If I didn’t have a whole bottle of the old packaging to use, I would purchase it in the new packaging. I can see where this would be air tight as well. It is in a container that light can’t penetrate. It is still 1 oz of product. Probably less breakage on the bottle in shipping so you have to use less packing material. The price is still the same $25.95 for 1oz. That is a huge difference in price point from the Skinceaticals.
Storage of Serums
I used to transfer 1/2 of the dropper type bottle to another dropper type bottle and store one in the fridge and then I would use one of the 1/2 bottles. That way it would last longer. I store it in the back of the fridge with my other serums in the box it came in, so it gets even less light. I haven’t even had it turn a cream color in the fridge. It has always been the same clear serum when I get it back out of the fridge.
Then I started transferring small amounts to this roller bottle. It is much nicer to just roll this all over the skin and it has never even turned a cream color on me when using this method.
Yes, I know the roller can get bacteria on it. I do clean the roller with alcohol and I put a very small amount in the roller bottle. That way it is used up quickly and I can sterilize the bottle and the roller before I add more. They are also inexpensive so I can change it out with a new one from time to time. (I get mine on Amazon).
Alternative, if you can’t tolerate L-ascorbic acid
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
I have used this product, a long, long time ago. Until, I started using the Timeless and then I never looked back.
It didn’t cause any irritation.
It has great reviews and so many people that can’t tolerate L-ascorbic acid like this product.
Water Deionized, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Alkyl Benzoate, Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea), Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), Hyaluronic acid, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Vitamin E (Tocotrienol), Ferulic acid, Chamomile Flower Extract (Recutita Matricaria), Sodium Phytate, Xanthum Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose.
As you can see it contains another form of Vitamin C. It also contains Hyaluronic acid (great for keeping or drawing moisture to the skin), Aloe, Vitamin E and Ferulic acid.
It is $33.99 for 1.02 ounces. It is also sold at Ulta. That makes it convenient, if you have one near you. If you don’t both Timeless and Mad Hippie are sold on Amazon.
Now, if you don’t want to mix your own with the powder. You can still get L-ascorbic acid in a Lotion type of product. It is actually in silicones (a lot of makeup primers are silicone based).
Other affordable alternatives
The Ordinary makes several with great price points. Of course, there isn’t very many ingredients in them. They don’t have Vitamin E or ferulic acid.
They are budget and travel friendly.
Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone, it is $6.80 for 1 oz. The ingredients are: Dimethicone, Ascorbic Acid, Polysilicone-11, PEG-10 Dimethicone. I know some men that really seem to like this one. It could be from the fact that they shave and the silicone seals up any irritated skin. I would think it might have a little sting to it after application due to the fact that it is 30% L-ascorbic acid. That is quite a high percentage. However, I think the silicones would keep any irritation down. I haven’t tried this product.
I have tried the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. It wasn’t my favorite on makeup days. It took a minute for the little beads of L-ascorbic acid to penetrate into the skin and for the formulation to penetrate as well. If I didn’t let it sit by itself on the skin for a bit. It would peel up under my makeup with those little balls. It wasn’t bad on days I was only wearing it and sunscreen.
So, if you don’t wear makeup. This is a great option for you. It is only $5.80 for an ounce and now sold at Ulta and Sephora.
Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.
This product doesn’t contain the Vitamin E or the Feulic acid, which combined with Vitamin C is a triple threat to free radicals. However, if it just isn’t in the budget for the other serums. This is still L-ascorbic acid. L-ascorbic acid is still the gold standard of this ingredient.
Vitamin C is so important in any skin care routine. Especially for mature skin, where we are using up our reserve of antioxidants daily.