We asked a professional about vitamin C and here's what they had to say

Did you know that vitamin C has its very own day? April 4 is the official date for Vitamin C Day, and for good reason. vitamin C, whether used topically or ingested via supplements, is a powerful antioxidant that not only helps keep you healthy but does wonders for your skin.

Whether you keep your skincare routine fairly minimal or enjoy using 10 products at once, one ingredient you should never skip out on is vitamin C. Perfect for those who suffer from uneven, pigmented skin, vitamin C keeps your complexion looking radiant and even-toned, plus, it slows down the signs of ageing.

BEAUTYDIRECTORY chatted with Dr Tania from SkinCeuticals about the importance of vitamin C, and when and how to apply it.

Who should be using vitamin C? 

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that provides protection against premature ageing by blocking free radical damage caused by daily environmental aggressors such as air pollution and sun exposure. Vitamin C can also reduce dullness, improve skin tone, and brighten the complexion for more radiant-looking skin. Therefore, it is a product that everyone should be using as we are all exposed to environmental aggressors and have free radicals causing damage to our skin.  

At SkinCeuticals we have vitamin C serums for all skin types and concerns. Our hero product, CE Ferulic is best for people with normal to dry skin. SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF has been specifically designed to provide advanced environmental protection for oily and blemish-prone skin. In addition to this environmental protection, Silymarin CF is clinically demonstrated to reduce oiliness, refine skin texture, and visibly improve skin clarity and fine lines. Phloretin CF vitamin C serum targets the first signs of ageing with powerful antioxidants, with effective ingredients for a brighter, younger-looking complexion. 

When purchasing a vitamin C serum, what should people look for? 

Not all vitamin C antioxidants are created equal, and in fact, not all vitamin C serums contain L-Ascorbic acid. Some will contain derivatives of vitamin C that do not effectively penetrate the skin or provide visible results (such as ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate).  

Aside from making sure your serum contains l-ascorbic acid, the difference in serum potency and efficiency will come down to two important factors. Firstly, it is important that there is 10-20% l-ascorbic acid in the formula. Any more than 20% can be very irritating (and won’t penetrate the skin any better), and any less than 10% won’t really have an effect. Secondly, the formula needs to be at a low pH level. We know that for optimum serum penetration, the pH (or acidity) or the formula must be low, somewhere between 2-3.5. SkinCeuticals are the gold standard for vitamin C serums when it comes to formulation and percentages because they’re formulated within these parameters. 

What is the correct way to store a vitamin C serum? 

The best way to store your Vitamin C serum is in a cool dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat. There is no need to store your serum in the fridge, as long as it is kept at room temperature. Make sure you only dispense 4-5 drops into your palms and then pat onto your face and neck for even application. Ensure the dropper is secure on the bottle so that the bottle is airtight.  

Should vitamin C be applied once or twice a day? 

Vitamin C only needs to be applied once a day. The best time to apply a vitamin C serum to your face is in the morning after cleansing. Due to its antioxidant actions, vitamin C helps to prevent UV damage (when used in conjunction with an SPF) and helps promote our skin's own internal antioxidant capacity for protection against environmental stressors. As vitamin C is quite active, night-time use is normally associated with irritation as this is when most people are using a retinol serum. Therefore, stick with it as part of your daily morning routine.  

Is there someone you wouldn’t recommend vitamin C to? 

Although our vitamin C serums are generally well tolerated by all skin types, individuals with very sensitive skin might find they have some irritation at first. If so, it is best to start at a lower l-ascorbic acid concentration (10% rather than 15% for example) and work your way up from there.  

What serums should be avoided when using vitamin C? 

As already mentioned, it is best to use your topical retinol or retinoid at night-time and use your vitamin C in the morning, so that these two products don’t cause excessive irritation in your skin. As vitamin C is an acid, it is also best to avoid using exfoliants such as AHAs and BHAs as together these might cause skin irritation.  

Why do people need a vitamin C serum if they’re protecting their skin with SPF? 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it fights oxidative stress in the skin and prevents damage from occurring due to free radical activity. It is not an SPF and does not block UV from entering the skin and therefore affecting the DNA of your skin cells. Therefore, the best combination is to use an SPF to block the sun’s harmful UV rays from causing skin burning and damage, and to also use a vitamin C antioxidant to help protect against free radical damage caused by UV and other environmental aggressors.  

What is Ferulic Acid and is it important for vitamin C? 

Ferulic acid is an antioxidant in its own right, however when paired with vitamin C, it helps stabilise the vitamin C and enhance its activity in the skin. Therefore, the best vitamin C formulations, such as the suite of SkinCeuticals vitamin C serums, all contain Ferulic acid to help supercharge the antioxidant efficiency of the vitamin C and the overall formulation. 

See the entire range of SkinCeuticals products, including their famous CE Ferulic Serum, here