Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants used in the skincare world. It not only helps to protect the skin from free radical damage, caused by environmental aggressors, but also helps to increase protection against sun damage and improves capillary health.
How does it work exactly?
Vitamin C helps to keep the skin healthy by inhibiting what’s called ‘oxidative stress’. To understand the process of oxidation and its effects on the skin, think about what happens when you cut into an apple – it turns brown. Similarly, as we age, the skin’s antioxidant defense system weakens, losing its capacity to fight the oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Here’s the science-y bit: Free radicals are naturally-occurring, unstable extra electrons produced by everything from UV exposure to diet and stress that seek out other extra electrons from healthy cells, damaging them and creating more free radicals in the process. They cause DNA damage in cells throughout the body, including the skin, leading to inflammation and deterioration within the cells – essentially ‘rusting’ them. These damaged cells can also cause tissue breakdown, leading to other symptoms such as irregular pigmentation and premature ageing.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C bind to free radicals before they can cause this damage, helping to prevent premature ageing, dullness and inflammation by protecting the cells. You can see this process in action by cutting an apple and rubbing lemon juice on it – the lemon juice, which is high in Vitamin C, helps to preserve the apple, and in the same way it can help to protect your skin too.
What are the benefits?
Thanks to its incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin C is a superstar when it comes to supporting the skin through the natural ageing process and preventing premature ageing. The benefits for your skin are endless, which is why it can be a powerful ingredient in your daily skincare regimen.
- Increases hyaluronic acid and collagen production
- Lightens hyperpigmentation
- Strengthens the capillary walls and repairs capillary damage
- Prevents the signs of sun damage
- Treats dullness, pigmentation and uneven skin tone by brightening the complexion
- Smooths fine lines
- Improves skin texture
Who might want to use Vitamin C?
Vitamin C can be used at any age. It can be used to tackle and slow the signs of ageing, protect the skin against daily free radical damage or to address inflammation or hyperpigmentation concerns in younger skins. It’s the ultimate skincare ingredient for lifelong skin health.
Are all Vitamin C’s created equal?
Due to its chemical makeup, Vitamin C can be an unstable active, which presents several challenges in skincare, such as poor penetration. So, it’s important to look at the overall performance of the product rather than focusing on the benefits of a single ingredient.
Not all Vitamin C has the same effect. Some are fantastic – others have very little antioxidant benefit. Ascorbic acid is the most biologically-active, and is one that we favour here at Kate Kerr London.
As an ingredient, ascorbic acid is very unstable and can oxidise when exposed to heat, light and oxygen, so it can be difficult to find a great formulation over the counter. It should be housed in a dark bottle with a pump action to limit oxygen and light exposure. If the product turns brown, it’s time to bin it and invest in a new one.
Ascorbyl palmitate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate are more stable options. Be sure to store yours in a dark spot where there’s no change in temperature – if you want to ensure its stability, it’s best not to keep it in the bathroom.
What’s the best way to integrate Vitamin C into your skincare regime?
Antioxidants paired with SPF are the foundation of our clients’ day time regimes. Vitamin C might be a good option for you, so be sure to discuss this with your clinical facialist. If you’re using a Vitamin C serum, we recommend applying it after cleansing, exfoliation and pads, which delivers a targeted treatment directly into the deeper layers of the skin. However, if you’re using our ZO Vitamin C serum, this needs to be applied as a final step before your SPF.
To get the most of its antioxidant properties, it’s best to apply Vitamin C products in the morning – that way your skin is protected against environmental aggressors during the day. It can be applied morning and night if you don’t use a retinol in the evenings.
Make sure you don’t use it at the same time as a retinol as the two ingredients can compromise each other’s efficacy. That’s why, at Kate Kerr London, we recommend that our clients use Vitamin C in the morning and a retinol in the evening.
Vitamin C can be irritating if you have sensitive skin, so we recommend adopting a comprehensive regime first in order to calm the skin and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier before adding it to your regime. If you have sensitive skin, start by applying it every other day initially, then increase to daily use. If you feel it bite, don’t panic, it’s an active ingredient. Vitamin C can’t be stored in the skin, so you need to use it regularly to achieve the benefits.
Serums have the highest concentration of active ingredients in the skincare category, so you’ll find that a Vitamin C serum is more effective than a cream or a toner that contains Vitamin C. It’s best to use a serum that combines Vitamin C alongside other antioxidant ingredients such as Vitamin A, E, CoQ10, resveratrol and niacinimide, rather than on its own, in order to get a broader antioxidant defense.
How long does it take to see results?
Once you start using a Vitamin C serum as part of an overall skincare regime designed to achieve optimum skin health, you should see a noticeable improvement within 12 weeks.
We strongly recommend using Vitamin C to complement a full skin health regime. It’s important to look after the skin and all its processes with specific products within a comprehensive regime – whilst Vitamin C is a superstar ingredient, it isn’t the answer to achieving optimum skin health on its own. If you would like advice on how a skincare regime, together with targeted facials and treatments, can help you to achieve your skin goals, get in touch to book a consultation and we can provide a tailored plan. If you’re an existing client and would like to know more about the antioxidants we’re using to treat your skincare concerns, and if Vitamin C might be a good addition, get in touch or mention it at your next appointment.