IN THIS ARTICLE:
Vitamin C Skincare Products
You’ve heard the hype, and you’ve seen tons of Vitamin C skincare products popping up on your friends’ vanities. You have a ton of questions though: what really is Vitamin C? Is it the same stuff you get from your daily glass of OJ? How can Vitamin C benefit my skin? Thankfully, experts like Dermatologist Peterson Pierre, MD of Pierre Skin Care Institute are on the case and are ready to share the true nitty-gritty details about Vitamin C in your skincare routine.
Okay, So What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a safe and effective nutrient that, when used correctly, can supply your body (and skin) with loads of benefits. With that said, the Vitamin C found in a tall glass of OJ isn’t exactly identical to the Vitamin C found in your skincare products.
Orange juice contains L-ascorbic acid, one of the most concentrated forms of Vitamin C. This form can be found in many skincare products as well, but concentration levels are what ultimately make the difference between their efficacy. Aside from the fact that applying grocery store orange juice straight to your face is a pretty bad idea (I mean, think about all the additives), orange juice Vitamin C levels can be difficult to determine  and thus might not be considered safe for applying straight to your face. More on safe concentrations later.
Types of Vitamin C
Before diving headfirst into skincare, we need to learn the different forms of this nutrient. The term Vitamin C may imply that there is a singular form in which it exists. In reality, Vitamin C is an umbrella term; one that contains a multitude of different types of Vitamin C. While this nutrient generally provides the same benefits all around, how much your skin will benefit will determine whether or not you are using the right form. Don’t worry though – just because you’re using one form over another doesn’t mean you’re doing this thing totally wrong. One of our favorite skincare brands, 100% Pure, shares further details on various forms of Vitamin C in skincare along with their benefits.
L-ascorbic Acid his is the most common and well researched type of Vitamin C. It is the most potent because of how easily it can penetrate the skin’s barrier. With that said, it’s also the most finicky. It can easily be de-stabilized through light and oxygen exposure, rendering it totally useless. Furthermore, L-ascorbic Acid can potentially cause irritation, especially for sensitive skin types.
A derivative of Vitamin C, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is less potent than L-ascorbic Acid, but can be equally as effective. This form is good for sensitive skin types as it is less irritating to its sister form. While this form can also become ineffective when exposed to UV light and oxygen, it fairs better than L-ascorbic Acid.
Also referred to as MAP, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a newer form of Vitamin C, and also one of the most stable forms at that. It is known for being super hydrating and great for acne prone skin.
Benefits of Vitamin C for Skin
Vitamin C Skincare is buzzy, but just because there’s a buzz doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump on the bandwagon. However, Dermatologist Peterson Pierre shares that there are ample benefits to this buzzy ingredient and that it’s worth adding to your daily routine.
- Fights free radical damage: “Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that helps protect against free radical damage,” says Pierre. Free radical damage is a highly underrated concern because it’s not often visibly noticeable – at first.
- Encourages collagen production: Collagen is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies. Collagen is what gives our skin that firm and supple look. As we age, our collagen production slows down, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. Vitamin C boosts collagen production to help our skin regain its youthful firmness.
- Repairs hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone: Pierre explains that Vitamin C can also help to even out your skin tone. Several factors may be at play regarding your uneven skin tones, such as UV sun damage or skin conditions caused by inflammation.
- Reduces breakouts and acne scars: Vitamin C is a great ingredient to use if you are acne-prone, as its anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness and swelling caused by acne. It can also lighten dark acne scars as well. 
When to Use Vitamin C Skincare
While the choice is ultimately yours as to when your Vitamin C skincare products should fall into your routine, Pierre has one solid recommendation: “You should use it in the morning along with your sunblock for extra antioxidant protection,” he says. You can still use your Vitamin C skincare at night, but if you really want to pack a punch in your routine, opt for applying in the AM.
Skin Types & Safe Concentrations
Great news: if you have skin, then you can use Vitamin C in your skincare rotuine. “Any skin type can use Vitamin C but you do have to assess for tolerability,” says Pierre, “start slow, every other night, and gradually build up as tolerated.” On that note, you’ll want to consider what are generally safe concentrations for Vitamin C in your products. Many products, such as the Sunday Riley C.E.O. Serum or the Tatcha Violet-C Serum contain 15% or even 20% Vitamin C, which might be overkill for your skin. “You can definitely have too much of a good thing as high concentrations of Vitamin C can be quite irritating,” Pierre mentions, “you should probably stick around 10%.”
Remember: high percentage actives do not always mean better results. Some skin types might be irritated starting out at higher percentages. While you can choose to build up your tolerance, starting and staying at a low percentage can be equally effective to cater to your concerns. The key is to find what works best for your skin without overpowering it.
Before dousing your entire face in it, you’ll need to know what ingredients pair well with this super antioxidant. Some ingredients will enhance the performance of Vitamin C, or at the very least, not negatively affect it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some ingredients can negatively impact your skin or counteract the benefits of Vitamin C in your skincare routine.
Ingredients to Pair with Vitamin C
As Pierre mentioned, applying your Vitamin C with SPF in the daytime will provide your skin with extra antioxidant protection. Studies show that when used alone, SPF only blocks 55% of free radicals caused by UV exposure.  Free radicals are silent and sneaky; they slowly cause skin aging by damaging skin cells, resulting in a loss of natural elastin and collagen. Free radical damage occurs when there is more free radical generation than there is antioxidant protection.  Since Vitamin C is considered an antioxidant, combining it with your SPF will make both ingredients more powerful.
Vitamin C also pairs well with Hyaluronic Acid, so there’s no fear when it comes to mixing these two ingredients during your skincare routine. This is especially good news considering that Hyaluronic Acid is also a buzzy skincare ingredient right now, making it almost too easy to incorporate both into your daily face ritual.
As we’ve already learned in a previous article on Mind Over Mango, peptides are a really great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine. Combined with the benefits of Vitamin C, your skin will have the best of both worlds. These two ingredients, along with Hyaluronic Acid and SPF, will not negatively interact and cause irritations when used together.
Ingredients to Avoid
Retinol is one ingredient you’ll definitely want to avoid when using Vitamin C skincare products. When paired together, Retinol & Vitamin C can cause irritation and redness in the skin. Plus, both ingredient’s efficacy is compromised when used together. Although Retinol is known for being a powerful anti-aging ingredient, it’s also notorious for being particularly harsh on the skin when not used correctly. Combining it with Vitamin C creates the perfect storm for a bad skin day. If you’re a Retinol superfan, “use your retinol in the evening” says Pierre. Doing so will avoid unnecessary irritations in the skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids, better known as AHAs, are another ingredient you’ll want to avoid. AHAs are chemical exfoliants that can rejuvenate skin tone and texture, but are also known to be potentially irritating on the skin, especially in combination with Vitamin C. There are several types of AHAs, but check for its most popular versions, namely Glycolic, Lactic, Citric Acid, or “fruit acids” in the ingredient list. 
Salicylic Acid (BHA)
Pierre recommends avoiding pairing Vitamin C with Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid is a BHA, also known as a Beta Hydroxy Acid. Like AHAs, Salicylic Acid can also cause skin irritation when mixed with Vitamin C, and this is better off used in your nighttime routine instead.
Benzoyl Peroxide is an ingredient famously known to zap acne in a pinch. What it’s less known for is its ability to oxidize Vitamin C, rendering it completely useless. If you only use Vitamin C on certain days of the week, then it’s best to use Benzoyl Peroxide, if needed, on opposite days. If you’re in a pinch, just make sure to use it only during your nighttime routine.
Using Vitamin C in Your Skincare Routine
Vitamin C is an incredible antioxidant nutrient that provides the skin with loads of benefits. If you’re new to the Vitamin C skincare game, aim for products that stay on your skin, like a serum, versus those that simply wash off, such as a cleanser or a mask. In order to reap all of the benefits, opt for serums that contain around 10% Vitamin C to start. For sensitive-skinned beauties, check this Vitamin C list to determine which type is the best for you. Don’t neglect to check the ingredient list, as that can clue you in to whether or not you’re on the right track. Last but not least, patch test prior to use to make sure there are no sensitivities or irritations. Above all, just enjoy the ride and love the skin you’re in.