Can Vitamin C Be Used As An Exfoliant?

By now, you have undoubtedly heard all of the buzz about the super antioxidant ingredient in skin care products that is touted as the fountain of youth for your skin. If by chance, you are still thinking Vitamin C is only used for fighting off colds and flus, then luckily you stumbled upon this article. 

Vitamin C has been a super player in the skin care game for years, and continues to still be a go to ingredient when it comes to correctants and anti-aging products. There are many cult favorite products from serums, to scrubs and moisturizers, of course from many trendy companies. But, if you're not using Vitamin C in conjunction with a proper skin care regime, you might be missing out on many of the intended benefits.

Chemistry Lesson

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, has powerful antioxidant capabilities, and has many benefits for your skin.

Two main forms used in skin care products:

L-Ascorbic acid is stronger, has a higher concentration, and can be harsher on dry or sensitive skin. It is considered very unstable and will oxidize from prolonged exposure to light, heat, and air. Basically, you will have to throw it out sooner.

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a milder, but still very active, form of Vitamin C. It is considered stable and will not oxidize when exposed to the elements. It is a safer form of Vitamin C to use if you have sensitive or dry skin.

What Does C Do For You?

Vitamin C protects skin from stressors in the environment, like UV rays from the sun and air pollutants. It also helps tighten and firm the skin, making it look more youthful. And, of course, it can actually lessen the appearance of pigmented areas of the skin caused by sun damage, blemishes, scarring, or just aging in general. 

But, it's not an exfoliant, and if you are not properly exfoliating your skin prior to applying your favorite Vitamin C products, then you are definitely missing out, and unfortunately, not getting the full benefits from this potent nectar.

Simple Steps to Great Skin

If you are going to invest in skin care products like vitamin C serums then it is a good idea to take a minute and figure out how to prepare your skin before you use any new products so you get the most optimal results. 

One important step is to make sure you don’t skip properly exfoliating your skin a few times a week to remove the dead skin cells so your serums and acids can properly penetrate your skin and pores. There’s no point in lathering on nourishing products over layers of dead and damaged cells, so make sure to shed that skin first.

When it comes to exfoliating at home, there are luckily many options. You can use exfoliating brushes, sponges, or gloves, or you can try scrubs, acids, creams or even at home derma rollers or microneedlers. It is important to consider your skin type before choosing which method of exfoliation you will be using. 

Tips for Different Skin Types

Dry skin

You will want to avoid using a physical tool like a brush because it’s possible you could tear or damage your skin even further. This method of exfoliation is sometimes referred to as mechanical exfoliation, and can actually increase dryness, which can cause small tears to your dermis. Acids, like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (or AHAs), work well at exfoliating the dead skin cells for people that have dry skin and promoting the glow of healthy refreshed skin. Glycolic Acid is a popular type of AHA and is available in numerous products.

Sensitive Skin:

The same is true for sensitive skin. You will want to avoid most mechanical exfoliation methods because they have the potential of irritating sensitive skin and causing redness, unless your dermatologist has recommended something, or you are having a treatment done in the office. A milder acid, like a Beta Hydroxy Acid, is a good choice, especially when combined with an AHA. 


Oily skin tends to be denser and more able to hold up to mechanical or manual exfoliation and can greatly benefit from brushes and scrubs. If you have oily skin, and don’t already exfoliate, chances are you probably have some extra build up on your skin. It's a good idea to try a manual exfoliation in combination with a mild chemical exfoliant


If you are lucky enough to have no issues with your skin, then you are really free to try any and all methods of exfoliation. Be careful to be gentle with your skin if you are just starting the process, and ultimately your preference will be based on how your skin responds to each individual method. 

One product that works well, especially for dry or sensitive skin, is the Microdermabrasion Resurfacing Cream from goPure Beauty. It combines Glycolic Acid with Salicylic Acid to boost results, while calming and soothing the skin with fruit enzymes and other ingredients like Aloe Vera and Chamomile, which will help you to avoid any redness. This product utilizes natural exfoliants like honey, which has been used for years as a way of shedding dead skin cells, and grounded pumice and bamboo powder. These tiny natural penetrators contained in the two powders aid in removing the top layer of the skin gently while eliminating the possibility of microtears in the skin which is a common occurrence with other abrasive exfoliator beads. 

Cleansing and Toning 

Now that you know how to start your skin care regime, which is by always exfoliating two to three times a week, you can focus on your daily routine. In general, the absolute fundamental step of every good skin care routine is making sure you remove all dirt, oil and makeup at night, so that when you wake you can simply splash water on your face before using your cleanser. 

A bonus tip is to try and find a toner that includes Vitamin C in its ingredients list so you will not only receive clean, fresh skin after using it, but your skin will also appear brighter and more even toned. 

After properly cleansing your face, apply a toner to remove any excess debris that might be left on your face. Look for one with botanical ingredients that will sooth and calm your skin, while simultaneously leaving it feeling hydrated. A hydrating alcohol free toner like our Hydrating Toner, won't dry your skin out like some other popular astringents on the market. It also uses Aloe and Rosehip oil which leave your skin smooth and soft.

Vitamin C Time

Now that you have followed these important steps, it is time to apply Vitamin C in the form of a serum or moisturizer. Serums are great because they really work due to their high active ingredient concentration. 

A good vitamin C serum can, at the very least:

  • Reduce the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles, and sun damage
  • Even out and brighten skin tone
  • Leave skin with a radiant glow

Serums should be able to penetrate deeply into the skin and be well absorbed. Vitamin C works best when used in combination with other antioxidants like Vitamin E, and the effects can be maximized when it is incorporated with an acid, specifically ferulic acid. Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that can lessen the appearance of fine lines, dark spots, age spots, and wrinkles over time. 

The last steps in your skin care routine before you apply your makeup should always be to apply a hydrating moisturizer and SPF. Look for a product that uses fatty acids as well as softening agents such as Shea Butter to leave skin hydrated, smooth and dewy. A good tip is checking the product’s number on the comedogenic scale, making sure it won't leave behind residue that will clog your pores, especially if you have oily skin. Try and use a pea or dime size amount instead of over applying the product before you apply your makeup. 


By taking a few extra minutes to treat your skin properly, you will get years of lasting benefits. Who can argue with that?  


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