Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant ingredient that can add dynamic results to our skin care routine. It is brightening, can diminish the appearance of stubborn dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and can even improve the look of lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C can be used day and night and adds a preventative and restorative synergy to our skin care routine.
As an esthetician, there is one thing I wish people knew about Vitamin C…
A lot of skin care ingredients have antioxidant properties and antioxidants are even found in our own skin naturally in the forms of melanin, Vitamin E, and uric acid to name just a few. So why is Vitamin C so special and highly regarded? Even though we can’t manufacture it on our own, Vitamin C has been proven to be one of the most potent and effective antioxidant ingredients when applied topically, in that it can absorb and reach the intended site in the skin to deliver results.
Esthetician Note: Free radicals are reactive molecules that cause damage to our cells and cellular structures. They are created by natural processes in the body, and external triggers such as UV exposure, smoking, stress, pollution. Antioxidants work to bond with these free radicals to prevent this oxidative stress and damage that can cause visible signs of aging.
Avoid Oxidized Vitamin C Products
Its greatest strength, antioxidant potential, can be its greatest weakness and it can oxidize BEFORE it gets on to the skin or gets into the skin at meaningful levels. This is why it is important to know that there are actually multiple forms of this ingredient and Vitamin C is an umbrella term for the molecule. What version is in your skin care and how much really matters as far as results and skin compatibility. How it is manufactured, packaged, and stored makes a difference as well.
How do I know if my Vitamin C product has oxidized?
Your Vitamin C products should be kept out of direct light and heat. They should be in an opaque or dark amber bottle and sealed tightly after each use. Vitamin C serums can be clear or yellow to orange when they are ‘fresh’. Oxidized products darken and turn brown – think of an apple after it is sliced and exposed to air. Oxidized products should not be used and should be discarded.
Types of Vitamin C & Their Benefits
Vitamin C is an umbrella term for a category of molecules, with different versions offering unique benefits. Below are 5 types of Vitamin C that are utilized in skin care products.
Pure Vitamin C
Pure Vitamin C is L-Ascorbic Acid (Ascorbic Acid) and it is the most potent and most researched version of Vitamin C. It is the form of Vitamin C our skin recognizes, so other forms of Vitamin C and Vitamin C derivatives are converted to L-Ascorbic Acid in the skin. It is also the most potentially sensitizing and unstable form and can begin the oxidation process when it comes into contact with water or even other skin care products. It not only effectively improves the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, but can help prevent this free-radical damage, and improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles. (Funny note: it can smell like hot dog water.) You will usually see it in concentrations of 5-20%. Overall, this form is regarded by many as the gold-standard of topical Vitamin C.
Ingredient Buddies: You will often see Vitamin C paired with Vitamin E and Ferulic acid to amplify the antioxidant power, improve stability, and increase overall results.
Brighten & Even Serum - Key Ingredients: Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate + Superox-C
Sodium Ascorbly Phosphate
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a wonderful version of water-soluble Vitamin C for all skin types and concerns because it is still a potent antioxidant while being effective, gentle, and very stable. This is really important because L-Ascorbic Acid can be notoriously unstable and oxidize when exposed to light, air, water, and even other skin care products. This version of Vitamin C is gentle and has antimicrobial properties so it really is suitable for all skin types, from dry, sensitive, and even oily and acne-prone. It has great antioxidant brightening power and effectively improves the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation while firming the look of the skin.
Shop the following products containing Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate:
Superox-C (AKA goPure's botanical superstar, Kakadu plum extract) is the richest natural source of Vitamin C. It is an extremely potent natural antioxidant, and is very tolerable and effective when applied topically. One thing that makes it unique is that it is both oil-loving and water-loving, so this improves absorption potential and works on multiple pathways to deliver results. It improves skin radiance and boosts luminosity.
Actives Brighten & Even Serum - $29
Spot Corrector Pen - Key Ingredient: Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (TDH Ascorbate)
Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (TDH Ascorbate)
TDH Ascorbate is an highly stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C and as a result, it penetrates deeply to deliver results. It is considered an analog to L-Ascorbic Acid and it uniquely targets free radicals that damage the lipids in our skin and skin barrier, like ceramides and cholesterol. It improves the appearance of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and melasma very effectively and pairs well with other brightening ingredients, antioxidants, and even retinol for an added synergy. It can be used in concentrations up to 30%.
Actives Intensive Spot Corrector - $29
Brightening Sheet Mask - Key Ingredient: Ascorbyl Glucoside
Ascorbyl Glucoside is a popular form of Vitamin C in Japan and Korea, and is considered a quasi-drug in these countries due to its efficacy. It is not only brightening, but can be a wonderful option for firming the look of the skin and smoothing lines and wrinkles. It is stable, and converts to ascorbic acid in the skin slowly, for an almost time-released effect. It absorbs easily and when paired with Niacinamide, creates a dynamic duo for brightening and evening the look of the skin.
Actives Brightening Sheet Mask - $4.99
How do we use Topical Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is your daytime active ingredient go-to, however I like that it can be used day and night. It can be found in multiple products from your cleanser, serums, moisturizer, and even facial oils. You will get the most meaningful results from a concentrated serum or sheet mask applied as your first treatment step after cleansing, exfoliation (optional), and toning.
• Brightening Sheet Mask: After cleansing and toning, apply your Brightening Sheet Mask evenly around the face, smoothing any wrinkles. You may use a facial roller over the top for added relaxation. Allow 10-15 minutes for the product to absorb before removing the sheet mask and discarding it. Massage or press in any excess product into the skin. You may top with additional serums, or moisturize and complete your goPure routine.
• Serums: After cleansing and toning, apply 4-5 drops of your Vitamin C Serum or your Brighten & Even Serum onto the face, neck, décolleté and even the backs of your hands. Allow 60 seconds to absorb and continue with the rest of your goPure routine.
Esthetician Note: L-Ascorbic Acid serums should be applied on dried skin to protect its stability and pH. The goPure products currently use the more stable forms of Vitamin C, combined with humectants, so slightly damp skin is best.
• Spot Corrector: After using your serums and any boosters, massage a small amount of the Spot Corrector onto your most stubborn hyperpigmentation. Allow 60 seconds to absorb before continuing your goPure routine.
Shop all Vitamin C Skincare
What's your favorite Vitamin C product? Let us know in the comments!