Vitamin C Serum: A Complete Guide to Its Benefits and Uses

If you’re looking for a powerful new resource to add to your skincare routine, look no further than vitamin C serum! 


You might be supplementing with vitamin C for the purpose of boosting your immunity, but it also has a number of benefits and uses for your skin! This helpful guide will familiarize you with everything you need to know about using vitamin C for your skin. It can be a game-changing ingredient in your skincare routine, especially when applied in the form of a serum. 

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to skincare terminology, fear not. We will also get you up to speed on all the key terms you need to know to identify a good vitamin C serum. If you aren’t sure how to properly apply a skincare product like a serum, we’ll help fill you in on that, too! 

You’ll learn how to use serums, when to implement them into your skincare routine, and how they can interact with other products. The more you learn about serums, the more you’ll realize how powerful they can be when factored into your beauty regimen. The same goes for vitamin C. This ingredient packs a major punch by supplying your body with antioxidants.

Let’s get started!


What are serums? 

Right off the bat, it’s important to know what a serum is. 

Serums are lightweight, liquid-based skincare products that deliver a high concentration of a specific active ingredient to your skin. Serums are used in beauty routines because they can powerfully deliver beneficial ingredients to your skin without many filler ingredients. A serum’s active ingredient is usually on its label. This is the main ingredient you’ll be using the serum for.


An active ingredient in a skincare product is the component in the product that most strongly affects your skin. 

A notable example of a common active ingredient found in skincare products is salicylic acid, also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHAs. Salicylic acid helps to get rid of dead skin cells that can clog your facial pores and cause breakouts. You’ll often find salicylic acid as an active ingredient in acne-fighting topicals. 


Another common active ingredient in serums is alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs. This category of acids includes glycolic acid and lactic acid. Both of these acids can gently exfoliate your skin, getting rid of any dead skin cells that may be present and negatively affecting your complexion. Normally, AHAs are found in anti-aging products. 


Hyaluronic acid is another active ingredient found in serums. This acid is naturally produced by your skin and provides it with numerous benefits. These include moisturization and increased water retention, as well as acne-fighting properties. 

Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are both found as active ingredients in serums, and can have similar moisturizing and anti-aging effects on skin.


However, BHAs, AHAs and hyaluronic acid are just a few of many active ingredients you’ll find in skincare products. Serums in particular usually provide your skin with a larger amount of an active ingredient than some heavier skincare products might. Heavier products like creams and gels tend to have more filler ingredients than serums and allow for application of active ingredients that are more powerful.


You can typically find serums in small dropper bottles. For each application of a serum, only a few drops are needed. Because serums are so light, it is customary to apply them at the beginning of your daily or nightly skincare routine before heavier products. Applying anything too heavy beforehand can hinder your skin’s absorption of an active ingredient in a serum.


Serums do not have to be used independently of each other – in some cases, you can use a few together. However, it’s important to know how the active ingredients in your serums interact with each other. Some serums have active ingredients that, when used together, are not complementary to each other and can even counteract each other’s benefits. 


Using Serums Wisely 

Because deciding which serums to use can be tricky, consulting a dermatologist when constructing a thorough skincare routine is a good idea. A dermatologist can assess your skin type and the specific needs of your skin based on age, your skin concerns, and other factors. With an expert opinion in the mix, you’re much more prepared to make good decisions about the skincare products you use together, whether they’re serums, creams, gels or anything else.


Luckily, serums do not typically have negative side-effects. However, everyone’s skin is different, and it’s wise to see how a serum affects your skin before making it a part of your daily skin regimen. To make sure your skin responds well to the active ingredient in a serum, you can perform a patch test. 


A patch test can give you a sense of how your skin will react to the active ingredient in a serum. To perform a patch test, apply a small amount of the serum to a small patch of skin on your arm. After a day passes, make sure you haven’t experienced any irritation or developed any redness or rash. This will confirm that you’re in the clear to include the serum in your daily routine. A patch test is a good way to trial-run any new skincare product easily.

Vitamin C and Antioxidants 

Before going out and looking for a vitamin C serum to use, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the benefits and uses of topical vitamin C. 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. If you’re not familiar with antioxidants, explaining them in simple terms can help get you started. Antioxidants are molecules within your body that protect you from oxidative harm. Harmful compounds called free radicals form in your body as a result of a number of things you may be exposed to in day-to-day life. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals so free radicals lose the ability to do damage.


Some common sources of free radicals are pollution from the air, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol in excess. However, disease, poor nutrition and various other factors like overexercising and even too much of certain minerals can cause excess free radical formation. To prevent excess free radicals from forming in your body, it’s important to get an adequate amount of antioxidants from food, supplements, and topicals.


Antioxidants can be found in numerous healthy foods. Berries, green tea, and even dark chocolate are known for providing your body with antioxidants. If you’re planning on using a vitamin C serum to boost your skin’s health, pairing it with edible sources of antioxidants will pack a powerful punch.


Vitamin C itself is an antioxidant – it’s famously known for boosting immune health. However, if you want to use vitamin C on your skin, it’s going to be serving an altogether different purpose. You’ll still be reaping the benefits of vitamin C as an antioxidant, albeit in a different way.


It’s important to also note that by stopping excess formation of free radicals in your body, antioxidants can help reduce the signs of the aging process. For your skin, this means using antioxidants like vitamin C topically is going to have major visual skin benefits. This is just one of the reasons to use vitamin C serum in your skincare routine! 


Vitamin C and Moisturizing Your Skin

As you now know, vitamin C is powerful as an antioxidant. This means it has anti-aging properties. By neutralizing free radicals in your body, antioxidants like vitamin C allow your skin to continue looking youthful as you age. 

One of the ways that using vitamin C topically benefits your skin is by keeping it moisturized. Similar to another common serum ingredient, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C helps your skin retain water. 

Aiding in your skin’s ability to hold onto moisture is a valuable component of a good skincare routine. Your skin needs good hydration to keep it looking young and to stay smooth and soft. One way to hydrate your skin is to drink enough water each day. Drinking six to eight glasses of water on a daily basis will aid in your efforts to keep that youthful glow. 


On top of drinking enough water, you should use a serum with a moisturizing active ingredient. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serums both help your skin retain moisture well and can be used as moisturizing agents. Hydrating your skin with a serum is simple and easy, and you’ll learn more of the specifics of it later in this article. 


Vitamin C and Keeping Your Skin Looking Young 

Topical vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen is one of the most common proteins found in your body. Your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments all have collagen. Collagen is often taken in supplements because of its anti-aging properties. Naturally stimulating collagen production in your skin can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. In addition, stimulating collagen production can help with keeping your skin moisturized. 


As you age, your skin begins to produce less collagen. Since this is the protein that gives your skin its structure, this reduction in collagen production can have a negative impact on your skin’s appearance. Supplementing with collagen can be helpful, but it’s a great idea to naturally increase your skin’s production of the protein if possible. Vitamin C serum can help with this immensely. 

When your skin’s production of collagen slows down, naturally boosting it with an active ingredient like vitamin C is extremely helpful. Providing your skin with topical sources of antioxidants can have a direct impact on the appearance of age-related skin issues. In addition, collagen itself can be taken as a supplement in tandem with vitamin C serum and dietary sources of antioxidants like berries and green tea. Supplying your body and skin with a sufficient amount of antioxidants is essential for managing the age-inducing effects of free radical activity on your body. Supporting healthy collagen production in your body is just one of the many benefits of using topical vitamin C in the form of a serum.


In addition to boosting your skin’s collagen production, using vitamin C serum also boosts your skin’s production of the protein elastin, another protein that is essential for youthful, healthy skin. When your skin is producing enough elastin, it stays flexible while still maintaining its structure. Excess free radical activity in your body can slow down the production of elastin in your skin, so using a topical antioxidant like vitamin C will ensure that your body is equipped to counteract this slowdown and the other age-inducing effects of free radicals. 


Vitamin C and Reducing Blemishes and Dark Spots

In addition to helping keep your skin looking young, vitamin C serum can improve the evenness of your skin’s pigmentation. If you’re struggling with blemishes or dark spots, vitamin C serum can help. There are a number of ways vitamin C serum can improve your skin’s appearance, some of which are related to its ability to aid in the production of collagen and elastin.


Because vitamin C serum increases collagen and elastin production, it can boost the overall strength and health of your skin. Dark spots are often caused by sun damage, and strengthening your skin by increasing collagen and elastin production can help restore it to a more balanced and even looking tone.


If you’re putting together a skincare regimen to specifically target dark spots and blemishes, hyaluronic acid serum can also be helpful. Combined with vitamin C serum, these two active ingredients can be a massive help in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and other skin issues.


Vitamin C and Brightening Your Complexion 

Vitamin C serum can even out your complexion and give it the appearance of balance and brightness. If you’re seeing dullness in your skin, vitamin C can be a huge help. Evening out your complexion can lead to a natural, youthful glow that will transform your overall appearance. Because serums can provide your skin with the ingredients that it needs in high concentrations, your skin can get lots of vitamin C from a serum, even more so than from other topical skincare products.

When to Apply Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C serum can be used twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. When you’re using serums in your skincare routine, remember that they’re some of the most lightweight products you’ll use. If you use a cleanser or toner, these are the only products that should come before a serum in your skincare routine.


If you want to make the most out of different sources of antioxidants, try pairing daily application of a vitamin C serum in the morning and evening with a consistent intake of antioxidant-rich foods. Natural sources of antioxidants are often more effective than supplements. Food intake and topical application can be a great combination to get the antioxidants you want and need!


When you apply vitamin C serum, make sure to spread it evenly across your skin. You can apply the serum with your fingertips, patting your skin and then smoothing the serum in using gentle downward or circular motions. Make sure your hands are clean before you start applying a serum. Dirty hands can transfer dirt and bacteria to your face that can cause irritation and breakouts. 

Combining Vitamin C Serum with Other Products 

Because skincare products’ active ingredients don’t always mix well, it’s important to know what pairs well with vitamin C serum and what doesn’t. 

One specific ingredient you’ll want to be careful with when using vitamin C serum is benzoyl peroxide. Using benzoyl peroxide and vitamin C serum together can neutralize the serum’s benefits. Benzoyl peroxide is often used for treating acne, but you can find other active ingredients with active ingredients that pair better with vitamin C serum. 


Some great product pairings in general with vitamin C serum are a good cleanser, exfoliator, toner, eye cream, and moisturizer. As you’ve now learned, a serum will come into play in your skincare routine after cleanser, exfoliator, and toner, but before heavier products like eye cream and moisturizer. Each of these products serves a different purpose in your skincare routine. 

Washing your face with a cleanser to start your regimen is ideal. Look for a cleanser that is gentle and doesn’t have any unnecessary filler ingredients like fragrances and dyes. Some cleansers include active ingredients that can clash with vitamin C – if you’re unsure about a cleanser’s ingredients, talk to your dermatologist.


Using a good exfoliator will remove dead skin cells from your face, allowing for your other products’ active ingredients to be better absorbed. Dead skin cells can clog your pores, leading to breakouts and negatively affecting your skin’s look and feel. As with your cleanser, make sure to choose an exfoliator that does not have active ingredients in it that will clash with your vitamin C serum. 


A high-quality toner is another great addition to your skincare regimen. This is another product that will be applied before vitamin C serum or any other serum you might use. Toner can help keep your skin’s pH balanced out, complementing acidic ingredients like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid. A toner is best applied using a cotton pad instead of your fingers. Because toners are extremely light and liquid-based, it’s difficult to apply them by hand. Although serums can be easily spread throughout your face using your fingers, it’s best to apply a toner to a pad and apply it this way instead.


After cleanser, exfoliator and toner, you’ll apply your vitamin C serum. Take your time throughout the process of your routine – remember to be gentle! Rough motions can irritate your delicate skin. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to skincare. 


After you’ve applied your serum, it’s time to finish up your routine with any heavier products like creams or gels. Moisturizer combined with serum is a great pair, but again, make sure that your moisturizer is complementary to your serum. 

In addition, it’s wise to finish up your skincare routine with a powerful sunscreen. Vitamin C serum can help strengthen your skin and make it more resistant to sun damage, but you still need sunscreen to keep your skin healthy. Some moisturizers include SPF, but if yours doesn’t, apply sunscreen after your moisturizer. The best way to put sunscreen on is the same way you’d apply a moisturizer – gently and generously. Including sunscreen as the finishing touch in your skincare routine makes you ready to take on the day looking and feeling your best, without any worries about sun damage.

Choosing the Best Vitamin C Serum 

Not all vitamin C serums are created equal. However, a higher price tag doesn’t always mean higher quality. 

Some key things to look for are an absence of filler ingredients and a dark-colored bottle. Filler ingredients like colors and fragrances can sometimes have a negative effect on your skin and are not necessary components of a good serum. Choosing a serum in a dark-colored bottle is essential because vitamin C serum needs to be stored where it won’t be exposed to sunlight. After being exposed to too much sunlight through improper storage, vitamin C serum can stop working properly.


When choosing a vitamin C serum, you also need to know how high the concentration of the active ingredient is. The active ingredient in vitamin C serum is, of course, vitamin C – but some serums have higher and lower concentrations of vitamin C serum. The higher the concentration, the more potential there is for the serum to irritate sensitive skin. 


If you have sensitive skin or are concerned about adding vitamin C serum into your skincare routine, start by consulting your dermatologist. From there, choose a serum with a lower concentration of vitamin C. Once you’ve got your serum picked out, perform a patch test to make sure your skin reacts well. If your patch test doesn’t produce any redness or irritation, you’re all set. 

You can easily factor vitamin C serum into your daily and nightly routines. Just remember to use it towards the beginning of your application of products, after a cleanser or toner but before any heavier products. Good luck!


Sources: - supplements

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