Cosmetic Ingredients Class: Vitamin C 101

Class is in session! Part of a healthy skin care journey involves understanding which cosmetic ingredients will actually help your skin.

Vitamin C  is a naturally occurring compound with antioxidant properties in skin, mostly found in the epidermis and the dermis. It’s difficult to deliver Vitamin C  to skin in a form that is stable, effective and non-irritating. This has led to the development of various forms of Vitamin C in skin care: ascorbic acid/ L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl glucoside ,ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl stearate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.

In order for the skin to reap the benefits of Vitamin C, it has to first be converted to ascorbic acid on the skin.

What are the Benefits of Vitamin C

  1. Vitamin C increases collagen production. Collagen is a connective tissue that keeps skin firm and plump; its loss results in the development of wrinkles. When regularly applied, Vitamin C increases collagen production. Collagen production is a very slow process because the half life of collagen is about half a year. Even with the patient and consistent application of Vitamin C, it may take 3 – 6 months to experience a change in your skin. The maximum effects of a youthful skin will occur after a year of use.
  2. Vitamin C boosts sun protection. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. When topically applied, Vitamin C protects skin from harmful free radicals that are caused by UV radiation. Using a leave on cosmetic product like a Vitamin C serum underneath your sunscreen will enhance sun protection.
  3. Vitamin C evens skin tone and brightens the skin. When skin is healing from acne, photodamage etc hyperpigmentation could result. This is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin. Vitamin C reduces melanin production and the oxidation of melanin resulting in even, brighter skin.

How to Include Vitamin C in your Skincare Routine

Using a serum is one of the best ways to include Vitamin C in your skin care. Since Ascorbic Acid can begin to oxide/degrade as soon as it’s dissolved in water, look for products where water is NOT one of the first ingredients. It’s likely that such a product will really work. That means look for serums instead of cream based products. If water is present, look for products that use stabilizing ingredients.

Vitamin C serums seem to work best on clean bare skin, so apply it after cleansing and toning your skin. After applying the serum, let your skin absorb it completely (about 15 minutes) before moving on to the next step of your routine.

If there is a film left on your skin that means a little too much serum was used. This film, when exposed to air and light changes color and could turn you several shades of orange.

When using a skin care product with Vitamin C, do not forget to patch test because Vitamin C can be irritating. To minimize irritation, start using vitamin C at the lowest concentration you can tolerate.

Increase your skin’s tolerance by gradually increase usage from a lower concentration of about 5% . From 5% go to 10% then to 15% and finally 20%.

pH and Concentration

Your Vitamin C product should be at a concentration of least 10% to produce collagen. A concentration of 20% is the most effective without causing negative effects.

Vitamin C has to be formulated around a pH of 3 for it to be able to pass through your skin barrier and be used by your skin.

Try Vitamin C in…

wolfandmoroko vitamin c serums

OST C 20 Original Pure Vitamin C 20 Serum

Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum

FutureDerm Vitamin CE Caffeic Silk Serum 16+2

Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster


Please note that I can’t guarantee that all of the make-up and skincare products I recommend will suit you. Everyone’s skin is different and it’s possible to be allergic to anything. Wherever possible, patch test your products before purchasing.


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8 thoughts on “Cosmetic Ingredients Class: Vitamin C 101

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