Vitamin C in Skincare: Myths, Facts, and Top Benefits

An Overview of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is highly regarded in skincare for its many benefits in improving the health and appearance of our skin.  However, amidst the sea of information and beauty industry claims, it can be challenging to separate myths from facts In regards to incorporating vitamin C into our skincare routines. This article corrects misconceptions, explores its benefits, and explains why Vitamin c is important for radiant and youthful skin.

Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare

Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acids are the purest form of ascorbic acids.  These are antioxidants that help defend against free radicals.  These antioxidants also protect your cells and tissues from oxidative damage, also known as oxidative stress. 

Before we discuss why free radicals are harmful, let's dive into why it is necessary.  We need them to fight foreign ailments, break down food, and radiation from the sun.  You may ask, what does that mean for your skin?  Well, too much of anything isn't good.  These free radicals create dull, uneven skin tones, as well as increase dark spots.  They also cause fine lines and wrinkles by breaking down collagen.  Sounds bad, doesn't it? Not all vitamin C skincare products are the same, so be careful when buying skincare products with this ingredient. 

There are two types of ascorbic acids.  The most natural and active form is L-ascorbic acids, which can be found in fruits and other sources of food. In addition, there are synthetic and non-active, D-ascorbic acids. In terms of labeling, the D ascorbic acid would be explicitly listed as “D-ascorbic acid”. And if a racemic mixture is used, that would generally be listed as “DL-ascorbic acid”. While, ascorbic acid would refer specifically to L-ascorbic acid.  But, as a casual skincare user, D-ascorbic acid would not be very common. According to Jonathan Navarrete from Protocol Lab, the average skincare enthusiast doesn't need to worry about d-ascorbic acid since it's not used in skincare products.

The problem with L-ascorbic acids is that they are the most unstable form.  That means that they oxidize fastest compared to its derivatives. Through light, air, heat, and pH (alkaline conditions with a pH level above 7 causes ascorbic acids to oxidize. Keep in mind that acidity is measured on a scale below 7.  When this happens, the ascorbic acid turns into dehydroascorbic acid (DHA).  Which further develops into 2,3-diketogulonic acid. Also note that dehydroascorbic acid (DHA) and 2,3-diketogulonic acid are non-damaging and non-radical products.  But, also note that D-ascorbic acids do not have the same benefits as L-ascorbic acids.  

Types of Vitamin C

Liposomal Ascorbic Acid

This type of vitamin C can enter tissue and cells easily.  Which can stay in your system for longer due to its encased lipid bilayer.  This type of ascorbic acid can also be exposed to light, air, and heat longer than L-ascorbic acids.  You can learn more about liposomal acids here.  

Other Vitamin C Derivatives

There are many derivatives of ascorbic acid, such as sodium ascorbic phosphate, ascorbic palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and magnesium ascorbic phosphate.  These are the most stable and effective alternatives.  But, each have their own unique characteristics.  

But, for all intents and purposes, we will 

Vitamin C Myths

There are many myths surrounding skincare.  Many of which are harmless, but others that you don't want to test out.  Here are some myths that we found to be a mixture of both.  

Myth 1: Vitamin C can make your skin photosensitive 

Fact: Vitamin C helps against daytime free radicals.

There are two types of drug-induced photosensitivity, which are photo allergy and phototoxicity. These are caused by numerous factors that you use during your daily routine, which may include makeup, and other topical skin products.  "Photoexcitation and photoconversion of drugs trigger multidirectional biological reactions, including oxidative stress, inflammation, and changes in melanin synthesis." by Justyna Kowalska 

Confusions may arise from the fact that, “Vitamin C can be irritating to the skin, especially at higher strengths,” explains Dr. Jeffy, “but if [you’re] tolerating [it] well, there is no need to stop, and it can be used continuously.”  However, this is different from photosensitivity.  These symptoms can be dryness, itching, and/or redness.

Furthermore, these ascorbic acids are antioxidants.  That means that it actually protects your skin from sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles. This includes dark spots. But, that doesn't mean that you should skimp out on your sunscreen / sunblock. Antioxidants don't protect your skin from the full force of UV radiation. It essentially absorbs and oxidizes when these free radicals appear. To elaborate on this point, photosensitivity is an immune system reaction. 

Myth 2: Sensitive skin types can’t use vitamin C

Fact: It can be used on all skin types. 

In fact, a study that was published in Experimental Dermatology found that "vitamin C [can] potentially control[-ing] the response to stress in reconstructed epidermis".  This means that they found that vitamin c can be beneficial to harmful elements such as UV rays.  

But, with a caveat. You should not use high concentrations of it, as well as, look for skincare product that have other skin soothing ingredients.  This will prevent irritation from the get go.  

Myth 3: The more vitamin C, the better

Fact: Too much of a good thing can lead to adverse affects. 

There are three things to consider, the formulation and concentration, absorbability, and irritation. As you try to find what is best for you, look at the concentration, by looking at the back of the box, identify and research what type and absorption properties.  Then go from there.  It doesn't hurt to ask the brand for further information, but not all are going to readily release this information.  Make sure that the product container is solid or dark to slow down the oxidation.

Myth 4: Vitamin C can stain skin

Fact: It isn't permanent.

The discoloration comes from the high concentration of vitamin c being oxidized and loses electrons.  Think of a bruised apple of peach.  The oxidization when left out in the elements changes the color.  To prevent this, use the vitamin c product before it oxidizes.  Second, apply oils on top of the vitamin c product to prevent oxidation.   

When to Apply

Think of this with the rule of solids.  The more solid or viscous the product in your skincare routine, add it later, the less viscous, add it earlier.  So, Vitamin c should be added after cleansing and toning, but before moisturizing and applying SPF.  This skincare ingredient, should definitely be applied in the morning. The reason behind this is it can protect your skin from UV damage.  This means that if the first layer of defense, aka, your SPF falls short, your vitamin c will help prevent further damage.  You can apply it during your evening skincare routine, but, make sure that it does not interfere with those skincare ingredients such as retinol.  This will cause irritation, and sensitivity.  

Product Recommendations 

There are many products in the market these days, but for glowing, bright and consistent skin tone, we would recommend Avarelle's Vitamin C Brightening Complex Cream.  Besides Vitamin C, it contains niacinamide, cucumber, cica, sea buckthorn, and hyaluronic acid.   All of which can nourish and moisturize your skin, but also fight acne. 

Final Takeaways

This comprehensive exploration of Vitamin C in skincare has illuminated its vital role in maintaining healthy, radiant, and youthful skin. We've debunked common myths and highlighted the truth about this potent antioxidant, underscoring its ability to combat free radicals, reduce signs of aging, and improve overall skin tone and texture.

The distinction between L-ascorbic acid and its derivatives, particularly the more stable forms like liposomal ascorbic acid and other Vitamin C derivatives, is crucial for informed skincare choices. While L-ascorbic acid offers potent benefits, its instability can be a drawback, leading to a preference for more stable, yet effective alternatives.

We've also addressed common misconceptions, clarifying that Vitamin C does not induce photosensitivity, can be suitable for sensitive skin types, and should be used in appropriate concentrations to avoid adverse effects. Its role in a skincare routine is well-defined, with recommendations for application after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing and applying SPF, especially in the morning for UV protection.

Finally, product recommendations, such as Avarelle's Vitamin C Brightening Complex Cream, provide practical guidance for those seeking to incorporate Vitamin C into their skincare regimen. This article serves as a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their skincare routine with the powerful benefits of Vitamin C, ensuring a well-informed approach to achieving healthier, more vibrant skin.

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