How to tell a good serum from a bad one (and more vitamin C tips)

Along with SPF, retinol, and gentle cleansers, skin experts often cite vitamin C as one of the most beneficial ingredients in a simple daily skin care routine.

While this key ingredient is found in many masks, toners, sprays, and moisturizers, the most effective way to deliver it directly into the skin for optimal results is with an effective, targeted serum. However, like retinol, vitamin C can be difficult to get your hands on, especially since it is an unstable ingredient that changes when exposed to light and air.

With dermatologists and skin experts recommending vitamin C more than ever, here's everything you need to know about this hilarious molecule, including why you should start using it as soon as possible. What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. You may recognize this form of vitamin C on the back of the product label. Vitamin C is found in foods and supplements and has proven skin care benefits when applied topically to the skin. What effect does vitamin C have on the skin?

“Vitamin C is critical,” says Avon development chemist Christopher Corinthian. "It's a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals that cause aging," such as pollution. Nicolas Travis, skin expert and founder of Allies of Skin, says these environmental pests can cause inflammation, which can lead to some skin problems. “These include breakouts, excess melanin production (dark spots), and collagen breakdown,” says Nicholas. "Controlling inflammation is key to healthy skin."

Vitamin C is also known as a brightener and can even out skin tone with regular use. “Vitamin C can reduce dark spots by minimizing the formation of excess melanin in the skin,” Nicolas continues. "Use it daily to promote radiance." It also stimulates collagen production. "Collagen production decreases as we age," adds Nicholas. “Vitamin C therefore helps your skin repair damaged cells, keeping it looking fresh.”

How should vitamin C be used? Nicholas says vitamin C serum is the most preferred form. "This is because they often contain ideal delivery systems and are designed to be used before moisturizer." While vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it can be taken in the morning or evening, it makes more sense to use it during the day. It acts as a shield against pollution and other environmental aggressors.

As for when to use it in your daily routine, Christopher recommends cleansing, conditioning and moisturizing. The second step is to apply vitamin C and, if your skin is dry, moisturizer. However, you can also use the serum alone.

Which vitamin C is best?

“Even though a product says vitamin C on the front, the only way to tell if it’s pure vitamin C is to look at the back label,” advises Christopher. "Anew Vitamin C Glow Serum, £20, contains 10% pure vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Some products claiming to contain vitamin C may only contain vitamin C derivatives. For example, it could be ascorbyl palmitate or text. With these forms, you won't get the same protection as with pure vitamin C."

Also try beauty editors' favorites: Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum (£42.50), Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (£67), both of which absorb in seconds, and The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum (£8. £49) Deeply moisturises.

Nicolas mentioned that other forms of vitamin C, such as ethylated L-ascorbic acid and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, are more stable (fast, efficient and effective) and can penetrate deeper into the skin to work. Try Allies of Skin Peptides & Antioxyants Firming Daily Treatment (£108) to plump up your skin.

How can you get the most out of your vitamin C?

Both Christopher and Nicolas recommend combining vitamin C with SPF for improved environmental protection, as sunscreen absorbs UVA and UVB. "Using these two products daily has been proven to reduce all signs of premature aging," adds Nicholas.

Choose a lightweight sunscreen, such as Neutrogena Hydro Boost City Shield Moisturizing Lotion SPF25, £13.49, which has an oil-free hydrogel formula that won't pill or roll like other skincare products. Dermatologists also rate Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50 (£31), while R29 likes Bondi Sands SPF 50 Fragrance-Free Facial Sunscreen Lotion (£7).

What ingredients should be avoided when using vitamin C?

To avoid irritation, Nicolas recommends not using exfoliating acid immediately after applying vitamin C. "You can definitely use them in the same treatment regimen, just not at the same time. Use vitamin C every morning and exfoliating acid every night. "Alternate bases."

Representing PCA Skin, Dr. Paris, a cosmetic doctor on Harley Street, eschews the popular skin-care ingredient niacinamide when it comes to using vitamin C. "Nicotinamide can inactivate vitamin C when included in water-based products," Dr. Paris. However, you don't have to avoid it entirely. If you want to use niacinamide, make it part of your nighttime routine.

How do you know if your vitamin C serum is effective?

If the color changes, it might be time to throw out your vitamin C serum, says Christopher. "When vitamin C is exposed to air, it oxidizes and changes form, becoming less potent and less effective on the skin," he says. "When a product oxidizes, it changes from a vibrant gold color to a more orange-brown color. This is your visual clue that you may not be getting all the vitamin C promised by the product." If anything, says Christopher, You may get more moisture from other ingredients contained in your serum than from the actual vitamin C itself.

The type of packaging your vitamin C serum comes in is also worth paying attention to. “Vitamin C products in tinted glass often mean they are unstable,” adds Christopher. "If you expose it to air, it accelerates oxidation." For example, choose a product in a sealed pump rather than a dropper bottle because it will last longer and be more effective.

Can vitamin C cause skin reactions?

“L-ascorbic acid (a very common form of vitamin C products) must be formulated at a low acidic pH (usually pH 3 – 3.5) to make it as acidic as over-the-counter chemical peels,” says Nicolas. "As a result, you may experience a tingling or itching sensation."
Christopher acknowledges that some people are more sensitive to certain ingredients. "I would use vitamin C products less frequently until your skin adapts," he says. Contrary to popular belief, tingling or itching does not mean dehydration. "It's more about sensitivity. Take a break until you feel comfortable."

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