Ever feel like there’s a new beauty ingredient you can’t stop seeing and hearing about? That all of the sudden, it’s in every product and all over your Instagram feed? This is what our Beauty Buzzwords series is all about – helping you learn more about these mysterious ingredients and why everyone is raving about them.
Next up is vitamin C, a powerhouse nutrient that, with daily use, can fight off wrinkles and give you firmer looking skin. A total win-win!
What is it?
Vitamin C is one of the original beauty buzzwords in my opinion. It’s been used to advertise face creams on TV for as long as I can remember and it seems to be highlighted on every drugstore product label. That said, it somehow still seems like a mysterious ingredient that we associate with citrus fruits and use to fend off colds.
There are several different kinds of vitamin C, but L-ascorbic acid has the most skin-related scientific research and is the true standout element. Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient with huge antioxidant and skin healing properties. It builds and preserves collagen production (check out my collagen post here) by strengthening blood vessels, giving skin its elasticity. And it’s a water-soluble ingredient, which means our bodies cannot store or accumulate it—this is why daily intake is so crucial.
What are the benefits?
Vitamin C aids in the development of elastin, which thickens, guards, and restores skin cells. The thickening effect supports the preservation of moisture, increases circulation, and plumps up the surface of the skin.
Other main beauty benefits of vitamin C are its ability to even out skin tone by speeding up our body’s natural exfoliation process, protect against environmental pollutants, increase hydration, and defend against wrinkles. Research has shown that even a very small concentration of the nutrient can have big benefits to the skin.
Vitamin C is also great for growing and strengthening hair by fighting off bacteria on the scalp, as well as helping your body absorb iron, a mineral essential for hair growth.
Who should be using it?
Vitamin C is great for all ages as it initially prevents the deterioration of skin but can also help to repair it. However, those with sensitive skin need to be careful when using vitamin C as it can be harsh and irritating. Because of its low (acidic) pH level, L-ascorbic acid can be too strong for some skin types—instead, try a product with a magnesium ascorbyl phosphate base, which has a pH more similar to our skin so will protect against stinging or redness. With a new product, I know it can be tempting to just go for it but always do a patch test first!
How can you use it?
Use vitamin C during your morning skincare routine as it helps to protect against free radicals and can boost the protection offered by your sunscreen. Slot it in after toner but before moisturizer. If you’re using acids like salicylic or retinol, you will need to leave some time in between to avoid irritation.
Make sure to look for products packaged in air tight containers or with pumps as when antioxidants (including vitamin C!) are exposed to light and air, they begin to breakdown. If your vitamin C product has turned yellow-brown, it has oxidized and lost some of its efficacy.
When looking for an appropriate vitamin C product, finding the right concentration is important. A potency of 10-20% would be considered medium to high so if you’re new to vitamin C, start with a product with a concentration of 5-10%–this will definitely still be effective.
My Favourite Products:
- Ursa Major Brighten Up Vitamin C Serum – This product is the perfect introduction to vitamin C products as it’s gentle on sensitive skin but still super effective! It’s 100% natural and completely toxin free.
- The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + Hyaluronic Acid Spheres 2% – As always, The Ordinary is offering up a super potent and high-quality formula with a sweet price tag. But keep in mind that this one is for experienced vitamin C users that are ready for the high concentration. For the first few days, you might experience a tingling feeling which will become less intense after your skin becomes accustomed to the product.
What has your experience with vitamin C been? If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?!
Eve is a photographer and writer from Toronto, Canada with a passion for natural beauty and healthy eating. She loves green products, yoga, big salads and even bigger cups of tea.