If you look through a shelf of skin care products at a department store, you’ll notice that many labels feature vitamin C as one of their active, “miracle” ingredients. “Anti-aging” is just one of the many claims made for products containing vitamin C. While some of these claims are scientifically valid, there are some facts about vitamin C in skin care that you should consider before purchasing a product in order to choose one that can truly deliver benefits to your skin.
Vitamin C-based skin care products come in a variety of different formulas. You may find it in creams, lotions, serums, and other types of treatments. However, not all products are effective; some of them do not deliver enough vitamin C into the dermis. Another common issue with vitamin C-based products is that some of them do not contain the ideal ingredients that work well with vitamin C. By using the wrong carrier, the vitamin C present in the product cannot penetrate the skin properly. Here are a few facts to keep in mind when shopping for vitamin C-based skin care products:
- Vitamin C is an unstable compound, and when exposed to air, heat, and light, it oxidizes. Ideally, in order to prevent/reduce oxidation, a vitamin C-based product should be packaged in an air-tight bottle with a pump.
- The different forms of vitamin C are only effective in formulations with a certain pH. For example, the most well researched form of vitamin C found in skin care products, ascorbic acid, is only stable in a very low pH formula (about 3.5), and therefore tends to be irritating and cause redness. However, ascorbic acid is also know to be a very effective form of vitamin C for the skin, so it should be your preferred option when shopping for a skin care product. Alternatively, look for a water-free product, such as a face oil.
- Read the label! Look for a vitamin C concentration between 0.3 and 20%. The higher concentration, the better the absorption, but a concentration higher than 20% can cause redness and irritation, and not be absorbed as well. If the product you try causes an irritation, you may try another one containing a smaller percentage. Patch test on a small area of your skin before applying on your whole face.
- Vitamin C may be particularly effective when combined with certain ingredients, such as vitamin E. The two compounds work synergistically in protecting the skin and retarding cellular damage. Look for a product that contains both vitamin C and E.