If there's one ingredient that needs to be part of everyone's skincare routine, according to dermatologists, it is vitamin C.
Known to revitalise skin complexion and stimulate collagen production, vitamin C is easy to pair with other skincare actives and suits all skin types, if used correctly.
“Humans are the only being not capable of producing vitamin C. So an external source is required, be it through food, supplements or skincare products," says Rashmi Shetty, dermatologist and founder of Ra Skin & Aesthetics. "It is absolutely essential for our skin, as it brightens the skin, provides hydration, promotes collagen production and controls pigmentation, reduces redness, and protects against sun damage. Being an antioxidant, vitamin C works by cutting off any oxidative stress and reviving other natural antioxidants in the body.”
What makes it an all-rounder is its ability and role in the process of tissue repair and collagen formation, explains Batul Patel, dermatologist and founder of The Bombay Skin Clinic. “Research tells us that using topical vitamin C is significantly more effective than consuming it. When applied topically, vitamin C accelerates the production of collagen and elastin, hence improving the skin’s wound healing capacity. It has also been clinically proven to assist the skin in retaining water. Consuming oral vitamin C only reaches the lower levels of your skin whereas topical application of Vitamin C is absorbed directly into the topmost layers of the skin, ensuring quicker action,” explains Dr Patel.
Everyone’s best friend
When buying a vitamin C serum, opt for one that has the right percentage and pH value required for your skin (ask your skin doctor for recommendations).
For sensitive skin, choose a formula between five and seven pH levels. Don’t overdo it though as it can irritate dry and sensitive skin. You can even skip it if you are supplementing your body with a vitamin C-rich diet. Dr Shetty suggests that you avoid using it near the corner of the mouth, under the eyes or at the corner of the nose, as the skin in these spots is slightly drier than the rest and it could lead to irritation and pigmentation.
Combine it with other skincare ingredients and you can get more results. “Since pure vitamin C is unstable, vitamin E helps to stabilize the formula. Vitamins C and E have antioxidant properties that protect the skin against UV damage and reduce sunburn. Adding ferulic acid improves the vitamin’s photoprotective capabilities and is great to use during the day. Use it with hyaluronic acid if you want more hydration,” suggests Dr Patel. Always top your vitamin C with a moisturiser and sunscreen in the morning. If you use retinol, use vitamin C during the day and retinol at night, or alternate the products for nighttime use.
At night, you can use it with niacinamide for acne and dull skin as both repair the skin barrier. Vitamin C is unstable and oxidises quickly, so store it in a dark place and use it before the colour changes, or it becomes ineffective and can stain skin.