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an insiders guide to vitamin c

June 14, 2013

vitamin c is essential for beautiful skin. pretty big statement, isn’t it?  i’m pretty obsessed with it and even listed it as a beauty product every woman must own in my june framework magazine article; an effective vitamin c product can transform the skin and help it to age with health and grace. i myself have been using one for two weeks and it has completely brightened and refined my skin.

forget the false promises labels make about “reducing”, “boosting”, “brightening” and get ready for a little chemistry class that you’ll want to bookmark for your future beauty shopping trips… it’s a lot of life skin changing info.

i’m not going to lie – this is one complicated vitamin… but the best things in life usually are. here is your guide to vitamin c!

a few facts about vitamin c:

  • derived naturally, from plant glucose (except for d-asorbic acid, which is synthetic)
  • holds tons of benefits including reducing inflammation and hyper-pigmentation (like sun spots), boosting collagen (to reduce and repair fine lines and texture), fighting free radicals (like UVA and UVB rays), and overall brightening
  • vitamin c can come in a cocktail (mixed with other ingredients for moisture and added benefits and therefore less targeted and potent) or as a serum (which will be more concentrated but require extra moisturizing on top)
  • don’t forget to include vitamin c in your diet for inside out beauty results
  • percentage of vitamin c is very important – look for between 7%-15% but sensitive skin should stick to 10% or under.
  • therapeutic results happen at 10% concentration
  • it’s normal to see your skin flake – this is because of aggressive cell turnover
  • make sure to sun protect with an spf lotion as fresh, new skin needs extra protection
  • notoriously unstable, vitamin c is destroyed (and possibly even damaging to skin) if exposed to air and light so look for airtight formulation (pump or dropper) in opaque packaging
  • oils naturally rich in vitamin c include rose hip, argan and maracuja (if you’re curious about maracuja oil, a decent source of vitamin c, i wrote about it here). many natural beauty products will include one of these, especially rosehip

how to choose the right vitamin c product:

when reading labels, look for anything starting with “ascor“; forms of vitamin c that are proven most stable and effective are ascorbic acid, l-ascorbic acid (the most stable form), ascorbyl palmitate (also know as ‘ester c’ which is very potent), calcium ascorbate (another form of ester c which is less potent), sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (great for sensitive skin).

it’s often difficult to find what percentage of vitamin c is contained, even if you google it, so notice where they are listed on the label – closer to the front of the list means a higher concentration. you can also contact the company directly, which is what i’ve done a number of times.

how to add it into your routine:

  • use a vitamin c serum at night on freshly washed, bare skin, before moisturizer (if you can get a clarisonic in there before doing so, you’re golden!)
  • make your own effective product by adding a few drops serum to vitamin e oil to increase the moisturizing benefits

there are a handful of effective products on the market that tick all of my boxes including percentage, packaging and results at various price points. these are not the most moisturizing, so treat the skin with moisturizer after you apply one of these serums.

best vitamin c serums

elizabeth dehn for one love organics vitamin c active moisture serum, $75 | cellular skin rx c+firming serum (12% l-asorbic acid), $38 | skinceuticals c e ferulic (15% l-asorbic acid), $153| neostrata vitamin c concentrate (10% l-asorbic acid), $37 | kiehl’s powerful strength line reducing concentrate (10.5% l-asorbic acid), $77 | mario badescu (7.5% l-asorbic acid), $50

not shown, but this one gets a major mention.

*note: i-ascorbyl palmitate is ester-c which is a potent form of l-asorbic acid so the 3% actually equates to 10% – see, told you to get ready for chemistry class!