Of all the skincare ingredients that have come up in the recent past, vitamin C has enjoyed its ubiquitous status for the longest time. It’s touted as one of the most potent antioxidants with undeniable skin brightening and anti-ageing benefits. A fleeting look at our beauty shelf would prove that almost all of us have either used or are still using a vitamin C serum in our skincare routine. To the ardent users of vitamin C skincare, we’re sorry to break it to you that it’s not that simple with this ingredient.
To begin with, every skin type might not need vitamin C. Not taking the credit away from its efficacy and versatility but it’s a fact that vitamin C doesn’t fit the bill for every skin type. “While Vitamin C is a versatile ingredient and can work in several formulations, people with extremely sensitive skin or those who are just starting should do a patch test before using it to check for any allergic reaction,” says Dr Harshna Bijlani, founder of Ageless Clinic.
Vitamin C Fact-Check
It is also an unstable ingredient and therefore, it oxidises quickly. So, if you have a vitamin C serum resting in your drawer for months, it’s time to toss it. “If the colourless serum has turned yellow-brown, it may be time to throw it away,” adds Dr Harshna.
This could help you in looking out for brands that have dark-coloured packaging or opaque glass bottles for vitamin C products. “It’s, therefore, advisable to keep them stored in dark places or go for dark packaging,” confirms Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar, consultant dermatologist at Dr Trasi clinic and La Piel skin clinic. Even with precautions, experts suggest getting rid of the product within three months of opening it if you’re unable to use it all.
The Layering of Skincare Ingredients With Vitamin C
The next common doubt is around the layering of ingredients with vitamin C. We got to credit it here for it gels with almost all other ingredients. To get the maximum benefits, there are a few vitamin C pairings that work like magic for the skin. “As it is an unstable ingredient, pairing it with ferulic acid helps stabilise it and improve its shelf life. This combination works well to fight radical damage,” says Dr Harshna. Adding to this, Dr Trasi also suggests layering the two ingredients for hydration benefits.
As vitamin C is regarded for its skin brightening properties, pairing it with niacinamide can help double up these benefits. To use vitamin C for dull and dry skin, Dr Harshna recommends layering it with hyaluronic acid, the OG humectant, as the latter increases the hydration quality of vitamin C.
However, there are a couple of ingredients to be avoided with vitamin C. “Be careful while mixing it with other exfoliating skincare acids as it could cause skin irritation and redness,” says Dr Harshna. She also warns against mixing it with benzoyl peroxide as it increases the oxidation rate of vitamin C altering its efficacy Also, a word of caution here, try not to use it with retinol at once; alternating the two ingredients between the AM and PM routine can work that too if don’t have a sensitive skin type.
The Right Concentration Of Vitamin C
Lastly, let’s discuss the right concentration of vitamin C that’s stable and suitable for our skin. What’s about concentrations above 10 per cent that make them effective? Dr Trasi explains that a 10-20 per cent concentration of vitamin C in the form of L-ascorbic acid is beneficial for the skin. “Less than 10 per cent does not show effective results and more than 20 per cent can lead to irritation,” she adds. The idea is to not fall for the ingredient’s hype and start using it unless your dermatologist prescribes it and make sure to include the concentration that suits your skin.