Almost every brand now has their own version of Vitamin C. What does it actually do? How do I use it? Why is everything orange? 🍊 I answer these questions and more in my second lesson of Skincare School! Also happy new year everyone 🙂 Haven’t posted in a while because I was away on vacation… and now back to the cold Canadian winter 😦
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and type of AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that is often found in citrus fruits. Of course many different plants can contain it, but we commonly associate it with oranges, lemons, pineapples, kiwi, etc.
Besides preventing scurvy, it’s a fantastic brightening ingredient because it’s a chemical exfoliant. By removing the surface layer of dead skin, the skin appears less dull and can better absorb more products. If you’ve ever used a product high enough in Vitamin C you may have felt slight itching or irritation; this is just the product doing its job so there’s no need to worry. That is unless it really starts to sting… then you should probably stop and wash it off ASAP 🙅
Why Is It Orange?
Fun fact: it’s not dyed orange on purpose. When Vitamin C makes contact with water, it oxidizes and does just what your foundation sometimes does: it turns orange! I’m not sure what the exact chemical reaction is but it probably makes it more difficult to develop a colourless formula. Some people are concerned about how the orange looks on the face but to be honest, it’s not a huge problem because any tint will absorb into nothing.
How Do I Use It?
You can actually use it in almost any way. Many moisturizers that contain Vitamin C are very safe to use because brands put in years of research & development to craft a good formula. You’ll often find other ingredients on the packaging as well, like Vitamin E and HA (hyaluronic acid).
If that isn’t your cup of tea, you can always use a Vitamin C serum instead (apply serums after toner and before moisturizer). Some people prefer it this way because you can pick the concentration according to your skin type. If you have sensitive skin and just need a bit of exfoliation and brightening, 2-5% is a good start. It’s really important to let your skin adjust and increase the concentration over time. If you use something strong like 10% right away, it could be way too harsh and damage your skin 😷
Great idea 💡: Use Vitamin C with Vitamin E! Vitamin E is a great hydrating ingredient and complements Vitamin C by filling in the blanks. “Opposites attract” is a very appropriate quote for this duo.
When Should I Avoid Using Vitamin C?
This is probably the most important part of this lesson. DO NOT MIX VITAMIN C WITH OTHER EXFOLIANTS. This is pretty self-explanatory… if you used a facial scrub, it would be a bad idea to then go in with another exfoliator; it’s way too harsh!
Also avoid combining the following ingredients with Vitamin C:
- AHAs and BHAs: Vitamin C is already a type of AHA, so you should definitely avoid mixing any more acids, including salicylic acid (a type of BHA).
- Niacinamide: is an excellent anti-aging and skin balancing ingredient but shouldn’t be mixed with Vitamin C by the average person. When mixed poorly the combo can irritate the skin and turn yellow, which means the Vitamin C has lost its effectiveness.
- Collagen: combats aging by plumping the skin to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. When combined with Vitamin C, there’s a sort of hardening effect which will prevent products from penetrating the skin at all.
But Iris, I’ve seen products with Vitamin C combined with these ingredients! What gives? Well like I said earlier, brands perfect their R&D to develop well-balanced formulas. So I’m not saying you should avoid these combos all together, but to avoid mixing them together yourself 👍
If you really want to do so, then use these active ingredients interchangeably. For example, use a Vitamin C serum every second day, then a niacinamide serum on the days in between.
Products I Recommend
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum – $60CAD ($48 USD), 30ml
This is probably one of the most popular Vitamin C products at Sephora. I’d recommend looking for a sample size first – either as a 100 point reward or a free promo code. It’s orange, smells like oranges, and has a thin, liquidy consistency that absorbs easily into the skin. There was a time when I used this every morning and my face did get brighter! The brand also has different sizes so you can save some money as a long-term user.
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension (different % levels) – $5.80 CAD, 30ml
You just can’t beat that price tag! 💸 The Ordinary offers 23% and 30% concentrations depending on your skin type. It’s made with HA and is water-free so it actually has no colour. The consistency almost feels like a silicone-based primer or cream. For an in-depth guide on how to use this product effectively, check out their website here.
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum (5%) – $29 CAD ($23 USD), 35ml
Klairs kills it again with a cult favourite. This serum has taken the world by storm and is one of the best-selling products on Soko Glam. It’s also clear in colour in case you’re worried about an orange tint, and has a thicker consistency that’s almost jelly-like. If you’re thinking about the Glossier Super Glow, I’d highly recommend you get your hands on this Klairs serum instead because it’s similar (in consistency and even packaging) but more affordable.
Thanks for reading! 🙂 If there’s a Vitamin C product you love, definitely share with the class in the comments section below.