As a highly celebrated but often misunderstood skincare ingredient, vitamin C attracts many questions and misconceptions. At Peach & Lily, our licensed estheticians and community members frequently ask us about vitamin C, while my clients often bring it up during consultations and facials. However, there are many myths surrounding this buzzy ingredient that need debunking. In this post, I’ll be addressing the most generally asked questions and mistaken aspects of vitamin C to provide you with all the details you need. So keep reading to discover the truth!
Myth #1: All Vitamin C is identical
While the front label of your vitamin C product may only note vitamin C, the ingredient list may indicate that it contains L-Ascorbic Acid (pure vitamin C) or other derivatives such as ascorbyl glucoside, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, and more, which are derived from vitamin C and may contain additives to enhance stability or absorption. However, it’s essential to mention that different types of vitamin C have varying effects on the skin in terms of both effectiveness and potential irritation.
If you’ve employed a vitamin C product before and found it ineffective or irritating, it’s worth reviewing the specific type of vitamin C used, the rate present, and the pH level of the overall formula. This data can help you specify which ingredient your skin may not have reacted well to, allowing you to explore alternative vitamin C options. For a vitamin C product that is less likely to provoke irritation and oxidation, consider a stabilized derivative that doesn’t require a low pH formula, such as ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate.
Myth #2: Sun sensitivity can be caused by Vitamin C
Many people believe that Vitamin C should only be used in the evening because it is acidic in its pure form. However, unlike some other acids, Vitamin C has not been shown to increase sensitivity to the sun. In fact, studies suggest that this potent antioxidant can help protect against free radical damage caused by the sun. This doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen, but combining Vitamin C with your SPF can be a great idea.
This also means that you can choose to apply your Vitamin C product in the morning, evening, or both, depending on the benefits you’re seeking and how it fits into your routine. For instance, if you want to enjoy antioxidative benefits during the day, apply it in the morning. On the other hand, if you’re looking to firm and rejuvenate your skin (as Vitamin C can boost collagen production), incorporating it into your evening routine could be a great idea. Additionally, Vitamin C products come in various textures, including silky, tacky, creamy, and oily. So, if you find certain textures more enjoyable in either your morning or nighttime routine, go for the time of day that works best for you because consistency is key.
See also: 10 Skin Care Mistakes You’re Making That Are Damaging Your Skin
Myth #3: Vitamin C is suitable for specific skin types and not recommended for sensitive skin
Since our bodies cannot produce Vitamin C, we have to obtain it through our diet or topical application. The good information is that Vitamin C is appropriate for all skin sorts, but the key is discovering the correct type for your skin. L-ascorbic acid, for example, is one of the most potent forms of Vitamin C, but it can be irritating and requires a lower pH level in its formulation. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to opt for a derivative that comes in a less acidic formula.
If you want to see results quickly, choose a derivative that has robust clinical studies on the specific skin concerns you’re targeting. THD ascorbate and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate are two types of lipid-soluble Vitamin C derivatives known to absorb better into the skin for visible results. Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate has more flexible “arms” on the molecule compared to THD ascorbate, potentially leading to even better absorption.
The bottom line is that if you want to use a Vitamin C product, don’t assume that your skin type excludes you from finding one that works for you. You can find a suitable Vitamin C product for your skin type on our website.
Myth #4: The more Vitamin C, the better
It’s important to note that the concentration and type of vitamin C used in a skincare formula are both crucial factors in determining its effectiveness. A higher percentage of vitamin C doesn’t necessarily mean better results if the formula isn’t stable and properly formulated. Absorbability is also a crucial factor to consider, as a smaller concentration of a derivative that absorbs better may deliver more visible results than a formula with a larger percentage but lower penetration into the skin.
To determine what concentration is right for you, start by identifying the specific type of vitamin C used in the formula and researching its absorbability. This will help you determine what concentration you prefer. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask the brand for more information and studies on the vitamin C they use to ensure transparency and make an informed decision. In summary, it’s important to consider both the type and concentration of vitamin C in a skincare formula for optimal results.
Myth #5: Vitamin C may cause skin discoloration or tanning
Have you ever noticed your hands and face turning slightly orange after using some of your vitamin C products as if you had just applied a tanning product? This is not your imagination at play. L-ascorbic acid slowly breaks down into sugar that mimics the effects of fake tanners, resulting in a temporary fake tan-like effect.
There are some necessary concerns to keep in mind if you’re a lover of L-ascorbic acid. Firstly, use your vitamin C formula before it degrades to ensure maximum potency, and apply it consistently at a frequency that suits your skin. Secondly, wash your hands immediately after application to avoid staining. Thirdly, make sure to apply the product evenly all over your face to prevent uneven patches.
To prevent on-skin oxidation, consider applying oil over your vitamin C product. Additionally, you may opt for a more stable derivative that does not cause temporary tanning-like effects.
Myth #6: You can grow resistant to Vitamin C
We receive numerous inquiries regarding tolerance and resistance to ingredients. Resistance to an ingredient occurs when the number of receptors decreases or becomes less sensitive to the ingredient. However, studies have not indicated this phenomenon happening with vitamin C, and there is no evidence of specific receptors involved in how vitamin C is utilized by our skin.
I prefer to liken vitamin C to consuming nourishing foods daily. Just as I consume vegetables daily, my body does not develop resistance to them. While your skin changes and evolves over time, and its needs may vary seasonally, you do not need to worry about your skin becoming “used to” your vitamin C product. If you find a vitamin C formula that works well for you, you can use it as frequently as is suitable for your skin without the fear of it losing its effectiveness.
Myth #7: Vitamin C can’t be mixed with other acids, retinol, or niacinamide
Let’s discuss the myth surrounding the combination of vitamin C and niacinamide. An ancient analysis indicates that when pure ascorbic acid and niacinamide are mixed at high temperatures, they can potentially react to form nicotinic acid, which may cause irritation. However, this scenario is unlikely to occur during skincare application since our products do not involve such high temperatures.
In fact, combining these two ingredients can prove to be a winning combination, particularly in addressing hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C and niacinamide work in different ways to combat discoloration. Vitamin C inhibits the overproduction of pigmentation, while niacinamide prevents the transfer of overproduced pigmentation within cells. I have been personally struggling with hyperpigmentation recently and have found that pairing our soon-to-be-released vitamin C formula with our cult-favorite Glass Skin Refining Serum (which contains 2% niacinamide) has been an incredibly effective combination.
There is confusion around using vitamin C with AHAs, BHAs, and retinol due to pH-dependent vitamin C formulas. However, it is feasible to utilize these actives together, but the risk of skin irritation is high, and it is recommended to slowly work up to using them together. It’s best to spread out actives between morning and night routines or even between days or weeks to find what works best for your skin. Patch testing is also suggested, and if there are symptoms of irritation, it’s crucial to scale back to prevent damage to the skin.
The Beast Vitamin C Serums of 2023 on Amazon
- SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic: The Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is a proven and powerful formula containing ascorbic acid. It is specifically formulated to protect against environmental damage, reduce the appearance of fine lines, firm the skin, and enhance skin brightness.
- Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil: Using THD ascorbate, the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Oil is a vitamin C formula in an oil-based form. It promotes visibly brighter and firmer skin with consistent usage.
- TruSkin Vitamin C Serum: This cost-effective option is a vitamin C serum based on sodium ascorbyl phosphate. This plant-derived facial product is highly effective in stimulating the skin’s response to signs of aging by enhancing brightness and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.
- iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus: For those with sensitive skin, isClinical offers a serum worth trying. Its delicate mix of vitamin C and botanicals can effectively address a range of skin issues, including acne, rosacea, contact dermatitis, and insect bites.
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