Over the next few weeks, I’ll be uploading a series of videos about ingredients that I always include in my routine. They might be in one specific product or in many across the various steps of my routine.
I have dehydrated skin and, before using these ingredients, I had hyper-pigmentation and uneven skin-tone. I also didn't know how to manage or treat blemishes (unless you consider picking and squeezing them a remedy!).
The videos include brief reviews on the original products I used and any I have used since then. I talk about short term and long term results, price points and what I like or don’t like about them.
Since I used ingredients that were specific to my concerns, I believe that all of them contributed to the long term results, hence calling them my favourites.
These blog posts go into a little bit more detail on the ingredients themselves and how they work with our skins.*
I hope you enjoy the videos, and find these supplementary blog posts useful!
*Important Note: I am not a skincare expert. I share information that I have found through personal research and experience based on my/family/friends skincare concerns.
Vitamin C is thought of as one of the most powerful and effective antioxidants. It provides protection from environmental stressors and visible anti-ageing benefits.
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin C can’t be naturally produced in our bodies. We can only acquire it through diet or topical supplementation. Topical application is favoured for skincare as it delivers meaningful levels to the source. Oral ingestion distributes vitamin c through our gut, followed by the remaining tissues and so by the time it reaches the skin, our outermost organ, there would be very low levels of vitamin C.
As an antioxidant
Environmental stressors such as UV light, pollution, cigarette smoke can cause skin ageing and They generate free radicals (unstable molecules with unpaired electrons) which react with our skin, for example, by “stealing” healthy molecules and causing oxidative stress (imbalance between reactive oxygen - free radicals - and our body to detoxify/ counterpart the damage through antioxidants). Overtime this damage leads to visible signs of accelerated ageing including fine lines, wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation/discolouration and laxity. In it’s purest form (l-ascorbic acid) vitamin C helps protect against said damage by “donating” electrons to neutralise the damaging free radicals.
So what to look for when buying a Vitamin C serum?
Always looks for products that are suitable for your skin concerns and always put those first. With vitamin C serums, if you want to reap full benefits, formulations should include l-ascorbic acid. The potency will be detailed as a percentage and this will usually be between 10-20%. Some products may include more (i.e. The Ordinary’s vitamin C’s) however they have counteracted the potency by including the l-ascorbic acid powder in a suspension. Such products will most likely have a gritty feeling due to the high concentration.
Most serums I’ve seen have an acidic pH of 3.5, or less, within concentrations of 10-20%. I think this is for optimal absorption of the l-ascorbic acid as well as the key to non-irritation. That said, if you have sensitive skin, I would try a lower potency to begin with or ask a retailer for a sample if possible.
It also worth noting the packaging of the serums. Vitamin C will oxidise over time, so I prefer serums that are not in dropper type bottles, which let air in. That’s not to say such packaging makes the serum ineffective, it’s just my preference. Overtime you will also the colour of the product slightly change, and that’s natural. I have learned to not save my products, and just use them as directed so that I can reap the benefits of the vitamin C whilst it is still fresh.
If you want to try products with multi-benefits, you can also look out for ingredients that are natural sources of vitamin C. For example oils such as seabuckthorn, meadowfoam and neroli oil and fruit extracts, such as pineapple, or more generally citrus fruits.
There are natural sources of vitamin c across the products I use; in my cleansers, my eye cream, and oils. In the video, I also talk about a vitamin c specific eye cream, which includes five different natural sources of vitamin C.
Incorporating vitamin c into your routine
To reap the full benefits, I wanted to use a specific serum/product with l-ascorbic acid. I always tend to go with my gut, in terms of how the product makes my skin feel, but with the products I’ve tried I mostly applied vitamin C in the morning routine. You’ll see in my IGTV video that I used The Ordinary products at night time because of the texture.
I apply the vitamin C in my “treatment” step after cleansing and toning. I like to leave about 30 seconds between each product but after the vitamin C I use a hydrating serum, followed by eye cream, moisturiser and then SPF. Always use a broad-spectrum SPF for ultimate protection. Vitamin C doesn’t create a barrier on the skin like an SPF does; it’s antioxidant properties help to slow and repair the damage within the skins makeup.
If you are unsure about how products will react with your skin, try and get a sample and patch test. I have often gone into stores and applied product onto my jawline, just below my cheek (with no make-up on) and also the area under my chin. The warming sensation, and often a tingling one, can be normal with vitamin C but prolonged redness and burning is not! So it is better to try first.
I haven’t experienced any sort of irritation with vitamin C. Certain products gave a warming sensation upon application, but nothing discomforting. Since all the products I have tried include some sort of hydrating ingredient, I never get that tight feeling that some serums can provide. Effective products have been both on the lower and higher end of prices so I would definitely recommend trying out the lower priced products.
In the long term, along with other key ingredients, I have had visible results. I no longer have any sort of discolouration, and my skin is therefore brighter. The lines around my eye area have also filled up a little - I used to have one annoying “trying-to-get-deep” crease under my right eye. It’s basically failing to deepen.
Short term results were also visible for me. With the products I used in the evening, my skin would be very bright and glowing the next morning. With products that I use in the morning, I notice my skin to be radiant throughout the day, and if I don’t use it for a few days, there is noticeable lack-lustre in my complexion.
Key Points, the round-up
Below is the list I collated in my iPhone Notes back when I started my research; I’ve based this post around it. I hope this helps you if you are looking for a vitamin C serum, and I hope you enjoy the benefits. :)
Protects from environmental stressors
Anti-ageing benefits include reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, laxity, discolouration/hyper-pigmentation
Topical application for skincare gives best results, but oral ingestion for overall health
Concentrations of 10-20% with pH level of 3.5 below are supposed to be the sweet spot!
Natural sources of vitamin C can include natural oils or fruit extracts
Use within the “treatment” step of routine; i.e. after cleansing and toning and after moisturiser
Always use an SPF!
Products Mentioned in Video
Have a watch of the video and see what I have to say about the following products.
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate 12.5%, 50ml £62 - I think I mention this being £49.50 in the video! oops!
Here are the products I have used across my routine. There are included in the photo above.