Wednesday 6 June 2018

Vitamin C

If you are remotely interested in skincare and beauty the chances are you've seen or heard something about miracle worker Vitamin C. Over the last year it's visibility in shops, magazines and on social media has rocketed and now every brand has it's own version. But is it worth the hype and do you really need it?
Vitamin C flatlay

I'm here to tell you that yes it is and yes you do. In a world where the beauty industry has boomed and you can spend a fortune on your face I'm often to be found shaking my head as I hear of another 23 year old and her 17 step skincare routine. I think very often we over do it and a few, good products would be a much wiser course for most of us. But Vitamin C is a skincare multi-tasker that can not only improve the way your skin looks now but will ensure it looks fantastic in the future.

What is it?
A potent antioxidant that has been present in many cultures as a skincare superhero for centuries -  Amala (Indian Gooseberry) being one of the most popular sources. But it has been difficult to deliver on a large scale because it becomes inactive under certain conditions but this problem has now been solved and most skincare brands will have their version of a Vitamin C product or range. It works well with other antioxidants so you can find some great serums that are going to give you an real antioxidant hit. You can read more on antioxidants here.

The Benefits - What does it do?
  • Plumps - collagen production slows as we age and pollution and environmental stress and damage can cause our collagen and elastin to be damaged by free radicals. Vitamin C not only encourages collagen production but it also prevents collagen break down. The increased collagen production plumps the skin and minimises fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Brightens - dark spots, pigmentation and dullness are all improved 
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Antioxidant - it is one of the most potent antioxidants and not only increases collagen production but protects against damage to existing collagen. 
  • Research has even shown that it can speed up the healing process so some advise using it on problems such as sunburn. 

What to look for?
  • L'Ascorbic is the most stable form and has the most scientific knowledge behind it so this is the ideal. Others include sodium ascobyl phosphate, ascorbyl tetraisopalitate and retinyl ascorbate. It's not only the type of Vitamin C you need to be looking at but also the amount in your products. It's believed that around 20% is the maximum that can be absorbed by the skin (though some say you can have up to 30%) and though a higher percentage will mean quicker results it's been shown that as little as 0.6% can have beneficial effects on free radicals. 
  • The latest Vitamin C hero ingredient is Kakadu Plum so for those who like to be up-to-date that's the ingredient to watch out for. 
  • For those new to Vitamin C it can be overwhelming - a 10% L'Ascorbic acid product is a good place to start. 

When to Use It
  • Another thing which is up for debate among scientists, dermatologists and skincare experts. Some say in the morning to help protect the skin against the free radicals damage of the day, some say at night when you will get the maximum power of the Vitamin C as it won't be made inactive by UV. It's your call but I tend to use it in the morning in serum form. 
  • Try and use it well spaced, or at a different time completely, from retinol, glycolic and salicylic acid. If you are using them at the same time wait at least 10 minutes before putting on the next product so you get the maximum benefit of both and don't irritate your skin. 

Problems to keep an eye on
  • UV and oxygen exposure can make Vitamin C inactive. This means that packaging and storage is a top priority.
  • Packaging is a thing that companies rarely get right. The bottle or tube needs to be opaque against the UV, and many brands like Skinceuticals and Medic8 do this but they use a dropper dispenser exposing the whole serum or oil to oxygen. 
  • I also worry about creams that come in a tub or pot even though I loved the Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Deep Cream
  • Store in a dark cupboard ideally. The less exposure to UV the better. 

My Top Products
  • Clinique Fresh Pressed - great for those with a smaller budget ('actives' tend to be more expensive). This is like an at-home science experiment created to give you the maximum benefit of the ingredients. 
  • Dr Dennis Gross C + Collagen Range - I've tried and love the Deep Cream and would love to try the serum which I've heard great things about. It's not cheap but it has the science behind it and is packaged right. 
  • Exuviance AF Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules - Neostrata's little sister (and I trust Neostrata), I love the idea that these are individual so you can use them as and when you want without compromising the whole product. Reasonably price and good for travel. 
  • Ole Henriksen Truth Serum - this was the first Vitamin C product I tried and is still my favourite. My skin looked healthier and brighter and I don't know why it's suddenly become so hard to get in the UK. 
  • Skinceuticals C E Ferulic - the original and some will say the best. I haven't tried this but I really want to. Vitamins C and E work beautifully together and with Ferulic so this serum packs a powerful antioxidant punch and I think, in terms of your skin, it could be the best way to start the day. 
  • The Ordinary - do a wide range of Vitamin C products. I've tried the Ascorbic Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F and didn't like it but I wouldn't be tempted to try Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% and think it would be a good place to start if you want to get into Vitamin C

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