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Vitamin C is one of the most widely talked-about skincare ingredients on the internet, however what you might not know is that it's very difficult to actually deliver the benefits of this ingredient to the skin. Today I'm breaking down how this ingredient works, different types of Vitamin C, the pros and cons of incorporating it into your routine and giving an overview of some of the Vitamin C serums I've tried in recent months. So, if you're curious about if Vitamin C or wondering if it's worth the hype; keep reading...
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it can protect the skin from environmental damage. It can also give you brighter, more even skin, reviving dullness and fading dark spots. The most common type of Vitamin C is ascorbic acid (or its natural alternative L-ascorbic acid) - it's the most stable option and it has the most research backing it. You may see other forms of Vitamin C on your ingredient list such as sodium ascorbyl phosphatem or tetrahexyldecyl, which are also pretty well-researched. There are definitely some newer formulations to market that aren't as proven in their effectiveness, so be sure to look into the types of Vitamin C in the product you're looking to buy.
- THE PROS -These are pretty obvious! We all want flawless, radiant skin and Vitamin C can do this. Additionally, with so many of us living in cities, damage from our environment is a real concern. I can say from my personal experience that Vitamin C serums have really helped give my skin that plump, dewy, hydrated, glowing look.
- THE CONS -Vitamin C is well-known to be extremely unstable and (bar a few products with fancy filter packaging) generally needs to be kept in tight, opaque containers. Quite often, however, I've found that the packaging of some of the more inexpensive products in my collection just don't have sufficient insulation to keep the oxygen out. When Vitamin C goes bad, it turns from a light yellow colour to a dark orange and I've had serums turn on me within just a couple of weeks of use! Even for a more affordable product, that's really not good value for money.
Although Vitamin C can have amazing benefits, it can be really difficult to deliver these to the skin. Whilst I like this ingredient for the 'glowing skin' look it gives, I would rather use a chemical exfoliator or retinol to even out my skin's tone. Speaking of which, Vitamin C really doesn't mesh well with actives like AHAs, BHAs and retinol; either by causing skin irritation or causing the two ingredients to cancel each other out. Therefore, if you like your acids and your retinols, you might decide there's no room in your routine for a Vitamin C serum, especially given that it may or may not work for you.
- A FEW I'VE TRIED -Beauty Pie Vitamin C & Vitamin E Superactive Capsules | £8.64 (for Beauty Pie Members) | full review coming soon | If you are or you're considering subscribing to Beauty Pie's makeup and skincare club; these capsules are well worth picking up. They're super-concentrated serums and the formula itself it totally protected from oxygen until you use it, sealed inside biodegradable packaging. It contains ascorbic acid and has amazing skin-smoothing and brightening effects. I can honestly say that I noticed my skin tone looked more even whilst using this product. It also contains Vitamin E to nourish and replenish the skin, which I appreciate.
Pixi Vitamin C Serum* | £26 | I fell for this serum. Hard. For about 4 weeks... It kills me because this product would be fantastic if they just put it in more airtight packaging. Unfortunately this ascorbic acid serum oxidised within a few weeks, which is such a shame because it had such a lovely water-light texture and gave me gorgeously glowing, fresh skin. Hopefully the brand hears us and improves the packaging, because this could be a great mid-priced option.
Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Bright Serum* | £46 | full review | This is definitely one of my favourite Vitamin C serums. Whilst the jury is kind of out on it fading dark spots, I find this really gives my skin a dewy, healthy glow that I love. This contains 22% pineapple-derived ascorbic acid and a couple of other derivatives of it and comes in a UV-filtering bottle. The watery texture is very similar to the Pixi serum, however I've had this a few months longer than that serum and it still hasn't turned, so it's definitely worth the extra money for me.
Baselift Dewy Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Brightening Booster Serum* | £59.99 | This serum isn't cheap at all and you don't get that much product in here! Unfortunately I'm not sure if this has some sort of special packaging or if the Vitamin C in the formula is somehow encapsulated, but the clear packaging did raise a bit of a red flag for me. This serum pairs sodium ascorbyl phosphate with hyaluronic acid (to draw water into the skin). This form of Vitamin C is also relatively stable, water soluble and may also help to reduce breakouts. I do notice a brightening effect with this product. Whilst I wouldn't say I noticed a hugely significant difference in dark spots, again; it's more of an overall improvement in the look of my skin. It appears healthier, dewier and fresher when I use this serum. Again, it has more of a watery texture and I do like how it absorbs with no tackiness.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum* | £67 | full review | This oil-serum is a favourite of mine and I'd recommend it for drier skin types due to its texture and the marula oil in it. It actually has a darker colour, but that's just how this serum is supposed to be and not a sign of oxidisation. The packaging is opaque and super-airtight, which is a good sign. It contains 15% L-asborbic acid and I love the healthy, bright, smooth skin it gives me. It's definitely more on the dewy side but I think it improves the overall quality and look of my skin. For me, this is worth every penny! (Though obviously get it with a discount code, if you can...)
Skin Regimen Vitamin C Booster* | £76 | This is one of the newest additions to my collection. Funny story; you actually have to activate this formula with a little powder sachet (so be sure not to throw the box without retrieving this, because that would be an expensive mistake...) but I didn't realise the first time I used it! Luckily I checked the box and figured out how to use this correctly. In a way, I think this is a good idea, so the formula is as fresh as possible however I was shocked to see that they advise this is only good for one month after opening! So, the clock is already ticking... I've been using this for a little over a fortnight and I have indeed noticed my skin is brighter and looks clearer. I also like the water-light, fast-absorbing texture. If you're someone who doesn't mind splashing out £70-150 on a one-off treatment or a facial, maybe you'd consider buying this product. I appreciate the honesty, because you know what you're getting into when you buy it (as opposed to with the Pixi product I tried), It does work from my experience but I just personally couldn't justify replacing this for such a high price-point when I'm just not going to get the mileage out of it.
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Acid Serum* | £135 | This very pricey serum combines L-ascorbic acid with hydrating Vitamin E and ferulic acid. Skinceuticals have specifically formulated this serum to remain as stable as possible and it's good for at least 6 months after opening. Again, you have opaque packaging to protect the formula. I hate to say it, because this product is very expensive, but it really has worked incredibly well for my skin. I used it for a month or two daily and noticed significantly smoother, clearer skin that looks healthier and more even. Obviously, if you can't or don't want to spend this sort of money on a serum (I can't blame you!) then don't. But if you do like to invest in treatments and high-quality formulas; this serum has worked wonders for my skin.
- MY CONCLUSION -This is one of those rare occasions where I do actually think you get what you pay for! My more expensive Vitamin C serums are more securely packaged on the whole and generally seem to be more effective for my skin. However, I honestly don't think you absolutely need Vitamin C in your routine if your budget can't stretch to one of the products I really enjoyed. You can still get a dewy glow using hyaluronic acid and you can even out the tone and texture of of your skin effectively with retinol or using glycolic, lactic or salicylic acids. These ingredients are also a lot less temperamental, so you know you're getting those benefits! Ultimately; it's up to you, however I think if you do want to use a Vitamin C serum, ensure it's going to be stable, effective and last you more than a few weeks.
Do you use Vitamin C in your skincare routine? Do you find it effective and worth the money?