Everything you need to know about vitamin C for skin

31 March 2022
By Nicole Saunders

If you're after a healthy, resilient complexion that glows from within, look no further than this hero skincare ingredient.

Vitamin C Skincare
Clockwise from top: Ole Henriksen C-Rus Brightening Double Crème, $78 from Sephora. Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum, $127 from MECCA. Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum, $185. Photography: Stephen Tilley. Styling: Nicole Saunders.

While new ingredients can fail to stack up and deliver the results we expect from our skincare routine, there is a good reason why vitamin C has become a mainstay in beauty routines around the globe. “Vitamin C is clinically proven to be one of the most potent antioxidants and a real skincare ingredient powerhouse,” explains Caroline Parker, head of education for Dermalogica New Zealand.

“It plays a critical role in collagen and elastin synthesis, including wound healing, and acts as an antioxidant in the skin – which is especially important as it inhibits UV-induced damage,” she adds. 

Murad Essential-C Cleanser, $79. Essano Vitamin C Brightening Gel Cleanser, $14.99. Glow Recipe Papya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm, $52 from MECCA. Perricone MD Vitamin C Citrust Brightening Cleanser, $57.

Is it right for me?

If overall skin health is top of your skin goals, and we’re talking radiance, even tone and resilient skin,  look no further. While vitamin C has become the must-have skincare ingredient where skin radiance is concerned, there’s a lot more to this multitasking, pigment-fighting hero of the beauty world. 

For a start, as Parker explains, loading up your routine with vitamin C-based skincare guarantees your complexion is getting a serious dose of antioxidants on the regular. In short, this means warding off skin-damaging free radicals, which can contribute to premature ageing.

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As well as boosting radiance, banishing pigmentation and keeping visible signs of ageing at bay, vitamin C gives your skin a helping hand to synthesise collagen. Our collagen stores become depleted as we age, and diminished collagen levels can contribute to skin sagging and fine lines and wrinkles. “Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in collagen production in the skin, which provides skin firmness,” says Parker.

Dermalogica BioLumin-C Gel Moisturizer, $119. Clinique Superdefense SPF 15 Fatigue + 1st Signs Of Age Multi-Correcting Cream, $97. Trilogy Vitamin C Moisturising Lotion, $52.99. Sunday Riley C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream, $106 from MECCA.

Okay, I’m convinced. How do I use it?

While certain potent skincare ingredients favour an easy-does-it approach, vitamin C is relatively gentle on the skin – though it is always a good idea to consult a knowledgeable skin therapist when introducing active ingredients into your routine. And there’s even better news: it’s excellent for all skin types. “All skins will benefit from vitamin C,” says Parker.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re after a new moisturiser or perhaps an at-home treatment, as there are countless ways that you can start to incorporate vitamin C into your daily beauty routine. From luminosity-enhancing serums to pigmentation-fighting cleansers, if you can name the skincare, there is most likely an effective vitamin-C-based formula to suit your needs. So whether you decide to start – or finish – your day with an energising vitamin C-enriched cleanser, or layer on a supercharged serum before your daily SPF, working this must-use ingredient into your routine is easy.

Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum, $185. Dermalogica BioLumin-C Serum, $166. Elizabeth Arden Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules, $168 La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10, $74.99.

However, as Parker points out: not all vitamin C formulations are created equal. Vitamin C can be very tricky to stabilise, as Parkers explains. “Vitamin C is notoriously difficult to formulate because it is easily oxidised by air, heat or water, and once the vitamin C has oxidised, the formula loses its efficacy.” But don’t let that put you off – skincare technology is constantly evolving to create more stable and effective formulations than ever before.

Dermalogica BioLumin-C Gel Moisturiser is one of the beauty house’s vitamin C-based formulas that harnesses cutting-edge skincare tech to deliver unparalleled results. “Dermalogica uses two ultra-stable forms of vitamin C, which ensures the vitamin C is bioavailable, which means that it gets to the area of the skin where it is needed most,” Parker explains.

With that in mind, if you want visible results, vitamin C is one of the essential skincare ingredients worth investing in. Because at the end of the day who doesn’t want luminous, healthy skin? 

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