Here's When You Should Use Vitamin C In Your Skincare Routine

You might already have a skincare routine consisting of moisturizers, anti-aging serums, and exfoliants, but if you're skipping vitamin C, you could be missing out on big benefits. Vitamin C is critical to providing your skin with a barrier against environmental damage. Everything from air pollution to ultraviolet (UV) rays can generate free radicals within the skin. These unstable molecules can then create damage, but the antioxidant effects of vitamin C can combat it while also improving the skin's appearance. "Studies have shown that using sunscreen with Vitamin C protects the skin from further photodamage caused by ultraviolet rays," Kim Chang, a medical aesthetician at Baylor College of Medicine, explains. "This information is important because most people don't know that you can protect your skin even further than just sunscreen."

When applying your vitamin C product, stick to the instructions from the manufacturer. If you're just starting to use it for the first time, it might be best to limit it to a couple of drops during each daily application. This will give you a better idea of what to expect from your skin when it's exposed to vitamin C. If you experience irritation, you may be using too high of a concentration. There are several vitamin C options on the market, and knowing what type of formulation and concentration you should choose is essential.

How to start using vitamin C for your skin

Using too high of a concentration of vitamin C can cause unwanted irritation. Ideally, the product you choose should have a concentration of at least 10% for the results you want. However, any higher than 20% can potentially be bothersome to your skin.

While there are moisturizers and toners that include vitamin C, it's best absorbed by the skin when it's applied as a pure serum. "Pure ascorbic acid has consistently been proven to be the most effective at penetrating the skin barrier," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler told Allure. "Vitamin C effectiveness [also] increases when combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E."

Those who are looking to turn back the clock can also potentially boost their skin's collagen production with vitamin C. Collagen is notably essential to reduce the appearance and development of wrinkles and sagging. Previously published scientific research in Nutrients suggests that it can encourage collagen synthesis within the skin, which could potentially reduce signs of aging. Additionally, there is some evidence that vitamin C could help with wound healing and overall skin function, but more research needs to be done in this area.

How vitamin C helps protect your skin from the sun

Perhaps the most touted benefit of integrating vitamin C into your skincare routine is the protection it provides from the sun when combined with sunscreen. "Studies show that when you combine vitamin C with sunscreen, you get even better sun protection and sun aging protection because they work together," dermatologist Dr. Melissa Piliang told the Cleveland Clinic. "If any of the sun gets through that sunscreen, the vitamin C is there to take care of it." Some might even be surprised to learn that vitamin C can be a viable supplement when using sunblock SPF 50 or higher. Because these formulas cannot provide any greater sun protection, vitamin C can help wearers go above and beyond by reducing the skin's oxidative stress.

If discoloration or hyperpigmentation are concerns, vitamin C can help with these issues, too. When applied topically, previous research indicates that it can temporarily even out skin tone. However, results vary according to each person's skin, as well as the specific product they are using. Talk to your dermatologist for more insight into how vitamin C can be effectively integrated into your skincare routine.