Active ingredients have taken the skincare industry by storm. Almost every brand is joining the bandwagon with their ingredient-forward products and packaging, but helming this trend has been vitamin C. Whether it is reducing hyperpigmentation, brightening and providing even skin tone, pollution protection, protecting and improving skin collagen, or reducing signs of ageing—there is a host of skin concerns that the ingredient targets. But, before you jump onto ordering yourself a bottle, remember that how you incorporate the ingredient is crucial. Here are the things to keep in mind.
When to use it
One of the biggest debates surrounding vitamin C is when to use the ingredient. And while there are good reasons for both day and night, what is most important is consistency, whether you decide to use it before bed or after your morning shower. And speaking of consistency, build it slowly. For any active ingredient, the incorporation must be gradual. With vitamin C, start with thrice a week and build up to daily. And don’t get restless, the results will come, give it at least three weeks.
Concentration and pH considerations
This one is a little tricky because vitamin C is inherently an unstable and reactive ingredient. It can lose its antioxidant properties (key to reaping all the benefits we talked about above) when left open and exposed to air and light, which also reminds us of an important storage tip we must mention—keeping it in an airtight container, in a dark and cool space.
But, coming back to formulation considerations, make sure to start with a lower concentration of 10 per cent and build to a higher one of 15–20 per cent. For normal to oily skin, L-ascorbic acid is the most effective form of vitamin C, and for dry and sensitive skin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble vitamin C, is less irritating. You must also make a note that water-based formulas are more unstable and need special care.
Another thing to check is the pH level of the formula of your choosing because that affects the efficacy of the ingredient. A pH of 3.5 is optimal for normal skin. And if you have sensitive skin, try a formula with a pH of 5 to 6.
Serums, with their high concentration of actives, is the most common, and effective way of using vitamin C. But if your skin is extremely sensitive, start with a vitamin C-infused moisturiser instead. And while you are using active ingredients, there are some rules that must never be broken—one of them being the Holy Grail of active mixing. vitamin C works best with vitamin E, ferulic Acid, vitamin B, and even hyaluronic acid. As for something you cannot mix with vitamin C, remember AHAs and BHAs, such as glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids.
Top it with SPF!
While vitamin C does not make the skin more vulnerable to sun exposure, it is sensitive to light, which means that you have to use it with a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen. And, experts say it even increases the efficiency of vitamin C!
Our top picks
And just to get you started, here are a few of our favourite vitamin C formulas to choose from.
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Dark Circle Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum
You can always trust Kiehl’s to give us the best of formulas, and this one is great for those targeted undereye bags, lines, and circles. Formulated with 12.5 per cent vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, this one is a fast action pick.
Inde Wild’s AM Sunrise Glow Serum
With 15 per cent vitamin C, this one may be the highest concentrations out there, and given the brand’s Ayurvedistry-backed formulation, this one delivers exactly what it promises. I mean, we all grew up hearing of haldi and amla as skin rejuvenators, and now we have it in miracle-ingredient form.
Arata’s Vitamin C Face Day Cream
Yes, this brand is known for acing the curly hair game, but the vitamin C is perhaps one of the best I’ve used. Looks like Arata is expanding its expertise, and we are all for it!