Vitamin C is something of a cure-all. We ingest it to prevent the sniffles from turning into a full-blown cold, and we smear it on our faces to brighten mature skin and reduce age spots. But is all this Vitamin C really doing anything for us?
In truth, it depends. With respect to its anti-aging properties, the medical community does support Vitamin C’s effectiveness (in theory anyway). WebMD says, “vitamin C is considered important in repairing free radicals and preventing them from becoming cancerous or accelerating the aging.” Some research also suggests that Vitamin C can effectively reverse or repair sun damage.
The sticking point is that this vitamin doesn’t play well with the open air — which means it’s challenging to develop a vitamin C serum that doesn’t break down before it can get it on your skin. A poorly thought-out product formula or product package, then, may be just about useless. The good news is that there are effective serums that deliver on the promises of vitamin C. Even Dr. Oz says so!
When You Can Benefit from Topical Vitamin C
Topical vitamin C improves a range of common skin complaints. Sagging skin, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots and other hyper-pigmentation are the usual suspects of aging. And this mega-vitamin can help with all of those things, plus acne too.
These benefits are thanks to vitamin’s ability to promote collagen production, along with its antioxidant properties. Increased collagen production means smoother, tighter skin. And antioxidants protects the skin against damage caused by free radicals, which are basically wild molecules that are missing an electron. These have a pretty short lifespan, but still manage to run around your body and damage your cells and skin. Anything that’s known as an antioxidant, including vitamin C, can neutralize those little beasts by donating extra electrons.
How to Choose a Vitamin C Serum
All of this sounds fabulous if you’re fending off sun damage or multiple signs of aging. And that means the next question is, how do choose a product that’s actually going to deliver? The first rule is to compare ingredients. Ascorbic Acid is the strongest form of vitamin C, but it’s also the harshest. A product with a high concentration of Ascorbic Acid may cause sensitive skin to flake or sting.
Gentler compounds that are also effective include Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP).
Most vitamin C products share their potency of the vitamin as a percentage. Look for products with 10-20%, and steer towards the lower end of the range if you have sensitive skin. The best formulas also pair the vitamin C with other beauty-boosting compounds, such as vitamin E and hyaluronic acid.
Lastly, inspect the packaging. As noted above, vitamin C doesn’t hold up well when exposed to the elements. A quality product will have an opaque or tinted package — it should not be clear.
If you don’t know where to start, try this list of the top five highest-rated vitamin C serums on Amazon.