Everyone is obsessed with vitamin C, AKA ascorbic acid, these days. So what are vitamin C benefits you can expect when you use this ingredient on the regular? And do you need to use sunscreen even more when you put on vitamin C? Here’s all you need to know about vitamin C and sunscreen.
You always knew you were supposed to drink your orange juice, but topical vitamin C might just be even better for you. Out of all the antioxidants that exist — and there are a lot of them — vitamin C has proven itself to be one of the most, if not the most, effective.
Below we’ve outlined how this rockstar ingredient works and why it’s a must in anyone’s skincare routine. In addition, we’ve explained how sunscreen and vitamin C work in tandem with one another, and why you should never be without SPF while wearing a product that contains this brilliant antioxidant.
The benefits of topical vitamin C
Topical vitamin C is considered one of the hallmark ingredients of a skincare regimen. It slows down visible signs of aging, including the reduction of brown spots.
In addition to creating a brighter and more even complexion, vitamin C also protects against free radical damage. Think of it as a warrior-like shield that prevents free radicals from attaching themselves to your skin and disrupting the cellular structure. Without a protective shield, your skin becomes more susceptible to collagen and elastin loss, wrinkles and fine lines, age spots, and basically every part of aging that we dislike.
Finally, vitamin C also promotes the production of collagen, which is responsible for keeping our skin plump, line-free, and generally more youthful. It can also strengthen your skin’s barrier, which means your skin stays hydrated more easily and is less susceptible to environmental and pollution-related damage.
What to look for in a vitamin C product
First, the product shouldn’t cause dryness, redness, or irritation. If your current vitamin C product leads to any of the above, that’s a sign your moisture barrier is being compromised. This happens when a product contains pure ascorbic acid, which has a low pH and is therefore irritating to your skin.
Vitamin C products come in a few different forms, including gels, creams, lotions, toners, serums, and sunscreens (like our Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C — more on that soon). When shopping around for your vitamin C hero, there are a few things to keep in mind.
To combat this effect, look for super stable forms of vitamin C, which include L-Ascorbic Acid (the gold standard), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD), and Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate.
Another thing to look for in a vitamin C product is whether it improves your blackheads versus causing them to darken. Some forms, including ascorbic acid, have a tendency to oxidize quickly on your skin in the presence of light and air.
The reason blackheads appear in the first place is because enlarged pores get packed with hardened oil. The oil then undergoes oxidation on the surface and it turns a dark gray or black color, hence the name “blackhead.” Interestingly, if you’re using a daily vitamin C serum that oxidizes quickly, it can cause the blackhead to become even darker in color. Not ideal, right?
How to use vitamin C and the importance of SPF
Vitamin C can certainly be applied before bed, but because of its antioxidant properties it’s best to slather on your favorite product in the morning. It’s also important to combine it with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Sunscreen and vitamin C are a dynamic duo that work together to protect your skin. For starters, vitamin C can boost your SPF’s efficacy, which means you’re even less likely to experience signs of premature aging, including dark spots. At the same time, sunscreen helps prevent your vitamin C from oxidizing on the skin, thereby improving its efficacy while also preventing those blackheads we talked about above.
Also, we consulted with scientists who told us that if you wear vitamin C without sunscreen, your vitamin C can actually be photo-incinerated (i.e. totally burned away) by the sun. Moral of the story? Always protect your vitamin C investment with SPF!
For glowing skin on your body, our Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C knocks two birds by including both SPF (in 30 or 50) along with tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, one of the most stable forms of vitamin C you can find in skincare products. It’s a low-alcohol, non-aerosol spray that hydrates while protecting. Because it’s water-resistant, it’s perfect for pool or beachside lounging or outdoor hiking and sports. The fact that it’s a spray-on sunscreen means you’ll have an easier time reaching all those tough spots, too.
When applying a stand-alone vitamin C product to your face, make sure to always follow up with a top-notch sunscreen, and to practice the art of sunscreen layering. An awesome combo to ensure you’re getting full protection is to layer our Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40 over your vitamin C serum and then putting our award-winning, multi-tasking Unseen Sunscreen on top as a primer. It’s a completely clear formulation that doubles as both an SPF and a makeup-gripping primer.
Vitamin C is one of the best ingredients you can incorporate into your regimen due to its powerful antioxidant properties. It protects your skin from free radical damage and actively works to improve tone and texture every time you slather it on. Consider sunscreen and vitamin C the ultimate BFF duo. They work in tandem together to improve each other’s efficacy and ensure that your skin looks more radiant with consistent usage.
+What’s your favorite vitamin C product? Let us know in the comments!