The best vitamin C skin care products

There are so many products out on the market. How do we know what the best vitamin C skin care products are? Let’s talk about vitamin C first.

What is vitamin C?

best vitamin C skin Care productsAccording to the NIH, “Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods.”

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which can help protect against free radicals. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from multiple sources such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, it is a scavenger of free radicals.

Vitamin C helps protect our skin from the sun, “It is important to note that Vit. C is equally effective against both UVB (290-320 nm) and UVA (320-400 nm)”.[,]

Vitamin C helps with aging skin. It can help increase collagen production which decreases as we age.

When we are younger we have vitamin C in our skin, this decreases as we age.

Vit. C has a potential anti-inflammatory activity,  it can be used in conditions like acne vulgaris and rosacea.

Vitamin C can promote wound healing and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).[,]V

Vitamin C has been shown to reverse photo aging of the skin. It helps lighten age spots and can also help prevent further damage.

Vitamin C can safely be used  with other common topical anti-aging agents such as sunscreens, retinols, and alpha hydroxy acids.

How does vitamin C help age spots?

Vitamin C essentially decreases melanin production. It can also reduce oxidation of the melanin that is produced. which gives spots their color. Vitamin  C interacts with copper ions at the tyrosinase-active site and inhibits action of the enzyme tyrosinase, thereby decreasing the melanin formation. Vitamin C seems to lighten the skin around hair follicles.

The best vitamin C skin care products would have additional lightening ingredients such as soy and licorice.

Dietary source of vitamin C

Foods that are high in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, red and green pepper and kiwifruit. Humans are unable to synthesize vitamin C.

Why should we use topical vitamin C

“Vitamin C in the skin is inadequate when it is administered orally.[,] The use of topical ascorbic acid is therefore favored in the practice of dermatology.[]”  Source

How  do we know what the best vitamin C skin care products are?

Ingredients, know your ingredients.

Let’s talk a little about Vitamin C, not all vitamin C is created equal.

Unfortunately, vitamin c is unstable and has a short half life. Vitamin C skin care products have a shorter half life if they are exposed to light and air.


The best vitamin C skin care products would have light protective packaging with opaque tubes along with an  air-restrictive pump or container to prevent oxygen from entering the container.

Vitamin C can be stabilized to last longer in the lab, unfortunately the labeling does not specify this.

Vitamin C last longer in oils than water based products, look for serums or water free lotions.


The best vitamin C skin care products would be able to penetrate the skin.

In order for vitamin C to work it must penetrate the outer layer of skin, referred to as the stratum corneum.

Some skin care ingredients use vehicles to penetrate this skin care layer. Once absorbed it then had to release itself from the vehicle to be active.

Because it is unstable and difficult to deliver into the dermis in the optimum dosage further dermatology research is being conducted on vitamin C. This is what we know so far.

L-ascorbic acid (LAA) is the synthetic chemically active form of Vit. C.

Ascorbic acid is the most studied form of vitamin C and appears to be the most effective.There are other synthetic forms of vitamin C but they have not been studied as much.

L-ascorbic acid is most effective at 20%L-ascorbic acid

Some studies have shown that L-ascorbic should be formulated at pH levels less than 3.5 to enter the skin.

Additional ingredients that help vitamin C efficacy

The best vitamin C skin care products would have vitamin E and Ferulic acid

“A combination of 0.5% ferulic acid (a potent antioxidant of plant origin) with 15% Vit. C and 1% Vit. E can increase the efficacy of Vit. C eight-fold.” Source

This product has L Ascorbic Acid, Ferulic acid and Vitamin E Dr. Brenner Vitamin C Serum for Face and Eyes with Ferulic Acid, Vitamin E and Hyaluronic Acid 1oz.


Side effects of vitamin C

“Topical Vit. C is largely safe to use on a daily basis for long durations”.
Minor adverse reactions include,

A yellowish discoloration of the skin can occur with large oral intake of vitamin C, this goes away when discontinued.

Lighter hair can occur, especially around the forehead where the serum may be rubbed into the hair line.

Staining  of clothes can occur with vitamin C. Ensure you wash your hands and avoid getting the serum on your clothes.

If you develop redness or skin irritation you should discontinue vitamin C use and seek medical attention.

How often can you use vitamin C?

Vitamin C should be part of a daily  skin care regimen that includes multiple steps to ensure your skin looks its best. You will not notice the effects of vitamin c overnight. It will take a few weeks and maximum results are achieved at around 6 months.

What are best vitamin C skin care products?


Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 2013;4(2):143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593.

Vitamin C through 2012: “Stability, transdermal penetration and cutaneous effects of ascorbic acid and its derivatives” from the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2012.

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