Vitamin C: everything you need to know

Vitamin C: everything you need to know

There is no doubt you’ve heard of vitamin C – however, it’s likely it you know it as something you find in an orange, rather than in relation to skincare. Vitamin C however, is one of the best ‘age fighting’ ingredients you could possibly be using; working to brighten, tighten and protect skin. We spoke with Dr Steven Liew, Founder and Medical Director of the Shape Clinic and expert for Skinceuticals, about why adding vitamin C to your skincare routine is absolutely non-negotiable and what is the best way to be using it.

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What is vitamin C?

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C “is a water-soluble vitamin (and an antioxidant) commonly found in citrus fruits… but topical and oral vitamin C are very different. At the right pH and the right concentration, vitamin C can penetrate the skin through to the dermal layers. In terms of ingesting antioxidants and specifically vitamin C within fruits, very little actually makes it to the skin, as it is used up by other organs first,” explains Liew.

What does it do for your skin?

“Skin that is dry, dehydrated, prematurely aged, dull and/or pigmented” (so almost everyone), “will benefit from vitamin C.” [As] a potent antioxidant it has not only been shown to protect the skin from oxidative stress (exposure to the environment), but [photo]damage from the sun as well, says Liew. “Vitamin C stimulates collagen production in the skin and is imperative for overall skin health. It will also improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and pigmentation to promote a smoother, more radiant complexion,” says Liew.

So, what kind of products should I be looking for?

“Vitamin C is best in the form of L-ascorbic acid,” says Liew. “As [it] is a volatile ingredient the pH and the concentration have to be at the right level in order for it to be effective.” Liew recommends formulations of L-ascorbic acid at a 10-20 percent concentration and a pH of 2.5-3.5 for effective delivery.

Where does it fit into my skincare routine?

“Vitamin C should be applied onto cleansed skin in the morning as a serum…applying a topical antioxidant will help protect the skin against atmospheric ageing including UV, infrared radiation and pollution,’ explains Liew. bh top tip: Apply a day cream on top of the serum and an SPF, to give your complexion even more protection.

As a result, vitamin C is the hero anti-ageing ingredient you never knew you needed. Try: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic (find it at, Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (find it at, Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate, Alpha-H Vitamin C, Natural Instinct Vitamin C + Camelia Oil

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Comments 8

  1. I have been using the Mecca brand Vitamin C for a couple of months now, and I really love it. I apply it before my moisturiser every morning. It absorbs very quickly. Some people have commented about an unpleasant scent, but it doesn’t bother me. I think my skin is definitely brighter since I’ve been using it. And best of all, it’s affordable! I have also used Kiehl’s Line Reducing Concentrate. It was lovely, and made a difference to my skin, but too expensive for what it was, and for much as I love Kiehl’s products I wouldn’t repurchase.

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