Beauty

11Vitamin C Serums Bursting With Antioxidants

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by: Madeleine Spencer
19 Dec 2017

The use of vitamin C in skincare has been steadily gaining popularity over the past five years thanks to its antioxidant and skin-strengthening abilities. In short, vitamin C works on the cell’s health, fortifying it against damage and neutralising aggressors, and serums containing it have been touted to be the answer to premature ageing, lacklustre skin, and to pigmentation – but what exactly does it do and how to use it? 

We’ve talked to a host of experts to answer all your Vitamin C-related questions…

Why should I use a vitamin C serum in my skincare regime?

You want to include one because vitamin C is a brilliant all-round skin-booster that actually impacts the health of cells and will help to protect skin from the negative effects of pollution, stress and other free-radical producing lifestyle factors. 

Dr Maryam Zamani, Aesthetic Doctor and Founder or MZ Skin explains that ‘vitamin C boosts collagen, protects against free radicals (which will prevent premature ageing), fades dark spots, brightens the skin, and can even boost your sunscreen’s protection.’

But there’s more: not only will vitamin C have a direct impact on how your skin ages and develops,  but, as Cherry Woods, London facialist and skin supremo, explains, will also have an effect on old damage: ‘the boost in collagen production will reduce existing wrinkles and support the capillary network too, which is great if you have redness or broken capillaries.’

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Are there any pitfalls to buying a Vitamin C serum?

Not if you get the right one – and a lot of that comes down to how much vitamin C your serum contains. Pam Marshall, Clinical Aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar & Milk, advises that you should pick a Vitamin C (aka L-Ascorbic Acid) ‘that’s at no higher than a 20% concentration – anything higher is proven not to absorb as well.’

Equally, you don’t want to dip under 10%. Dr Stefanie Williams, Clinical Dermatologist and medical director at Eudelo, explains that ‘the best concentration is 10-20%, and below 10% will have fewer benefits.’ Zamani concurs: ’10-20% of vitamin C means that results for the skin will be seen quicker, and with better results.’

Woods also warns that while Ascorbic acid absorbs quickly into the skin, which makes it a great, skin fix, it can also oxidise quickly, so should packaged in an airtight dark glass or a opaque bottle, and be stored away from UV.’

How and when should I use it?

This slightly depends on your skin and why you’re using Vitamin C. If using to protect from damage, you’d be better off applying it in the morning, as Maryam explains: ‘a vitamin C serum helps protect your skin from free radicals and can help boost protection from your sunscreen,’

Marshall prefers nighttime application, especially if using it to combat pigmentation or reduce wrinkles as ‘fibroblasts are most active during the first hours of sleep, and our skin isn’t fighting the elements so products can do their job more effectively.’

Cherry’s view is that you should use it in the morning during the summer to augment SPF protection, and to build to a nighttime application if necessary, but doing so only if it suits: ‘if you’re particularly sensitive, just use it either in the morning or at night, depending on how your skin responds. Apply a moisturiser on top, ideally.’

Which other skincare ingredients work well with Vitamin C?

Here’s where things get a bit more complicated. Vitamin C is a great ingredient when paired with Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, Retinol, and Ferulic Acid, but you need to keep an eye on how sensitive your skin is and potentially build up to using more actives so as not to irritate the skin. Initially, try using your vitamin C on alternate days to other active ingredients and see how things go.

If you are looking to combine it with another age-slowing ingredient, here’s a speedy rundown by Zamani of some of the benefits of popular complementary actives:

– Vitamin E: UV damage fighting and a potent antioxidant.

– Hyaluronic acid: penetrates into the dermis boosting elasticity and hydration of the skin.

– Ferulic Acid: another powerful antioxidant.

Which one should I buy? 

If in doubt, look to the expert’s preferred brands: Medik 8, Exuviance, Environ, Obagi, and Mario Badescu, though we’ve tried and tested and load and think these are all worth consideration:

Medik 8 CE-Tetra Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum

Containing lipid-soluble Vitamin C and vitaminc E to really protect and treat skin, this is one to opt for if you want to really impact your skin 

Available at Medik 8 | £63

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Dr Sebagh Pure Vitamin C Powder Cream

This one’s a bit different – rather than come already suspended in a serum, you need to mix it in yourself. You can also use it neat, but we’d recommend popping it in a hyaluronic acid serum for a double whammy of goodness. 

Available at Selfridges | £79

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Indeed Labs Vitamin C24

There’s a whopping 22% of Vitamin C in this serum, along with some hyaluronic acid to hydrate and regenerate skin. 

Available at Look Fantastic | £24.99

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MZ Skin Brighten & Perfect 10% Vitamin C Corrective Serum

This silky smooth serum contains 10% Vitamin C, along with strengthening peptides and hydrating ingredients. 

Available at Net A Porter | £245

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Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Skin Brightening Corrector

A blend of 15% vitamin C, hyaluronic, vitamin E, and Vichy’s thermal water, this is a really comprehensive skin-strengthener and brightener. 

Available at Boots | £28

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Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum

This potent serum contains retinol and ferulic acid to really impact skin as you sleep. Try starting by alternating it with another serum, building up to nightly use. 

Available at Look Fantastic | £79

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DCL C Scape High Potency Night Booster 30

The blend of Vitamin C and calming essential oils make this a great option if you’re prone to irritation. 

Available at Cult Beauty | £108

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Alpha H Vitamin C Serum

Containing grape seed and liquorice, this is the best one to go for if you’re targeting pigmentation. 

Available at Beauty Bay | £42.50

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Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

The mix of 15% vitamin C along with saccharides to tighten pores and calming ingredients makes this a good choice for a day-to-day vitamin C. 

Available at Space NK | £70

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