Vitamin C Facial
Topical vitamin C – or ascorbic acid – has soared in popularity in the past few years, going stratospheric in 2017 and is still holding its ground as a beauty must-have. So what does this ‘most googled beauty product’ actually do and does it deserve the hype?
Vitamin C has been a beauty staple for millennia – sea buckhorn was used by ancient Tibetans and rose hips and petals by Native American women to moisten, heal and fight premature ageing. With twenty times the vitamin C content of citrus fruit, rose preparations were the prototype for today’s Vit-C cosmetics – long before the science of collagen synthesis was understood, vitamin C’s power to firm, soothe and repair skin was common knowledge.
It’s an impressive dual action which explains vitamin C’s longevity and current popularity – while boosting collagen production it also repairs photo-damage via a high antioxidant concentration. Additionally, its antioxidant content is ideal for counteracting the free radicals found in pollution, cigarette smoke and other environmental factors – and for combatting the damaging, collagen-compromising effects of inflammation. A brightening and repairing powerhouse, vitamin C is simultaneously anti-ageing and ‘age preventing’ – making it appropriate across the age spectrum.
Another unique trait: vitamin C’s antioxidant levels are so high that – unlike a lot of other active ingredients – it is highly effective even in micro doses. 0.6% is thought to be enough to combat free radicals. (It can however be slightly unstable and needs to be kept in a dark, cool and air-tight environment. Antioxidants begin to breakdown when repeatedly exposed to air and light – so take care of your products and make sure they are within their stated use-by date.)
‘Vitamin C’ is an umbrella term which includes L-ascorbic acid (the one you’ll find in most skincare products), retinyl ascorbate and ascorbal palmitate. L-ascorbic acid is famed for its collagen stimulating properties and its ability to reverse the visual signs of photo-damage – while other varieties are less potent, any vitamin C derivative is capable of some skin ‘brightening.’ Varieties of vitamin C vary only in the degree of benefit – all are a welcome addition to any serum or corrective treatment.
One reason topical Vitamin C is especially effective – as opposed to dietary supplements – is that ingestible ascorbic acid is water soluble and so is expelled rapidly, limiting its absorption rate. Short of ingesting enormous quantities, the most effective means of getting vitamin C to your skin is to apply it direct. In fact, topical application is 20 times more
effective than dietary supplements – and remains for longer.
Vitamin C is often delivered to the skin via a night serum – although many other options are available. By introducing a Vit-C concentrate to freshly cleansed skin – prior to moisturising – the strength of the preparation is fully exploited. An active ingredient ‘closest’ to the skin in a layered skincare regimen will optimise its effectiveness by maximising contact time. Talk to your dermatologist or skin expert about the most suitable vitamin-C-rich products for your age, skin type and preferred skincare routine.