The Lowdown on Vitamin C

What is vitamin C?

It’s one of those vitamins that aren’t quite as straight forward because there are so many different types. It’s not about getting vitamin C and adding it to your routine. It’s actually about finding the right one that’s right for your skin type, your skin concern. That’s where some of the confusion can come into it.

Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant that has an endless list of benefits for the skin. However what’s really important to understand first off is that it actually comes in two different forms. We have water soluble vitamin C as well as oil soluble vitamin C. the most common water soluble one that most people would have heard of is L’Ascorbic Acid. If anyone has ever used Skinceuticals’ C E Ferulic, that’s the ingredient that is used. One of the things we love about water soluble vitamin C’s is that they’re really easily absorbed into the skin. They’ve got really rejuvenating potential but we do tend to recommend those types of vitamin C’s to the more thicker, resilient, pigmented types of skin because water soluble vitamin C’s can be a little bit irritating to the skin if you’re a bit more prone to that sort of sensitivity.

On the flip side of that, we’ve got the oil-soluble vitamin C’s. These penetrate a little slower into the skin. It makes it a lot better for your more sensitive, rosacea types of skin. But they’re still really incredible because they’re normally formulated with ingredients like peptides and other ingredients that really help with skin health and general well being.

An example of that would be Skinceuticals Serum 10 for rosacea and sensitive skin types, and Skinceuticals Phloretin for skin that tends to breakout or get acne to the type of vitamin C that we recommend.

Vitamin C is an investment for your skin in the future. Unlike other ingredients such as glycolic acid, you’re not going to see the benefits the next day. Vitamin C is kind of like skin insurance.

What are some of the benefits of vitamin C? What kinds of concerns does vitamin C treatment?

When we think of vitamin C, I think of it as the BLT vitamin. Brightening, lightening and tightening. Another way I remember what vitamin C is for is with the 4 Cs: Collagen, capillaries, complexion and calming.

There is a lot of research to support the rejuvenation benefits of vitamin C. It’s amazing if you’re an ageing skin or someone who is looking at preventing the ageing process. We know early intervention is becoming really popular so I really encourage people to get on the vitamin C to really prevent the ageing process from happening.

Vitamin C can also be a really calming ingredient for the skin. Assuming you pick the right vitamin C, if you’ve got the skin type that does get a little bit sensitive, vitamin C can have some really beautiful calming benefits into the skin.

You’ve also got it for that redness and capillaries, to help strengthen the capillary walls. If your skin flushes really easily or you get that redder type of skin then vitamin C is super beneficial.

Also for pigmented skin that’s where that brightening and lightening affects of vitamin C come into it. It won’t happen overnight but over time you will start to notice a change in your complexion and that really brightness and radiance to the skin. A lot of us can certainly do with that!

Are there any skin types of concerns that should avoid vitamin C? Why should they

avoid it?

Vitamin C is not necessarily that it’s bad for acne. But there are a lot of other ingredients for acne skin that we could probably priorities. Nicinamide, vitamin A, salicylic acid as opposed to vitamin C.

The issue with acne skin is that they’ve actually picked the wrong type of vitamin C.

What about a vitamin C for a sensitive skin type?

Skinceuticals Serum 10 is amazing and calming for the sensitive or rosacea skin type. It’s really well tolerated for people even with impaired barriers or for people who have maybe used vitamin C before and have had reactions.

What actually is an antioxidant? What do they actually do and what role do they play in protecting the skin?

Vitamin C is an example of an antioxidant. We have these things in our body called free radicals. I picture a free radical like the ball in a pinball machine. When you flick the ball and it goes everywhere and ricochets off all the sides. Think of a free radical as everything that it hits in our skin, it causes damage to. Damage to the skin meaning pigmentation, sensitivity, wrinkles, collagen and elastin breakdown.

Free radicals are like these naughty little gremlins in the skin. They’re actually quite unstable molecules in the skin. They’re going around looking at completing itself, causing damage in the meantime. These free radicals get formed by everything: the sun exposure, pollution, lifestyle, diet, basically everything. We’re constantly exposed to them.

What the role of antioxidants is to come in and neutralise these free radicals. They calm down these free radicals and stop them from causing so much chaos in the body. That’s why we require antioxidants in such high concentrations in our skincare because our skin is our protectant. It’s our first line of defense. It protects us from things like pollution and UV. We’re constantly, day in and day out, exposed to these free radicals so our skin requires a constant dose of antioxidants to neutralise these free radicals. We really want to do everything we can to constantly control these naughty little gremlins. By giving our skin antioxidants topically, we’re giving our skin the best chance possible at being able to survive these free radicals.

What are some of the most popular antioxidants that we would find in skincare products?

Vitamic C is a great antioxidant. Vitamin B. Resveratrol is a really popular one. A lot of them have different types of antioxidant properties for different types of skin as well. When you pick an antioxidant serum, a lot of them will have lots of different types of antioxidants to help with things like the redness, the pigmentation, or the ageing component that’s associated with skin damage. It’s good to look for a product that has more than one antioxidant in it that is really tailored to the concern that you have because then you know it’s really targeting the concerns that those free radicals are causing in your skin.

Why are cosmeceutical vitamin C serums so expensive?

Vitamin C is quite a unstable ingredient and it is really hard to stabilise it as an ingredient. People often wonder why cosmeticeutical skincare is so expensive. One of the reasons is because vitamin C is really hard to formulate.

The water soluble vitamin C’s are particularly hard to stabilise. The reason for cosmeceutical vitamin C’s are so expensive really comes down to how the product is formulated. Quite often there are more advanced delivery systems and we are paying for that technology to stabilise those ingredients. Whereas a cheaper product may not have that technology so we know that the product would be unstable and could oxidise really easily.

The other thing is the percentage is quite important. With the water soluble vitamin C’s, we need them to be in quite high percentages in order for them to be quite active and quite stable in the skin. It does mean that if you do buy a vitamin C serum that claims to be vitamin C but only has a small amount in it, then the effects may be negligible. That can be a downfall when choosing your vitamin C. Buyer beware!

A lot of the time the water soluble vitamin C’s will be in a formula that has no water in it. It actually doesn’t become active until it hits your skin or it mixes with another product that might have water in it.

What if the product doesn’t disclose what percentage of vitamin C is has?

If you look at the ingredients list and you see the vitamin C listed a really long way down the ingredients list, that tends to be a red flag.

Also if you’re comparing a cosmeceutical product that is over $100 and you’re looking at supermarket one that is $20, and you’re looking at the ingredients list and there’s a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce or you feel like you need a chemistry degree to read the list, that tends to be a red flag as well. I encourage clients to look at the ingredients list and look at the first 10 ingredients or so and look for something that is key. Make sure some of those vitamin Cs are in those top few ingredients because then you know they’re in the higher concentration. If you see they’re hanging in towards the end of the ingredients list, unfortunately products can still claim to be a vitamin C serum or a vitamin C product, regardless of how much is in it.

What is our favourite vitamin C?

We love Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. It’s our go-to vitamin C serum. It’s a no brainer! It’s the ultimate anti ageing vitamin C. It’s also one that the founder of Adore Beauty uses, Kate Morris, which is saying something!

We also love Skinceuticals Phloretin for skin that tends to breakout.

Lastly, the Skinceuticals Serum 10 is perfect for sensitive or rosacea skin.

We love the texture and how quickly the skin absorbs all three of these vitamin C serums.

There are so many benefits of vitamin C. It’s about picking the right one for your skin. It’s not about just because you’ve had a bad experience with a vitamin C in the past and then putting it in the corner. There’s so many to chose from. It’s just a matter of picking the right one for your skin.

Would you like some assistance with your skincare routine? We are here to help. Simply call the Melbourne cosmetic dentist and skin care experts on 9088 1118 to ask your skin care question or email us at

Alternatively we invite to book for a consultation 

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