Everyone wants glowing skin and vitamin C is touted as the way to get you there. Find out the most effective form of vitamin C so you can shop smarter.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant-rich skin care ingredient that claims to brighten skin while reducing fine lines and wrinkles, so it makes sense that everyone wants to get in on the vitamin C game.
But the skin care world can be a bit overwhelming. It’s saturated with so many products claiming to have vitamin C. And after researching all these products, you could be questioning which form of vitamin C is actually worth the money. Here we breakdown how vitamin C works and the most effective form that will help you reach your skin care goals quicker.
What is vitamin C?
First, let’s break down how vitamin C works and what makes it such a sought-after ingredient. At its core, vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant located in the dermis and epidermis (the different layers of the skin). This amazing molecule is crucial because it helps to protect us from UV photo-damage, increases collagen production, and helps to reduce hyperpigmentation. Studies even suggest vitamin C can help to prevent trans-epidermal water loss, which is the evaporation of water from the outermost layer of the skin. This loss of water usually results in dry and irritable skin.
Unfortunately, as we age, vitamin C starts to decline, much like collagen and overall skin elasticity. This is why it’s important to incorporate a vitamin C serum into your routine to combat this natural reduction. When applied topically, vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen synthesis, helping to strengthen the skin’s barrier. It also increases your ability to fight free radicals, protecting your skin from cell damage and premature aging.
There is a catch though. Vitamin C is notoriously difficult to formulate since it’s prone to oxidation. Once oxidized, the vitamin C is no longer effective. Not to mention, it has to be pH balanced to work efficiently. This means you’ll want to choose the right form of vitamin C to get the most powerful formula your money can buy.
Which form is the best?
Vitamin C can come in many different forms from pure ascorbic acid (also known as L-ascorbic acid) to magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), so it’s no surprise that this can confuse any skin care beginner. Hands down, the most well known and researched form of vitamin C is ascorbic acid. This doesn’t mean there aren’t other viable sources of the ingredient but rather none have been as extensively researched. Pure ascorbic acid has consistently been proven to be the most effective at penetrating the skin barrier and increasing vitamin C levels within the skin. This increase helps to further the positive benefits the antioxidant provides.
However, there are some plus sides of the synthetic forms. Synthetic forms of vitamin C have an increased stability, meaning they’re less finicky when formulated (unlike pure ascorbic acid). Despite this, the synthetic forms have to prove their effectiveness by being able to convert into ascorbic acid when applied. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), ascorbyl tetraiso-palmitate (VC-IP), ascorbyl glucoside (AA-2G) and ascorbyl 1-phosphate 6-palmitate (APPS) have proven their conversion during in vitro studies (this means it has been done in a lab and not on a living organism). Regardless, there is still much more research that has to be done to confirm their effectiveness to convert, as well as their ability to penetrate the skin.
A good thing to keep in mind is that studies have shown that vitamin C effectiveness increases when combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Together they can double the protection against UV and free radical damage. So, to boost your vitamin C, make sure your routine consists of a potent vitamin C serum along with other antioxidant-rich skin care products.
Now that you’ve educated yourself on the most effective form of vitamin C, here are some suggestions to get you started. For those who want to start out slow, choose the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum. This contains 5% vitamin C which makes it gentle enough for super sensitive skin types. It also features Centella asiatica and yuja extract to increase the brightening effects as well as fight acne and inflammation.
If you’re really trying to target any extensive acne scarring and hyperpigmentation, the Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid boasts 20% of pure ascorbic acid. This serum will work quickly and effectively to brighten the skin. It’s also a water-free formula which helps to slow the degradation of the vitamin C, leaving it fresher longer.
There is much more research that still has to be done on other forms of vitamin C before they can be considered alongside ascorbic acid. Currently, ascorbic acid still reigns as the most effective and well known for that reason. When searching for a vitamin C product, be sure to gravitate towards those that contain the pure form of vitamin C which will help to brighten and protect your skin.