Vitamin C Skin Care Facts and Fiction

The skin care industry is full of buzzy ingredients. Some are hot for a season and fade away. There are a few tried-and-true game changers skin experts depend on, though. If you’ve ever been to a dermatologist or esthetician, you’ve likely heard of vitamin C skin care.

Most of the time, vitamin C is recommended to brighten or even out skin tones. But there’s so much more to this powerhouse ingredient. Houston-based cosmetic and dermatologic surgeon Suneel Chilukuri schools us on the benefits of incorporating vitamin C into our routines.

“Vitamin C does so much more than simply brighten the skin,” says Chilukuri. “It’s an antioxidant that fights free radicals, increases collagen deposition, improves the skin barrier and reduces existing skin discoloration.” Struggling with hyperpigmentation or a dull complexion? Or just want plumper skin? Then vitamin C is a great addition to your skin care regimen.

But the acid must be in a stabilized state to reap the rewards. “There is only one vitamin C, which is L-ascorbic acid,” Chilukuri says. “Other ingredients in products that may be advertised as vitamin C actually contain esters of vitamin C that are stable on the shelf, but are minimally beneficial in the skin.” These esters include ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.

It’s also important to pay attention to formulas. “Even some products that claim to be stabilized are often not,” warns Chilukuri. “The best way to ensure you are getting strong, stable and effective L-ascorbic acid is to choose one that is in a water-free base.”

Not sure if your vitamin C is stabilized? If the ingredient is properly stabilized, you should feel a tingle upon application.

Here are a few dermatologist and editor vitamin C skin care favorites.

[ Next: The Secret to Maximizing Your Sun Protection: Vitamin C ]

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