When it comes to choosing the right skin care products for your routine, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the wide selection of potions, lotions, serums and creams. With so many products out there to address all types of skin care concerns, such as dryness, fine lines, dark spots and uneven skin tone, you may wonder which ones are truly worthy of including in your daily routine. By now, you likely know about face serums and are probably using one (or two) in your skin care routine.
One particular must-have that can help take your routine to the next level is a vitamin C serum. So, ICYM the wave, we’re talking all things vitamin C serum including the difference between vitamin C serums and concentrates, answering the question, what does a vitamin C serum do?, plus explaining how to use vitamin C serum in your daily skin care routine.
What Does Vitamin C Serum Do?
Before we even dive into the benefits of a serum, it’s important that you understand what’s happening in your skin as you get older so you can appreciate how effective multipotent actives, like vitamin C can be — it’s going to get a little sciencey.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), between the ages of 20 and 30, three key internal biological processes start to slow down: epidermal turnover, collagen production and hyaluronic acid production. This leads to the appearance of the first signs of aging, including fine lines, rough texture, dullness, uneven skin tone and dark spots. Exposure to external stressors, such as UV rays and pollution, causes oxidative stress (wrinkles), which accelerates the aging process further. Dermatologists often recommend applying pure vitamin C topically to prevent and correct early aging for brighter, smoother skin.
Serums are lightweight products (with a thinner consistency than moisturizer) that are formulated with a high concentration of potent ingredients. When you really want to target a specific complexion concern you can use a serum that’s specially formulated to address your biggest skin issues. When you combine vitamin C with a serum formula, you get a powerful product with results centered around this anti-aging antioxidant. Overall, this is why vitamin C serum is the best choice for targeting signs of aging, dark spots, dullness and uneven skin tone.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C Serum?
Vitamin C serum benefits often include brightening, giving skin a more radiant appearance, as well as a reduction of the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation for a more even skin tone. Keep in mind, however, that benefits will vary from serum to serum, so you’ll need to do your research when picking a formula. Here are three things you want to look for in your vitamin C serum.
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (JCAD), shares that vitamin C inhibits the action of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for turning tyrosine into melanin — in less science speak, this means it blocks the overproduction of melanin which prevents the formation of dark spots. Along with that, vitamin C also aids in fading hyperpigmentation, like dark spots and melasma. So, not only can vitamin C prevent future hyperpigmentation, but it also helps to fade existing dark spots and acne scars.
Vitamin C is often interchangeably used with the term, ‘brightening serum’ because that’s exactly what it does — fades dark spots and uneven skin tone to brighten the complexion.
Targets Signs of AgingVitamin C serums, namely, are typically used for their antioxidant and anti-aging properties. As we mentioned above, collagen production slows down as we age, which leads to more wrinkles and fine lines, crepey skin and uneven skin tone. Per the JCAD, vitamin C is essential for collagen biosynthesis, which means it boosts it and in turn, helps to reduce signs of photoaging, like the ones we just mentioned.
Are Vitamin C Serums and Concentrates the Same Thing?
Whether you consider yourself well-versed in the world of skin care or are just barely starting to curate a routine, there’s a chance you aren’t sure what a concentrate is. It can get slightly confusing because the terms vitamin C serum and vitamin C concentrate are often used interchangeably. It’s similar to how the terms ampoules, essences and emulsions are sometimes used to mean the same thing.
The reason you may see a single product referred to as both a concentrate and a serum is that a concentrate is a type of serum. The truth is, there really isn’t much of a difference. It’s up to you (and the marketing teams behind your favorite products) whether you want to refer to your lightweight, highly-concentrated product of choice as a serum or a concentrate. Either way, you’re giving your skin a real treat.
The Best Vitamin C Serums to Add to Your Skin Care Routine
Now that you’re ready to add a vitamin C serum to your daily skin care regimen, grab one of these best vitamin C serums on the market:
Whether you’re trying to combat uneven skin texture, or reduce lines and the appearance of enlarged pores (or all three) you should be reaching for this serum daily. Formulated with a potent 12 percent concentrate of pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), salicylic acid and vitamin E, it leaves skin with a brighter, smoother and more youthful appearance in just weeks.
How to use this vitamin C serum: The serum is easy to add to your daily routine. Apply three to five drops to your face, neck and décolleté on cleansed skin in the morning and evening. It absorbs easily, has a smooth, non-sticky texture and won’t clog your pores. Layer on moisturizer after once it completely absorbs.
This derm-validated formula is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, allowing it to be super gentle on your skin. The antioxidant serum contains 10 percent pure vitamin C, as well as hyaluronic acid — a powerhouse skin care ingredient known for its hydration retention properties.
The serum will leave your skin visibly brighter and more radiant in just one week of continued use. After only two weeks, it will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also aids in reducing dark spots, improving clarity and evening skin tone. To stabilize the pure vitamin C formulation (which is notorious for oxidizing), it’s packaged in an air-tight, easy-to-use tube made out of aluminum that will keep it from degrading or becoming ineffective by exposure to air or sunlight.
How to use this vitamin C serum: Smooth a pea-sized amount onto your face and neck every morning and evening, after cleansing or applying a hyaluronic acid serum — if your routine includes one (which it should!). Follow up with a moisturizer of your choice.
How to Use Vitamin C Serum In Your Routine
As much as we love vitamin C serums, they aren't enough to complete your skin care routine. Of course, every routine begins with cleansing, so wash your face with your Revitalift cleanser of choice. Then layer on a few drops of one of the vitamin C serums above. At night, apply your nighttime moisturizer and you’re all done. In the morning, however, after moisturizer, you’ll want to follow up with SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Of course, you can condense your moisturizing and SPF application steps by opting for a product that combines both. If you’re not sure where to look, simply reach for one of these facial moisturizers that both hydrate and protect:
The majority of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging — from wrinkles to dark spots — are caused by exposure to the sun’s UVA rays. Using a daily moisturizer with SPF can help reduce signs of skin aging and protect skin from further UV-induced damage when used as directed with other sun protection measures. This lotion, also formulated with Pro-Retinol and hyaluronic acid, can help transform the look of aging skin for a more radiant complexion.
Formulated with niacinamide and collagen peptides for brightening and firming, this day moisturizer includes broad-spectrum SPF 30 to protect against UVA and UVB rays. The paraben-free, mineral oil-free formula absorbs quickly without a greasy feel, leaving behind a smoother, hydrated complexion.
When to Use a Vitamin C Serum?
Vitamin C is a popular ingredient for your morning routine because according to the NCBI, topical vitamin C protects against UVA and UVB rays, which cause aging and burning on the skin. That said, you can use it in your evening routine as well — just make you use it after cleansing your face and before you apply moisturizer.
Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Erin Williams
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