Vitamin C is the key to maintaining a smooth, even, and glowy complexion.

Vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is naturally found in our skin and can be easily consumed from our daily diet like leafy greens (e.g., spinach, cabbages, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.), and citrus fruits. Vitamin C protects the skin from UV sun damage, to brighten the skin and reduce pigmentation, and also increase collagen productions which is vital for wrinkles reduction. However, sunlight and environmental pollution can deplete vitamin C. Excessive exposures to UV light or pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke and ozone) may also lower vitamin C content in the skin. This results in aging.

So, every skin type can benefit from topical application of Vitamin C in skin care routines. First, let’s understand a little bit more of vitamin C in its natural form.

L-ascorbic acid (LAA) is the chemically and synthetically active form of vitamin C. In nature, vitamin C is found in equal parts as LAA and D-ascorbic acid. This means that both substances have the same molecular formula, but they have a different chemical structure. However, LAA is very unstable when exposed to light, so new forms of Vitamin C in ascorbate molecules are synthetically created in effect to provide greater stability.

Different Types of Vitamin C

Vitamin C comes in many forms, so it is important to understand each form and what the benefits it brings. While many of them are great, but they do have their downsides. Some forms of synthetic Vitamin C can absorb deeper into the skin than others.

Whole Vitamin C

This refers to pure form, meaning that whole Vitamin C are derived from its natural sources such as from its plant or fruits, chemically nothing has been altered. It contains all natural compounds like phytonutrients, bioflavonoids, and natural enzymes. Whole Vitamin C is excellent for all skin types, particularly for sensitive skin. However, it is not available in high volume.

Ascorbic Acid/ L-Ascorbic Acid

A natural, water-soluble form of the Vitamin C molecule that has been isolated from the other compounds naturally found in whole Vitamin C. Ascorbic acid are mainly used in anti-aging in laser and products to address skin aging like age spots, melasma. Hence, this type of use is main by dermatologists.

However, ascorbic acid is volatile and inactive when comes in contact with light and/or air. It also oxides extremely fast, degrade the acid which can be irritating to the skin. To penetrate the skin, it requires a pH of less than 3.5 which can cause serious stinging to the skin, definitely not to be used daily. For natural beauty product, as natural preservatives can only work best at pH 5 to 5.5, such form of Vitamin C will not be found in water-based products.

Ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid should be avoided by sensitive skin types at high concentrations.

Vitamin C Derivatives

A compound like a polypeptide, phosphate or palmitate is added to prevent the degradation of Vitamin C as they are not sensitive to light and air, so they are more stable. They are not pH dependent and thus less irritating to your skin. They come in the form of water-soluble or fat soluble.

Water soluble
Magnesium Ascorbyl Palmitate – This derivative of Vitamin C has a gentle effect on skin, efficacy in lower concentrations, and stability at a neutral pH.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate – This derivative of Vitamin C is more stable, easily absorbed by the skin where it is converted into L-ascorbic acid. It is as potent has Ascorbic Acid in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improved appearance in skin elasticity and improving the look of photo-damaged skin. It causes less skin irritation, so this is the best form if you have sensitive or dry skin.

Ascorbic Acid Polypeptide – This derivate of Vitamin C is very stable and easily converts to Vitamin C when applied to the skin. It provides its same benefits with less irritation. However, it should avoid for sensitive skin types at concentrations above 1%, can be irritating at concentrations above 2%

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate – This derivate of vitamin C is gentle on skin and converts to ascorbic acid after it’s absorbed. It does not pass through the top layer of skin, so it does not convert into Ascorbic Acid. However, it is easy to formulate with, which is why many companies use it even though it is less effective for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Fat soluble
Ascorbyl Palmitate – This derivate of Vitamin C is often used in oil-based skincare formulas. It is also the more stable form of Vitamin C, but less potent compared to other forms as it’s non-acidic. It fights free radical damage to protect against signs of aging and repairing skin.

Ascorbic Glucosamine – This derivate of Vitamin C often used to fight free radicals and reduces dark spots, ideal for hyperpigmentation. However, more research is needed on its actual effectiveness.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate – This is the newest form of Vitamin C, thus more stable. it is also considered to be more potent than other Vitamin C compounds and has a higher rate of penetration (because it is lipid soluble, like human skin) than other derivatives. It is used for general skin treatment.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Not only is vitamin C vital inside our body as a nutrient, but the lack of Vitamin C may also result in the loss of collagens and early signs of skin aging like age spots, wrinkled skin will start showing up. There are many functions that Vitamin C plays in: –

1. As an Antioxidant

Vitamin C limits the damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Vitamin C is not a “sunscreen” because it does not absorb light in the UVA or UVB spectrum. Rather, the antioxidant activity of vitamin C protects against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. They are generated through normal internal metabolism, and this internal production will increase with age. This imbalance leads to the progressive damage of cellular structures and results in accelerated aging. Vitamin C protects against oxidative stresses by scavenging these free radicals as it provides electrons to neutralize free radicals. Besides, Vitamin C also regenerates alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) levels which helps to counteract the effects of free radical skin damage.

Beauty Tip:

Topically applied combinations of vitamin C and vitamin E are more effective in preventing photodamage than either vitamin alone.

2. As a Collagen Promoter

Collagen is a protein responsible for strengthening and support our skin. As we age, the production of collagen slows down, leading to wrinkling and other typical signs of skin aging. Vitamin C both influences and promotes quantitative collagen synthesis as well as qualitative changes in the collagen molecule. This makes the skin look firmer and suppler and thus overall healthier and younger.

3. As a Depigmenting Agent

When our skin comes into contact with the sun rays, Melanin, the brown pigment, absorbs these rays and forms a protective shield. However, these patches of the skin become darker when an excess of melanin deposits in the skin and this is known as hyperpigmentation. Topically-applied vitamin C has the cosmetic effect of fading of dark spots and brightens the skin.

In short, Vitamin C is an essential part of skin health as it is an antioxidant and as a critical factor for collagen synthesis. Vitamin C contributes to photoprotection, decreases photodamage. Vitamin C is needed for adequate wound healing, and this is why topical vitamin C may be useful against acne to reduce inflammatory lesions.

How to Choose The Best Vitamin C Products

The effectiveness of a Vitamin C serum comes down to choosing the right product. Before purchasing a Vitamin C serum, there are three important things to consider:

– Type of Vitamin C
– Ingredients in the formula
– The concentration of Vitamin C

As we had discussed in the earlier on the different types of Vitamin C, natural derived Vitamin C is unstable, and it is not possible to be available in large amount. Often, Vitamin C will be synthesized in the lab to produce naturally identical Vitamin C which is more stable and not sensitive to light and air. Here to say, there are dozens of ingredients you should avoid, and if you find in any of the Vitamin C with such ingredients, you should avoid them entirely.

Vitamin C is more effective when used with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid. It also aids in fighting free radical damage to support collagen production. Vitamin C is when combined with soy and/or liquorice has a great effect on reducing the visible signs of hyperpigmentation.

Also, Hyaluronic Acid is to reduce the loss of moisture. It improves your skin’s ability to hold hydration and infuse it into deep layers, thus helps diminish fine lines and signs of aging. It binds the moisture into the skin to provide skin with intense moisture.

Next, what the concentration of Vitamin C will prove effective? Often, Vitamin C serums will boast about the concentration of Vitamin C contained in the product (anywhere from 10-20%), but by now, you should know higher concentrations of Vitamin C can cause irritation. It is not necessary the higher, the better, look for a well-formulated product with a lower concentration (2%-10%).

Last, Vitamin C loses a bit of its effectiveness when exposed to light and air. Go for an opaque, air-tight tube or bottle.

How to Use a Vitamin C serum

Topically application of Vitamin C is generally safe and well-tolerated however, you should always do a patch test to assess your risk for allergic reaction.

Follow the instructions on the product’s label if you experience no allergic reaction after 24 hours of patch test. Vitamin C serum is typically applied once or twice per day. A good rule of thumb is to cleanse, tone, apply vitamin C serum, and then moisturize.

Vitamin C can be safely used in conjunction with other skin care active ingredients, for instance, Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA). When using Vitamin C, it is always good to go with sunscreen in the day.

Words of precaution, always make sure to check the expiry date. If the product has darkened or changed color, vitamin C has likely oxidized. Although the product is still safe to use, it no longer carries the same benefits.

Recommended List of Vitamin C Serums

For Vitamin C to work it wonders, they do not need to be adultered by toxic and irritating like Parabens, Phthalates, Sulfates, PEG compounds, Petrochemicals & Mineral Oils, Ethoxylated Ingredients, as well as Synthetic Fragrances & Colors.

The recommended list of Vitamin C serums are clean and non-toxic.


This serum combines two stable forms of Vitamin C together (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl palmitate) to create an effective solution. Together with Hyaluronic Acid and a nourishing blend of Organic Seaweeds (red algae, and brown algae ) delivers lasting hydration to help smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles. 

This non-sticky Vitamin C serum packed with Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate comes with 100% hassle-free guarantee return policy! This potent blend of 20% Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, and Vitamin E is gentle, yet highly effective at reversing the effects of time and environmental damage.

This natural formula uses tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate as its form of Vitamin C. The wonderful thing about this formula from Eminence is that is also contains natural ingredients which are great for reducing inflammation and brightening the skin. These ingredients include rosehip seed oil, seabuckthorn oil, rosemary leaf, and jojoba oil.

This Vitamin C serum is plant-based formulated and packed with Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It also consists of dynamic, active botanicals like aloe vera, MSM, botanical hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, and jojoba oil.

This is a plant-powered formula uses two potent sources of Vitamin C, synergistic C boosters – organic green tea and Vitamin E. It uses ascorbyl palmitate as Vitamin C and combines that with skin-boosting botanicals rosehip oil, acerola fruit, seabuckthorn, and shea oil to name a few. It is crafted from 100% of the total ingredients are from natural origin 88.4% of the total ingredients are from organic farming.

This Vitamin C serum uses a stable form of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and listed as 2nd ingredient behind to organic aloe vera gel, which indicates that the serum contains a lot of Vitamin C. The ingredients are all-natural and gentle enough for sensitive skin types.

This Vitamin C formula uses a stable form of an ascorbic acid polypeptide that can easily penetrate the skin. The serum is super light-weight and absorbs effortlessly into the skin. It contains 100% natural and 84% organic ingredients with additional ingredients like rosehip, aloe, rose oil, and aspen bark to create an even-toned complexion.

This Vitamin C serum uses a stable form of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and listed as 2nd ingredient behind to organic aloe vera gel, which indicates that the serum contains a lot of Vitamin C. The ingredients are all-natural and gentle enough for sensitive skin types.

Eve Hansen’s Vitamin C Serum packed with Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate and also contains other skin brightening and nourishing ingredients including Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E, Organic Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera, and Dandelion extract

This Vitamin C serum had won several awards, and it was dubbed the “Glow-getter serum” in InStyle Magazine and “a miracle worker” in Allure magazine. This serum is packed with Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It has all the ingredients which synergize and boost the properties of Vitamin C like vitamin E, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid. Additional ingredients include clary sage, chamomile, grapefruit, and konjac powder which has to soothes and balance oil production.

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