Vitamin C is a wonderful ingredient and using it in serums is an excellent way to maximise its benefits.
Not only can it brighten your skin but it also evens out your complexion, gives you smoother skin and clears your skin of acne scars.
Unfortunately, vitamin C serum can be irritating to the skin. This article looks into it.
Unfortunately, some may experience irritation with this ingredient. It’s safe for most skin types but not all. Vitamin C is very important for the skin and there are a range of vitamin C products on the market.
If you want to use these products it’ll be helpful to know why vitamin C irritates your skin, what to do about it and the alternatives you can use
Vitamin c serum irritating your skin?Why and what to do
What is vitamin C serum?
Vitamin C is antioxidant. This allows the vitamin to repair any free radical damage in your skin. A serum is a skincare product that is thinner than a lotion or a cream but has more concentrated ingredients than creams and lotions.
Because serums have thinner consistencies they can sink deeper into the skin. This makes them extremely effective in improving your skin as they reach past the surface of the skin.
Is vitamin C serum irritating skin?
Vitamin C is a great skincare ingredient but it has the unfortunate side effect of causing irritation on the skin especially if you have sensitive skin. Our skin has a natural pH of about 4.5 to 5.
If you use a product that has a similar pH. then you should be fine but vitamin C is quite acidic.
Vitamin C is acidic, the ingredient is known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate. Vitamin C serums have a pH of around 2-3. The pH of vitamin C serums has to be very low for the vitamin to be absorbed well enough. Unfortunately, this low pH is what irritates the skin.
In addition, because the pH is so low you can experience not just irritation but also redness or dryness on the skin.
In addition to this, when you use your vitamin C serum and expose it to the air oxidation happens. When you use the product on your skin after or as oxidation happens you can also develop skin sensitivity.
What to do about it
If you can’t use vitamin C because it irritates your skin then you can use other products that have active ingredients that offer similar benefits to vitamin C.
Here are some other ingredients that will give you similar benefits but won’t be irritating to your skin:
Niacinamide: Niacinamide offers a range of skincare benefits and these include anti-ageing benefits. Swap your antiaging vitamin C products for a product that contains niacinamide for a great anti-ageing treatment. This niacinamide is well-loved and widely used.
Pycnogenol: This ingredient is an effective antioxidant and is great at preventing any free radical damage just as vitamin C is. The Derma-E Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Cream is a great way to get your Pycnogenol. It also contains Ascorbyl palmitate, which is a form of vitamin C that won’t irritate the skin and can be used for people who have sensitive skin and rosacea
Bruket Broccoli Seed: If you love using serums and need an antioxidant that has similar benefits to vitamin C then Bruket Broccoli Seed is the way to go. This antioxidant has antiaging benefits. The L:a Bruket Broccoli Seed Serum is a great product to use in place of your regular vitamin C serum. It contains vitamin C but is anti-inflammatory and won’t give you irritation.
Alpha Arbutin: This ingredient is helpful in fading dark marks and melisma. If you can’t use vitamin C and need something that will brighten your skin like vitamin C can then this is the ingredient for you. You can find this ingredient in The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% HA Serum
Other side effects of vitamin C
Although vitamin C has many benefits it has other side effects excluding irritation. These include:
Benefits of vitamin C serum
Boosts collagen production:
As we get older the collagen production in our skin decreases. The decrease of collagen production starts in your mid 20’s and continues to decreases from there.
If you want to maintain a youthful look as you get older a good vitamin C serum will help with that.
Protects the skin from the sun:
The sun emits UV rays onto the skin, specifically UVA and UVB rays. These rays cause premature ageing and burning on the skin respectively.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C allow it to strengthen your skin and protect it from these damaging rays.
Improves the appearance of under-eye circles:
If you have dark under-eye circles you can use vitamin C serum to improve the appearance. This serum has the ability to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and dark patches on the skin
Improved healing can be achieved if you take vitamin C orally or if you apply this serum topically on your skin. It has been observed that high levels of vitamin C speeds up your body’s ability to heal itself.
Hydrates the skin:
If you have issues with dry, flaky skin then incorporating vitamin C into your routine will go a long way in hydrating and moisturising your skin. This product will give you revitalised and rejuvenated, moisturised skin.
How to use vitamin C serum
- Start off by washing your face. Make sure you remove all the gunk and dirt from the day or sweat from the night
- Use a toner of your choice
- Apply the vitamin C serum into your hands and pat it into your skin
- Use your moisturiser of choice. This will seal the serum into your skin preventing evaporation of the product.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. This sunscreen is well-loved and widely used.
- Apply makeup if you will be wearing it that day.
Tip: When using any product including your vitamin C serum, you need to make sure you apply it on your neck and décolletage as well. These areas age just as fast as your face and using products on these areas keeps them looking fresh
Can I use Vitamin C serum every day?
Yes, you can use vitamin C serum every day. Some vitamin C serums can be used up to twice a day.
It all depends on how your skin reacts to the product and what the instructions of the product are. Different vitamin C serums will have different instructions on how often to use the product
Before you start to use a new vitamin C serum you need to test how it reacts on a small area of your skin before you apply it to your whole face.
Do this by performing a patch test. Doing a patch test involves applying the product on a small patch of your skin and waiting to see what happens
To do this, apply the production on a small area of skin that is easily concealable like your arm.
Wait for 24 hours to see how the product reacts on your skin. If your skin has not reacted badly after 24 house then you can use the product on your face.
Is vitamin C supposed to burn?
Vitamin C is not supposed to burn but some people may experience some burning especially if you have sensitive skin.
This burning should not last long and your skin should get used to the ingredient after a few seconds.
If the burning continues for some time then you may be experiencing an allergic creation.
This burning can also come with swelling or hives. If you experience this then you should wash your skin to remove the product and stop using the product.
Is vitamin C serum safe for sensitive skin?
Vitamin C can be irritating so it may not be the safest option to use if you have sensitive skin.
If you need an alternative to vitamin C that won’t irritate your skin then you can try magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or the other alternatives listed above.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a water-soluble vitamin C that has the same benefits but is less irritating to your kin.
Is vitamin C or E better for skin?
Vitamin C and vitamin E are similar. They are both antioxidants and thus help you fight the effects of free radical damage on your skin.
They can both help to prevent the appearance of dark spots on the skin as well as the signs of ageing which include fine lines and wrinkles.
They can both help with relieving dryness on the skin and treating skin inflammation
These ingredients are very similar and combining these two ingredients make for a more potent product. The combination is more effective at improving your skin.
If you use both serums in your routine you’ll be doubling the antioxidant powers and the combination will be better at combatting free radical damage on your skin
Can you use too much vitamin C on the face?
This depends on your skin. When you start to see a vitamin C serum you should apply a thin layer every other day or every third day to get your skin used to the product.
If your skin can handle using a thicker layer as you get used to the product you can apply that much.
In the case of using concentrations that are too high then yes, you can use too high vitamin C concentrations. A good concentration of vitamin C to use on your face is 10-20 percent.
This will give you optimum results without you burning your face. If you use anything above this you can cause some serious irritation on your skin even if you don’t have sensitive skin.
How long does vitamin C take to work on skin?
It takes around 2 weeks to 4 months for a vitamin C serum to work on the skin. How long this takes depends on how often you use the serum, which serum you see, and if you take care of the rest of your body as well.
Using it more often will give you results sooner, using a more potent and better quality serum will give you results faster and the health of your body will enable the serum to work better as well.
You will see results such as brighter skin sooner than you’ll see more drastic results such as a decrease in wrinkles.
Why does everything I put on my face burn?
If you don’t only experience burning as a result of your vitamin C serum but also as a result of your other skincare products the then you may have chronic inflammation.
You may be using skincare products that are too acidic or harsh on your skin and your skin is reacting to it. If you’re following the motto no pain no gain when it comes to skincare you’re doing it wrong.
Yes, acidic products may sting a little when you use them but not all skincare products sting. Start using more gentle products on your face, they will still benefit your skin and will do this without irritating it.
Does vitamin C need sunscreen?
Yes, you do need to use a sunscreen with your vitamin C products because vitamin C makes your skin more vulnerable to sun exposure. When using a sunscreen make sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30.
As a bonus, when you use your vitamin C with your sunscreen it helps the sunscreen better protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
Also because it is an antioxidant it helps neutralise free radical damage that can be emitted by the UV rays of the sun.
What can you not mix with vitamin C serum?
AHA’s: AHA’s are a type of chemical exfoliator. If you use vitamin C serum and an AHA together the two ingredients will destabilise each other. If you hadn’t experienced skin irritation as a result of vitamin C on its own the combination of these two ingredients will give it to you
Retinol: Vitamin C serum is best used during the day because it helps to protect the skin from free radical damage. Retinol should be used at night. You shouldn’t be using the ingredients together because they need to be used at different times of the day. In addition, if you use the ingredients together your risk of developing UV damage is higher.
Niacinamide: Niacinimide is another ingredient that helps to even out skin tone. You should not use this ingredient with vitamin C because the two ingredients will cancel each other out making each worthless to your skin.
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