Why Vitamin C serums are your beauty cupboard heroes

If you only get one thing on your next beauty shop, make it this one.

Skincare shopping can be as overwhelming as it is fun – what with shelves upon shelves of different products each marketed to treat different things: ‘Say goodbye to crows feet with this eye cream,’ ‘get rid of dark circles with this serum’.. and so on.

It can be quite difficult to know which products to spend our hard-earned dollars on. But if there’s one multi-tasking skincare staple you need to give some real estate in your beauty cupboard, it’s Vitamin C serums. Here’s why.

What are the benefits of a Vitamin C serum?

“A Vitamin C serum is a powerful addition to your skincare routine, especially as you age,” says GP and Cosmetic Care Specialist, Dr Tanya Unni

Its benefits? It brightens the skin; reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; protects against environmental damage; helps fade dark spots, hyperpigmentation and age spots by inhibiting the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for discolouration); it promotes collagen production.

“Collagen is a protein that maintains our skin’s structure and elasticity, but as we age it decreases,” explains Dr Tanya. “Incorporating skincare which promotes collagen production has great benefits, because as we age our collagen production decreases, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin.

“Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, protecting your skin from oxidative stress and free radicals, which are key contributors to premature ageing.”

Pipette with liquid gel or serum on pastel orange background

What are the side effects of a Vitamin C serum? 

It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, meaning we will tolerate ingredients differently. According to Dr Tanya, Vitamin C is generally well-tolerated. However, “some individuals may experience mild irritation or a tingling sensation when they first start using it”.

“This is usually temporary and can be minimised by choosing a product with a lower concentration of Vitamin C or by gradually introducing it into your skincare routine,” she explains.

“Always perform a patch test before applying it to your face to ensure you don’t have a sensitivity or allergy.”

What is the difference between Vitamin C and retinol?

This is a common question as both offer benefits for ageing skin, but these benefits are unique. While Vitamin C focuses on brightening the skin, protecting against environmental damage, and promoting collagen production, retinol (a potent form of Vitamin A) reduces wrinkles and fine lines and improves skin texture, says Dr Tanya. “Retinol accelerates cell turnover, unclogs pores, and stimulates collagen production, resulting in smoother, clearer, and more youthful-looking skin.”

Vitamin C protects your skin from free radicals and pollutants, meaning it’s most effective when worn during the day. Retinol promotes cell renewal, making it most effective when worn at night.

“Combining both can provide a comprehensive anti-ageing strategy for your skin, but it’s crucial to proceed cautiously and consult with a dermatologist for personalised guidance based on your specific skin needs.”

Drops of facial serum or polyglutamic acid pouring out of amber glass bottle nearby pipette on pink background. Trendy products of the year. Health and wellness concept

Which Vitamin C serum is the best?

Like we said, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to skincare – and Vitamin C serums are no exception. So, how do we refine our search?

“When shopping for a new Vitamin C product, I do recommend looking for a formula which contains a combination of Vitamin C and natural brightening ingredients, such as Kakadu Plum,” says Dr Tanya.

“When these types of ingredients are combined, they can work synergistically to maximise the brightening effects on your skin, resulting in a more luminous and even complexion.” 

In the market for a Vitamin C serum? Try these ones:

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