Ingredient spotlight: Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid)


Vitamin c! Also known as “L- ascorbic acid”, is an antioxidant found famously in oranges and now in skincare products. It is used for brightening dull complexion, erasing sun spots, anti-aging treatments and treating hyperpigmentation. It is also considered as one of the most potent topical antioxidants and the most famous. Among other antioxidants, this one gives quick results and we love it for that! So what exactly do to you need to know in order to choose the right serum containing this ingredient?

Vitamin C and its derivatives

Firstly, you need to be able to recognise it on the ingredients list. L- Ascorbic acid is the active form of vitamin C and is already in a form that the skin is ready to use. However, it is very unstable. This is because it oxidizes quickly when exposed to air and can be degraded by sunlight therefore becoming inactive. The following derivatives are more stable and although they will not work as fast as L-ascorbic acid, they cause less irritation and are all converted to L-ascorbic acid when applied to the skin.

  • Ascorbyl Palmitate found in lotions and moisturizing creams
  • Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
  • Magnesium ascorbyl palmitate ideal for new users, less irritating and even the smallest concentration works.
  • Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
  • Calcium ascorbate
  • Sodium ascorbate.
  • Sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

Vitamin C in serums

Scientists have found ways to stabilize ascorbic acid long enough to last in serums and it comes in three forms;

  • Water based serums: these usually have water as the first ingredient followed by L- ascorbic acid or ascorbic Acid. Also, they have helper antioxidants like vitamin E that boost stability e.g. Paula’s Choice C15 super booster.
  • Waterless serums: these are not as potent as water based serums but you don’t need to worry about oxidation e.g. The Ordinary vit. c suspension.
  • Powder form: this has a low pH and is preferred for DIY because you can mix it with water or your favorite serum. However, there’s a high chance of irritations with time e.g Clinique fresh pressed daily booster.

Choosing the right vitamin C serum

When it comes to choosing a good serum, price should not be the first thing you check. Instead, look out for the type of vitamin C used on the ingredient list and its concentration in the serum. Also, the bottle it comes in is very important.

A good Vitamin C serum should;

  • Contain L-Ascorbic acid/ Ascorbic acid as the second or third ingredient.
  • Have a concentration between 10% to 20%
  • Come in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.
  • Come in a tinted bottle or glass (if it is water based and in a clear bottle, run!)
  • Include vitamin E + ferulic acid and or glutathione +hyaluronic acid for added hydration.

How to use vitamin C

Start with a small concentration and increase gradually to a concentration that your skin can tolerate. Also, don’t forget to always use your sunscreen!

Some water-based serums we love include;

Please follow and like us:

(2) Comments

  1. This is really insightful, here for Skintopia

    1. Welcome and thank you!😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *