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July 17, 2018

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, helps repair sun damage, stimulates collagen production, and reduces the signs of aging. (1) Knowing this, it’s no wonder that so many Vitamin C serums are appearing on store shelves. However, not all Vitamin C serums are created equal – there are many different forms of Vitamin C that can be used in a serum (some more stable than others), and the other ingredients used to formulate these serums vary greatly by brand. Here are a few things to look at when choosing a Vitamin C serum to add to your skin care regimen.

  1. The form of Vitamin C being used in the serum

Vitamin C comes from more than just orange juice, and some forms are more stable and effective than others. Furthermore, some forms of Vitamin C may irritate your skin more than they improve it. Pure Vitamin C is called L-ascorbic acid (or just “ascorbic acid”) and is water-soluble, which makes it optimal for collagen synthesis. (3) Ascorbic acid is naturally present in a variety of foods (including citrus fruits), botanical extracts such as Kakadu plum (which is what we use in our own Vitamin C serum), and is manufactured as a dietary supplement. (4) Unfortunately, it is also the least stable form of Vitamin C, which means it oxidizes very quickly when exposed to sunlight. (3)

  1. How the Vitamin C serum is packaged

Sunlight and oxygen degrade ascorbic acid very quickly, so the best packaging for a Vitamin C serum is a solid coloured or dark container – something that doesn’t allow light in. (2) Extracting it from the container using either a pump or a dropper is also much more hygienic than pouring it from an open container (and allows less oxygen to enter the bottle).

  1. The Vitamin C serum’s colour

Optimally, a Vitamin C serum should be clear or slightly milky in colour depending on the other ingredients. If a serum has changed colour to tan or brown, it means that the Vitamin C in the product has oxidized and you should throw it away. Rather than neutralizing free radicals, oxidized Vitamin C can actually generate free radicals in your skin. (3)

  1. The ingredients in your Vitamin C serum

Generally speaking, more Vitamin C is better – that’s why you’re using the serum, after all! Serums containing a very high concentration of Vitamin C may state a percentage, but most products don’t. Instead, look for where the Vitamin C is positioned in your serum’s ingredient list. If the Vitamin C is being sourced from a botanical ingredient (such as Kakadu plum), the botanical/extract name may be listed instead of ‘ascorbic acid’. (2) Ingredient lists are ordered from greatest to least concentration so the closer the Vitamin C ingredient is to the front of the list, the more of it is in your serum. Also, the other ingredients in the serum all play important roles: aloe is great to see in a serum because it will help add moisture to your skin (remember that Vitamin C is water soluble!), and antioxidants work in tandem so seeing another one in your serum will make the product longer lasting and more effective. (2)

  1. The Vitamin C serum’s texture

Texture greatly affects how a skin care product applies so this one comes down to personal preference and how you intend to use your Vitamin C serum. If you’re looking to use your serum as more of a spot treatment, a thicker texture will help it ‘stay put’ better. A thinner or gel-like texture will spread easily and be much more efficient if you are looking to apply the serum to your entire face. (2)


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