Sometimes adding new products into your skincare routine can be overwhelming. ‘Will my skin react badly?’, ‘Will this new ingredient make my other skincare products less effective?’. So many questions can run through our heads as we stand in the skincare aisle.
So many, in fact, that you may walk away empty-handed, resigning yourself to the beauty routine you’ve kept since high school.
To help cut through the overwhelm, we spoke with Dr Cara McDonald, a dermatologist and co-director of Complete Skin Specialists.
That way, when you add products like Garnier’s Vitamin C Brightening Serum or Micellar Vitamin C Cleansing Water into your morning routine, you’ll actually get the most out of them. This can look like the reduction of dark spots and brightening properties to help skin that’s on the duller side.
Read on to learn more about adding vitamin C into your everyday skincare routine.
Refinery29 Australia: Firstly, what does vitamin C do for our skin?
Dr McDonald: Oxidation is a process within the skin that contributes to the build-up of toxins and damage to cells and proteins, such as collagen.
Antioxidants act to neutralise free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. Antioxidants are obtained through our diet but can be also delivered directly to the skin via topical application. This has been proven to decrease cellular damage and signs of premature ageing.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that provides protection against free radical damage and ageing. It can quell inflammation and brightens the complexion.
If you have never used it before, how do you begin to incorporate vitamin C into your routine?
The key is to introduce new active products one at a time and let your skin adjust before starting another.
If you have very sensitive skin (or have sensitised it through excessive product use), then it's best to seek professional advice to repair your skin before starting active ingredients like vitamin C.
Is there anything that you can’t use with vitamin C?
In general, we need to be careful with overdoing it with too many active ingredients, but vitamin C can certainly be used in conjunction with acids and retinols, so long as they are introduced slowly.
Some ingredients are not as effective or as well tolerated when combined with vitamin C because of their acidic pH. For example, vitamin B3 can convert to nicotinic acid in an acidic environment, and this can cause skin irritation and flushing.
Most vitamin B3 products available are actually stable and safe to use with vitamin C. Retinols and alpha-hydroxy acids tend to cause more skin irritation if combined with vitamin C.
Are there any rules around using vitamin C in the morning or at night?
Vitamin C is best applied to clean skin in the morning as your skin is exposed to more external aggressors, such as free radicals and pollution during the day.
What’s the best product to pair with vitamin C?
Vitamin C can be more effective when combined with other antioxidants such as vitamin E and ferulic acid. Vitamin C is notoriously unstable and degraded if exposed to the sun, so ideally should be used with SPF. Vitamin C also pairs well with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.
Why is it important to pair vitamin C with SPF?
Although vitamin C helps protect your skin against free radical damage caused by UV rays, it does not provide any protection from all of the damage that is caused by UV rays. Combined with SPF, vitamin C is the perfect combination to defend your skin against these environmental aggressors.