How to use it
Apply vitamin C as a serum in the mornings — that is, after cleansing and before applying moisturizer and sunscreen. “I think the best vitamin C skin care products are serums because they are more effective at penetrating the skin barrier than, say, a cream or toner,” says Chapas.
Then, be patient. Most skin care products take time to start working, and vitamin C takes a little longer, even with daily use. According to Wexler, you won’t notice any significant changes in your skin for six to eight weeks. If you have sensitive skin, do a skin test first, as the high acidity can be irritating.
What to look for
You can maximize the benefits of vitamin C by combining it with other antioxidants. “This works best with vitamin E and ferulic acid,” says Chapas. “Together, they have optimal absorption benefits when it comes to anti-aging, skin brightening, and protection against free radical damage.”
It also plays well with vitamin B and hyaluronic acid. However, “do not mix vitamin C with a retinol or niacinamide,” because the pH levels are incompatible, says Wexler. If you want to use both, she suggests waiting half an hour between applications.
Also worth noting: Vitamin C is notoriously prone to oxidizing. “It can break down when it’s exposed to light or air,” says Chapas. “Always check expiration dates on your products, and if you notice a sour smell or discoloration, it’s most likely breaking down.
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