Skincare

What should I look for in a vitamin C serum? Skincare experts explain all

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Hanna Ibraheem
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Vitamin C is growing in popularity but before you rush to purchase a serum, there are a few things you should know first – as explained in this TikTok video.

Considering its ability to brighten and even out skin tone, encourage collagen production and protect skin against damaging environmental factors like free radicals and pollution, it’s no surprise that vitamin C is growing in popularity.

In fact, the buzzy antioxidant was crowned the most googled skincare ingredient of 2020, according to Cult Beauty, racking up an impressive 1,211,000 searches. And we have no doubt that number will continue to grow well into 2021.

As products with active ingredients tend to be more experience, it’s important to ensure that you’re buying a formula that is actually effective. Vitamin C is notoriously unstable and so, you need to be on the lookout for formulas that have been specifically created to help stabilise the molecule.

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That’s the sentiment that a particular TikTok video shares, too. The social media site – which has been responsible for teaching us how to fake a fringe and the dry shampoo trend – is now teaching us about smart skincare shopping. Every day is a school day on TikTok, ey?

In the video, which was posted by pharmacist Dr Mona Vand, she explains, “vitamin C is an amazing ingredient on its own but it’s actually more effective when it’s combined with two ingredients. Those two ingredients are vitamin E and ferulic acid.”

She goes on to explain that the two additional ingredients help to stabilise vitamin C and make it more effective – and when we asked Dr Ophelia Veraitch, consultant dermatologist at Cranley Clinic, about the video, she agreed.

“Overall I would suggest that vitamin C, E and ferulic acid are a very good combination,” Dr Veraitch tells Stylist.co.uk. “This has been backed by scientific studies showing that combining vitamin C with vitamin E and ferulic acid improves vitamin C’s stability, and makes it more effective.”

Ferulic acid itself occurs naturally in the cell walls of rice, wheat and oats and the seeds of apples and oranges. It is an incredibly potent antioxidant and will have skin benefits even when used alone. However, when it is added to vitamins C and E, studies have suggested that ferulic acid appears to increase your skin’s natural defences against sun damage which will then help fight against any signs of premature ageing; reducing pigmentation and fine lines.”

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In the TikTok video, Dr Vand continues: “If you have a product that [is] 20% vitamin C and another product that’s 15% vitamin C but it’s combined with vitamin E and ferulic acid, [the latter product] is going to be the winner.”

Dr Veraitch further explains: “If you apply vitamin C alone, you have to be careful as it can easily degrade and become ineffective. That is why it’s better to be in formulations with other antioxidants such as ferulic acid or vitamin E as studies have shown that when applied together they work together more effectively and are more stable.”

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Alongside searching for additional stabilising ingredients, there are a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine.

Here, Dr Aikaterini Charakida, consultant dermatologist & dermato-surgeon at EF Medispa shares her tips.

  • “Skincare products contain different percentages of vitamin C so it’s always best to check with a skincare expert or doctor before embarking on a new routine or using a new product.”
  • “Ascorbic acid breaks down with regular exposure to air and light and so it’s one that needs to be looked after properly and kept in airtight packaging and included in products that are used once daily only.”
  • “For most effective results, use vitamin C in the morning and avoid using it alongside other acids. It should be used as the first layer in your skincare regimen after cleansing and prior to your SPF.”
  • “Vitamin C mixes well and layers with other skincare ingredients, including exfoliating acids and other vitamins and antioxidants such as niacinamide.”

Best vitamin C serums with vitamin E or ferulic acid (or both)

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