Growing up, you’ve probably been told how important vitamin C is for your health. Now, you see it in skincare products, such as serums, moisturisers and even facial oils. Why the eff is vitamin C in your skincare? That’s because it entails a multitude of benefits for your skin.

Think of vitamin C as the Iron Man of skincare ingredients: it’s a powerhouse antioxidant that tackles free radicals (the skin villains that attack collagen and elastin speeding up the ageing process), reduces marks and hyperpigmentation without altering skin tone and exfoliates dead skin so it looks smoother. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

But just like Iron Man, it’s not perfect, kind of arrogant, doesn’t play well in a group and works better with some members of the team. So here’s what you need to know before you incorporate a vitamin C product into your skincare routine. 

It’s literally for everyone
Whether you’re 19 or 29, you can add a vitamin C serum to their skincare routine. However, those with sensitive skin or who are using vitamin C for the first time can start with serums with five per cent potency as anything higher could cause irritation, stinging and redness. Since vitamin C can sometimes be formulated together with silicones or other active ingredients that could cause skin congestion and breakouts, those with acne-prone skin should pick their products carefully. 

It’s best to invest in a Vitamin C serum
If you’re going to add vitamin C to your skincare routine, make it a serum. Serums are more potent, thanks to the active ingredients in them, and hence more effective than, say, moisturisers or toners with the same ingredients. When picking a vitamin C serum, look for some of the more popular vitamin C derivatives like ascorbic or L-ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl ascorbate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. The higher these ingredients are on the ingredients list, the more potent the formula and quicker you will see results.   

Packaging is important
The vitamin C molecule is unstable and when exposed to light, oxidises quickly. Also, frequent exposure to light and air degrade antioxidants, rendering them useless. It’s best to pick vitamin C serums that come in bottles affixed with pumps, are airtight or packaged for single use.  

Take in the day like your other vitamins
Using a vitamin C serum during the day will help minimise the damage from daily stressors such as the sun’s UV rays and pollution (both cause formation of free radicals), while using one at night can work with the skin’s natural restorative process to heal and rejuvenate skin. 

Vitamin C serums that are labelled as antioxidant can generally be used in the day. Follow with a moisturiser and sunscreen as it actually works in tandem with your sunscreen to protect your skin.  

Serums that are labelled as anti-ageing treatments can be used in the night. Can you use it for both day and night? That depends on the potency of the formula you choose. A milder one won’t cause too much sensitivity when used day and night, but a more potent formula could cause some irritation.

Make it really work for you
Just like how Iron Man works best with some of the Avengers such as War Machine, your vitamin C serum will have better results when layered with products that are rich in vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. Some vitamin C serums are also formulated with these ingredients in them, so you can pick one that has the A-team ingredients for the best results.    

Be careful which actives you use with it
If you use glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids regularly to exfoliate your skin, or use retinol, be careful when choosing their vitamin C serum because it’s important to pick one that won’t further irritate the skin. 

Now that you know how to get the best of your vitamin C serums, here’s a few you can consider adding to your skincare routine.