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There is no denying that Vitamin C is the hero in modern skincare today. Like a multi-tasking knight in shining armour, this ingredient tackles everything from dullness, hyper-pigmentation, and fine lines to shallow scars to symptoms of early ageing, accelerated by pollution and lifestyle. Once you commit to a daily application, the rewards are worth the effort. Acne spots become a distant memory, and the complexion gets visibly brighter. But how to use Vitamin C, and why is it a must-have in your beauty arsenal? We breakdown this star ingredient.

Vitamin C Skincare

Why is Vitamin C a skin vitamin?

It is the most common water-soluble antioxidant in the skin that protects against free radical damage. Extensive oxidative stress can weaken your skin and therefore hasten ageing as well as hyper-pigmentation (caused by post-acne scarring or sun damage). “It helps fibroblasts grow faster and make more collagen. In other words, it not only corrects your skin but also prevents from further damage,” explains dermatologist Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, founder and medical director of ISAAC (International Skin & Anti-Aging Centre).

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, this versatile ingredient is superb for treating acne, oiliness, and blackheads. “Naturally, the body does not produce Vitamin C on its own. Just as its dietary consumption is a necessity for human life, topical Vitamin C plays an essential role in skin health by stimulating biosynthetic steps for collagen production,” she adds.

How to choose your Vitamin C product?

It can be used in different forms but its purest is L-Ascorbic Acid, which not only brightens the skin but also diminishes the first signs of ageing, says Dr Gupta. To treat pigmentation, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is the form which is most helpful, she adds. “Watch out for Ascorbyl Glucoside, which is also a pure form, but needs to be combined with other forms to give better results.”

Check if the concentration has the vitamin or its forms in 12 to 25 percent, points out Dr Satish Bhatia, a Mumbai-based dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. While Vitamin C alone has proven benefits, studies show that combining it with equally potent ingredients can heighten efficacy. “Along with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid, it makes for a much more potent antioxidant. Glutathione is another antioxidant that works wonders with it,” Dr Bhatia explains.

Vitamin C is sensitive to oxidation and light exposure, so the product packaging – usually air-tight container opaque or amber-hued bottle — is as important as the formula itself. For best results, keep the products refrigerated.

A word of caution from Dr Bhatia: Avoid layering vitamin C serums and retinol products. Use it on alternate days but not together. Always wear a sunscreen as vitamin C renews the skin and new skin is always sensitive to the sun.

Here’s our list of our favourite Vitamin C products.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, Rs 12,000 (approx)

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

One of the most-recommended serums to tighten and brighten the complexion, and visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System With Pure Vitamin C, Rs 1,700

Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System With Pure Vitamin C

7-Single use packets assure you get the powder cleanser with a pure concentrate for even-toned smoother skin.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, Rs 5,800 (approx)

Turn to this brightening hero, which contains pure L-Ascorbic Acid and other formula-supportive enzymes and antioxidants to give you brighter skin.

Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, Rs 5,100

iehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate

 

To minimise pores over time for smoother skin and a dewy glow, reach out for this potent serum that also has Hyaluronic Acid.

Dear, Klairs, Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, Rs 1,570

Dear, Klairs, Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

This K-Beauty gem contains a pure concentrated form and transforms skin in minutes.

Dior Capture Totale Glow booster age-delay illuminating serum, Rs 8,700 (approx)

Dior Capture Totale Glow booster age-delay illuminating serum

The serum uses Kakadu plum, that is 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than an orange, to help clarify and give you a luminous, even tone.

Neemli Naturals Hyaluronic & Vitamin C Serum, Rs 2,250

Neemli Naturals Hyaluronic & Vitamin C Serum

Non-greasy serum that works with Niacinamide which is natural Vitamin B3, while brightening and giving an even skin tone.

Aparrna Gupta

Gupta is a beauty enthusiast, always ready to unravel the journey behind the bottle. Drawing from her decade-long experience as a beauty editor at The Times of India and Verve magazine, this literature post graduate from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University, continues her tryst with beauty as she consults with brands on content and product development. Her blog immerses her readers into the luxurious universe of fragrances, wellness and skincare. Her articles have been featured in Vogue India, Harper’s Bazaar India, Femina and L’Officiel India.