Are You Using the Wrong Vitamin C on Your Face?

Every day our skin is exposed to stress factors which include the oxidizing harm of free radicals (unstable molecules in the air that create havoc in the skin) and ultraviolet damage. If that’s not enough, loss of collagen averages 1% per year. While so many skincare ingredients promise to turn back the clock, which ones actually do the job? One ingredient, agreed upon in all scientific circles as very effective is Vitamin C. An essential component of the skin and a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, fights inflammation, evens out texture and rebuilds collagen. But are all vitamin C formulas created equal?

I interviewed Dr. Arthur W. Perry, board-certified plastic surgeon and adjunct associate professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York City about the benefits of vitamin C. One of the first things he emphasized was that there was a wide misconception about vitamin C in skincare. Only L-ascorbic acid, which is the purest form of vitamin C, is effective on the skin. Even though it is extremely volatile and unstable and undergoes oxidation when exposed to air – rendering it ineffective – it is the only form you should use. Look for serums that have a stabilized form of L-ascorbic acid in them and stay away from brands that use derivative forms of Vitamin C without L-ascorbic acid. Dr Perry is adamant about this as they are ineffective because the stretchy fibers of the skin can only be stimulated by L-ascorbic acid. It is the only form of Vitamin C that can reach as a molecule deep into the skin to the cellular level. It needs to have at least 10% of stabilized L-ascorbic acid in the serum with a Ph of 3 1/3 for the vitamin C to have any effect. Also, there’s no point in applying the serum during the day, he emphasizes, because the sunlight will oxidize it and destroy its benefits. Put it on your cleansed face at night away from the light. Keep your serum in a jar closed tightly.

Dr Perry has created his own skincare line based on his personal research on honest ingredients that really work. I enjoyed trying NightThyme, a nourishing serum containing 10% of Vitamin C as well as lactic, citric, hyaluronic and alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamin A, licorice extract, milk thistle and thyme to help decrease damage from toxins that does not contain sulfates, dyes, petrolatum, phthalates and uses no animal testing.

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Other excellent brands I tried that use stabilized L-ascorbic acid include C Bright 10% Vitamin C Serum of Zo® Medical by Zein Obagi, MD. A professional product with a silk-like substance, it is absorbed easily by the skin. This water-free Vitamin C formula self-activates at the contact of the natural water content in the skin to maximize exfoliation and brightening. This brand is favored by Jackie Suver, skin care expert and aesthetician at MD Dermatology of Maryland, because it is not as gritty as some L-ascorbic C serums.

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CerumWORX contains 10% of pure Vitamin C to provide high penetration and antioxidant action. Additionally, they’ve added vitamin E for an extra boost of anti-oxidant power. CerumWORX is housed in small opaque capsules so they can’t be compromised by light. These capsules are also convenient for travel. You simply break open a capsule for a perfect dose of the silky easily absorbed serum.

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G.M. Collin Vital C 10% + Peptides Serum is a smooth, fluid serum that contains 10% of stabilized L-ascorbic acid. Clinical trials have revealed an increase in skin elasticity by up to 44% and an increase in skin tonicity by up to 73% after several months of use.

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This C Firma Day Serum is packed with 15 % L-ascorbic acid and includes 1% vItamin E and 5% Ferulic Acid, a powerful anti-oxidant. The ph level of the serum is 3.3 -3.5. Drunk Elephant has a slightly gritty texture, it feels real and raw on your skin.


To dramatically increase your skin’s youth and beauty apply a serum with a content of at least 10% of L-ascorbic Acid every night. After two months, you’ll see results, but protecting your skin will start immediately. If you want more proof, search online for one of the more than 1500 publications in scientific journals documenting the rejuvenating effects of L-ascorbic acid on the skin.