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#BeautyGlossary: Everything you need to know about vitamin C

Harper's Bazaar (UK) Logo By Roberta Schroeder of Harper's Bazaar (UK) | Slide 1 of 11: Welcome to Beauty Glossary. In this new regular series, the Bazaar beauty team breaks down the most hyped ingredients in the industry today, exploring exactly how they work on the skin, and the products you’ll find them in. By now, the beauty benefits of vitamin C have been widely extolled: this powerhouse antioxidant has the ability to brighten skin, neutralise free radicals and fade pigmentation like no other. Consequently, it's safe to say many of us can benefit from incorporating it into our daily routines.And the universal appeal of beauty’s biggest buzzword has not gone unnoticed, with myriad new vitamin-powered products hitting the shelves at a remarkable rate.Yet reaping the benefits of vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid), is not quite as easy as slathering on a cream and waiting eagerly for your radiance revival. Here, we reveal everything you need to know about harnessing its potent potential in full, as well as the best vitamin C skincare, from serums to powders, for the job. What is vitamin C and how does it work?Vitamin C is the primary antioxidant in human skin, and is an essential nutrient for good health, explains aesthetic doctor and educator in cosmetic dermatology Dr. Amiee Vyas. “It is required for many bodily functions including the production of collagen – a vital component in many of our tissues, from skin to ligaments and tendons, cartilage and bone, and even the corneas in our eyes.” As Vitamin C is water soluble and not stored in the body, we need to obtain it from external sources: through food and topical application. What’s more, vitamin C has specific benefits for the skin, due to its “photoprotective, antioxidative, anti-pigmentary and overall anti-aging effects,” says Dr. Vyas. One of the biggest benefits of a vitamin C product is the way “it can promote collagen and elastin production, as well as reducing collagen damage in the skin’s dermis,” she adds. The result? Firmer, smoother and more resilient skin. Vitamin C is also an anti-pollution powerhouse. “It’s a potent antioxidant, which means it can neutralise free radicals from UV irradiation, pollution, blue light and other aspects of our daily lives."Finally, vitamin C can help to fade and prevent dark spots, or hyperpigmentation. “It reduces melanin production through its action as a tyrosinase inhibitor, brightening skin and preventing oxidation of existing pigmentation so it doesn’t become darker,” says Dr. Vyas. Which skin types should try vitamin C?“Non-sensitive skin types with a strong skin barrier can benefit best from vitamin C skincare," says Dr. Vyas. In fact, anyone looking to brighten skin, prevent wrinkles or fade pigmentation should be on board with this brilliant ingredient. "However, be careful with sensitive skin and fragile skin barriers,” she says, highlighting conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, rosacea and dry skin as potentially problematic. “I always recommend a patch test if you have any of these. It’s better to strengthen your skin barrier using other ingredients first. This is because most topical treatments have a pH of around two (very acidic), which can cause flare-ups of acne and eczema.”Is vitamin C a stable active?Vitamin C is notoriously unstable as an ingredient, meaning heat, light and air can easily degrade its efficacy. For this reason, it pays to delve a little deeper into formulations and packaging, to ensure you’re getting a potent concoction with longevity. Vitamin C isn’t the easiest ingredient for the skin to absorb either. “It’s water-soluble and therefore repelled by our waterproof skin barrier. It is only absorbed by the skin when the pH level of the formula is below four," says Dr. Vyas. Thankfully, a host of brands have found ways to side-step vitamin C’s stability and absorption issues, creating innovative formulations and advanced packaging to keep the actives alive until the moment they hit your skin. Dr. Vyas recommends looking for products in airtight, opaque packaging (not a glass bottle with a pipette) and containing ascorbic acid (often referred to as L-ascorbic acid), which is the term for the chemically active form of vitamin C.Below, discover the 12 best vitamin C serums, gels, powders and creams for your brightest skin ever. The best vitamin C skincare to try now

Welcome to Beauty Glossary. In this new regular series, the Bazaar beauty team breaks down the most hyped ingredients in the industry today, exploring exactly how they work on the skin, and the products you’ll find them in.

By now, the beauty benefits of vitamin C have been widely extolled: this powerhouse antioxidant has the ability to brighten skin, neutralise free radicals and fade pigmentation like no other. Consequently, it's safe to say many of us can benefit from incorporating it into our daily routines.

And the universal appeal of beauty’s biggest buzzword has not gone unnoticed, with myriad new vitamin-powered products hitting the shelves at a remarkable rate.

Yet reaping the benefits of vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid), is not quite as easy as slathering on a cream and waiting eagerly for your radiance revival. Here, we reveal everything you need to know about harnessing its potent potential in full, as well as the best vitamin C skincare, from serums to powders, for the job.

What is vitamin C and how does it work?

Vitamin C is the primary antioxidant in human skin, and is an essential nutrient for good health, explains aesthetic doctor and educator in cosmetic dermatology Dr. Amiee Vyas. “It is required for many bodily functions including the production of collagen – a vital component in many of our tissues, from skin to ligaments and tendons, cartilage and bone, and even the corneas in our eyes.” As Vitamin C is water soluble and not stored in the body, we need to obtain it from external sources: through food and topical application.

What’s more, vitamin C has specific benefits for the skin, due to its “photoprotective, antioxidative, anti-pigmentary and overall anti-aging effects,” says Dr. Vyas. One of the biggest benefits of a vitamin C product is the way “it can promote collagen and elastin production, as well as reducing collagen damage in the skin’s dermis,” she adds. The result? Firmer, smoother and more resilient skin.

Vitamin C is also an anti-pollution powerhouse. “It’s a potent antioxidant, which means it can neutralise free radicals from UV irradiation, pollution, blue light and other aspects of our daily lives."

Finally, vitamin C can help to fade and prevent dark spots, or hyperpigmentation. “It reduces melanin production through its action as a tyrosinase inhibitor, brightening skin and preventing oxidation of existing pigmentation so it doesn’t become darker,” says Dr. Vyas.

Which skin types should try vitamin C?

“Non-sensitive skin types with a strong skin barrier can benefit best from vitamin C skincare," says Dr. Vyas. In fact, anyone looking to brighten skin, prevent wrinkles or fade pigmentation should be on board with this brilliant ingredient.

"However, be careful with sensitive skin and fragile skin barriers,” she says, highlighting conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, rosacea and dry skin as potentially problematic. “I always recommend a patch test if you have any of these. It’s better to strengthen your skin barrier using other ingredients first. This is because most topical treatments have a pH of around two (very acidic), which can cause flare-ups of acne and eczema.”

Is vitamin C a stable active?

Vitamin C is notoriously unstable as an ingredient, meaning heat, light and air can easily degrade its efficacy. For this reason, it pays to delve a little deeper into formulations and packaging, to ensure you’re getting a potent concoction with longevity.

Vitamin C isn’t the easiest ingredient for the skin to absorb either. “It’s water-soluble and therefore repelled by our waterproof skin barrier. It is only absorbed by the skin when the pH level of the formula is below four," says Dr. Vyas.

Thankfully, a host of brands have found ways to side-step vitamin C’s stability and absorption issues, creating innovative formulations and advanced packaging to keep the actives alive until the moment they hit your skin. Dr. Vyas recommends looking for products in airtight, opaque packaging (not a glass bottle with a pipette) and containing ascorbic acid (often referred to as L-ascorbic acid), which is the term for the chemically active form of vitamin C.

Below, discover the 12 best vitamin C serums, gels, powders and creams for your brightest skin ever.

The best vitamin C skincare to try now

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