We all know of vitamin C as a vital component of our diets, and if you have ever explored the world of skincare, you’ll likely have heard that vitamin C is a very beneficial ingredient in skincare, too.

Vitamin C has several essential roles in skincare. It’s an antioxidant, skin brightening agent and anti-inflammatory, and is also required for the synthesis of collagen, which gives our skin its youthful firmness and support structure. It’s safe to say that Vitamin C is the gold standard of skincare ingredients, especially when it comes to supporting the skin through the ageing process.

What does it do for the skin?

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant – an essential component of any robust skincare regime. It brightens dull and discoloured skin, fades age spots by inhibiting pigment formation, helps to strengthen the skin against the damage that UV light and free radicals inflict, and boosts collagen and elastin production in the skin. Whilst it’s best known for brightening, it can also be very efficient for skin firming. I will often recommend a topical vitamin C to my patients concerned with lax skin on the face or around the neck and decolletage.

Why are antioxidant serums so important?

Antioxidants form such a crucial part of any skincare regime that very few of my patients will leave my clinic without one. Whilst our bodies are well equipped to produce our own antioxidants to clear up free radicals, as we grow older, our production of antioxidants slows down and becomes less effective.

Normal bodily functions and activities such as eating, consuming alcohol, exercising and sleep as well as pollution and exposure to sunlight all increase the production of free radicals in the body. Using a daily antioxidant will provide a shield for your skin, helping to repair the skin from the inside and minimise the free radicals that accelerate the ageing process, reduce inflammation and enhance skin glow.

How to choose the right concentration

Identifying the right combination is essential to how effective your topical vitamin C will be. Start with a low concentration of 10% and gradually increase to 15% or 20% as tolerated. Serums are the most common form of delivery for vitamin C – they keep the ingredient stable and enhance penetration through the outer skin layer. But bear in mind that Vitamin C oxidises easily when it sees UV light, so it needs to be carefully formulated and then contained in dark or airtight packaging. My favourites are the Skin Better Alto Defense serum and SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.

What about oral vitamin C?

The most effective method for improving the skin with vitamin C is to go straight to the source and apply it directly. In fact, applying vitamin C to the skin is twenty times more effective than oral digestion. Whilst vitamin C is an essential nutrient for our overall health, little will reach the skin when ingested orally as active transport mechanisms in the gut limit its absorption

When applied directly to the skin, Vitamin C will target the surface issues precisely and penetrate deeper into the skin for faster, more profound results.