Best & Worst of Vitamin C

So today is all about vitamin C. How does it work? Is it worth using? Which form is good for skin of color and which ones we should maybe avoid? What times of the day we should be wearing vitamin C and all the mistakes that get made with vitamin C when it comes to skin of color.

So as you know, with our skin, we have much larger melanocytes and they are easier to trigger. So as you always hear me say, one scratch, one bite, or one burn and we hyper-pigment. We cannot afford to irritate our skin, and so we have to be more educated and empowered when it comes to our purchasing decisions. I don’t want you to spend your hard earned money on anything that’s not good for skin of color.
So first of all, what does vitamin C do? So vitamin C is one of those ingredients that does basically everything and we definitely want to incorporate it into our routine. So it’s great for dull skin, it’s great for pigmentation, it’s good for premature aging skin, it’s great for skin texture. So basically anyone that is from 25 years old plus, because really at that point you start thinking about anti-aging routine, you’re going to want vitamin C in your routine. Don’t forget, after 21 years old, we are producing 1% less collagen every year. Basically the aging process starts from 21 years old. That’s the peak of our life, and after that we’re just catching up, trying to chase the collagen, and so definitely we want to keep vitamin C in our routine.
It’s important to know that actually in our youth vitamin C levels are higher, so in the epidermis and dermis, and as we age, we actually deplete our skin of vitamin C. In addition, it’s further depleted by UV and pollution. So if you live in a city, you need vitamin C and actually other antioxidants to mop up free radicals that are taking place from pollution. And again, if you live near the equator or it’s summer, you really need to be doing the same thing. So how does vitamin C work? The first way it works is by being an antioxidant. What’s an antioxidant, Dr. V? I’m sure if you’ve watched enough of my videos, you’re going to know what an antioxidant is, but antioxidants basically mop up damaging free radicals that destroy your collagen and lead to premature aging. Free radicals are not good for our skin, and we do everything we can to get rid of them, and vitamin C is a very good way of doing that.
In addition, it’s a tyrosinase inhibitor, so it helps to slow down the rate of melanin production, and that’s why you will find vitamin C in virtually every single hyperpigmentation cream or treatment for that reason. In addition, when vitamin C is able to reach the dermis, it helps to boost collagen. So that again is essential for any anti-ageing routine. Okay great, Dr. V. Okay, so we know we need vitamin C. That’s very helpful, but actually which form is suitable for us and which one should we be avoiding? And that’s a very good question. My least favorite vitamin C for skin of color is L-ascorbic acid. It’s got a pH of about 2.6, so it’s pretty low, to 3.2. And don’t forget the pH of our skin is approximately 5, and so it’s quite acidic, it can be quite irritating. And as you know, I want zero irritations for the skin of color, because for us, if we are irritating, if a percentage of us are irritating, it’s going to lead to pigmentation, and then what’s the point of using the ingredient that you’re trying to use to treat pigmentation that causes more pigmentation.
It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. So just avoid L-ascorbic acid. It’s water-soluble and it tends to work mainly on the epidermis. There are much better versions of vitamin C that I would rather you purchased. Okay, so the next vitamin C I actually love is sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It’s got a pH of 6, is non-irritating, is water-soluble, which means it works in the epidermis. I work with it myself and I would highly recommend you use that version if you’re looking for the water-soluble epidermis vitamin C.
The next vitamin C I actually really like is magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. So it’s got a pH of about 6 to 7, approximately 60% of it is converted to L-ascorbic acid, which can then help stimulate collagen production. So that’s another one that I like to formulate with as well, and again, I recommend you purchasing a cream with that ingredient in it. And even better form of vitamin C over magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is actually 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid. It’s got a pH of 5 to 6.5 and it has an 80% conversion to L-ascorbic acid, so it’s even more effective because then it’s being converted to L-ascorbic acid, which then helps to stimulate collagen production. So over the two, I would choose 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid over magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.
The next ingredient I really like is ascorbyl glucoside. The Ordinary does a very good one. It’s got a pH of about 5 to 8, and again, it’s hydrolyzed to ascorbic acid. So it goes onto the skin non-irritating and then gets converted in the skin. And as you all know, my all time favorite vitamin C is tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and I make sure I put it in virtually all of my products, including my Dark Circles kit. It is fat soluble, which means it has much better penetration into the dermis. That’s where you’re going to be restoring collagen, and that really is key. We have this waxy skin layer, and a lot of ingredients aren’t able to penetrate because of it, so I love when an ingredient is fat soluble, or if we encapsulate an ingredient. That’s another great delivery system of getting it into the dermis. Don’t forget antioxidants work much better in combination because they stabilize each other, so other ingredients you want in it would be things like green tea extract, resveratrol, vitamin E, potentially vitamin A, ferulic acid. So these are all great to be in combination with the vitamin C.
So the other questions you tend to ask are okay, Dr. V, which vitamin C works well with exfoliation? And I would say all of the vitamin Cs except for L-ascorbic acid. I would not exfoliate the skin and then apply L-ascorbic acid because you’ve basically taken off that top layer of skin and then you’ve put on a low pH serum which can be too irritating for skin of color. So I’m happy for you to exfoliate and then wear sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid, or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. Those are all fine to exfoliate with. In addition, those ones are also fine to then put on your vitamin A, and your niacinamide, and your peptides, and your ceramides. So they work really well with other actives that you’re going to want, especially for the anti-ageing routine and the sorts of ingredients you want in your anti-aging routine.
The other question I get asked is which actives are okay to wear during the day. So it’s very simple. All it is is if it’s got a low pH, or it’s going to irritate the skin, or you’re taking off the top layer of skin, which is protecting your skin from damage from UV, from any irritation, that’s not a good idea. So in this case, it’s okay for you, for example, to wear sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid, or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate during the day. What I’d avoid is your L-ascorbic acid. You would not want to put an acid onto your skin and then go out where UV is now hitting the face for skin of color. I would just really avoid that. So it’s not that all vitamin C is bad to wear during the day. Absolutely not. You have to choose the correct vitamin C.
And I think really in the last 10 years, there’s been a change in the number of options we’ve had when it’s come to vitamin C. 10 years ago, it pretty much was ascorbic acid, and now there’ve been more iterations, there’ve been more derivatives, and so now we have more options. Okay, Dr. V, that sounds great. So which is your favorite vitamin C products? And you know I love to go through products because this has to be practical. The other thing that I’m sure you know by now is that none of my videos have ever been sponsored and none of my videos will ever be sponsored, so any product suggestion that I give you is coming from evidence-based information specifically for skin of color, and I think that’s really essential. I feel like we really need this resource, not just for us, but also for future generations, for our children to know what they should and shouldn’t be wearing for their skin.
So first of all, let’s talk about the products that I recommend. My favorite one is Facetheory Regina C30 Vitamin C Serum. It’s 30% ethyl ascorbic acid, is anhydrous, which means it has no water in it so therefore it won’t oxidize. So that’s my number one choice. The next one I like is The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic, so that’s a great one as well, and the third one I’m really loving right now is the Naturium 22% L-ascorbic acid, and the reason I like this one is because it’s encapsulated.
If it wasn’t encapsulated, then I wouldn’t recommend it for skin of color, but because it is, it’s got a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Do you remember I told you at the beginning the pH of L-ascorbic acid is much lower? The difference is because it’s encapsulated. Right, so Dr. V, how do we enter the competition? So what I want you to do please below, can you help me and write down three ideas you want me to make for you, and not just brands, but questions. So for example, Dr. V, I am breaking out with niacinamide. Why? Or I’ve got dry skin, how do I use benzoyl peroxide? Or actual questions that you’re struggling with, because I promise if you’re struggling with a question, so are thousands of other people, and I really want to know what those questions are. So if you could please help me and write those down below.
Then if you could please head over to the Hyperpigmentation Clinic on Instagram, and I’m going to put a post up of Facetheory Regina C30, if you could, please like that post, and if you could tag three of your friends in the post and say something that you love about each of them, then you’ve basically applied on YouTube and on Instagram, and we will be picking five winners, and within the week, we will be announcing the winners on Instagram.

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