Applying Vitamin C serum correctly makes a big difference in the results you get in your overall skin health and appearance; here are 5 best steps on how to apply vitamin C serum correctly for maximum results.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs your skin from free radical damage while promoting collagen production, reducing dark spots and discoloration, and improving skin texture and tone.
This powerful antioxidant is a must-have for anyone looking to improve the health of their skin and keep it protected; that being said, introducing vitamin C serum into your skincare routine is an effective way to target an array of skin concerns, but it's essential to apply it correctly to get the best results.
What is a Vitamin C serum?
A Vitamin C serum is a highly concentrated solution of Vitamin C, which can be found in many forms — such as L-ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate — designed to penetrate deep into the skin and target a number of skin concerns.
How does Vitamin C protect the skin?
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin from free radical damage caused by environmental aggressors — such as sun exposure, air pollution, and smoking — which cause premature aging; when Vitamin C is applied topically to the skin, it can help neutralize free radicals, which reduces the damage they cause.
What are the benefits of using Vitamin C serum?
Vitamin C serums provide an array of benefits to the skin:
- Protects against environmental aggressors.
- Hydrates deeply.
- Minimizes the appearance of pores.
- Fights acne.
- Prevents future acne breakouts.
- Heals acne scars and blemishes.
- Stimulates collagen production and prevents signs of aging.
- Evens skin tone and brightens your skin.
- Reduces inflammation.
Read in detail about the benefits of Vitamin C serum if you're interested in finding out more about this skincare product.
How to choose a Vitamin C serum? 3 Tips On What To Look For When Choosing A Vitamin C Serum
With so many Vitamin C serums on the market, it can be hard to choose one that's right for your skin's needs; here are 3 tips on what to look for when choosing a Vitamin C serum:
- The right ingredients: When you're choosing a Vitamin C serum, it's important to pay attention to the right ingredients; look for one that says "ascorbic acid" or "L-ascorbic acid" because this is the most stable and effective form of Vitamin C specially formulated for your skin; other forms such as sodium ascorbate are more watery, which means they may not be as effective.
- 10%–20% concentration: The concentration of the serum should be between 10-20% in order to be effective in targeting a variety of skin concerns while being gentle enough not to cause a severe reaction. If you have sensitive or dry skin, look for a serum with a lower concentration (10–15%) so it won't be too harsh, but if you have normal or oily skin, look for a serum with a higher concentration (15–20%) for maximum effectiveness.
- Avoid clear bottles: Vitamin C is an unstable ingredient which means it can break down when exposed to air, light, or heat, so look for a serum that comes in an airtight, dark and opaque, or amber-colored bottle.
In what order to apply Vitamin C serum?
The order in which you apply your Vitamin C serum matters because each product works best when applied in the right order; as a rule of thumb, you should always start with the product that has the thinnest texture and work your way up to the product that has the thickest texture.
In general, the order should be as follows: cleanser, exfoliator (if you are using one), toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen to allow each product to penetrate and do its job properly to maximize the effectiveness of each product.
With that being said, it is best to apply Vitamin C serum after cleansing and before applying moisturizer because, thanks to its water-like consistency along with your skin still being permeable, it allows Vitamin C to penetrate through easily, be fully absorbed, and maximize its efficacy.
How to apply Vitamin C serum? 5 Best Steps To Apply Vitamin C Serum Correctly For Maximum Results
When it comes to applying Vitamin C serum, it's essential to do it correctly to get the most out of the product; here are 5 best steps on how to apply Vitamin C serum correctly for maximum results:
Step 1: Cleanse your skin thoroughly.
Before you even consider applying Vitamin C serum, cleanse your skin thoroughly to remove all of the excess sebum, dirt, and impurities that have accumulated throughout the day from the surface of your skin to allow the serum to penetrate deeper and readily absorbed into your skin so it works more effectively.
To cleanse your skin thoroughly, use a mild, gentle cleanser that will clean but won't strip your skin's off its natural essential oils and moisture; use lukewarm water when cleansing your face to open up your pores and allow the cleanser to really get into your pores and clean them.
Step 2: Pat your skin dry with a soft cloth or towel.
Once you've finished cleansing your skin, gently pat your skin dry with a soft cloth or towel; avoid rubbing or wiping your skin too vigorously, as this will disrupt your skin's natural moisture barrier and irritate, inflame, and swell your skin, causing further skin damage.
Step 3: Exfoliate your skin.
Exfoliating your skin helps eliminate all the dead skin cells — that can create a barrier and prevent the serum from deeply penetrating into your skin — unclog pores, and prepares your skin for maximum absorption of the Vitamin C serum.
Exfoliate with either a physical or chemical exfoliator that won't strip your skin of its natural essential oils and moisture and help promote healthy cell turnover to reveal smoother, brighter, and healthier-looking skin; exfoliate no more than two times a week as over-exfoliation — here are 10 steps to help you exfoliate properly and help you avoid exfoliation and 6 of the best exfoliation tips so that you can make the most out of your exfoliation routine — leads to skin damage.
Note: In case you accidentally end up over-exfoliating your skin, here are 7 steps to reverse the damage caused by over-exfoliation.
Step 4: Apply the Vitamin C serum onto your skin.
Once you've cleansed, dried, and exfoliated your skin, it's time to apply the Vitamin C serum; shake the bottle before use to make sure that all of its active ingredients are properly mixed and distributed for maximum effectiveness; this is particularly important as some formulas may separate over time due to their pH balance.
Dispense a pea-sized amount of the serum onto your palms and gently pat it into your skin — until it's evenly spread out and absorbed fully — to ensure maximum absorption and effectiveness of the serum.
If instructions are given on the product packaging as to how much of the product should be used — adhere to that to help you get the most out of it.
Start from the center of your face towards the outer edges in an outward direction, and then upwards towards your neck and décolletage; avoid the areas around your eyes, as they are the most sensitive area of your face.
It's common to experience slight tingling and redness upon applying a Vitamin C serum, especially if it's your first time using it. In such a case, use a smaller amount and gradually increase the frequency of use when the side effects subside so that your skin adjusts to it; a little goes a long way, so there is no need to use too much product with every application.
Step 5: Follow up with your regular skincare routine.
The last step is to follow up with your regular skincare routine; apply your favorite facial oil or moisturizer — to lock in the serum and make sure it has fully penetrated into your skin — and a broad-spectrum sunscreen — with at least an SPF of 30 every day because Vitamin C can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's UV rays.
When to use Vitamin C serum?
A Vitamin C serum can be used both in the morning and at night, but when used in the mornings, it protects your skin from environmental aggressors by fighting off oxidative stress that you may come in contact with during the day.
When used at night, it gives your skin time to repair and regenerate while you sleep from the damage that has been done to your skin.
However, if you feel that your skin can't tolerate a Vitamin C serum both day and night, then use it every other day or just once a day — whichever works best for your skin's needs.
Note: Vitamin C increases the skin's sensitivity to the sun, so following up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is essential.
5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of A Vitamin C Serum
Here are 5 tips to help you get the most out of a Vitamin C serum:
- Keep the Vitamin C serum bottle tightly sealed and store it at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from direct sunlight, as exposure to light and heat degrades Vitamin C — leading to a change in color from clear to yellow or even brown — reducing the potency and, hence, effectiveness of the product.
- The efficacy of a Vitamin C serum largely depends on its pH level. For normal skin types, a serum that has a low pH level of around 3.5 is recommended to guarantee optimal absorption, while sensitive skin types should opt for a serum that has a higher pH level of around 5 to 6, which will be less harsh on the skin as it is closer to its natural pH.
- When using a Vitamin C serum for the first time, test it on a small spot of skin to see how your skin reacts to it; apply the serum twice daily — in the mornings and nights — but if you find that your skin is reacting adversely or has become too sensitive reduce the frequency of use and gradually increase it over time when the side effects subside.
- Vitamin C serum is a potent ingredient, so when introducing a Vitamin C serum into your skincare routine, start with a low concentration and work your way up to a higher one to help your skin get used to the product without experiencing any adverse or allergic reactions; a higher concentration can lead to skin sensitivity and cause redness, itching, irritation, inflammation, swelling or even breakouts.
- Don't mix Vitamin C serum with retinol because both ingredients are too active on their own and can cause skin sensitivity when used together; instead, use each product separately on alternate nights.
- Vitamin C can make the skin more sensitive to exfoliation, so exfoliate no more than twice a week to avoid skin damage caused by over-exfoliation.
How to store your Vitamin C serum?
Vitamin C is an unstable ingredient whose potency and effectiveness decreases when exposed to air, light, and heat, so it's best to store your Vitamin C serum in a cool, dry, and dark place and make sure it's airtight in an opaque or amber-colored bottle.
Once opened, the serum should be used within 6 months of opening — it's best to refer to the product's shelf life mentioned on the packaging — after which its potency decreases because it starts degrading and can no longer be considered effective. When the serum is stored correctly, unopened Vitamin C serums have a longer shelf life of up to 18 months.
Experiment with different Vitamin C serums — check out our list of the best Korean Vitamin C serums — to find one that works best for your skin, and when using it, keep the tips mentioned above in mind to get the most out of your Vitamin C serum.