Vitamin C Serum for Rosacea: How and Why To Use It

vitamin c serum for rosacea
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Looking for ways to get rid of rosacea? If so, then this is a natural remedy that you should definitely consider using. Vitamin C serum has been proven to be effective in reducing the redness and inflammation associated with rosacea. Let’s look at how and why this skincare product works.

Why Does Vitamin C Work for Rosacea

Managing rosacea, a chronic condition that causes persistent redness, irritated skin,  raised bumps and visible blood vessels, entails a constant search for skincare products that will not cause more irritation. But the right Vitamin C serum will counteract the symptoms of rosacea.

Vitamin C works to both protect and repair the skin. Bioflavonoids found within Vitamin C help support and strengthen weakened blood vessels and capillaries.

Researchers believe that the reddish skin color associated with Rosacea may be due to excessive dilation of blood vessels.  Vitamin C can repair and increase the strength of these blood vessels and prevent inflammation and redness. 

Some studies also suggest that because Vit. C is a potent antioxidant, it protects the skin from causing free radicals, counteracting the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that inflamed skin cells often generate.


Why Is Vitamin C a Critical Rosacea Treatment

There are many different ways to combat the skin condition known as rosacea, from prescription creams to lasers.  But not all Rosacea treatments work well for everyone. 

Because Vitamin C works on all skin types and can be applied topically to any area of the body, it is an especially unique and safe treatment for Rosacea.  Some other Rosacea treatments can irritate and inflame already sensitive skin and cause increased flare-ups. 

Fortunately, Vit. C if used correctly, is a skin treatment that is typically very well tolerated by those with reactive skin.

What to Look For in a Vitamin C Serum For Rosacea

When choosing a Vitamin C serum it’s important to look for a variation of Vitamin C called Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP), which is much less likely to cause skin sensitivity.  Other forms of Vitamin C such as L-ascorbic acid can be too harsh for those with Rosacea. 

SAP is more easily absorbed into the skin barrier and therefore requires a lower concentration to be effective.  A lower concentration results in less irritation. 

SAP also oxidizes at a much slower rate because it is more stable than L-ascorbic acid. Less oxidation equals less skin inflammation.  

A recent study found that topical vitamin C “works best in conjunction with Vitamin E” increasing the efficacy of Vit. C “four-fold” and a combination of ferulic acid  ( a potent antioxidant of plant origin) with Vit. C and E “can increase the efficacy of Vit. C eight-fold.”  This “triple combination” of these key ingredients has been noted to reduce photodamage and prevent skin cancer. (NLM)  

This means that a serum that includes Vitamin E and ferulic acid will increase the efficacy without the increase in irritation that could occur with a higher concentration of vitamin C.

It’s also important to pay attention to pH: the pH of your formula is just as important as the concentration.  Sensitive skin types should seek out a serum with a pH of 5 or 6.

How to Add Vitamin C Serum to Your Rosacea Skincare Routine

Follow these steps for the perfect Vitamin C Serum Rosacea skincare routine:

Step 1:

Before bed, use an un-fragranced, non-oil-based, hypoallergenic gentle cleanser and wash gently with your fingertips.

Step 2:

Follow your cleanser with a pH balancing, non-fragranced, hydrating (not resurfacing) toner.  

Two to three times a week, use an exfoliating toner with the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) with 5% Lactic Acid.  (Do not use Glycolic acid as it is too irritating to sensitive skin.)  Lactic acid will aid in shedding dead skin cells, brightening, hydrating, and fading hyperpigmentation.

Step 3:

Apply a Vitamin C serum that combines Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (better for sensitive skin) and Hyaluronic Acid to improve hydration and absorption.  Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum does this perfectly. 

Step 4:

Follow up with a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer.  For daytime, a moisturizer that also combines a mineral-based sunscreen is ideal, saving an extra step in your routine.  La Roche-Posay Anthelios 100% Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid is a great option.

 Step 5:

If you don’t already have sunscreen in your daily moisturizer, be sure to apply a  mineral-based sunscreen daily.  Mineral sunscreens are less irritating and form a physical barrier to block UV rays and fight sun damage.

What Vitamin C Concentration to Use for Rosacea

According to a study cited in the National Library of Medicine “In most cases, for a product to be of biological significance, it needs to have a vitamin C concentration higher than eight percent.  Studies have shown that a concentration above 20 percent does not increase its biological significance and, conversely, might cause some irritation.” (NIH) 

To avoid irritation, a concentration of 8-10 percent is best for rosacea-prone skin when beginning to use a Vit. C serum.  You can also increase the concentration as your skin adjusts. 

Does Vitamin C Ever Make Rosacea Worse

Vitamin C can increase symptoms of Rosacea if you are not using the right serum.  Here are a few reasons that your Vitamin C serum could worsen your rosacea:

  • The serum contains a form of Vitamin C that is too harsh.  If you have sensitive skin for any reason, stay away from L- ascorbic acid and opt for a gentler formula with Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate instead.
  • Your serum could be oxidized.  You should be able to tell if this has happened because the smell and color will change from their original state.  
  •  There could be other active ingredients in your serum that are causing irritation and redness.

If you experience any of these skin issues, try switching out your current Vit. C serum for one with a lower concentration of Vitamin C or one with fewer ingredients. 

You also might want to start with using your serum just once a day, then adding a second application as your skin adjusts.

Also, anytime your skin becomes irritated by the product,  you’ll want to wait until your skin recovers before reapplying.

How Long Does it Take for Vitamin C Serum to Work

Typically, It takes at least 3 weeks to see begin seeing results from using Vitamin C serums on your face. It may take longer depending on how much Vitamin C is in your skincare product and what type of formulation you choose.

Best Vitamin C Serum for Rosacea 

If you have Rosacea or any skin condition that causes sensitivity, the best Vitamin C serum to avoid flare-ups while at the same time delivering the maximum anti-aging and skin-protecting benefits is the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This formula combines C with Vitamin E and ferulic acid to boost efficacy and adds Hyaluronic Acid for increased hydration. And most importantly, Mad Hippie uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, the most stable and bioavailable form of vitamin C

This is a water-based formula with a thin, gel-like consistency that absorbs quickly and easily into the skin leaving a smooth, soft, clean finish.  


What ingredients are bad for rosacea?

Exfoliating acids such as Glycolic acid and Salicylic acid are likely irritants for people with rosacea because they can strip and dehydrate the sensitive skin

Benzoyl Peroxide may also be irritating to rosacea skin. Avoiding skin care products containing these ingredients is recommended.

Products containing alcohol, menthol, urea, fragrance, camphor, sodium laurel sulfate, and glycolic and lactic acid can are also known to cause irritation and redness.  

The National Rosacea Society also found in surveying rosacea sufferers that peppermint, witch-hazel, and eucalyptus oil can be irritating.  

What else can irritate rosacea?

Rosacea flare-ups are often caused by a genetic predisposition combined with external factors.   Red wine, coffee, and even exercise are common triggers that can cause flushing.

Wearing a mask and weather changes can increase flare-ups because can they cause skin dehydration.

Stress can also play a role in rosacea flare-ups.   In addition, too much sun exposure often triggers rosacea, therefore sunscreen is a must

Is hyaluronic acid ok for rosacea?

Yes! Hyaluronic Acid is an ingredient that helps keep skin hydrated and plump. It’s also one of the best treatments for rosacea and dry skin.

Hyaluronic Acid Serums pair great with Vitamin C serums. 

They work well to help reduce inflammation, prevent wrinkles, improve elasticity, and restore moisture levels. 

Can I use retinol on my rosacea skin?

Retinoids like retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene are very effective anti-aging treatments and can improve many skin concerns.  However, they are not appropriate for everyone. Some people with rosacea and other skin conditions may develop sensitivity to retinol so tread lightly.

If you have rosacea and want to try a retinol,  start with a product containing a lower concentration of .25 to .05 percent every other day.  If your skin tolerates it well after several weeks, increase the concentration slowly. 

If you immediately have a negative reaction such as rash, increased redness, or dry flaky skin when using a low concentration formula, you may want to opt for a more gentle anti-aging ingredient.

Best Hydrating Serums For 2022

If you have rosacea, then you are probably suffering from dry skin. Click here to read about the best of the best Hydrating Serums in 2022.

More On Vitamin C Serums

If are looking for more info on Vitamin C serums, check out these articles:

How Often Should I Use Vitamin C Serum

Can I Use Vitamin C Serum After Microneedling

Can I Use Vitamin C Serum After Microdermabrasion

Does Vitamin C Serum Help With Acne

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