What Percent Vitamin C Serum is Best

what percent vitamin C serum is best
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Are you interested in trying a Vitamin C serum but want to make sure you are using a good formulation? This article has the information you need to begin adding vitamin C into your skincare routine. Using a serum with a 10-20% concentration is ideal for optimal results. Choosing whether to use a lower percentage or higher percentage is based on a couple of different factors, which we will explain more in-depth further along in this article!

In this post, we’ll define what vitamin C is, show a few examples of how a serum is used with this topical vitamin, and provide several ways for getting started with the correct concentration of vitamin C in your products.

For more info about vitamin C serums check out these helpful posts:

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The Best Korean Vitamin C Serums For Your Skin Type

What is Vitamin C Serum

A vitamin c serum is a gel-like skincare product with a concentrated amount of, L-ascorbic acid, Ascorbyl-6-palmitate, or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which are a few of the different forms of vitamin C present in the serums. 

Serums are a great way to deliver active ingredients past the outer layer of skin while also keeping them stabilized. With a serum, you will be getting super effective results that are visible more quickly.

Vitamin C is derived from many fruits and vegetables, especially oranges. It is a powerful antioxidant and is essential for your health. There many reasons it is also a great ingredient to add to your skincare routine.

What Are The Benefits of Vitamin C

There are numerous benefits to using a serum containing ascorbic acid, some of which include:

  • Vitamin C serums have the ability to fade dark spots, acne scars, and overall even out skin tone. It is known to be a great solution for hyperpigmentation.
  • Anti-aging: ascorbic acid has the potential to prevent and reverse some signs of aging because when it is absorbed into the skin it promotes collagen production. The increase of collagen and exfoliation of dead skin cells will reduce the look of wrinkles and increase skin elasticity.
  • Protection against UV Rays: the antioxidants in vitamin C will help protect your skin from, sun and free radical damage, radiation, and other pollution present in our environment. The more protection you have against these harmful pollutants, the healthier and more youthful your face will look.
  • Healthy wound healing: vitamin C can speed up the process of healing, so it can be great for people who have acne-prone skin, irritated skin, or sunburns.

“Although concentrations of vitamin C up to 30% have been used for animal studies, maximal absorption was achieved with a 20% vitamin C solution, with higher concentrations showing lower absorption (11). “

University of Oregon– This link leads to a website provided by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Beauty Calypse is not affiliated or endorsed by the Linus Pauling Institute or Oregon State University.

How to Figure Out Which Concentration of Serum to Use

  • Generally, it’s best to use a vitamin C serum with a concentration between 10-20%. Anything below or above that percentage will simply be less effective.
  • The percentage you choose should have to do with your skin type and sensitivity. 
  • The majority of vitamin C serums come in 10% and 15% concentrations, but some are as high as 25%. 
  • If you have a sensitive skin barrier or dry skin, start off by using a serum closer to 10% concentration. This will reduce your risk of irritation and be a good introduction of vitamin C to your skin.
  • If you know you tolerate vitamin C serum well, or maybe you have been using a serum with a lower concentration but not seeing the results you’re wanting, try a product with a higher concentration.
  • If you do want to try a serum with a higher percentage or you haven’t used a vitamin C product before, try testing it on a patch of skin somewhere like along your jawline or your wrist before putting it all over your face to ensure your skin does not have a bad reaction. 

“A combination of 0.5% ferulic acid (a potent antioxidant of plant origin) with 15% Vit. C and 1% Vit. E can increase the efficacy of Vit. C eight-fold.[3] It was noted that this triple combination was very useful for the reduction of acute and chronic photodamage, and could be used for prevention of skin cancer in the future.” 


Other Tips for Using Vitamin C Serum

  • Choose a formula that also contains the ingredients vitamin E and ferulic acid. Ascorbic acid is highly unstable in its active form, so these two added to your serum can help stabilize it and reduce your irritation risk. 
    • Ferulic acid is a potent antioxidant that can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, while also reducing the appearance of sun damage and hyperpigmentation. It pairs perfectly with Vitamin C to boost the effectiveness of your products.
    • Vitamin E is another group of antioxidants that is soothing to the skin while also balancing out other ingredients that can easily be unsteady like ascorbic acid. 
  • Pay attention to pH: the pH of your formula is just as important as the concentration. If you have a normal skin type, look for a product with a pH of about 3.5, but if you have more sensitive skin you should look for a serum with a pH of 5 or 6.
  • Packaging is important: Try to choose a serum that has a dark-colored or opaque bottle with an entire seal. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and air, so it is important to choose the right packaging for your serum to last longer without oxidizing. 
  • Some people suggest refrigerating your serum to also prolong the shelf life. You will know if it has expired if the serum has turned a dark orange or brown color. Read here for more about storing your skincare products in a refrigeratorCan You Put Serums in a Skincare Fridge
  • If you have extra sensitive skin and are concerned about irritation, it is recommended to use a gradual approach. Start off by using vitamin C every other day, or mixing it with your moisturizer to dilute it. 
  • L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C, therefore it is known to give you results the quickest, but a magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a water-soluble form of the ingredient with less likelihood of irritation. This is good to keep in mind when choosing which serum to buy. 
  • Always layer your vitamin C serum under sunscreen. Using a quality UVA/UVB spectrum sunscreen will ensure more efficacy from your serum since it is so sensitive to sunlight, and it will also pair nicely with vitamin C to give your skin maximum protection from UV rays/ environmental pollutants. 
  • It’s not about the price: when it comes to choosing a vitamin C serum, expensive does not equal better quality. You should pay attention to the formulation of the product rather than the price. 
  • Vitamin C is a generally safe product to use on your face if it has been made with the right ingredients. Just pay attention to how your skin is reacting when using it. If any itching, burning, or dryness occurs, you could be sensitive or allergic to the product. 

DON’T do DIY: 

Many people wonder why they cannot simply apply fresh oranges or orange juice to their faces. Vitamin C skincare serums are highly concentrated formulas that are specifically made to be applied topically. 

Attempting to create your own vitamin C product will neither be effective nor safe for the delicate skin on your face.

If you are really wanting to create your own formulation, you could purchase ascorbic acid powders from certain skincare lines. If you decide to go this route, make sure you mix the powder with a stabilizing ingredient such as Vitamin E. 

This could possibly be a more inexpensive route, but it will be less convenient, sanitary, and safe.

Other Common Questions About Vitamin C Serum:

Q: Can you take vitamin C supplements and vitamin C serum at the same time?

A: Yes, you can. Your body is absorbing the ingredients in different ways, so it is okay to be using both simultaneously.

Q: What age should you be to use vitamin C serum?

A: Anyone at any age can benefit! Vitamin C has such a wide variety of positive effects on the skin, so whether you are a teenager fighting acne or middle-aged trying to prevent wrinkles, this vitamin can help you out.

Q: How often should I apply vitamin C serum?

A: For the most effective results, you should apply your serum once daily in the morning. Beauty Calypse has an article all about how often you should be using this type of product! You can read here- How Often Should I Use Vitamin C Serum?

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