Vitamin C is one of the most well known and researched skincare actives, capable of helping to bolster collagen production, dim dark spots and make skin more vibrant. “It’s a skin powerhouse,” says Beth Bialko, director of global curriculum at Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute. And while it’s obviously not new, it continues to be improved. “Even with mainstay actives like vitamin C, there are always new technologies and research that help evolve ingredients to work better, smarter and even faster,” she says.
And that’s not all. As a key defence molecule, vitamin C is a formidable guardian, enabling the skin to shield itself from deleterious external factors such as UV rays, pollution and stress. “It acts on three biological triggers to protect the skin from damage,” says Bialko, adding that the serum form is best. “It tends to be the ideal choice for more highly active and concentrated amounts of vitamin C, and the skin can readily absorb it,” she says, suggesting that it should be applied in the morning under moisturizer and sunscreen.
One last thing: The ingredient is unstable and degrades easily when exposed to air, heat and water, so it should be housed in protective packaging; avoid any that comes in clear glass. Also, its colour should be clear to pale yellow; a deep amber hue is a warning sign. “It’s a signal that the formula has oxidized,” says Bialko. “At this point, the vitamin C won’t perform optimally to treat skin concerns.” —Lesa Hannah
FRESH VITAMIN NECTAR VITAMIN C GLOW POWDER ($49 FOR 12); XO FACECARE HEAVY C SERUM ($89); ALUMIERMD EVERACTIVE C&E SERUM ($179 FOR A SET OF THREE BOTTLES); DERMALOGICA BIOLUMIN-C SERUM ($118); REVERSA RADIANCE-C CONCENTRATE ($60); RODIAL VIT C BRIGHTENING MASK ($110)