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All your Vitamin C questions answered by a dermat!

Vitamin C - one of the hottest and most coveted skin ingredients, we can definitely call it the Beyoncé of the skincare world! This multi-talented active is a great addition to your skincare routine, to treat every concern from dullness, signs of ageing, pigmentation and much more. However, with the vast number of Vitamin C products available in the market along with the overload of information out there, making an informed decision can become quite a challenge. We are here to simply break it down for you and address every frequently asked question with none other than our in-house Sublime Life Expert - Dr. Manasi Shirolikar, MBBS, DDVL and Board-certified Dermatologist. 

Read on as we cover the A-Z of Vitamin C, as well as how to add it to your routine, why, when and much more.

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1) What % of Vitamin C is right for me? 

  • There is no 'right %' of Vitamin C. It depends on your skin and skin concern; and also the molecule in question.
  • L-Ascorbic Acid is best started at 5% and can then be stepped up to 10-15% and eventually 20%. Beyond 20%, almost all L-Ascorbic products are the same.
  • Another derivative - Ethyl ascorbic acid (the most popular one these days) is good at 20% too.

2) How do I prevent oxidation/know if my Vitamin C serum has oxidised? 

  • Upon oxidation, your serum will generally become a deeper tone. For example, if it's transparent in colour, it will turn yellow. 
  • If it's already light yellow in colour, it will turn amber/orange. It may also sting on application (normally Vitamin C tends to tingle a bit and eventually settle).
  • In order to prevent oxidation - keep in a dark area like your cupboard. 
  • If it's in a transparent bottle, I advise duct taping the bottle to minimise penetration of light! Ideally, Vitamin C should be in opaque containers that are either air-restrictive or air-tight - like an airless pump rather than a tub or dropper bottle that requires being opened all the way.

3) Why am I getting small bumps/acne when I use Vitamin C for the first time? Is it purging?

  • Purging generally occurs when there is an increase in cell turnover. Vitamin C does not do that. It's likely the molecule/formulation of Vitamin C isn't working for you! 

Read more about purging here.

  • Stop for a couple of days and patch test.

Read how to patch test your products here.

4) Why does my skin look darker after using Vitamin C?

  • If you are applying Vitamin C without sunscreen, it is likely that the Vitamin C degrades into Erythrulose, which is an ingredient you will find in many self-tanners. So please make sure you apply sunscreen always after applying Vitamin C.

5) Can I use Vitamin C in the AM/PM?

  • Vitamin C is best used in the AM, with Sunscreen! There’s certainly no law against using Vitamin C products in the evening, but you may get the most benefit from using them in the morning. 
  • This leaves room for awesome ingredients such as BHAs/Retinol at night.

Read more about Retinol here and BHAs here.

6) How long does it take for Vitamin C serums to show results?

  • It really depends on your skin type and skin concern! 
  • You should see changes in pigmentation anywhere from 1-3 months. However, scarring may take longer!

7) What skin types and concerns does Vitamin C work well for?

  • Vitamin C works best for pigmentation and for anti-ageing. It does help with acne scarring as well as with Collagen synthesis. 
  • It's also very safe in pregnancy!
  • However, I wouldn't recommend Vitamin C if you have active acne/acne-prone skin. But if your acne is controlled you can go ahead. 
  • Also, Vitamin C is well suited to most skin types! But always patch test!

8) What actives/ingredients can Vitamin C be combined with and in what order?

Vitamin C can be combined with the following:

  • Niacinamide
  • Peptides
  • Ceramides
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Azelaic Acid
  • Vitamin E
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Sunscreen (best!)

It can also be used in different routines (AM and PM) with the following:

  • Retinol
  • AHAs
  • BHAS

Read more on ingredients you can and cannot mix here.

Dr. Manasi’s Vitamin C picks!

1.  MartiDerm DSP-Bright Ampoules

5% Vitamin C and Tranexamic Acid do wonders for acne scars, dark spots, pigmentation, sun spots as well as brightening and evening out your skin tone.

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2.  MartiDerm Proteos Hydra Plus SP Ampoules

The perfect skin protection that brightens, hydrates as well as provides sun protection with 5% L-Ascorbic Acid, Vegan Proteoglycans, Vitamin F and Broad Spectrum UVA UVB protection.

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3Neemli Naturals Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin C Brightening Serum

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A non-greasy age-defying elixir to keep the skin super plump, hydrated, soft while brightening it. Say hello to dewy, smooth and even skin!

4Over Dermis Skin Alphabet Vitamin C Serum

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An antioxidant cocktail with encapsulated actives specially suited for acne prone skin, it helps maintain stability and reduces acne like scars, blocked pores and inflammation.

5SNP Prep Vitaronic Skincare Set


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A potent combo consisting of the Vitaronic Gel Cream and SOS Ampoules that helps to provide lightweight hydration, brighten, revitalise and soothe skin while improving texture.

    Bottom Line

    We hope this simple FAQ session shared all the information you need to know about Vitamin C, and was helpful for those just jabbling into skincare as well as knowledgeable skincare enthusiasts. This antioxidant wonder can be commonly found in moisturisers, toners, cleansers and of course, the most legendary - serums, and has a range of benefits for absolutely every skin type. It’s time to get that even toned, brighter complexion while treating all your skincare concerns today!

    - Krisha Jhaveri

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