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Is Vitamin C darkening my skin?

Hold your horses before your trail of thoughts makes you want to believe that your skin has darkened due to Vitamin C because it doesn’t! Skincare is a serious game and it can turn scary if you use products without information. We got your back though. Here’s everything you need to know if you feel like your skin color has changed to something funny due to Vitamin C.

How does Vitamin C help your skin?

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Vitamin C has proven that it deserves a permanent place on your vanity station. It is such a multi-purpose ingredient that saves the day. Vitamin C helps you achieve the following:

i) Boosts Collagen production by maintaining the enzymes that help in the production of Collagen.

ii) Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by exfoliating dead skin and boosting Collagen production.

iii) Fades acne scars and pigmentation by banning over production of melanin to the target area.

iv) Brightens your complexion and even your skin tone by controlling melanin production.

iv) Protects you from free radicals due to the presence of Antioxidants in it.

v) Slow down ageing by maintaining your skin barrier.

    To know more about the benefits of Vitamin C, read here.

    Vitamin C suits all skin types but you must know about the concentration that you’re starting with. It is also necessary that you do a patch test to avoid any reactions or allergies when adding this active ingredient into your routine.

    If you’re using Vitamin C in your AM routine, make sure you’re wearing SPF without fail. In the absence of SPF, you may notice at times that your skin is easily tanned. Either tan or your skin may have turned into a funny orange or peach-ish color. It is because Vitamin C is extremely potent but it can easily react with the air, light and heat in the environment to only make your skin appear darker. Let’s understand what exactly went down with your skin after applying Vitamin C.

    Does Vitamin C really darken my skin?

    No, it does not. It may stain your skin but it cannot darken your skin. It is important to know the difference between staining and darkening the skin. Staining is where the product reacts with your dead skin cells and leads to a change in the color of those dead cells. This means that once those dead cells are washed off, the stain will be gone too. While darkening your skin, your skin is damaged due to which your skin cells produce melanin to protect you from more damage in that area. Getting rid of darkening takes a lot of time. In the absence of SPF, your skin cells can be damaged by sun rays and lead to melanin production as a natural defence response by your skin. So to prevent the darkening of the skin, it is necessary to wear SPF after Vitamin C. Did we repeat ourselves? That’s fine as long as you’ve grasped the importance of SPF!

    How does Vitamin C stain your skin?

    The reason is oxidisation. Now, there are two ways that your serum is being oxidised:

    1) Vitamin C has been oxidised in the bottle itself
    2) Vitamin C has oxidised on your skin

      Just a heads up, when something is oxidised, it will change the color of the surface where the substance is and the color of the substance itself too.

      1) When Vitamin C has been oxidised in the bottle itself

      Oxidation takes place in the presence of heat, light, and air. If your Vitamin C bottle is not amber, it can easily contact light and lead to oxidation. In this process, L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in the serum is oxidised into erythrulose, which is a substance that is used in fake tanning products. In this whole process, it releases free radicals that can fasten ageing. When you apply an already oxidised Vitamin C product, it will change the color of your skin and may even cause skin damage due to the presence of free radicals. Did we mention that an oxidised Vitamin C product will not do the job that Vitamin C is known to do?

      2) When Vitamin C has oxidised on your skin

      When you apply a layer of Vitamin C, it is exposed to air and light, leading to oxidation on the surface of your skin. The process will be the same, wherein L-Ascorbic Acid will oxidise and turn into erythrulose and release free radicals on your skin leading to ageing of your skin and DNA damage. Just like your skin, Vitamin C on your skin also needs protection and this is where we stress the importance of sunscreen to make sure you get your money’s worth from that Vitamin C product.

      To know more about free radicals, read here.

      Does Vitamin C stain only a specific skin type?

      No, Vitamin C stains can occur to any skin type since the cause of it is oxidation of the product before or after applying it. The color of the stain may differ. It could be brown or orange or yellowish. But, stains are not specific to a skin type or skin color. 

      What are the ways to avoid Vitamin C from staining my skin?

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      Here’s the rulebook to look at so that your expensive Vitamin C product won’t fail you:

      1. Pick the right product formula

      Certain ingredients can stop Vitamin C oxidation in the bottle. When you mix Vitamin C with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid, it can stabilise the product formula and even protect it light. This helps you maintain the shelf life of your product.

        Best Pick, Dr Sheth's Amla Vc20 Vitamin C Serum that has Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid along with a stable form of Vitamin C.

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        2. Wear SPF to protect Vitamin C on your skin

        As we mentioned earlier, Vitamin C needs protection from air, light, and heat at all times including when it is on your skin. So to prevent Vitamin C oxidation on your skin, wear SPF as the last step of your skincare routine.

        Best Pick, Ozone Signature Natural Sun Protector that seals in moisture and provides broad-spectrum protection.

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        3. Go for a stable form of Vitamin C

        The Vitamin C that we generally find in the products is L-Ascorbic Acid. However, it is an unstable form of Vitamin C which makes it easy to be oxidised. This could be prevented if you use oxidation-resistant forms of Vitamin C like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Glucoside. These are oxidation-resistant because they break down into Ascorbic Acid once they penetrate your skin where there are no free water molecules, air, or light that will oxidise the ingredient.

        Best Pick, Over Dermis Skin Alphabet Vitamin C Serum that has Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate in 10% concentration to help you achieve flawless, bright skin.

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        4. Layer it with oil

        Essential oils have Antioxidants that fight free radicals and they also create a barrier between your skin and external substances that could lead to oxidation. Layering a Vitamin C product with a rich moisturiser or oil is the best idea to let your Vitamin C do its job.

        Best Pick, A'kin Certified Organic Brightening Rosehip Oil With Vitamin C that brilliantly pairs Rosehip oil with Vitamin C to achieve both our target- benefits of Vitamin C and protecting Vitamin C from oxidation.

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        5. Wear Vitamin C at night preferably

        As we know the cause of the destruction of Vitamin C, we know we need to know how to reduce the risk of its oxidation. To avoid contact with light, Vitamin C can be worn at night.

        6. Pay Attention to its Packaging & Storage

        An amber bottle reduces the chances of the product interacting with light. Always look for a Vitamin C product packed in an amber bottle to maintain its shelf life. You must also look for packaging that has an airtight pump instead of the dropper or in a tub  

        For storage, keep it away from heat, dust, and light. A close cupboard would be ideal. If your Vitamin C bottle is transparent, store it in the original packaging to minimise the penetration of light.


        Vitamin C is a potent ingredient that has many benefits. To make sure your product is protected and isn’t oxidised, you must take special care of this ingredient. There are two places where Vitamin C could be oxidised- in the bottle or on the surface of the skin. Protect your product in both places through our tips to enjoy the product up to its shelf life.

        - Divya Salvi

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