1. It fades and prevents spots.
“Vitamin C blocks the effects of tyrosinase (an enzyme responsible for pigment production in skin cells) while simultaneously reducing oxidation of already present pigment, preventing it from getting darker,” explains dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD. “Products with 10 to 20 percent of the ingredient are more likely to be effective on spots,” says NYC derm Julie Karen, MD. Anything under 10 percent functions as a powerful antioxidant.
2. It smooths lines.
Applied topically, vitamin C can stimulate collagen production to reduce wrinkles and increase skin’s firmness, says Ellen Marmur, MD, a derm in NYC. Same goes for diet: “Eating vitamin C-rich foods, like oranges and brussels sprouts, is essential for collagen production,” explains Dr. Marmur.
3. It boosts sunscreen.
SPF is critical for protecting skin — but it’s not perfect. That’s where vitamin C comes in. Layered under your sunscreen (or as a part of the formula), “it helps neutralize free-radical damage from UV exposure,” explains Dr. Karen.
Good to Know
- Look for ascorbic acid on the label. This specific form of the vitamin penetrates skin best.
- Buy it in opaque, airtight packaging. “When exposed to light and air, vitamin C will oxidize and can become inactive,” says Dr. Idriss.
- Wait 10 minutes before or after applying products with AHAs or BHAs. “They may neutralize the effects of some forms of vitamin C,” says Dr. Marmur.
Each pearl in this kit contains a whopping 79 percent ascorbic acid and transforms into a liquid when mixed with the activator serum. Use it seven nights in a row for major glow.
BUY NOW Vitamin C+ Pearls, KARUNA, $48 for 7 pearls
This blend of 15 percent ascorbic acid plus antioxidants vitamin E and ferulic acid is clinically proven to soften lines in 16 weeks.
BUY NOW C E Ferulic, SKINCEUTICALS, $165
Not only does this tinted lotion contain SPF 50, it also supplies a dose of time-released ascorbic acid.
BUY NOW City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA ++++, MURAD, $65
Inside each of these single-use packets (key for keeping the formula fresh): a cleansing powder that brightens while purifying pores.
BUY NOW Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser with Pure Vitamin C, CLINIQUE, $30 for 28 packets
This spray hydrates and protects from UVA damage (oh, and the citrusy scent is divine).
BUY NOW C + Collagen Perfect Skin Set & Refresh Mist, DR. DENNIS GROSS, $30
Fruit acids and vitamin C in this mask remove dead skin cells and boost collagen production, respectively. The result: radiant baby-soft skin.
BUY NOW Violet-C Radiance Mask, TATCHA, $68
This article was originally published as “Flawless Skin C-cret” in the August 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan. Click here to subscribe to the digital edition.