Vitamin C is a darling in the skincare world—a powerhouse of skin-brightening and blemish-reducing properties.
But how does it work? And is it worth all the hype?
In this article, we’ll explore all the skincare benefits of vitamin C, the science behind how it works, and what products will work best for your skin type.
In particular, we’ll look at how vitamin C can help oily skin and share everything you need to know before you buy a Vitamin C serum for oily skin.
Benefits of a Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C can address a whole host of skin problems and is a powerful antioxidant. An antioxidant is a compound that eliminates free radicals in our bodies. You can think of free radicals like pollution, destabilizing our cells and causing tissue deterioration. Antioxidants snipe the free radicals down and protect our skin’s health.
Vitamin C also helps your skin repair itself, maintain moisture, and reduce hyperpigmentation. These properties diminish acne scars, reduce UV damage and inflammation, brighten uneven skin tone, hydrate your skin, and protect it from pollution.
The result is smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin.
Vitamin C Benefits for Oily Skin
Specifically for oily or acne-prone skin, vitamin C is a critical addition to your skincare regimen. Let’s look at some of the benefits of vitamin C serum for oily skin.
Helps Reduce Excess Sebum
Oily skin occurs when our bodies create excess natural sebum. Sebum protects and moisturizes your skin, but it can mix with dead skin cells and other particles to clog pores.
But did you know that dryness can trigger excess sebum? This reaction occurs when your skin isn’t retaining moisture and produces more sebum to combat dryness.
Vitamin C helps protect your skin’s lipid barrier, which holds needed moisture in so your skin doesn’t produce too much sebum.
Helps Promote Collagen Production
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen. Applying a vitamin C serum can help promote our bodies’ natural collagen production and reduce the signs of aging, without turning to pore-clogging oils.
Brightens and Evens Skin Tone
We all want glowing skin. But for people with excess oil, the journey to a youthful glow can be tricky. Extra oil increases our acne and acne scarring risk, while moisturizing products can ultimately send our “glow” overboard!
Using both vitamin C and niacinamide (vitamin B3) is a smart combination to reduce hyperpigmentation. The two ingredients work in tandem to minimize pigment in the skin.
Protects Against Damage
Sun exposure and other toxins in the environment cause a buildup of free radicals, which damage our cells. But antioxidants in the skin combat these free radicals. Using vitamin C regularly can help reduce damage and maintain your healthy skin.
How Vitamin C Serum Treats Oily Skin
For many of us with oily skin, good moisturizing and anti-aging products are hard to find. The fantastic thing about oily skin is that it’s very supple, youthful, and moisturized. But we still experience blemishes, signs of aging, and, of course, excess oil.
We need to apply healthy moisture and nutrients to our skin without weighing it down or risking more clogged pores.
Enter: Vitamin C serums.
Rather than applying vitamin C as a lotion or cream, most vitamin C products are water-based serums. Serums are incredibly light formulas that go on like a splash of water — but packed with skin-saving nutrients.
A vitamin C serum for oily skin will penetrate deeply into your skin and help promote moisture and healthy skin cells without adding a hint of greasy or oily sheen.
Vitamin C can also help lighten and smooth out those scars or dark spots for people with oily skin who have years of acne scarring. It will help your skin retain moisture, so you don’t produce the excess sebum that leads to acne in the first place.
Who Should Use Vitamin C Skin Serums?
The short answer is—everyone!
However, depending on your skin type, whether dry, oily, or combination skin, you will want to look out for different types of vitamin C serums or vitamin C face oil.
You will usually find products containing anywhere between a 5% to a 30% concentration of vitamin C. The effects tend to plateau at around 20%, though.
For Oily Skin or Skin with Higher Pigmentation
The good news for people with oily skin is that we can usually use pretty high concentrations of vitamin C!
High concentration vitamin C serums are ideal for people with oily skin or a lot of pigmentation they want to address. The antioxidant properties will be more potent, and the brightening effects will work quicker.
If you introduce it to your skincare routine for the first time, start light to see how your skin reacts. Then, apply every 1-3 days and let your skin grow accustomed to the new product.
For Dry or Sensitive Skin Types
High concentrations of vitamin C can irritate people with sensitive or dry skin. While pure vitamin C serums are still an excellent choice, look for concentrations around 5% to avoid irritation. These will help fight wrinkles while not causing irritation.
Are There Any Side Effects to Vitamin C Serums?
Because each of us has unique skin, any skincare product may produce side effects in one person and not in another.
In general, vitamin C is a very safe and gentle product—especially in lower concentrations.
However, some people may experience some of the following side effects:
- Skin redness or irritation
- Tingling sensation when applied
- Slight burning when applied
- Swelling or hives
While most of these side effects will calm after a while, a severe reaction like swelling or hives indicates an allergic reaction. If your skin reacts this way, wash the serum off immediately. You may be allergic to one of the ingredients in the serum.
Slight burning or tingling upon application is not a cause for concern and should fade in a few minutes.
Best Vitamin C Serum for Oily Skin
For oily skin, you want to look for a serum with a high vitamin C concentration and other ingredients that moisturize but won’t clog your pores.
Here are the key elements to look for in the best vitamin C serums:
Opaque or Sealed Bottle
Vitamin C is also very unstable in terms of longevity and shelf life. It quickly oxidizes once exposed to air or light and becomes less potent. So when shopping for a vitamin C product, experts recommend looking for an opaque or sealed bottle and storing it out of direct sunlight.
Type of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid. The best and most potent form for the skin is L-ascorbic acid, or ethyl ascorbic acid for hyperpigmentation. You can look for this on the bottle.
However, both L-ascorbic acid and ethyl ascorbic acid can be expensive. You can also look for sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, or ascorbyl palmitate.
Most vitamin C products have a host of other fortifying ingredients, including other antioxidants. The combination makes each ingredient work better.
Vitamin E and ferulic acid work very well alongside vitamin C. Hyaluronic acid is also an excellent ingredient to add to vitamin C to retain moisture throughout the day.
Best Product to Start With – Vitamin C Glow Drops
Admire My Skin’s Admire Glow Drops is a light beauty oil for all skin types that uses the combined power of vitamin C and vitamin E to combat dull skin and bring radiance to your skin.
The formulation is non-comedogenic, which means it will moisturize without clogging your pores. The drops use vitamin C, argan oil, rosehip oil, and sea buckthorn oil to gently moisturize and plump your skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
These drops are gentle and effective on any skin type, including oily and dry skin.
Vitamin C Serum Treatment Regimen
To maximize vitamin C’s benefits, you need to use it properly within your skincare regimen. In addition, you should use it every day for the best results.
Here are some tips and tricks to getting the most out of your vitamin C products.
Use in the Morning
If you are looking to fight high amounts of pigmentation or signs of aging, you may want to use vitamin C both morning and evening. However, for most of us, using vitamin C in the morning is the best time.
Vitamin C works very well in tandem with your daily sunscreen to prepare and protect your skin for the day. Once absorbed, the vitamin C will be at work neutralizing sun damage and free radicals.
Additionally, many of us use benzoyl peroxide or retinol in the evening, and both of these products interact poorly with vitamin C. They won’t cause any danger to your skin, but they won’t work as well.
Use After Cleansing and Before Moisturizing
You should apply vitamin C serum to a clean face and before moisturizer. These steps ensure that you have prepped your skin to absorb the vitamin C thoroughly.
Following with moisturizer helps lock in the serum and prolong its benefits. Look for a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture.
Don’t Use with Certain Acids
Vitamin C won’t absorb well into your skin if its pH (acidity level) is too high. Therefore, most vitamin C serums are formulated to have a pH lower than 3.5.
However, if you apply it with an acid, your skin won’t absorb the vitamin C well. While this isn’t going to hurt your skin, it’s certainly a waste of product!
A few products may combine these ingredients, especially salicylic acid, but they have unique formulations to absorb all the nutrients properly.
On the other hand, retinol may irritate your skin when used at the same time as vitamin C.
You can use all of these ingredients in your skincare regimen. Just be sure to apply them at different times of the day. Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide all have incredible benefits for healthy skin. Since you’re using vitamin C in the morning, simply use your acids or retinol at night.
Vitamin C Serum Ingredients
The key ingredients to look for in a vitamin C serum are L-ascorbic acid or ascorbyl glucoside, vitamin E or glutathione, and ferulic acid.
- L-ascorbic Acid: As mentioned earlier, the best form of pure vitamin C for skin is L-ascorbic acid or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. For maximum benefits, look for a concentration of 10% to 20%. Remember that if you are new to vitamin C, start slow.
- Ascorbyl Glucoside: If you have more sensitive skin or simply don’t like the price of L-ascorbic acid, try ascorbyl glucoside. This ingredient is a water-soluble and more stable version of vitamin C combined with glucose.
- Vitamin E: You should specifically look for the ingredient tocopherol, a major form of vitamin E and a natural antioxidant. Vitamin E helps stabilize vitamin C, and they boost benefits together.
- Glutathione: If you don’t see tocopherol, look for glutathione, another natural antioxidant that works exceptionally well alongside vitamin C.
- Ferulic Acid: Ferulic acid helps bring down the pH level of vitamin C and vitamin E, which means that it helps your skin absorb the vitamins more effectively.
Other Products with Similar Benefits
If you already have a pure vitamin C serum you like or are looking for products with similar benefits, try exploring these:
For powerful anti-aging results, try this luxurious cream to plump your skin, reduce fine lines, and even out overall skin tone. The cream packs a healthy dose of antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and skin brightening ingredients. It can improve tone and skin texture with just three weeks’ use.
This serum is ideal for anyone looking to reduce melasma, hyperpigmentation, or age spots. The active ingredient, hydroquinone, works fast to brighten the skin, while this particular serum fortifies the skin with other ingredients like antioxidants and salicylic acid.
Before using, be sure to spot test since this is a very potent serum, not ideal for sensitive skin types. However, you should see results in skin tone and dark spots within four weeks.