A Brief Guide to Vitamin C Serums

When I shared my skincare routine, the most frequent questions you asked concerned vitamin C, so here is my short guide on how I use it, why I like it and what are some of my favorite Vitamin C products.

Out of all the ingredients that skincare companies advertise as miraculous, vitamin C (along with retin A and retinoids) has been shown in independent, clinical studies to have real benefits. It’s a potent antioxidant that prevents sun damage. It increases the production of collagen, even in adult skin. It brightens the skin and helps to lighten sun spots. It’s anti-inflammatory, which means that it’s a good ingredient for those who struggle with acne or rosacea.

This is all good news. The bad news is that Vitamin C is highly unstable. Because it’s such a potent antioxidant, it begins to bind to free radicals of oxygen even when it’s still in the bottle. Which means that it becomes potentially damaging to the skin! The sure way to tell is if your Vitamin C serum has changed color and turned yellow or orange, but many brands cheat and add botanical colorants. Then, there are formulations that use so little Vitamin C, it makes no difference. Or they use a type that doesn’t convert to the active form in the skin.

In other words, Vitamin C is a very difficult ingredient for a skincare chemist to use, but each year brings more interesting and excellent products that rely on the latest research. Below are some of my favorite Vitamin C serums. By the way, none of these contain silicones, which not only make the lotions feel heavy on skin but also may interfere with the efficacy of Vitamin C.

My Current Gold Standard: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

At last, The Ordinary changed the packaging of their Vitamin C serum, and it now comes packaged in a neat tube, rather than a messy dropper bottle. At 23% concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid, it’s an effective product for brightening skin, preventing sun damage and obtaining other wonderful benefits of this important ingredient. It’s also stable. The texture is ever so slightly grainy, but it absorbs well. Will definitely sting the first time you use it, so start slowly and use as little as possible during the first weeks. Or you can dilute it in your cream. You skin will eventually adapt.

I use it in the evening, sometimes followed by a retinoid serum and moisturizer or just moisturizer.

30ml, 5.80 euros

Brightening and Hydrating: The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10%

This is a stable derivative of Vitamin C in a water-based cream. It’s especially good if your concern is skin brightening.  It can be used with the Niacinamide serums, which makes it versatile. I usually use it during the day after a rose water toner and The Ordinary Niacinamide serum, followed by a moisturizing lotion and sunscreen.

30ml, 9.60 euros

Fancy Skincare Geek Option: NIOD Ethylated Ascorbic Acid

Like The Ordinary, NIOD is part of the same family. Ethylated Ascorbic Acid (EAA) is another potent ingredient they offer, noting that it’s as potent as direct L-Ascorbic Acid. The benefit is that it’s highly stable and gentle on skin (in comparison to The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension). The downside is that EAA is an expensive ingredient, which is reflected in the cost of this serum.

I use it in the evening either after a rose water toner or alone, followed by a moisturizing lotion. But honestly, I don’t see much difference when I use this serum as opposed to The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension.

30ml, 60 euros

Cult Favorite: Skinceuticals Ferulic C

This combination of 0.5% ferulic acid (an excellent antioxidant) with 15% Vitamin C and 1% Vitamin E offers all of the benefits of a Vitamin C serum, along with light hydration, since the base Ferulic C includes hyaluronic acid. This is a very good brand, and this is one of the best serums available. However, in Belgium it’s hard to find, and at $163 for 30ml, it’s several times more expensive than my other favorites. (Another serum I used in this category was Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid+Plus Retinol Brightening Solution; 30ml, $88.)

Japanese Option: HABA White Lady Vitamin C Serum

A well-formulated 6% Vitamin C serum with licorice extract made for the Japanese market. It won’t whiten anything, but if you have spots of pigmentation, it will tone them down. I liked the watery texture and glycerin base.

30ml, $38

How to Use Vitamin C in Your Skincare Routine

Here are some of my assorted tips:

Use your Vitamin C serums within 3 months after opening.

Vitamin C serum can be used during the morning and/or evening, provided you don’t use any concentrations of Niacinamide at the same time. (But you can use Niacinamide serums with other stable derivatives of Vitamin C such as Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Ascorbyl Glucoside.) Some dermatologists comment that highly concentrated serums are best used at night, since sun light can degrade Vitamin C, and that Vitamin C is retained in the skin over the next day.

I usually use Vitamin C in the evening, either as my first step followed by a moisturizing lotion, or after a toner. If I use a toner beforehand. I make sure to wait a few seconds for it to absorb completely before applying the Vitamin C serum.

Apart from the Niacinamide serums (see above), you can use any other serums, moisturizers or oils afterwards.

Whatever Vitamin C serum you use, apply only a small amount.

If you haven’t used Vitamin C serum before, start very slowly–once a week for two weeks and increasing frequency gradually. If your skin is very sensitive, you may find other derivatives of Vitamin C more gentle–Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Ascorbyl Glucoside. But if your skin handles Vitamin C well, then it’s the best choice.

Of course, please share your recommendations on using Vitamin C serums and your favorite products.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Austenfan: I’ve started using the Ordinary serum and even on my very reactive skin it’s doable. Too early to notice any effects. Have you tried any of their other Vitamin C options? They have 4 in all.

    Oh and thanks for your comprehensive list! February 23, 2017 at 8:16am Reply

    • Sandra: Which ordinary serum are you using? If you have reactive skin, perhaps the one you are using could be suitable for mine February 23, 2017 at 8:19am Reply

      • Austenfan: I’ve been using the one with the spheres that Victoria mentions in her (excellent 🙂 ) post. February 23, 2017 at 9:15am Reply

        • Austenfan: My skin is reactive but I don’t have real eczema or rosacea, and while the serum did sting the feeling went down in a number of minutes, and was absolutely fine afterwards. February 23, 2017 at 9:20am Reply

      • Marianna: Have you tried Paula’s choice vitamin C? Drunk elephant makes a great Vit c serum as well February 23, 2017 at 10:53pm Reply

        • Austenfan: No, I haven’t. But I’m plenty happy with The Ordinary so far. February 24, 2017 at 5:17am Reply

          • Victoria: Yes, and Drunk Elephant is hard to find here in our corner of the EU. February 24, 2017 at 10:18am Reply

            • Austenfan: I was thinking that too. February 24, 2017 at 10:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I only tried the Spheres and the MAP, the ones I described above. My skin handles Vitamin C fine, and it’s the most effective form. The MAP, however, has more brightening effects, and unlike the Spheres, it can be used with the Niacinamide serums, which I really like. February 23, 2017 at 8:28am Reply

    • Victoria: By the MAP, I mean The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10%, of course. 🙂 February 23, 2017 at 8:30am Reply

      • Austenfan: I gathered that. I’ve ordered that one as well, but apparently I’m not the only one and will take a little longer getting delivered. February 23, 2017 at 9:16am Reply

        • Victoria: Did you order from Victoria Health? They have an excellent customer service, by the way. February 23, 2017 at 9:26am Reply

          • Austenfan: I did, but placed my second order directly with Deciem. And, yes their customer service is good. February 23, 2017 at 9:36am Reply

            • Victoria: Is there any difference in shipping? February 23, 2017 at 9:40am Reply

              • Austenfan: Above a certain ordering amount Deciem ships for free. As they ship from the UK I need not bother about paying custom duties. February 23, 2017 at 9:46am Reply

                • Austenfan: I meant order value. February 23, 2017 at 9:48am Reply

                • Victoria: Ah, I see! I’ll try them next. February 23, 2017 at 10:43am Reply

  • Sandra: Thank you V for this article.
    I have been wanting to try Vit C because of all the sun spots I have on my face. If my old self could talk to my teenage self, it would say sunbathing in baby oil is not a good thing. But here I am, sun spots and all…

    I am most hesitant because my skin is sensitive. I don’t want to spend money on a product and then have to toss it. But maybe adding something to my face cream could do the trick.

    Many thanks for this! I know I have been hounding you for your skin care secrets (and Japanese secrets from those beautiful magazines) and I appreciate your input. February 23, 2017 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, your skin will probably react to any properly effective Vitamin C serum the first time you use it, but if you start the way I describe in the article, you will be fine. You should start using it once a week for a month and then two times a week for another month, and so on. Now my skin doesn’t react anymore, and I use it almost every day.

      If you have sun spots, yes, Vitamin C will be of great benefit. The results are cumulative, rather than instantaneous, of course. February 23, 2017 at 8:26am Reply

    • Awfulknitter: I’ve been using The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution for a couple of months now, as I have some uneven pigmentation. The blotches have definitely diminished, although it’s hard to say whether this is because it’s a good product or because it’s winter and there’s much less sun!

      I haven’t had any issues with sensitivity from the product – I think my outbreak of pimples was due to the coincidence of eating lots of rich Christmas food! Or possibly using a sunscreen that’s too rich (I had one to use up before it ‘goes off’, I hate throwing things away).

      Generally, I’ve liked all The Ordinary products I’ve tried (Advanced Retinoid, Hyaluronic Acid, and Alpha Arbutin). It’s also very appealing that they a) are telling you straight-out what each product is meant to do, and b) that they’re not very expensive. February 23, 2017 at 11:39am Reply

      • Victoria: You’re using the same serums I am! I also like the line for exactly the same reason–straightforward and affordable. February 23, 2017 at 3:20pm Reply

    • Sandra: I had the pleasure of visiting Deceim store in Canada and walked out with some Vitamin C, their moisturizer and a light face oil July 20, 2017 at 11:51am Reply

      • Sandra: I also tried there tinted serum , which is like a bb cream, it was divine! Didn’t purchase because I have enough at the moment July 20, 2017 at 11:55am Reply

      • Austenfan: What was the shop like? I really think Deciem should open one in Europe. And curious minds want to know which vitamin C you bought (only if you wish to share of course). July 20, 2017 at 4:26pm Reply

        • Sandra: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% July 21, 2017 at 6:36am Reply

          • Victoria: My favorite! July 21, 2017 at 7:29am Reply

          • Austenfan: Thanks for sharing! Certainly the most effective, I love the texture of the Tetraisopalmitate one though. July 21, 2017 at 11:45am Reply

      • Victoria: I wish they opened a store in Europe. Lucky you! July 21, 2017 at 7:22am Reply

        • Austenfan: In Brussels perhaps? 😉 July 21, 2017 at 11:45am Reply

          • Victoria: I’m crossing my fingers for that. 🙂 July 21, 2017 at 5:05pm Reply

  • Caroline: I’ve been using TimeLess 20% C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum. It has a good texture and no odor.
    Unpleasant or lingering odor was the reason I didn’t care for the Paula’s Choice or Drunk Elephant vitamin C options.
    Ordering The Ordinary to give it a shot–gotta love a cosmetics company that’s not out to soak its customers.
    Victoria, do you refrigerate your vit c products? My backup bottle of TimeLess is in the fridge, but the one in use stays in the medicine cabinet, as I fear I’ll forget about it entirely if it’s stored elsewhere. February 23, 2017 at 9:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I usually don’t, because I try to buy only enough to use up within three months and the rest I store in my office, where it’s generally quite cold anyway.

      Like you, I don’t like overly skincare with lingering odor, but sometimes I make an exception for an excellent product. February 23, 2017 at 9:24am Reply

    • kpaint: I’ve looked at the TimeLess products on amazon and have a few in my cart to try (eventually.) Have you used anything else from the line?

      I have to admit I’m a bit mystified by a serum with ferulic acid that has no odor, though. Without that distinctive hot dog smell I’d have to wonder how much was really in there. Or does it still smell like ferulic acid? February 23, 2017 at 3:22pm Reply

      • Victoria: Or like baked meat!:) February 24, 2017 at 10:07am Reply

      • Brenda Farrell: I’ve used several Timeless products, snc their early start-up days. I primarily buy their bottle of Hyluronic Acid, to which I add my powdered ultrafine L Ascorbic Acid powder (which I get from Formulator’s or Amazon) fresh daily.

        I started doing this, after buying Philosophy’s powdered Vit C kit, where they had you mix it into your creams fresh daily, in the early years before the more advanced formulations became available & affordable (Skinceuticals was about the only Vit C game in town in the beginning). The powder was just L Abscorbic Acid, where I found a “recipe” through Formulator’s to replicate Skineuticals Vit C + Ferulic Acid… then, an older anti-aging specialist at Sephora told me about Philosophy’s powdered Vit C & mixing it in your hand, with each use. The LAA is stable until it’s mixed w/liquid.

        This makes it affordable enough to apply as a body lotion as well, for age spots on legs, arms etc.

        Nonetheless, it’s messy & unless you use a bit of vodka first, can be a grainy formula (like several Vit C products).

        I’ve most avoided mixing Vit C with anything else (my Rx Retin A, my HG- Copper Peptides, which I was told to avoid, or Glycolic Acids) because I have fair skin that can go towards rocacea if I’m not careful.

        The Ordinary is a gamechanger, with the options & pricepoint offered… I bought Vitamin C 30% in Silicone (although I generally avoid silcones:-/) on the advice of a skincare column I read & also to get highest % of C possible, since I’ll only use a few times a week… I’ve only had it a few weeks, and will let y’all know my opinion after I’ve used it a bit. So far, not sensitive to it (yay!), although just enough tingle to know it’s working; the silcone makes the application super-smooth & silky, which is a switch for me w/ Vit C!

        I am going to try the formulations Victoria is using the next time I buy, just because it’s more consistent w/ products I use. I haven’t been a huge Niacinimide user in the past, except when I buy Olay Regenerest (up until lately, a pretty good compromise product for me)… but have fallen in LOVE with Drunken Elephant’s Protini cream with Peptides. I need to check & see if any are copper peptides, which I was instructed early on NOT to mix w/Vit C…

        So, biggest challenge is scheduling various products to avoid mixing contraindicated ingredients… This has been a great article, and I’m definitely going to add a few more of The Ordinary’s line that Victoria suggests, since I’m beginning to get some age spots & do live in Texas! Namely the Arbutin & Niacinimide products.

        I probably will still continue to do some of my own mixing of Hyaluronic Acid (from Timeless, in 8 or 16 oz pump size), & ultrafine LAA … just because it’s easy, cheap, and gives great results. February 3, 2018 at 8:41pm Reply

        • Tracy: I have been using the Vitamin C 30% in Silicone for a couple of months and have been shocked at the results. It does sting lightly but I think it is well worth it. I have used Drunk Elephant’s Vitamin C as well as Sunday Riley’s CEO. This is at least as effective and a very reasonable price. February 19, 2018 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Tijana: Thank you for your recommendation of The Ordinary skin care, I bought a bunch of their stuff including the 23% Vitamin C. Loving the line! ❤ February 23, 2017 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Very happy to hear that you like it! February 23, 2017 at 10:43am Reply

  • Ari: Although I’ve happily switched over to The Ordinary for much of my routine, I remain pretty happy with the Glossier Super Glow serum. The appeal for me is that it only has six ingredients, limiting the potential for unwanted interactions between ingredients. And when a very naughty cat knocked my serum off the sink and cracked the lid, Glossier responded to my request for a replacement cap with a whole new bottle, no questions asked.

    I’m not sure if I can speak to anti-aging results, though; I looked 12 years old before, and I look 12 years old now 😉 February 23, 2017 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Naughty cat! My mom’s recently broke her perfume bottle when the silly beast tried to make room for her tubby form on my mom’s dressing table. February 23, 2017 at 10:45am Reply

  • K: I have been using Skinceuticals CE Feurilic for years. I tried higher concentrations. They dry my dehydrated prone skin further. I was told to apply in the morning as the serum is sun activated. Has the thinking changed? February 23, 2017 at 10:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Vitamin C degrades in sunlight, which is what has been giving skincare chemists a big headache. On the other hand, Vitamin C in the skin will neutralize the free radical damage caused by the sun exposure. You can use a topical Vitamin C formulation under your sunscreen, but you have to make sure it is stable. Skinceuticals’s serum is. But as I mentioned, you can also use it in the evening, since your skin retains it (as the doctors say, for anywhere between 8-24 hours.) February 23, 2017 at 10:52am Reply

      • K: Would you recommend using at night instead to be more effective? You described several C serums. I have not kept up with my skincare reading. Any you find more technologically advanced? I guess a lot depends how it agrees with one’s skin. February 24, 2017 at 10:56am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, I agree with you, your skin will determine the rest. All of the ones I mentioned above are stable and well formulated. The Ordinary has the advantage of being the most affordable. Based on the research, I’ve concluded that you can use a stable Vit C serum during the day, but if you’re planning to be exposed to a lot of sun (beach, outdoor activities in the summer, etc.), it might be better to use Vit C during the evening. Since in Belgium we have no sun for several months in the winter, it’s a moot point. 🙂 I use mine whenever seems most convenient. February 25, 2017 at 11:51am Reply

          • Brenda Farrell: Here in Texas, several top dermatologists advice using some sort of Vit C in morning, to help protect from sun’s damage… which is why I why I started slathering the hyaluronic serum w/ powdered C on in the morning, followed by my sunscreen… on good days! It makes for a bit of a grainy texture under makeup, etc. — but The Ordinary’s silcone formula would actually be a great primer under makeup… ? I still need to figure this out, and ask my dermatologist if she recommends one type of C in mornings vs evenings; since she recommended & sells the Skinceuticals w/Ferulic… I assumed my dupe serum worked, but that was before all these new formulations were available.

            Thanks so much for reviewing their products & Vit C article; I’ve been an Rx Retin A user for 30 yrs, so that was my true “miracle” breakthrough product! February 3, 2018 at 8:54pm Reply

  • Lily: I love that you mention these as silicone free. I cannot use face products with silicones or I will get cystic acne breakouts. This makes for quite a challenge with cleansing and moisturizing – not to mention make up! So I rarely try new products or change my routine. This kind of serum sounds like something I could do, though! February 23, 2017 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, silicones are hard to avoid, especially in makeup. There was even a talk of using them for a perfume base, but they “entrap” the fragrance compounds and don’t work as well as the alcoholic base. February 23, 2017 at 3:17pm Reply

      • Brenda Farrell: Yes, I need to go back & figure out why this 30% w/ Silcone formulation was recommended to me… I’m past my cystic acne years (for the most part), but took Spirolactone + Rx Retin A for years to control, but still don’t like clogging my pores. My only thought is that this formulation works under silcone makeup primers, for those wanting sun-protection benefits of Vit C? February 3, 2018 at 8:58pm Reply

  • Jillie: Thank you for this really interesting review – so timely at this point in the winter when we all have tired skin. I have read good things about the Ordinary range, and its products are so reasonably priced. I had wanted to order their serum for some time, but like Sandra was concerned it would cause problems and didn’t want to waste more money on yet another product that hurt my face – but your advice to her is excellent and I will have a go! February 23, 2017 at 11:36am Reply

    • Victoria: As one dermatologist mentioned to me, if she were to recommend one product besides sunscreen, it would be a Vitamin C serum. They really do work, but it’s best to start slowly. February 23, 2017 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Esme: Dear Victoria,

    I would like to point out that the White Lady Vitamin C Serum is made by Haba, not Hada Labo.

    Recently, I have been using Dr. Dennis Gross newest Vitamin C Serum with collagen. It’s less irritating than Paula’s Choice Vitamin C serum and it has made my complexion more even after 10 days of use. In the past I’ve used Drunk Elephant Vitamin C Serum. It’s an excellent product too. February 23, 2017 at 11:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I used PC’s Vitamin C serum, but at the time it came in a formula so packed with silicone that it left my skin feeling greasy. I haven’t looked into u since.

      Ah, yes, thank you. Just a typo. February 23, 2017 at 3:23pm Reply

  • kpaint: I have been using C serums for 10+ years and really notice a difference in my skin when I stop using them. In my experience, no other ingredient combats dullness/imparts radiance the way vitamin C does.

    I’ve always used it as the first (or 2nd, after toner) step in my a.m. routine. My morning ritual stays the same every day, adding or removing moisturizers as the seasons change.

    My evening routine, however, is where I switch things up a lot and use glycolics and retinoids, and all of my products with niacinamide. I tried switching vitamin C to nighttime use but it got too complicated, what with the other exfoliants and niacinamides.

    In the past year I’ve used C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum, NuFountain C20+Ferulic Vitamin C Serum, and am now on my 2nd (or 3rd?) bottle of Advanced Skin Care 20%Vitamin C+E Ferulic serum.

    C20 is a typical watery C serum. The NuFountain is a dupe of SkinCeuticals CE + Ferulic. The Advanced Skin Care one is what I’m sticking with as it is housed in a base rich in hyaluronic acid and I really appreciate the additional hydration in the morning.

    I purchased all of the above on amazon, and they’re all $25 and under. There is an almost overwhelming array of both vitamin C and retinol sera being sold on amazon in that price range. A lot of them have identical ingredients lists so I’m assuming there’s one manufacturer making one serum that’s then sold under different labels.

    Being a bit of a skincare snob, I’d never have tried any of them until I started reading about them on blogs. I’m now convinced that there’s no reason to pay big bucks for those products – there are inexpensive, unknown lines that are just as good as the ones charging luxury prices. February 23, 2017 at 3:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for sharing so many great tips and suggestions. Yes, it’can be tricky to figure out when exactly to use these products, and it will depend on one’s routine and other products. I switch back and forth between morning and evening. February 24, 2017 at 10:07am Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: Ahhhhh… your routine sounds similiar to mine. I like the sound of the Advanced product, as Vit C + hyaluronic acid/ferulics I’ve used also quite watery. Do you have an all-in-one nighttime product, or use any peptides? February 3, 2018 at 11:40pm Reply

  • Sarah: I tried using the Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% at night, but it left bright yellow stains on my pillowcases! Has anyone else had this problem? The stains came out in the wash after I pretreated them with something strong, but I’d rather not have to do that all the time. So now I’m going to try using the serum during the day instead, even though it may be less effective… February 23, 2017 at 7:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve never noticed this, but I guess that it absorbs into my skin before I go to bed. Are you using too much of it, perhaps?

      You can certainly use it in the morning too. February 24, 2017 at 10:16am Reply

      • Sarah: Maybe I do use too much! I feel like it kind of sits on my skin in an oily layer no matter how much rubbing in I do. Oh well, I’ll keep playing around with it. February 24, 2017 at 10:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: I kind of tap it into my face. Then I usually wait for a couple of minutes and apply a moisturizing lotion or cream. The texture of the serum is grainy, a little odd, but I like the effect so much that I don’t mind it.

          NIOD’s serum I mentioned is a much more elegant formula, but it must be used in the evening only. And it’s more expensive. February 25, 2017 at 11:56am Reply

          • Sarah: Thanks for the tips! I’ll see if I can get it to work better for me. I like the other Ordinary things I’ve tried so far (and I really like that they’re so cheap!) February 25, 2017 at 7:16pm Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: I’m a year late to this thread… but yes, my Vit C serums oxidize & stain anything they come in contact with; I think that’s part of the inherent instability w/ the most active firms of C … I do think they do their magic fairly quickly though, and by putting a layer on top (like new water mask formulations) helps keep them on my face & off linens/ etc February 3, 2018 at 11:45pm Reply

  • Cecilia: Thank you for this extremely useful post, Victoria!
    I didn’t know The Ordinary and, I must say, is quite a pleasant discovery, will surely try their products.
    Thank you!
    Cecilia February 24, 2017 at 5:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve been very happy with them, and I like that I can have an effective skincare regime without overspending. February 24, 2017 at 10:19am Reply

  • Ninon: I love Dermalure’s C+ serums, which contain L-AA, ferulic acid, and glutathione. They come in a range of %’s, which is helpful if you have sensitive skin. I’ve seen dramatic textural results even with the 5% formula. N/A! February 24, 2017 at 7:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another one to add to my list. Thank you very much, Ninon. February 25, 2017 at 11:51am Reply

  • Gían: Let me add another option: Philosophy Vitamin C powder. The nice thing about this product is that it does not get activated until you mix it with a cream or serum. Therefore it remains stable until you are ready to use it. February 25, 2017 at 1:14pm Reply

    • Gían: P.S. I mix it with my Tri-Luma (a Px retinoid) cream & apply at night. February 25, 2017 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! February 25, 2017 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: Yes! This is what I started with… had NO idea I could mix into my Retin A! Is Triluma Rx? February 3, 2018 at 11:47pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’ve been looking for an effective product to deal with my hyperpigmentation issues for a while now and I almost ordered the Vit. C suspension 23% + HA spheres but I got irritated after checking the ingredients – the formula seems to contain several copolymeres known as microplastics polluting marine environment (according to the UN list: http://unep.org/gpa/documents/publications/PlasticinCosmetics2015Factsheet.pdf).
    I’m wondering why a company emphasizing its “honest” approach would use them in their products? Or am I mistaken here?
    Can you recommend a product free from these, Victoria?
    The Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F looks quite ok to me, what do you think? February 25, 2017 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: A valid point, but the research I have seen on those specific ingredients gives me no reasons for concern. Crosspolymers differ tremendously. Depending on how you set the test, you get different results. The latest EU regulation, and those tend to be on the risk averse side, gave them a green light.
      As for other products, I’ve listed all of the ones I use and feel confident to recommend. I haven’t any others from The Ordinary, but the AT serum is a good formula from what I can tell. I’m curious about it myself and might give it a try once I finish my other Vit C serum. February 25, 2017 at 3:23pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Very interesting! Remains one question: where in Brussels do you get the “The Ordinary” products? Or are they purchased online?
    I read that it takes for ever and a day to receive products online due to a worldwide hype regarding The Ordinary …? February 26, 2017 at 6:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I buy them from Victoria Health, the UK based website. Or you can get them from Deciem directly. My orders from VH come with a few days, and only once did I have to wait for a week and a half, because they were restocking. February 26, 2017 at 7:45am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Over a year later, and I gave it a go. I’m back in Germany and I ordered the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10% plus the serum Alpha Arbution 2% + HA via the perfume giant “Douglas”. Within two days, I received the lot! Very excited and I am mildly surprised that apart from the very slightest, barely perceptible tingling, I didn’t feel a sting at all (Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%)!
        As, in the 60s, 70s, I lived in Africa and Asia as a child and was more than exposed to the sun, I am wondering if those products will help with spots and freckles. August 13, 2018 at 1:54pm Reply

        • Victoria: It should help, especially if you use sunscreen. It might take some time though, at least 2-3 months. August 14, 2018 at 11:11am Reply

          • OnWingsofSaffron: As always, thank you for your feedback!
            I am really impressed and grateful how you manage to find time—and probably discipline—to answer the many questions posed. Many thanks! August 14, 2018 at 3:35pm Reply

  • McRuggles: Victoria, thank you for elucidating about vitamin C. I try to actually understand skin care ingredients and what they do and then find a good source of them. I just purchased some of The Original products you’d mentioned here and in earlier posts.

    I live in Florida and recently went, for the first time, to a superstar dermatologist for an overall checkup and he congratulated me on having ‘good’ skin. So my efforts, along with the important lucky DNA, must pay off.

    He also noted said I was the first new patient he’d seen in over two years who did not have even one skin spot that merited exploration as potential skin cancer issues. [See below for a digression and his lecture on sunscreens. I figured that I’d pass it on as he’s board-certified in three skin cancer protocols and his warning has already reformed my sailing friends’ formerly overly-casual use of sunscreens. And might save a life.]

    I came here to mention an inexpensive product that I think is a little amazing.

    I kept hearing about the Jane Iredale Magic Mitt, and finally ordered one online. It’s a kind of, but far better than ordinary, microfiber, and really works well.

    I was so surprised with it that I gifted several friends with them at Christmas and they all love the mitt too. One recipient is a woman in her 80s, for whose fragile skin even mild cleansers are too harsh. She thinks the mitt is a lifesaver.

    I use the mitt first to remove surface gunk, on days when I sail and use a heavier sunscreen, and then wash with a mild cleanser. On days when I didn’t wear a heavier sunscreen, I sometimes just clean with the water-dampened mitt. Turn it around and clean again with the other side. And use it throughout the day just to keep the T-zone area unconflicted. And use it every morning to just remove any surface stuff without actually cleaning skin that’s not dirty anyway.

    That last is based on a suggestion straight from a Catherine Deneuve interview about her beauty habits. She said that she seldom washes her face in the morning as, she was told by her skin guru, that doing so disturbs the pH factor and natural sebums. It made sense to me and I think that my skin improved when I adopted that practice. But I now add a quick swipe with the Magic Mitt because it feels good.

    I’m sensitive to oil, soap or surfactant residues so avoiding the whole wash and multiple-rinse protocol any more than necessary is great. But I also think that the mitt does as good a job as my Clairsonic. And has the advantage of being faster, easier to use, far easier to keep sanitary (toss it in the washing machine), and can be used anywhere that I can wet it with water to swipe off sweat, pollution, etc.

    I’m fairly analytical about products, which is probably obvious by now, but honestly think that my skin has become increasingly ‘cleaner’ over time from using the thing for the past several months. Maybe there was sunscreen buildup that the Clairsonic didn’t remove or something.

    I ordered mine directly from the Iredale website and the cost, including pretty packaging, with an enclosed sprig of lavender, and free-shipping, was $15. I have no financial interest in the company or the product. I just wish I’d discovered it first. There are tons of online reviews about the Magic Mitt for those interested.

    Warning: Here’s the digression about so-called sunscreens so ignore at will: I sail weekly on the ocean, which is triply hard on the skin, as it combines the threats of near-equatorial sun, water spray and salt-water. I know, or know of, several people who’ve already had, and in a few cases, died of, skin cancer. Most U.S. consumers aren’t aware of the FDA guidelines requiring sunscreens to have a posted expiration date.

    So, my one-second lecture, second-hand from a superstar Boca Raton, Florida dermatologist, to all is: Please learn about sunscreens, the barrier one v. the so-called chemical ones, and new advances in them, including the new thoughts an UVC dangers and pay attention to the stability of ingredients and ‘use by’ dates. The family whose unfortunate healthy crises triggered the newer FDA guidelines purchased the chemical ‘sunblocks”, new and unopened, in a national-chain drugstore when on vacation in Florida and had no reason to suspect they were already past date of effectiveness that a week on the beach would be a disaster. There is also a school of thought that the misnamed ‘chemical’ sunscreens, when degraded, are more dangerous than going sunscreen-free. So the science is advancing, but not as fast as sun exposure is increasing in general. And use what you learn!

    N.B. He recommends the Tizo spf 40 sunscreens with the EltaMD UVPure Broad-Spectrum spf 47 as second choice. Both are ‘barrier’ products, relying on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are the only formulations he or his family use. February 26, 2017 at 8:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I agree, it’s important to check the expiration labels. February 27, 2017 at 5:37am Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: Thanks so much for passing that info along; we also have high melanoma rates here in Texas & I swim daily 4-5 months of the year, although I try to avoid peak times, just bei g out & about, driving etc. the left side of my face is the one w/ beginning sun damage.
      I also have a spot on my lower lip that came out this year, so I’m now more aware of SPF in on my lips as well! I’ve thought of returning to mineral makeup for the protection it gives…

      Had NO idea mineral SPF’s could expire!!! Checking the zillions of tubes around house now:-/. I have some Elta, which I like & used because makeup goes on well over it, but probably need to buy/use for less vanity & greater protection — but bottles are small for body!

      Also ordering a couple of those Jane Iredal mitts!! What a bargain! I’ve ordered Korean exfoliatating cloth for the body, butbit’s too harsh for face.

      Amlso getting into dry-brushing for the circulation/exfoliation benefits, and there’s a great Danish company called Karmameju that has a gentle dry brush for the face/decolletè in addition to ionic body dry brush, & special sponges for face.

      Such an informed wealth of knowledge here! February 4, 2018 at 12:03am Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: PS: I also only truly “wash” my face once a day, and even try not to shower too frequently now that I’m middle-aged+ and don’t have the hormone/sebum production I did in my prime. I do clean off night cream w/ my glycolic product or micellar water before morning routine February 4, 2018 at 12:08am Reply

  • McRuggles: Phooey, I tried to post an edited, shorter, post and clicked on the wrong one. I love this blog and have been a long-time reader of it, and am always impressed by the topics, yet alone the sheer number of scents that so many of you are familiar with (how do you manage to keep up with so many?), but never posted before. Apologies to all for such a long post. Back to thinking about scents, today’s favorite being a former favorite and still BFF, Chanel’s Beige. February 26, 2017 at 8:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: No worries! Thank you very much. February 27, 2017 at 5:38am Reply

  • mayfly: Really informative article Victoria, thank u!
    I’ve just ordered the MAP solution, and the basic daily moisturiser, fingers crossed my sun spots will start to fade! February 27, 2017 at 10:04am Reply

    • Victoria: It does take time, but most importantly, you have to use sunscreen daily.

      Glad that it was helpful! February 27, 2017 at 1:54pm Reply

      • mayfly: I’ve learnt the hard way to be rigorous about sun cream, I certainly never used to worry about it when I was younger. I’ve never been a sun worshipper, and preferred being pale and natural when I was younger, but I’m fair skinned, so have a few sun spots now.
        You’re article’s on sun creams are great, I use a Clarin’s one in a little handbag sized bottle, it fees like a primer, and is very nice under makeup, it has a lovely silky texture it’s expensive tho, and I have ordered a Biore one, from you’re recommendations, and will alternate. February 28, 2017 at 2:26am Reply

      • mayfly: Hi Victoria, my Biore UV Aqua Rich watery essence came today, but I was disappointed to see 2014 written in large letters on the front, there’s no return form, and I’m thinking it will cost a lot to send back to Japan. Do you think it will still be effective? Sorry about this boring question! February 28, 2017 at 9:03am Reply

        • Victoria: If the listing didn’t indicate it was this old, then I’d ask for a refund. Sunscreen is ok for 3 years, if stored in a cool place and unopened. February 28, 2017 at 9:58am Reply

  • ewa: cheaper & better to buy powder of Ascorbic Acid (online) and to dilute with water just before use February 27, 2017 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Hard to beat €6 for a bottle. As for better, I’m not so sure, since Vitamin C is a difficult ingredient for a professional chemist to use, to say nothing of an amateur. February 27, 2017 at 2:01pm Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: Philosophy’s product is what got me started, and as a powder it is stable & they give you a pre-measured size tiny spoon (yes, looks like drug paraphanelia🙄), so you just add it to your moisturizer or sunscreen. When I saw it ingredient listed as just ultrafine LAA, I had to try it from Formulator’s Warehouse… works like a charm, and best of all — not constantky worrying about my expensive Skinceuticals oxidizing & going bad on me.

      I’m defefinitely open to newer, better, more afforable pre-mixed formulations from The Ordinary & others, but for a while there Vit C was expensive & a hassle to use — and I honestly just didn’t get same results from MAP formulas. February 4, 2018 at 12:16am Reply

  • Mia: Dear Victoria and others,

    so many interesting topics again while I’ve been outline, thanks again! I have fallen in love with Medik8 products, their highly stabilized Cs and retinols etc. March 2, 2017 at 10:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Mia. I’m going to look into Medik8. Always good to learn something new. March 3, 2017 at 2:44am Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: I’ve slways been curious about that product line… February 4, 2018 at 12:18am Reply

  • Mary Lynn: Hi Victoria – Thank you for all the great info on Vit. C. I recently purchased the Timeless version, but am getting confused on what is “okay” to use at the same time, and what should not be used at the same time. Acids, serums, retinols … how does one learn which type products not to mix with others? I have ROC (retinol) products, Olay Regenerist products, etc, and am getting so confused. I guess I should slow down on the blogs and videos I have have been watching. They are all blurring together!
    Anyway… in short – is there an easy way to know what not to use with what? March 12, 2017 at 8:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s not too complicated. The only thing not to use with Vitamin C is anything containing niacinamide. Everything else is ok, and it depends on how your skin tolerates it. Start your routine with Vitamin C and wait for it to absorb completely before applying anything else. You can use your Olay products after the Vitamin C, they should be fine together. March 13, 2017 at 3:57am Reply

      • Mary Lynn: Terrific… that helps a lot! Thank you so much for the tip (and for the quick reply back!) March 13, 2017 at 5:48am Reply

    • Brenda Farrell: Olay Regenerist has Niaminicide, so I’m now avoiding using my Vit C in or w/ that… I didn’t know about not mixing those two prior Victoria’s article. I was told not to mix copper peptides, if you use any of the “blue” products from Osmotics or others that contain them.
      Not all peptides, just copper ones. February 4, 2018 at 12:21am Reply

  • Glannys: Wow! I had no idea Vitamin C serums are so useful and effective. Thank you very much, Victoria. I am ordering that The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension right now.
    I do not use a night moisturizer though. Instead I use an oil-based cleanser (Lush Ultrabland) and a toner. Do you think it would be ok to put the serum as the final step, after the toner?
    Also, would it work on sun spots on hands? Thank you for your time. March 19, 2017 at 8:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it would definitely be ok. Just be sure that your toner has absorbed completely when you apply your Vit C.

      You can use it on your hands too, but unless you’re diligent with sunscreen, the sun spots will not fade. It’s tricky to keep sunscreen on one’s hands. Plus, serious sun spots need something even stronger. March 19, 2017 at 8:48am Reply

      • Glannys: Thank you very much.
        My sun spots on hands are very pale, so it might work. But you are right – keeping hands constantly sun protected in necessary but difficult. March 19, 2017 at 9:11am Reply

        • Brenda Farrell: I only had 1 sun spot on my left hand, but daily dabbing w/ my Vit C got rid of it. Since I mix into my Timeless Hyaluronic serum in AM, I actually put all over my forearms & hands — since this is a fairly inexpensive formulation of Vit C. Start w/ (more expensive) Philosophy’s Vit C powder kit, and try to find an anti-aging specialist through Sephora to teach you how to about it. It’s fairly simple though, just use the little micro measuring spoon that comes w/ kit & add to sunscreen, niaminicide-FREE mousturizer, or hyaluronic serum — for hand spots, I actually made a bit thicker dab that I reapplied after thin serum/Vit C on hands & left it a few minutes before putting sunscreen OVER hands, arms, face, decolleté. February 4, 2018 at 12:29am Reply

          • Glannys: Thank you, Brenda
            The spots do not bother me much, and I am too lazy (and stingy) to consult a specialist. No Sephora in my country. I just thought that since I already have a cheap Vit C serum I might as well try it on my hands. February 4, 2018 at 5:21am Reply

  • Olivia Covin: I am really interested in trying the The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. I have some acne scars and just want to brighten up my skin. You say to use this at night, but I currently use Epiduo and then a moisturizer before I go to bed. The epiduo is a combo of Adapalene and Benzoyl peroxide. Could I use the serum after the topical? Or should I just use it in the morning. May 16, 2017 at 6:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: You shouldn’t use them together, since they will be much less effective. Try the Vitamin C serum in the morning. Apply it first thing on clean, dry skin and use a small amount. Tap it into the skin well. Then, follow with your regular moisturizer, etc, and of course, sunscreen. May 17, 2017 at 2:10am Reply

  • Sandra: I see the ordinary is coming out with a new Vitamin C, any thoughts V? August 3, 2017 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure the texture will be smooth and creamy. I just don’t like the idea of a silicone base. August 3, 2017 at 10:38am Reply

  • Marjorie Segersbol: I have a question … I can used vitamin c with for example alpha arburin the ordinary and how I can used ? November 3, 2017 at 4:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can use both of them at the same time, but make sure that the first product is absorbed before you apply the second one. November 3, 2017 at 4:53pm Reply

  • debbie: I just purchased a bottle of timeless vitamin c, can you suggest some of the ordinary products that can be used with the vitamin c? I have mature skin and never tried vitamin c before and just recently heard about the good results that you can get from it. I have read good things about the ordinary, but not sure how to layer other serums with vitamin c. Thanks January 5, 2018 at 8:34am Reply

  • Patricia Silva: Hi Victoria, I bought 20% Vitamin C +E Ferulic and I have doubt if it is recomend to use it in summer time. I live in Portugal and in this time of year we are starting to have hot weather. Someone told me that Vitamin C should only be use in winter not in summer time, because Vitamine C can cause damage to the skin, like stains, when is exposed to the Sun. I want to go to the beach and have some sun, but I don’t know if it is save even with sun protector. Should i open the serum or save it to the winter? May 27, 2018 at 5:27am Reply

    • Victoria: On the contrary, Vitamin C is an essential skincare ingredient in the summer, because it has an UV-protective effect by neutralizing free radicals that occur in the skin during the sun exposure. You can use it during daytime (with sunscreen, of course). On the other hand, I find that using it in the evening is far better. It repairs any damage caused by UV radiation received during the day and preps skin for the morning.

      If you haven’t used Vit C yet, start by using it 2x a week in the evening and increase gradually. May 27, 2018 at 7:49am Reply

      • Patricia Silva: Thank you for the clarification May 27, 2018 at 10:05am Reply

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