Should I Be Using a Vitamin C Serum?

I get asked this a lot, and while Vitamin C is an important vitamin, in most situations it works a whole better for us to take it internally, and here’s why…

First of all, what is Vitamin C good for? Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals (damaging cells), strengthens our immune system and is essential for the synthesis of collagen, a protein that is necessary in the formation of healthy connective tissue and skin healing.

Sounds good for the skin of course, and it certainly is, but this potent vitamin is VERY finicky during the extraction process and most vitamin C products that you see on the market do not even actually contain real, pure vitamin C.

In nature, vitamin C is produced in plants. It’s water-soluble, meaning it dissolves in water. When it is extracted from the plant and is dried out (think powders and dried herbs), the vitamin C breaks down and deactivates.

In order to extract vitamin C from a plant without affecting its properties, it must be extracted in a way that mimics the plants internal mechanisms, and it is vital that the liquid matrix from the plant remains stable throughout the entire process from extraction to product production and lasts for the entire shelf life. This is impossible for most skin care brands to achieve because it is an extremely scientific process that very few skin care formulators would understand.

So what is in all those vitamin C serums? Either ascorbic acid or ascorbyl palmitate, a synthetic, man-made vitamin C that does not, and cannot maintain the same properties or produce the same activities as real vitamin C does. I was guilty of using this myself at one point, because I was misinformed, but after doing my own in depth research, I quickly removed this ingredient from my skin care line because it goes against my philosophy of a pure, 100% natural skin care line.

It is important to understand that while these two synthetics are marketed as vitamin C, they are not the same thing as real vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is a powder form of “vitamin C” and ascorbyl palmitate is an oil form of it. Remember Vitamin C is water-soluble and needs the plants liquid to remain active. How can that be possible in a powder or an oil? Same question I asked, and the answer is, it can’t.

It’s also important to understand that ascorbic acid has a pH level between 1-3. Our skins protective barrier, that must remain pH balanced in order for our skin to do its protective job of keeping water inside the body and invaders out of the body, has a pH balance of around 5.5. In order to maintain this balance, it is vital that we use products with a similar pH balance to our skin. Using ingredients on the skin with too low or too high pH levels can have detrimental results on the health of our skin.

So, how can we get all of the amazing benefits of vitamin C for our skin? Eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies high in vitamin C contain real vitamin C that is stable. When we eat our vitamins in their real forms, that’s when our body benefits best. Just like how my doctor tells me that eating the rainbow is a better way to get my vitamins than filling my body with synthetic supplements, eating high amounts of vitamin C is far better than applying synthetic vitamin C to your skin, too. There’s a huge difference between the two and I promise you that your skin will age better and will benefit far more when you eat the vitamin C directly from its source.

About Rachel Devine

Rachel Devine is a multi award-winning holistic aesthetician and the founder and skin care formulator of R Devine Organic Skin Care.