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Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps our skin maintain it’s youthful appearance. There are plenty of organic Vitamin C serums available, but which one is the best?
First off, let’s talk about what vitamin C can do for skin health. We can then discuss the different forms of Vitamin C, how to choose the best serum, and our current recommendation.
What can Vitamin C do for our Skin?
Vitamin C is one of the few proven anti-aging ingredients available. It has strong antioxidant activity that repairs damage done to our skin by the sun, pollution, and oxygen. A well-formulated Vitamin C serum can:
- reduce sun damage, such as sun spots.
- reduce inflammation.
- improves skin’s natural healing response.
- improve your skin’s UV defense.
- firms the skin by boosting collagen production.
- enhance skin’s texture.
- reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
Check out this article on Science Daily about Vitamin C and it’s skin regenerating potentials.
Types of Vitamin C
Vitamin C comes in many forms, but the best and most effective form for skin care is L-ascorbic acid (AA). Most of the research has been done on this form, and it has been shown to be highly effective. It does have a low pH and therefore, can be irritating to the skin (more on pH below).
Other forms of Vitamin C also work, but there is less research proving their effectiveness. These include – magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, retinyl ascorbate, ascorbyl palmitate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) shows promising results. It is water-soluble, gentle, efficient at lower concentrations, has a longer shelf life, and is stable at a neutral pH. But, it doesn’t do as well with free radical reduction as AA.
If you have sensitive skin, MAP might be your better bet. It is less harsh than AA, but it is also more expensive.
At least for now, AA is the winner, so make sure it is the main form of Vitamin C in your product formulation. Some products have a mixture of a few types of Vitamin C. This can be good, as it gives your skin a wider range of Vitamin C to absorb.
What to Know About Vitamin C Serums
Vitamin C Breaks Down Easily
Vitamin C is not very stable and it breaks down fast. The packaging is important, with the best packaging being dark glass, and preferably a pump dispenser, or a tight-fitting lid, to minimize light and air exposure.
Vitamin C begins to rapidly oxidize when mixed with water, so finding a serum that does not have water as the first ingredient is important (this is easier said than done, as so many vitamin C serums contain water as the top ingredient).
It is best to use your Vitamin C serum within 3 months of opening.
Ideal pH and Concentration
The acidity of your product will make a difference to how effective it is. A pH of 3.5 or less is ideal. This allows the product to be better absorbed. (source)
In order to avoid irritation, the formula should have no more than a 20% concentration of Vitamin C. Any higher of a concentration could cause irritation. Concentrations as low as 0.6 % have been proven to be effective. A concentration of 10% – 20% is best.
Pairing with Vitamin E
A study showed that Vitamin C is even more effective at protecting the skin from UV damage when paired with Vitamin E. The mixture of 0.5% ferulic acid, 15% Vitamin C, and 1% Vitamin E increases the efficiency of Vitamin C eight-fold (source).
Looking for the Best Organic Vitamin C Serum
Products with the Same Formulation
I have spent hours researching what Vitamin C serums are on the market. There are literally hundreds of options. I have noticed that most mainstream Vitamin C serums are made with the same basic formulation.
Most contain aloe vera or water, hyaluronic acid, MSM, witch hazel, jojoba oil, and preservatives. These preservatives are either Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, and/or Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin.
Phenoxyethanol is used as an alternative to parabens and is in many green company formulations as a “clean” preservative, however, there is much controversy over whether this ingredient is safe.
It is a strong irritant when used in high concentrations, it causes allergic reactions and has been linked to reproductive toxicity (source). The other side of the coin is that the ingredient is believed to be safe when used in low concentrations.
Phenoxyethanol has a medium hazard rating on EWG’s Skin Deep database.
It is a personal choice as to whether you want to use products containing phenoxyethanol. The problem is, if a formulation has water in it, there needs to be some sort of preservative added, otherwise you are going to get mold and bacteria growing inside.
The only way to avoid preservatives like this is to use oil-based rather than water-based products.
My take is, that if phenoxyethanol is the last and only questionable ingredient in a formulation, and the rest of the ingredients are clean, then it is o.k with me. That being said – I would rather find products that don’t use it.
My Pick for the Best Vitamin C Serum
Wowzers, that is a lot of information to ingest! My head is spinning from all of the Vitamin C research that I have done.
With so many Vitamin C serums available, it can be so confusing to know which one to buy, luckily I have found a couple that I can feel good using.
My favorite Vitamin C serums:
- do not have water as the first ingredient.
- are packaged in dark glass with pump dispensers.
- use L-ascorbic acid.
- do not contain phenoxyethanol.
The Best Organic Vitamin C Serums
Designed to protect by day and treat by night, this best-selling, active, lightweight serum nourishes and repairs all skin types. Powered by vitamin C suspended in an anhydrous solution for maximum potency, as well as ferulic acid—a super plant antioxidant—plus CoQ10, astaxanthin, vitamin E, and green tea, this serum supports the appearance of bright, even-toned skin.
Ultra-hydrating botanical oils like lavender and olive combine with nutrient-rich Kakadu plum and carrot to restore a soft, youthful-looking complexion without leaving behind an oily or sticky residue.
See it at The Detox Market
Lightweight, stabilized vitamin C serum made in a base of hydrating and soothing aloe gel. This serum also helps to firm and brighten skin tone, while promoting collagen production. Includes radiance-boosting green apple and grape, plus alpha lipoic acid (ALA) for fighting oxidative damage that can prematurely age or darken the skin.
Learn more at the 100% Pure Website
Finding an organic vitamin C serum can be challenging. With so much selection, and many of the products being generally the same formulation, it can be hard to weed through and find one that is not only effective, but also clean and non-toxic.
I hope that this article helps you in your hunt for the best organic vitamin C serum, and I hope you check out my product recommendations, I am positive you will like them.
Have you tried any Vitamin C Serums? What do you like or dislike about them? Let us know your story in the comments below.
Yours In Beauty,