Hyperpigmentation, which is an overproduction of melanin on certain areas of the skin, is a common issue for African Americans. And if you factor in scarring that can occur as a result of sun damage, acne, or any other trauma to the skin, we’re especially at risk for uneven skin tone which leaves many feeling insecure about their complexion.
You may have noticed an influx of Vitamin C-based skincare products flooding the market. It's no coincidence!
Clinical studies in the last 5 years have shown that Vitamin C in its many forms is "one of the most powerful and abundant antioxidants in the skin" and that topical Vitamin C has been "shown to protect against photoaging, ultraviolet-induced immunosuppression, and photocarcinogenesis." This means that (when applied to the skin) Vitamin C can protect against and reduce the effects of sun damage and skin cancer.
Vitamin C also:
- has anti-inflammatory properties that make it ideal for reducing redness associated with acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which are the scars left behind when the acne goes away.
- has an anti-aging effect by increasing collagen synthesis, stabilizing collagen fibers, and decreasing collagen degradation.
- is the primary replenisher of vitamin E and works synergistically with vitamin E in the protection against oxidative damage.
That is a lot of benefits from just one vitamin! It's a no-brainer to want to use Vitamin C to protect and enhance your skin, but the trick to using it correctly (and effectively) is knowing what kind, how much, and when to use it.
Here are our top 3 tips for reaping the benefits of Vitamin C:
THE RIGHT TYPE OF VITAMIN C
Look for the following ingredients when searching for the right Vitamin C product for you:
L-ascorbic acid (the most studied, often paired with ferulic acid for stability and effectiveness), ascorbyl-6-palmitate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (the most stable and easily absorbed). These are all common forms of Vitamin C used in topical applications and are the most effective. Bonus: the addition of vitamin E and ferulic acid to a formula increases the effectiveness of Vitamin C eight-fold!
When seeking the right concentration of Vitamin C in a formula, look for about 10-20%. Less than 8% means there's not enough to be effective, and more than 20% does not increase biological significance and can actually cause irritation.
WHEN TO APPLY
The body does not make its own Vitamin C, so we need to supplement it on a daily basis. To ensure there is enough Vitamin C on your skin to adequately protect you from photodamage, be sure to reapply every 8 hours–that's an easy morning and evening regimen. Apply 4-6 drops after cleansing or toning, smooth over face and neck, let dry, and then apply your moisturizer. Allow a two-hour buffer before sun exposure to minimize irritation for sensitive skin, and to allow the cream or serum to be fully absorbed. Be careful to only apply to skin as the brightening effect can bleach hair as well.