Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in skin serums but it can be irritating for sensitive skin. In this blog, find out what vitamin C is, what it does and how to use it safely on sensitive skin.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It has many essential functions including protecting and keeping cells, blood vessels, bones and cartilage healthy. The vitamin also helps speed up wound healing and is an essential antioxidant.
Vitamin C is water soluble which means that we can’t naturally store it in the body. For this reason it’s essential that we maintain adequate levels through food and supplement consumption.
The best natural sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially:
- Citrus fruits
- Red and green peppers
- Spinach, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables
Vitamin C Benefits for Skin
Vitamin C is required to produce collagen. Collagen is the main component of connective tissue and plays a vital role in keeping skin healthy.
Here are just some of the benefits that collagen provides to the skin:
- Boosts elasticity – Collagen helps skin cells renew and repair themselves, ensuring that skin is kept tight, smooth and firm. A lack of collagen causes loose and sagging skin. By the time you reach 30, your collagen levels drop by at least 1.5% year on year. This is therefore why sagging skin is common in older people.¹
- Increases hydration – Collagen triggers skin cells to produce more hyaluronic acid, a component that’s important for boosting the skin’s water content. This helps keep skin smooth, moisturised and healthy.²
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles – Increasing skin elasticity and hydration plumps the skin leading to a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.³
- Relieves joint pain – Collagen helps to rebuild your tendons and cartilage which prevents your tissues from thinning. As your tendons and cartilage become strengthened, any joint pain reduces.
How Much Vitamin C Do I Need If I Have Sensitive Skin?
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for the average adult is between 65 and 90 milligrams per day. The maximum upper limit is 2,000 mg per day.
Over-consuming dietary vitamin C isn’t likely to cause any harm, however taking too many of any vitamin C supplement will likely result in diarrhoea. More serious side effects include:
- Abdominal cramps
Furthermore, if you have sensitive skin avoid potent, high strength vitamin C serums.
Vitamin C and Sensitive Skin
Vitamin C serum should be used with caution on sensitive skin. Potent serums can cause irritation, dryness, redness and even peeling in some cases.
The most irritating form of vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid. This is because L-ascorbic acid needs to have a very low pH for it to be stable in water. This means that it’s incredibly acidic.
However, this acidic pH isn’t very compatible with the skin. This increases the exfoliating effects of the L-ascorbic acid but weakens the functioning of the skin barrier. The combination of heightened exfoliation with a weakened skin barrier is what causes irritation, dry skin and other adverse effects on sensitive skin.
In general higher percentage products are likely to be more irritating for sensitive skin, as well as products that use a combination of various acids.
How to Use Vitamin C Serums if You Have Sensitive Skin
Firstly, we recommend easing into vitamin C serums gently if you have sensitive skin. Try starting with a lower concentration of vitamin C and working your way up. Alternatively, you can try a patch test of your chosen serum on a small section of skin. If irritation, dryness or redness occurs avoid using the product.
In terms of product selection, avoid products with a high vitamin C concentration. We recommend starting with a serum with a concentration of around 10% which can be gradually increased.
We also recommend avoiding products with a lower pH as these can be the most irritating for sensitive skin.
Liquid supplements are also a great way to ensure adequate and healthy levels of vitamin C, whilst avoiding any skin irritation.
The Best Vitamin C Products for Sensitive Skin
Altrient C is a high strength liposomal supplement which uses liposomal encapsulation technology to deliver 1000mg of vitamin C into the bloodstream. Liposomal technology prevents your stomach acids prematurely breaking down the vitamin C.
This increases the bioavailability of the vitamin, meaning that you’re effectively absorbing and reaping the benefits from the advertised dose.
Altrient C boosts collagen production and immune functioning while supporting blood vessels, the nervous system, and iron absorption, Most importantly, it effectively combats the visible signs of premature aging.
Like Altrient, YourZooki use liposomal encapsulation to boost the bioavailability of their supplements.
Vitamin C Zooki revitalises your energy, boosts your immune response, and strengthens your skin from within. It also helps to protect your skin from free radical damage.
C Ferulic Edafence Serum not only delivers 10% vitamin C in a pure stable formula, but is also infused with a number of additional antioxidants to protect your skin.
It’s one of the most powerful and effective serums from Endocare, with exceptional regenerating and anti-pollution properties.
Osmosis Catalyst AC-11 DNA Repair C Serum contains 6% ascorbic acid. The serum helps reduce the visible signs of premature aging, whilst also increasing the formation of elastin, which thickens, protects, and heals skin cells.
The serum is particularly impressive due to its ability to increase DNA damage repair by up to 33%.
In summary, vitamin C products are fine to use on sensitive skin when used with caution. It’s always best to make sure that you’re aware of the concentration. Potent serums (above 20%) can cause irritation, peeling and redness. Liposomal vitamin C supplements from brands such as YourZooki or Altrient provide great supplement alternatives when topical application isn’t the best option for your skin.
Author: Sam Pennington
- Czajka A, Kania E, Genovese L, Corbo A, Merone G, Luci C et al. Daily Oral Supplementation With Collagen Peptides Combined With Vitamins and Other Bioactive Compounds Improves Skin Elasticity and Has a Beneficial Effect on Joint and General Wellbeing. Nutrition Research. 2018;57:97-108.
- Ohara H, Ichikawa S, Matsumoto H, Akiyama M, Fujimoto N, Kobayashi T et al. Collagen-derived Dipeptide, Proline-hydroxyproline, Stimulates Cell Proliferation and Hyaluronic Acid Synthesis in Cultured Human Dermal Fibroblasts. The Journal of Dermatology. 2010;37(4):330-338.
- Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral Intake of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides Reduces Skin Wrinkles and Increases Dermal Matrix Synthesis. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. 2014;27(3):113-119.