Vegan Vitamin C in Skincare
Vitamin C seems to be everywhere you look these days—and if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you’ve come to the right place!
Whether we're talking about serums, moisturizers, nighttime masks, or even sunscreens, products containing this ingredient usually come with a long list of promised benefits, many of them anti-aging.
But are these benefits really possible? Is vitamin C a miracle worker for those of us seeking to maintain a smooth, even, and glowing complexion?
Read on to find out!
What is Vitamin C in skincare?
Vitamin C is found in many of the foods that feature prominently in a whole-foods vegan diet. Citrus fruits like oranges, kiwis, and grapefruits contain especially high amounts, as do veggies like broccoli, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
While it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamin through your diet, it is impossible to know that enough is making its way to your skin, since vitamin C is also used to aid with the functioning of your immune system, maintaining your cartilage, bones and teeth, and much more.
This is why topical products that are designed to penetrate the skin, like serums and lotions, are your best bet in making sure your skin is reaping all the incredible benefits that vitamin C has to offer.
Benefits of vitamin C in skincare
So, what are the benefits of vitamin C in skincare? Get ready to be amazed at this almost-too-good-to-be-true list—and then get ready to make your first vitamin C product purchase so you can see the results for yourself!
Good for all skin types
Vitamin C is an extremely effective and safe ingredient for most skin types. Most people can use vitamin C for a long time without any negative reactions.
For those who are just starting out, or if you have more sensitive skin, select a product with a lower concentration of the vitamin and slowly work your way up to higher concentrations and frequency of use, paying close attention to how your skin responds.
Got dry skin? Then vitamin C is for you!
Numerous vitamin C derivatives, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, have been shown to hydrate skin. Vitamin C also helps to decrease transepidermal water loss, allowing the skin to retain moisture better.
We all want that even, smooth skin tone, but especially as we age, discoloration can happen.
Vitamin C can help fade pigmentation and smooth the skin’s surface, reducing dullness. The vitamin can also fade hyperpigmentation, including sunspots, age spots, and melasma, and has even been shown to slow melanin production which can stop dark spots from forming in the first place—making it an effective preventative measure, too!
Battling redness? Arm yourself with vitamin C since it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent on the skin, helping to soothe and reduce puffiness, and redness.
Improves under-eye circles
Because of its hydration superpowers, vitamin C can work wonders on under-eye circles. It helps to plump the delicate skin and, with long-term use, has even been found to thicken the eyelid dermis.
Promotes collagen production
If you know anything about skincare, you know that collagen is critical to healthy, youthful-looking skin. But did you know that collagen production actually cannot occur without vitamin C?
Our bodies produce less collagen as we age, leading to fine lines and wrinkles. By adding vitamin C to a skincare routine, you can help to boost the body’s natural production.
Prevents skin sagging
The naturally occurring reduction of collagen production is one of the leading causes of decreased skin elasticity and firmness, leading to sagging skin—and no one wants that! Boosting collagen production using topical vitamin C products can have a plumping, firming, and tightening effect on the skin.
Protects against sun damage
Not only can exposure to pollutants and UV irradiation deplete vitamin C levels in your skin, but lower vitamin C levels can lead to skin damage from these factors as well—a terrible, vicious cycle!
Sun damage is caused by free radical molecules, something that can be resolved by antioxidants. And because vitamin C is so rich in antioxidants, well—what else can we say other than slather it on!
Vegan vitamin C
If, like us, you prefer to use cruelty-free and vegan products, you are in luck: vitamin C is naturally vegan and many vitamin C products are cruelty-free! Vegans everywhere, rejoice!
Many common vitamin C serums use ingredients derived exclusively from plants, meaning there are no animal ingredients to be found (especially all the products in Kinder Beauty’s monthly boxes and our vegan, cruelty-free marketplace!).
Still, it’s always a good idea to take a metaphorical magnifying glass to the ingredients lists of products you’re thinking of buying just to make sure no animal ingredients are lurking anywhere. Watch out for glycerine, in particular, which is sometimes added to vitamin C skincare products and can sometimes be derived from animal fat, though synthetic and vegan options are increasingly plentiful.
Is calcium ascorbate vegan?
What does calcium ascorbate have to do with vitamin C, you might ask?
Calcium ascorbate and ascorbic acid are both names for vitamin C, and yes, both are vegan. These forms of the vitamin are produced using glucose, which is usually made from starches like corn. Animal-derived ingredients are not used in the process, making it safe for vegans to partake.
Names for vitamin c in skincare
There are many different names for vitamin C, and all act slightly differently. The most common ones found in vitamin C skincare are ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbate, and calcium ascorbate.
Different types of vitamin C in skincare
Why do so many skincare ingredients come in a variety of different names?! It can be confusing, but we’re here to help you sort things out so you can see which form of vitamin C might be best for you.
If you take a peek at the long line-up of brightening serums on store shelves and online, you are most likely to see ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid near the top of the ingredient list. This version of vitamin C is the most common and purest form of vitamin C, and has been shown to be the most effective in penetrating the skin barrier.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate
This vitamin C variety is a little less intense than its ascorbic acid counterpart, but is still a great option for skincare. Because it is less potent than other forms of vitamin C, this is a perfect option for anyone with sensitive skin.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is one of the most stable forms of vitamin C, packing a serious hydration punch. It can be extremely effective in soothing skin irritation because of its anti-inflammatory properties. And because it is water-soluble, it’s best to purchase this form of vitamin C in water-based formulas.
Sodium ascorbate is the sodium salt of ascorbic acid and converts to ascorbic acid when applied to the skin, sodium ascorbate is believed to be a less irritating to the skin while continuing to provide important benefits—like combatting free radicals and lightening skin discoloration.
Calcium ascorbate is another mineral salt of ascorbic acid and is often referred to as Ester C. Its properties help significantly with collagen synthesis, tissue and wound repair, and antioxidant defense. It is extremely helpful in reducing the appearance of fine lines and eliminating dark spots.
Last, but certainly not least, this vitamin C variety is a superstar when it comes to skin brightening. Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble derivative of vitamin C—which means it is non-irritating and great for those with sensitive skin.
Best form of vitamin C in skincare
When shopping for a topical vitamin C skincare product, the first thing to look for is whether the vitamin C in the product is listed as active or inactive. Active ingredients are the components in the product that have a therapeutic effect on the body, whereas inactive ingredients have non-medicinal importance. You want to choose a product that has vitamin C listed as an active ingredient, meaning you will actually reap the benefits by using the said product.
While each form of vitamin C has slightly different uses, ascorbic acid is arguably the best form of vitamin C in skincare because it is vitamin C in its purest form. The only downsides are that it can be irritating to some skin types and that it oxidizes quickly so the product should be used up faster.
When to use vitamin C in skincare routine
It is ideal to apply vitamin C both during your morning and nighttime skin routine. Apply a vitamin C serum after your cleanse and tone your skin. Some studies even show that applying vitamin C every eight hours is ideal for the best results.
When applied in the morning, vitamin C works to protect the skin from the day’s stressors, like free radicals, pollution, chemicals, and so on. When applied at night, vitamin C works to restore and hydrate the skin.
Vegan skincare with vitamin C
A bottle of golden sunshine, this silky, gentle cleansing oil brightens, hydrates, and helps wash away dulling build-up to reveal your best complexion. Antioxidant oils infused with all-natural ingredients like sea kelp and papaya enzymes deliver vitamins, fatty acids, and other nutrients. Your skin will be left feeling soft, clean, and sunshine-kissed.
Sonage Saffron Energizing Vitamin Mask
This hydrating, nutritive mask provides moisture to dry, dehydrated skin while hugely benefiting sensitive skin. This perfect blend of emollients nourishes the epidermis, while ginseng, saffron, and CoQ10 energize and provide that natural glow. Rare Kashmiri saffron acts as an anti-aging game-changer while botanical rich paste strengthens the skin’s resistance to daily damage. Best of all, this mask brilliantly helps to visibly firm and lift the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Prima Enlightenment Serum (buy as part of the Power Duo collection at Kinder Beauty!)
Enlighten your skin by bringing its inner beauty out. This lightweight niacinamide and CBD serum combats the everyday effects of oxidation and environmental stress with a unique saccharide complex that provides long-lasting hydration and a nutrient-dense, cold-pressed coconut juice complete with vitamin C, antioxidants, and electrolytes to brighten your skin from deep within.
Love Beauty & Planet is an amazing affordable skincare range. This vitamin C lotion is citrusy, fresh, and the juicy mandarin scent is guaranteed to instantly boost your mood. This lotion gives the skin a nice boost of hydration and the vitamin C goes to work to rejuvenate the skin.
This vegan, high-tech moisturizer from Bliss Bright contains an effective, non-irritating form of vitamin C combined with a patented tri-peptide to boost the skin’s natural elasticity while providing amazing hydration.
This Collagen Overnight Recovery Cream with vitamin C is sure to supercharge your nighttime routine. Formulated to add instant hydration, nourish stressed skin, and combat signs of aging, it is infused with vegan collagen, essential lipids, antioxidants, and flower extracts to help revive and hydrate for dewy, youthful-looking skin. Wake up to a radiant complexion.
This Superberry Hydrate and Glow Dream Mask is the perfect addition to your nighttime routine. The overnight mask deeply hydrates and plumps the skin for a brighter-looking complexion, while antioxidant super berries along with another stable form of vitamin C, THD ascorbate, are both clinically proven to target dullness and uneven skin tone to reveal brighter, more radiant skin.
Vegan skincare with retinol and vitamin C
Aliver’s serum has 20% vitamin C concentrate paired with hyaluronic acid for maximum results. The added dynamic of active botanicals, including aloe vera, witch hazel, and jojoba oil work to rejuvenate, protect, and hydrate the skin.
This anti-aging cream from EarthsCure pairs the powers of vitamin C with the powers of retinol. With 2.5% retinol, this cream can help diminish the appearance and feel of wrinkles, fine lines, and uneven skin tone.
This bestselling serum is formulated with 2% retinol ester, hyaluronic acid, and extracts of dill and licorice to target fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, acne scars, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.
Vegan vitamin C serum
This lightweight serum is packed with antioxidant-rich ginger and vitamin C that work together to hydrate the skin, leaving a supple, radiant complexion. Ginger neutralizes environmental aggressors and revives dull skin while vitamin C helps to even skin tone and brighten. The formula is free of parabens, synthetic dyes, and fragrances.
This serum is designed to support your skin and aid in a tighter, healthier appearance with key active ingredients including vitamin C, turmeric, green tea, and marine extracts.
Truly's Vegan Collagen Booster Anti-Aging Face Serum helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to improve overall texture and smoothness. Formulated with plant collagen booster, retinol, and vitamin C, this blend of powerful anti-aging ingredients will deliver more skin-plumping benefits than you thought was possible.
If you're looking for a serum that provides a radiant glow—and so much more—you'll find it with this enriching serum that helps improve skin tone and creates a smoother complexion while reducing the effects of sun damage and free radicals.
This powerful and lightweight vitamin C serum for dark spots features a proprietary white shiitake mushroom extract blended with a derivative of vitamin C to deliver faster and longer-lasting results.
Say goodbye to your dark spots! The second product on our list to feature the THD form of vitamin C, this serum will boost radiance and brighten skin quickly and effectively. Good for all skin types, including sensitive.
Vitamin C skincare is all the rage these days, and for very good reason. With benefits ranging from hydrating and brightening to sun protection, it is safe to say that everyone needs this powerful antioxidant in their skincare routine.
Jackie Lutze has been writing about cruelty-free beauty for years and loves finding the best vegan products to help readers build their ultimate beauty routine.
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