My clients always ask me about Vitamin C serums and for years, I have said the same thing; Vitamin C is one nutrient that is best received from our diet, not topical products.
Vitamin C serums are a hot commodity with research backing their efficacy that is often flawed or validated by the Big Beauty companies that are making these products.
Ever wonder why your Vitamin C serum turned brown? That’s because when Vitamin C is exposed to air, light, heat and the constant contact our dropper has with our fingertips, it oxidizes and this is most likely the cause of a lot of your skin woes. And forget Vitamin C creams packaged in pots that you are dipping into. I recommend immediately throwing those away.
One thing that most people don’t discuss is that even if a manufacturer of your serum spent millions to patent the perfect packaging to protect from oxidation or you keep your serum in the fridge, when you apply that L-ascorbic acid (the most commonly used form of Vitamin C) to skin that is obviously exposed to light, air and heat, oxidation is happening in real time right on your skin. And because the studies are so flawed, it is hard to trust other forms of C that penetrate quicker and thus claimed to not oxidize on the surface.
So, What Is Oxidation Anyway?
Oxidation is a process that happens naturally. Every living cell needs oxygen to produce energy and build proteins but that same oxygen causes disintegration. This is how cells live, age and eventually die and while oxygen combustion produces cell energy and proteins for new healthy cells, like any manufacturing process there are going to be by-products and in this case these by-products are called free radicals.
Though we do not often hear of the positive attributes of free radicals, like killing bacteria and forming connections between collagen fibers in the skin, their most noted detriment is that they are unstable, highly mobile and always seeking to attach their free electron to sensitive molecules like proteins, fats and even our DNA and then, just when these molecules are at their most vulnerable, free radicals go into attack mode, turning substantial molecules into more free radicals, changing our cellular structure and causing carcinogenic processes, chronic diseases and premature aging. This is when your skin will begin to exhibit signs of irritation, acne, sensitized skin and dermatitis, another way of communicating to you that there has been a complete breakdown of your skin’s barrier/acid mantle/deliciously healthy microbiome that is at the core of your skin’s integrity.
But There’s Great News.
While a pro-oxidant destroys cellular structure, nature provides us with anti-oxidants to protect against the cell-damaging effects of free radical production. Vitamin C, like vitamins A and E, when taken internally is a free-radical scavenging and immune fortifying nutrient that will work to protects our tissues, lipids, proteins and DNA from oxidation.
Sun exposure, air pollution, a processed-food diet and smoking will also cause accumulation of free-radicals but again, good news. You have control over how you eat and the products you put on your skin so use your power of choice and support your body’s integrity and resistance to an overflow and unmanageable production of free-radicals.
If you want to apply antioxidants to the skin, use fat soluble oils that do not oxidize and support the integrity of the surface of the skin. Rose hip, carrot seed, sea buckthorn, sunflower and apricot kernel are just a few great examples and thankfully, we use all of them in our beautiful products.