When to use Vitamin C Serum

When to use Vitamin C Serum

When to use vitamin C Serum is really not hotly debated. Vitamin C serum is a powerful antioxidant that, along with sunscreen, can help prevent damage to your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays which can cause signs of premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. You should start using Vitamin C serum in your early twenties but can even start as early as age 18 to reap its many benefits, not the least of which is collagen production to help keep your skin smooth, plump, and firm.

In fact, you should begin using retinol, another anti-aging product, in your mid-twenties to get the most out of its unique properties. Retinol also helps with the production of collagen as well as elastin in the skin, both of which you begin to lose as you age, causing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.

Benefits of Retinol and Vitamin C

Benefits of Retinol

A derivative of Vitamin A, Retinol improves skin tone, fullness and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen, a naturally occurring protein in the skin, is responsible for its smooth, plump look and feel. You start losing collagen as you age, leading to fine lines, wrinkles, and even sagging skin.

But Retinol both prevents and repairs these changes by stimulating the synthesis of collagen and helping to keep it from breaking down.

Retinol has also been implicated in the enhanced production of elastin, which along with collagen, affects the elasticity of your skin. Retinol is one of the most effective substances in delaying the aging process. It also improves the texture of your skin and dramatically reduces hyperpigmentation (dark spots, sun spots, and age spots) as well as enhances overall skin tone.

Retinol promotes skin cell turnover which helps smooth the skin and also assists in clearing acne lesions and smooth fine lines. In fact, this skincare ingredient helps clear up blackheads and whiteheads as well. As the cell turnover takes place, new, healthy cells are continually replacing the dead, dry cells on your skin, leaving behind smoother skin with a more even skin tone.

But, Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you need to use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 during the day while you are using it and for some time thereafter if you should stop using Retinol for any reason.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a strong and effective antioxidant, the most abundant found in human skin. However, humans cannot synthesize Vitamin C, so it must be obtained in the foods you eat or through a topical treatment, such as a serum. In fact, topical treatments like serums are the most recommended method of providing Vitamin C to your skin.

Antioxidants are extremely important in the fight against aging because they have the power to neutralize free radicals and unstable atoms that are missing an electron. These free radicals can be found in our environment as a result of cigarette smoke, pollution, and ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. They can also be caused by some of our own metabolic processes.

Free radicals attack healthy skin cells by taking the electron they need and thus damaging the skin. This causes early signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin texture. But antioxidants provide the missing electron to free radicals, thus neutralizing them.

Free radicals cause the breakdown of collagen in your skin. Collagen is the protein in skin cells that is responsible for the plump, smooth, firm look and feel of your skin. Not only does Vitamin C protect your collagen from free radical-induced breakdown, but it also promotes the synthesis of new collagen. In fact, Vitamin C is the only antioxidant that has been proven to stimulate collagen and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin C also helps fade hyperpigmentation, such as dark spots, age spots and sun spots by interfering with the melanin production process. Melanin is what gives your skin its color. An overabundance of melanin can cause hyperpigmentation. In addition, Vitamin C provides an overall lightening and brightening of the skin.

And, its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the swelling and redness of acne.

Can I use Vitamin C in the Morning and Retinol at Night?

It is most often recommended that you do just that.Vitamin C during your skin care routine in the Morning and Retinol before your night sleep.

Vitamin C’s powerful antioxidant effects are best suited to daytime use when they can fight off the damage done by free radicals caused by the sun’s rays, pollution, and other triggers. In fact, Vitamin C helps to repair photodamaged (sun-damaged) skin. This is called photoaging, and it is a form of premature aging of the skin as evidenced by fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin C not only prevents damage from the sun but can also help repair sun-damaged skin.

However, you should always wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 with your Vitamin C serum anytime you go out into the sun. While antioxidants help to prevent and to repair sun damage to the skin, they are not a substitute for sunscreen. Instead, they work together to maximize your skin’s protection from harmful UV rays.

Also, you will find that Vitamin C can lighten your skin tone and brighten your skin. This, in itself, is a good reason to use it during the day.

Dermatologists agree that Retinol should be used at night. Like Hailey Bieber says “Vitamin C in the morning, Retinol before you go to bed”. It causes the skin to become photosensitive – more sensitive to the sun’s damaging rays. This is why you should always use sunscreen of at least SPF 30 the day after using Retinol, even if you are not using Vitamin C during the day.

Retinol will work its magic, promoting cell turnover and stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis, thereby smoothing fine lines and wrinkles and the texture of your skin as well as fading any dark spots, age spots, or sun spots – all while you sleep.

Skincare Routine with Vitamin C and Retinol

Now that you know what each of these potent skincare ingredients does, and when to use them, you should know how to use them in a skincare routine.

Vitamin C

In the morning, cleanse your face and dry thoroughly. Apply your Vitamin C serum. Once the serum has had a chance to completely sink in, apply moisturizer and then your SPF 30 sunscreen. You may then apply any makeup you wish to wear.

If you have never used Vitamin C on your face before, be sure to do a patch test on the skin of your inner arm before you apply it to your whole face. From there you may wish to start with a lower concentration of L-ascorbic acid and work your way up to 20 percent to get the best results from your vitamin C serum.


In the evening, cleanse your face thoroughly and make sure it’s completely dry. Apply your Retinol serum and give it time to dry. Then apply a good moisturizer. This is an essential step as Retinol can cause some dryness and irritation.

Those just beginning their Retinol routines should start their applications slowly. Begin with one to two applications per week and slowly work your way up to daily applications. This will reduce dryness and irritation at the outset. It may take several weeks, but it’s worth the effort.

Can I Use Retinol, Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid Together?

First, what is hyaluronic acid and what does it do for your skin? Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it attracts and absorbs moisture. This amazing skincare ingredient can bind 1000 times its volume in water and hold that moisture to your skin. It is naturally occurring in your skin, but you begin to lose it as you age, leading to signs of aging skin, such as wrinkling.

As for whether it can be used with Retinol and Vitamin C, the answer is a resounding yes!

In the morning, apply hyaluronic acid serum after your Vitamin C serum and before any additional moisturizer, if necessary. Make sure each serum has had a chance to sink in completely before adding another step. Then apply your SPF 30 sunscreen.

In the evening, you can apply the hyaluronic acid serum after your Retinol has completely dried. Apply moisturizer as needed, then sunscreen of at least SPF 30 the following morning.

Vitamin C or Retinol First?

If your skin is accustomed to both Vitamin C and Retinol, and you choose to use them both at night rather than separating them as is normally suggested, apply your Vitamin C serum first and then your Retinol serum. You want to do it this way because Vitamin C has the lower pH level out of the two serums, and you want your skin to return to its normal pH before using your Retinol serum. To accomplish this, you need to wait at least 30 minutes between applying your Vitamin C and your Retinol.

Best Vitamin C and Retinol Serum

Vitamin C

Beautystat Universal C Skin Refiner

This Vitamin C serum is unique among the pack because it contains the world’s first 20 percent stable and pure vitamin C that stays potent for the life of the product, never oxidizing or turning brown. Anyone who has ever used other Vitamin C serums knows that they are sensitive to heat, light, and air and will oxidize and become useless in a matter of 3 months or less.

And Beautystat Universal C Skin Refiner delivers. It fades dark spots and brightens the complexion, tightens and firms skin, and reduces lines and wrinkles as well as shrinking pores. It also gently exfoliates the skin. And of course, its powerful antioxidants both prevent and heal the damage caused by free radicals that lead to premature aging, effectively slowing the aging process.

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Plant Therapy Vitamin C with Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum

This is a popular, budget-friendly option in a dark stoppered bottle that claims a shelf life of 18 months. It contains both hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil for moisture. Jojoba oil also contains vitamin E, another potent antioxidant. Finally, ferulic acid, another antioxidant, rounds out the ingredient list. However, there is no information available about the concentration of Vitamin C in the serum, which is a serious concern.

Timeless 20 Percent Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

In addition to its claims attendant to the antioxidant properties of Vitamin C, this product states that it is paraben, sulfate, fragrance, dye and cruelty-free, and vegan. It contains Vitamin E and Ferulic acid, both additional antioxidants. Timeless claims a shelf life of 6 months from the date of manufacture. It comes in a 1-ounce, opaque pump applicator bottle. However, although the initial product information says it is meant for all skin types it contains two later disclaimers. First, it is not recommended for sensitive skin due to its exfoliation action and second, it is not recommended for oily skin due to its vitamin E content.

Retinol + Vitamin C Neutrogena

Retinol can be successfully paired with Vitamin C, especially in a time-released formulation. Neutrogena appears to have accomplished this feat. They have a patented formula called “Retinol SA.” SA stands for “sustained action.”

They have conducted numerous clinical studies on their various products, especially on the stabilization of retinol through their parent company Johnson & Johnson. This more stable retinol is meant to last longer, retain its potency longer and resist oxidation.

Neutrogena products combining both Retinol and Vitamin C include:

  • Rapid Tone Repair Retinol + Vitamin C Moisturizer. This product contains Neutrogena’s patented Retinol SA, which is meant to assist with the rate of cell turnover, fade age spots, and reduce wrinkles. This daily moisturizer contains an SPF 30 sunscreen.

  • Neutrogena Rapid tone Repair Retinol + Vitamin C Dark Spot Corrector. This product is intended to correct skin discoloration and dark spots through targeted treatment.

  • Rapid Tone Repair Correcting Cream. This product also contains Retinol SA, plus Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Its purpose is to fade the look of dark spots, brighten the skin and reduce the look of fine lines and deeper wrinkles.

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