For many of us putting together a skincare routine that works well for you is a minefield, with thousands of products on the market, it is difficult to know which products are designed for your skin type, and which products will actually work. The words ‘dermatologically tested’ have become very common among our favourite brands, but unfortunately, as Trikwan’s Doctors Zoya Diwan and Sanjay Trikha tell us, this little phrase really doesn’t mean a huge amount and is not so helpful in helping us distinguish between those products that make a real difference, and those that don’t. When curating our own routines, it is essential to include a good cleanser, toner, non-comedogenic moisturiser and sun protection, but there are certain extra products that can really make or break your perfect skincare routine. Vitamin C is one such ingredient that can be the difference between just maintaining your skin and elevating your skin. But what is vitamin C and what makes it so powerful?
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which has a multitude of positive effects on the skin. In our day to day lives we are exposed constantly to pollutants in the air around us, and UV radiation from the sun and other sources of light. This is even more heightened if you live in a city or highly populated area. These substances cause a process called oxidative stress in our skin, which leads to chronic inflammation which, in turn, causes the fragmentation and disorganisation of collagen fibres in the dermis of our skin. These effects can lead to certain skin diseases including skin cancer. Vitamin C, being an antioxidant, helps to halt oxidative stress, preventing any of these nasty processes from occurring, and preserving the youthful, healthy quality of our skin. At the surface, we see the effects of Vitamin C as it prevents photoaging and pigmentation; induces collagen production to support the epidermis; protects against photocarcinogenesis (sun damage that can lead to skin diseases); and finally, helps to replenish vitamin E.
Unfortunately, as humans, we are unable to produce vitamin C in our bodies because we lack the essential enzymes needed to do so. Therefore, we absorb our vitamin C through the foods we eat. However, much of this vitamin C does not reach the skin and the only way we can provide our skin with this essential ingredient, is to apply it topically, in creams or serums.
But how do we tell the difference between which formulations will work, and which will barely scratch the surface?
‘The difference doesn’t just lie in the price, what you really have to look at is the ingredients’ says one half of Trikwan’s husband and wife doctor duo, Dr Zoya Diwan. The key here is finding a serum that contains the best form of vitamin C, and in the correct concentrations. There are several different types of Vitamin C formulations you might find in a so-called vitamin c serum: L-ascorbic acid, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Disodium Isostearyl 2-O L-Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid Sulphate and Tetraisopalmitoyl Ascorbic Acid. While all of these are types of vitamin C, only L-ascorbic acid actually has a large evidence base to back up its effectiveness as a topical vitamin C. This form is the most biologically active, stable and well-studied types and therefore is the only type you should be looking for in the ingredients list of your next potential vitamin C product.
Most L-ascorbic acid products are formulated as a serum, which should be used after cleansing and toning, but before moisturiser. It’s important to note that you need to look for the correct concentration of L-ascorbic acid in your product, as only concentrations above 8% and below 25% will be beneficial for your skin. Anything lower than 8% will be ineffective, while concentrations above 25% have been shown to provide no further benefits, but may cause some irritation.
When you first begin using your vitamin C serum, you may experience a small amount of irritation for the first week or so, which will settle down as your skin acclimatises. You then need to stick with your serum for 6 weeks before you really see the benefits of the serum at the surface of your skin. While vitamin C is perfect for almost all skincare regimes, there are a few exceptions where Dr Trikha and Dr Diwan would not recommend it’s usage: if you have acne-prone skin, or any active skin condition, then a vitamin C serum is not suitable for you; alternatively, if you suffer with severe pigmentation or melasma, then a vitamin C serum may not be strong enough for your needs, and so you may want to look into a hydroquinone-based treatment to work instead of, or alongside, vitamin C.
What does Trikwan recommend?
Some of our Trikwan doctors’ favourite vitamin C treatments to prescribe at our Harley Street and Mayfair clinics, are the medical grade Obagi-C and Obagi Professional-C skincare systems. These include 10 different L-ascorbic acid based products which are formulated to work cooperatively with the systems’ other ingredients to provide transformative results. Our particular go-to products are the Professional-C serum, which comes in a 3 different concentration of L-ascorbic acid, depending on your skin’s needs, and the Professional-C Suncare SPF30, which combines sun protection with the powerful restorative effects of L-ascorbic acid.
Learn more about other powerful products that can boost your skincare routine in more of our skincare blogs
BOOK IN FOR YOUR SKINCARE CONSULTATION WITH DR ZOYA DIWAN OR DR SANJAY TRIKHA HERE