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As of late, I’m obsessed with a brightening serum that I will probably use until the last drop (hi, Glow Recipe). My skincare habits are extensive and at times, exhausting because my 2019 vision board says “get glowy skin” in the upper right corner. And I never turn down a challenge. So, of course, going beyond my basic cleansing routine and investing in all the “in-betweens” is a must. For me, that no longer includes Vitamin C serum because my skin has always reacted adversely to it. But according to some experts, a Vitamin C face powder would probably deliver opposite results. Okay…I’m listening.
First, let’s back up a little bit. For those who don’t know, Vitamin C is basically the Beyoncé of brightening ingredients. Its popularity eclipses that of other skin brighteners and its proven, multi-tasking benefits extend beyond elevating a dull complexion. First, the ascorbic acid has the nutrients necessary for repairing tissue and supporting the body’s immune system. “Vitamin C has a potential anti-inflammatory activity and can be used in conditions like acne vulgaris and rosacea,” says Joobin Jung, Global Business Manager of Vitabrid C12. “It can promote wound healing and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”
And it doesn’t stop there. The antioxidant can also offer protection from the radicals that generate and attack the skin after UV exposure. Lastly, it can assist in collagen production, thus keeping your face supple and firm.
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The downside to Vitamin C according to Jung is that it’s “an unstable compound and it easily oxidizes once exposed to air, sun or moisture, losing ‘antioxidant’ properties.” And because it’s water-soluble, penetrating the lipid membrane (your skin) can be challenging. It also doesn’t mix well with other products that are just as popular and likely to be a part of your routine.
“Vitamin C and retinol work optimally in different pH environments, and thus, should typically not be combined,” says Jung. “Benzoyl Peroxide is not recommended to mix with Vitamin C as they can counteract each other’s effects: the benzoyl peroxide can oxidize Vitamin C.” If you must have your retinol, use it at night and your Vitamin C in the morning. But all of this makes me wonder why there are so many serums out there, given its difficulty in penetrating the skin and being unstable to begin with. That’s why brands including Jung’s Vitabrid C12 are leading the charge in formulating powder alternatives.
“Vitamin C in powder form is more stabilized and able to deliver its benefits to the skin,” Jung says. “Also, in cosmetic formulations, you can only put a small amount of Vitamin C due to its stability issue compared to the powder.” It’s only a matter of time before more brands catch on, but until then, here are some of the best-selling ones.
Vitabrid C¹² FACE Brightening Powder
Generally speaking, this can be mixed with any moisturizer, essence, cream or serum due to its stability.
$60 at Barneys New York
Versed Found the Light Powder with Vitamin C
This lightweight powder’s base is tapioca starch, a safe and natural alternative to talc.
$19.99 at Target
FRESH Vitamin Nectar Vitamin C Brightening Powder
30 seconds is all you need to lather this 20 percent Vitamin C powder onto the face for a healthy glow.
$40 at Sephora
Neogen Real Vita C Powder Lemon
This Soko Glam exclusive is 17 percent Vitamin C and free of artificial fragrance, mineral oil, and alcohol for a soothing finish.
$20 at Soko Glam
Dr Sebagh Pure Vitamin C Powder Cream
A highly-concentrated Vitamin C formula to mix with your serum or cream for a brighter complexion.
$88 at Net-A-Porter
Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder
This daily topical can be mixed into your serum, moisturizer, eye cream, or sunscreen.
$39 at Sephora
Clinique Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser with Pure Vitamin C
A water-activated brightener gentle enough for everyday use.
$29.50 at Sephora
BajaZen Vitamin C Raw Mask
French red clay and Vitamin C combine to banish dirt and grime so your complexion can shine through.
$25 at Free People
OSEA Vitamin C Probiotic Face Polish – Booster Size
Vitamin C is housed in this bamboo and rice powder polish to remove build-up and reveal a more vibrant complexion.
$20 at Osea Malibu
GoopGlow Morning Skin Superpowder
If the consistency of damp powder on your face is off-putting, you can try drinking your Vitamin C instead (though the results may not be as quick as a face powder).
$60 at goop Beauty