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Vitamin C has been a staple of the skin care industry for good reason. It’s a powerful antioxidant that has been used for decades in anti-aging products to improve the overall appearance and look of health in skin. One of its most popular uses is for skin brightening—like lightening and fading away the look of dark spots—but how does it work and is it safe to use? While vitamin C can’t necessarily lighten your overall skin shade, it’s a fantastic ingredient for illuminating your complexion for a more even-toned glow. Throughout this article, we’ll use lighten and brighten interchangeably to refer to illuminating your skin rather than lightening your overall skin shade.
Let’s explore how vitamin C helps lighten our skin, the best vitamin C derivatives for you and the benefits and potential side effects.
How Does Vitamin C Lighten Skin?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to have a variety of benefits for the skin, like lightening and fading away the look of dark spots. Vitamin C works by inhibiting tyrosinase, an active enzyme responsible for producing color or pigment in the skin. Because of the process where vitamin C helps slow down the activity, this ingredient can help to reduce the appearance of dark spots and even out the skin tone.
In addition to its skin lightening properties, vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect the skin from environmental stressors—one of the culprits of skin aging. This protection allows skin to look and feel more resilient and radiant.
What Form of Vitamin C Lightens Skin?
Vitamin C is available in various forms, the most common being l-ascorbic acid. Other forms include sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbic acid polypeptide and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THDA).
If you have sensitized skin or use acids in your skin care routine, you may have found vitamin C to be irritating. Most likely, you were using the l-ascorbic acid, which happens to be the most common and readily available on the market. L-ascorbic acid has a lower pH and is water-soluble, oxidizing upon exposure to air and light, so it’s difficult to formulate for stability and efficacy. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbic acid polypeptide are also used to help brighten the look of your skin but are less potent than l-ascorbic acid.
Through our research, we’ve found THDA to be the gentlest, most effective vitamin C form. Fat-soluble and shelf stable with the ability to absorb deeply into your skin, THDA provides all of the vitamin C benefits—like excellent brightening and firming benefits for your skin—without the irritation. We’ve formulated a completely MADE SAFE® certified vitamin C Concentrated Boosting Elixir (Brighten), so that anyone, even those with sensitive skin, can safely incorporate a pure product into their routine.
Vitamin C Benefits for Skin Lightening?
One of the most notable benefits of vitamin C is its lightening factor. When you incorporate activated ingredients, like vitamin C, into your skin care, you can really take your skin care results to the next level. This activated ingredient approach goes beyond the usual maintenance steps of cleansing and moisturizing, and instead really targets the skin concerns you’ve been wanting to address on a deeper level.
Here’s a list of some of the benefits you can expect that come with brightening when incorporating vitamin C:
- Fade the appearance of dark spots.
- Lighten areas on your skin to create a more even-toned look.
- Brightens your overall complexion for a youthful glow.
Plus, additional benefits outside of brightening you’ll start to experience:
- Antioxidant protection: As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect your skin from environmental stressors and aging signs, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, crow’s feet and fine lines.
- Firms skin: Vitamin C helps firm and tighten the look of skin, giving your skin the appearance of elasticity, tone and plumpness.
- Plumps skin: Studies have shown that vitamin C has properties that help enhance the strength of the skin’s natural lipid barrier. This allows your skin to maintain adequate moisture for a dewy, plump appearance.
You can also learn more about the benefits of vitamin C for reducing clogged pores and hydrating oily skin in our latest articles!
How To Lighten Your Skin With Vitamin C?
The most effective way to lighten the skin with vitamin C is to use a product that incorporates a high concentration of a gentle yet effective vitamin C form. You can find vitamin C in everything from vitamin C cleansers and serums to facial oils and moisturizers. However, we highly recommend vitamin C in serums as the lighter molecular structure of serums will drive deeper into your skin for more effective results.
Here’s a quick recap on how you can use a vitamin C product like a serum effectively and incorporate it into your skin care routine:
- Thoroughly cleanse your skin.
- Apply the serum to your skin once or twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening.
Note: If you are using other activated ingredients in your regimen, spread out the use of these into separate sessions. For example, it’s best to use your vitamin C product in the morning and alpha hydroxy acids or retinol-alternatives in the evening.
Incorporate various clean beauty products into your skin care routine to further boost your vitamin C benefits and help revive your skin’s glow.
- Lock in your serum with a facial oil or moisturizer.
- Use 1-3 drops of our Concentrated Boosting Elixir (Brighten) with your serum or facial oil. This can easily be your vitamin C booster to your existing serum or facial moisturizer.
- Always use sunscreen to protect your skin from UV exposure, as UV exposure can reverse the lightening effects of vitamin C.
What Are the Side Effects of Using Vitamin C To Lighten Skin?
Vitamin C is generally considered to be safe for most people. However, everyone’s skin is unique, reacting differently to different products. Also, because of vitamin C’s varying concentrations, shelf stability and potency in various formulations, there can be some potential side effects of using Vitamin C for lightening skin you should be aware of:
- Irritation and redness: Some people may experience burning, itching, tingling and irritation when using products that contain vitamin C in high concentrations or formulations that require a lower pH of the vitamin C to remain stable and effective. If you experience these symptoms, discontinue the use of the product and consult with your dermatologist or healthcare professional.
- Sensitivity: Vitamin C may cause more sensitivity in the skin for those who already have delicate skin types.
- Staining skin: Although vitamin C can’t darken your skin, what many people may see as darkening is, in fact, staining from an expired formula. Some vitamin C derivatives can become unstable when exposed to light, so make sure you get vitamin C products that are fresh and unexpired and, if possible, packaged in opaque glass bottles for effective storage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does vitamin C take to lighten skin?
The length of time it takes for vitamin C to lighten skin can vary depending on the individual and the concentration of vitamin C being used. Some people may see results within a few weeks, while others may take several months to see a noticeable difference. It’s important to use the product as directed and be patient with the process.
Does vitamin C lighten skin permanently?
Vitamin C does not lighten the skin permanently. It’s important to have a non-toxic and nourishing skin care routine, regularly use sunscreen and protect your skin from UV rays to maintain long-term results.
How much vitamin C should I take to lighten skin?
The amount of vitamin C needed in topical applications to lighten your skin varies depending on your skin type and the form and concentration of vitamin C used. If you’re starting out, try patch testing first to ensure your skin can receive vitamin C. You can gradually increase the amount of vitamin C you use in your skin care. If you have any questions, consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional before starting any new skin care regimen.
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