The One Must-Have Ingredient Your Skin Needs For Spring

Updated 3/29/17. After a long winter with many cold, dreary, overcast days, the skin can look and feel dull, tired and lackluster. The best way to start brightening it back up, while keeping it protected from increasingly more daylight, is to use vitamin C on the skin, in the form of a serum underneath your sunscreen moisturizer. However, while it’s such a tried-and-true ingredient and long been endorsed by dermatologists and skincare experts, there is still much discussion about which type of topical vitamin C is the most effective for reducing inflammation and free radical activity while brightening discoloration and preventing the visible signs of aging. Here’s what you need to know when choosing a vitamin C formula to use on your own skin.

There are two general categories of vitamin C serums.

Stable forms of topical vitamin C: This means it doesn’t discolor and won’t break down and lose its effectiveness over time. It’s good to the last drop.

These ingredients are known as:
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (also a proven skin lightener to fade brown spots and discoloration from age, sun, breakouts, and hormones)
Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate
Ascorbyl Palmitate
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Unstable forms of topical vitamin C: This means it will turn dark yellow or golden brown over time as the air oxidizes the formula, resulting in less benefit to the skin. This unstable type, due to its acidic nature, can cause stinging when applied to the skin resulting in irritation, especially for sensitive skin types and retinol, prescription retinoid users and those who exfoliate their skin regularly.

These ingredients are known as:
Ascorbic Acid
L-Ascorbic Acid

To further understand the oxidation process and unstable vitamin C, think about If you take a bite of an apple and set it down on a table. What will happen? it will start to discolor and turn brown within 20 minutes. This happens because the air is oxidizing the apple. (Check out this cool experiment I did with an apple and a vitamin C serum.) When you’re using an unstable form of vitamin C on your face, it runs the risk of oxidizing quickly on the face and may not give you all the amazing benefits as it’s starting to lose its potency.

When it comes to choosing a vitamin C antioxidant formula, do so carefully. You want to get the best results for your skin and get your money’s worth. I highly recommend using a stable, no-sting formula. When used daily, your skin will look brighter, fresher, and brown discoloration from sun, hormones, aging, and blemishes will fade. The one that I recommend to all of my clients is Vitamin C&E Treatment since it uses three forms of stable vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate, magnesium ascorbyl phospate and ascorbyl methylsilanol pectinate) along with vitamin E. Upon application, it converts to ascorbyl acid once inside the skin; it stays stable and is time-released so it works for up to 8 hours. Additionally, it acts as a natural skin lightener to fade stubborn brown spots and post-breakout marks to reveal a brighter, fresher-looking complexion. Vitamin C&E Treatment can be safely used for all skin types—especially sensitive, easily-irritated skin. Bonus! Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Medical Center researchers have determined that using a lotion or serum with vitamins C and E under sunscreen actually provides four times the protection of sunscreen alone so with spring and summer, this is especially effective. 

Get your daily dose of skin-brightening vitamin C this Spring and the best results from it, by using the right kind.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.

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Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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  1. Should I use antioxidants at night or in the day? I have blackheads which I believe are caused by oxidation of the clogged pore, correct?

    Posted By: Violet  | 

    • Using STABLE antioxidants like in our Vitamin C&E Treatment, is best used in the morning underneath sunscreen. As for your blackheads, oxidation can make the oil in the pore look dark. You can read all of my blackhead posts here to get tips on how to reduce them.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  2. Question: I use a 20% vitamin C serum with L-ascorbic Acid, vitamins B3, B5, E and Ferulic Acid. I was led to believe by this company that this is a high quality product. Why is is not good to get your Vitamin C via L-Ascorcic Acid or alpha Lipoic Acid?

    Posted By: Ellen  | 

    • Great question, Ellen. Those ingredients are acids, hence the name, and for sensitive skin types it can cause irritation, redness and dryness when used on a daily basis. This will then set off a cascade of inflammation, which is what the benefit of using an antioxidant is supposed to prevent in the first place. Also, those ingredients lose their effectiveness very fast as they are considered “unstable” forms of vitamin C.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 


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