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Will Vitamin C Serum Dry Out My Skin?

Vitamin C Serum

It can be overwhelming to put together a skincare routine if you have dry skin. After all, dry skin tends to be more sensitive to normally ultra-effective ingredients like Retinol.

If this is you, you may wonder whether or not Vitamin C will irritate or dry out your skin. We’re here to answer that question and help you learn how to use Vitamin C in a way that protects your dry skin.

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an important part of daily function. In your body, Vitamin C helps to build bones and blood vessels. In your skin, Vitamin C contributes to collagen production and protects against free radicals.

While you can get your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C from supplements and foods such as citrus, broccoli, strawberries, and bell peppers, the only way to ensure that Vitamin C goes straight to your skin is to apply it topically. 

We recommend making Vitamin C a part of your daily routine because this nutrient is water-soluble, meaning it dissolves in water. Once your body has used up all of the Vitamin C it needs for the day, it’ll flush out any excess Vitamin C. This means that you essentially start over every single day.

What Are the Different Types of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a common skincare ingredient in popular skinceuticals because it is beneficial to your skin but comes in a few shapes and sizes. Here are some of the other names that Vitamin C can take in your ingredients lists:

  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Ethyl Ascorbic Acid
  • Ascorbyl Glucoside
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
  • Tetrahexyldecyl (THD) Ascorbate
  • Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate

If these all seem like very different ingredients, that’s understandable. All of these names can be very confusing.

Ascorbic Acid is the purest form of Vitamin C. It’s also the form that your body uses. Because of this, Ascorbic Acid is the most commonly used topical Vitamin C.

However, Ascorbic Acid, in conjunction with other powerful ingredients like Retinol or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), can irritate sensitive skin. This is why there are so many Vitamin C derivatives.

Most of these derivatives aren’t Vitamin C but convert to Vitamin C once they hit your skin. These ingredients can be gentler for super-sensitive skin and aren’t as sensitive to pH as Ascorbic Acid, but they aren’t as strong.

The main exception is THD Ascorbate. This type of Vitamin C converts on contact with your skin and is also as effective, if not more effective, as Ascorbic Acid.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin is a condition that can affect all skin types. However, dry skin is also a type of skin in and of itself.

People with dry skin types generally cannot properly pull hydration from the environment or keep it in their skin, which can cause some issues in the long term. Let’s look at a few common causes of dry skin, both in dry skin types and others.

Dry Environment

A dry environment is considered anywhere with a relative humidity of below 30 percent. Dry environments typically occur in the Northern states and go hand-in-hand with cold temperatures.

One of the main ways your skin keeps itself moisturized is through Hyaluronic Acid (HA). Your skin produces HA naturally, and HA works to attract moisture from the environment and hold it against your skin. HA can hold up to 1,000 times its molecular weight in water, so this mechanism is typically very effective. 

However, if there’s little moisture in the environment, your natural HA doesn’t have much to work with. This can severely dry out your skin, resulting in the characteristic flakiness, itchiness, and redness.

Some Skincare Ingredients

Some skincare ingredients are drying by nature. For instance, Salicylic Acid is known for wicking away excess oil and balancing oil production. While this function is a life saver for oily skin types, it’s a nightmare for dry skin.

Other drying ingredients include:

  • Alcohol
  • Willow Bark Extract
  • Fragrances
  • Some Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Retinol

If you have dry skin, you don’t need to stay away from these ingredients. However, it’s important to know which ingredients can have drying effects or cause skin irritation so that you can adjust your skincare routine.

If your favorite product includes one of these ingredients, we recommend following it up with hydrating and soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera, Green Tea Extract, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid or Coconut Oil.

Damaged Skin Barrier

Your skin barrier is the topmost layer of skin, and it has the very important job of keeping hydration inside your body. Skin is naturally porous, so it’s not very good at holding onto water. Water can escape through the skin through transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Your skin barrier protects against this, but sometimes your skin barrier can get damaged. When this happens, you can lose much more water than normal in the affected area.

Your skin barrier also keeps bacteria out, so if your skin barrier is damaged, then you may notice that you’re feeling a little under the weather, or you may notice more blemishes than normal.

Can Vitamin C Cause Dry Skin?

We’re happy to say that Vitamin C does not cause dry skin. On the contrary, it may help your skin stay hydrated.

One of the main roles of Vitamin C is providing support for your skin barrier. Since a damaged skin barrier can play a huge part in dry skin conditions, it’s important to support your skin barrier every day.

Vitamin C can also provide other benefits for dry skin and may help support a youthful-looking glow. 

Collagen is a protein found in your dermis and epidermis that helps your skin hold its shape. Collagen combined with elastin makes up skin elasticity, which describes your skin’s ability to return to its original shape after being stretched.

As you age, your stores of collagen, elastin, and natural HA deplete. This is a natural part of the skin aging process, but those who want to minimize the effects of aging can use a Vitamin C serum to support youthful-looking skin.

Vitamin C can also help minimize the appearance of hyperpigmentation such as dark spots. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that can support your overall skin health and work to soothe the effects of sun damage.

Speaking of soothing effects, Vitamin C can also help ease breakouts. This helps make them less visible so that your complexion can appear more even.

One of the best parts is that there are virtually no side effects of Vitamin C. However, if you have extremely sensitive skin, we recommend avoiding high concentrations of Vitamin C until your skin has had time to adjust.

We recommend speaking with a certified dermatologist if you’re still unsure about incorporating Vitamin C into your skincare routine. Licensed dermatology professionals can work with you to find the best products to promote your skin health.

How Can I Use Vitamin C for Dry Skin?

Now that you know Vitamin C won’t dry out your skin, are you curious about how to integrate the benefits of Vitamin C into your skincare routine? We’re right there with you. In case you haven’t noticed, we love Vitamin C.

However, dry skin has unique challenges that can make skincare feel overwhelming. For instance, dry skin can also be sensitive. That’s why we’ve put together some guidelines to help you get a dewy glow, no matter how dry your skin naturally is.

Resurfacing Cleanser

First things first, you’ll need a cleanser. Since we’re huge fans of multitasking, we recommend a hydrating cleanser that also exfoliates.

One of dry skin’s unique challenges is dead skin cell buildup. Dry skin types typically have a lower skin cell turnover rate, which makes it easier for dead skin cells to accumulate.

This buildup can form a layer on top of your skin that prevents skincare ingredients from soaking through. This can pose a huge problem if you rely on skincare products to moisturize your skin.

Fortunately, an exfoliating cleanser like our LacticGlow MicroPolish Resurface & Brighten Cleanser covers all the bases. With Lactic Acid and Malic Acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and Hyaluronic Acid to infuse hydration, this cleanser is our go-to for dry skin. 

Hydrating Serums

Next up, we recommend some serums. Serums are heavily concentrated products that are great for getting through your skin barrier and delivering ingredients directly into your skin. 

We recommend starting off with our Super C Brightening Serum. This Vitamin C serum features 20% L-Ascorbic Acid as well as Kojic Acid and Ferulic Acid for all-over brightening effects. Plus, this serum contains Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid, which are two ingredients that can help your skin stay hydrated.

If you feel like your skin needs a little extra love, we recommend following up with our HydraFirm + Brightening Serum. This serum is packed with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Alpha Arbutin, and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 to help minimize the appearance of signs of aging like fine lines, gently resurface the skin, and provide hydration.

Occlusive Moisturizer

Now that you’ve applied your serums, we recommend using a few different moisturizers to make sure you’re giving your dry skin all of the support it needs.

First, we recommend using an eye cream like our VitalEyez Firm + Brighten Eye Treatment. The delicate under-eye skin is extra-prone to discoloration, puffiness, and dryness, which is why our formulation includes ingredients like Caffeine, Retinol, and Vitamin C.

Next, apply a moisturizing cream or lotion over your full face. We recommend our Radiant & Bright Glowing Moisturiser, which features THD Ascorbate, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E (also known as Tocopherol), and Collagen to help your skin feel firm and look bright.

Finally, we recommend sealing all of that moisture against your skin with a moisturizing oil like our HydraNutrient Radiance Restore Oil. This oil uses Vitamin A, E, C, and Rosehip Seed Oil to nourish and hydrate all skin types while locking in moisture.

Moisturizing SPF

Finally, no skincare routine is complete without SPF. You’re exposed to UV rays daily, and even the smallest amounts of daily exposure can add up in the long run.

We recommend always applying a lightweight sunscreen like our Complexion Protection Moisturizer With SPF 30 in the morning before your makeup. Not only does this sunscreen protect your skin, but it also helps boost brightness with Vitamin C.

In Conclusion

Vitamin C is an important part of your daily function, both in your body and in your skin. Fortunately, Vitamin C won’t dry out your skin – in fact, it can help your skin stay more moisturized.

Vitamin C has other amazing benefits too, like brightening uneven skin tones. To find out if Vitamin C is right for your skin, take our skin quiz or schedule a virtual consultation with one of our Licensed Aestheticians.

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager