It’s no secret: We all want beautiful, glowing skin. But sometimes, you have a day where your healthy skincare habits take a backseat to everything else on your agenda. Maybe you didn’t drink enough water, get enough sleep, or take your makeup off before bed. Basically, all of the things that you’re so often encouraged to do to help achieve flawless-looking skin. And that’s where your favorite skincare products can come in and pick up the slack, doing some of the hard work for you. At Kiehl’s, a firm favorite are products with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant skincare ingredient that can pack a big punch when applied topically. Its benefits include helping to reduce visible signs of aging, giving your skin an overall brighter appearance, and visibly reducing discoloration. Basically, it’s no wonder why vitamin C is such a well-loved ingredient within the skincare community.
Over the past few years, serums that include vitamin C within their formulas have made the shift from being trendy to earning a place as flat-out staples, and in this step-by-step guide, we’ll take you through how to introduce one into your skincare routine. From understanding what to look for before buying to knowing the best time to apply your vitamin C serum, Kiehl’s has you covered. Read on to learn how to incorporate this super vitamin, with all of its benefits, into your daily skincare routine. Plus, discover a few of our favorite vitamin C products to try.
Check Before You Buy
Before you can use a vitamin C serum, you need to own one. And a good quality product is key. That means doing some research first.
Generally, the best vitamin C serums are colorless or very light in color. Being light in color (or even clear) can be indicative that your serum hasn’t oxidized, and therefore, is still effective. If a serum with vitamin C has started to turn brown or yellow, it’s a tell-tale sign that the serum is starting to lose its strength. Because vitamin C products can degrade faster when exposed to heat and light, they often come in dark or opaque packaging that has an airtight seal.
Kiehl’s Tip: Regardless of the product’s packaging, it’s recommended to store vitamin C serums away from light and ensure they’re closed tightly.
When looking at vitamin C serums, you should also pay attention to the ingredients. There is actually more than one type of vitamin C, and different formulas may provide different results. For example, l-ascorbic acid is pure vitamin C, while ascorbyl glucoside is a water-soluble vitamin C derivative. In some cases, you may see more than one type of vitamin C in a single product. It’s also advisable to check the other ingredients in a serum—after all, it’s the formula as a whole that will deliver the benefits you’re seeking. Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are one popular combination we’re fans of.
In addition to the ingredients, you can often glean the concentration of vitamin C by reviewing a product’s packaging. Make sure to take a look, as this can impact how powerful your serum is and who it will suit.
Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum
For an option that’s great for all skin types—even sensitive skin—try our Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. This holy-grail product is formulated with 12.5% vitamin C (10.5% l-ascorbic acid and 2% ascorbyl glucoside) and hyaluronic acid and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines over time. It also helps smooth your skin’s texture and visibly minimize the appearance of pores.
Prep Your Skin
In order to see the gorgeous and glowy skin benefits you’re seeking from your vitamin C serum, you’ll need to apply it correctly. For the best results, you should start with clean skin. So, before smoothing on the serum, wash and tone your face as normal. Our Calendula Deep Cleansing Foam Face Wash and Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner is a great soothing and hydrating combination to use for this step. Ideal for normal to oily skin, the cleanser has a creamy gel formula enriched with calendula extract. Once combined with water, use the thick foam to wash away dirt and impurities on your skin. This highly effective, deep cleansing face wash leaves skin instantly refreshed and revitalized.
Follow it with the toner. Simply moisten a cotton pad with some of the soothing formula, and sweep it over your face to provide an additional layer of cleansing and help get rid of excess oil without being harsh on the skin.
Apply Your Kiehl’s Serum
For all your anti-aging needs, gently apply two pumps of our aforementioned Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum onto your face, ensuring not to pull or aggressively rub your delicate skin. As you apply the formula, you may experience a feeling of warmth—this sensation is normal.
If your main skincare goal is addressing discoloration, we recommend Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution for your vitamin C serum instead. It has a potent formula with activated C (a stabilized form of vitamin C), buffered salicylic acid, and peony and is clinically demonstrated* to help visibly correct dark spots and discolorations. Over time, it helps visibly brighten for a more even and radiant skin tone. Apply the serum all over your face or as a spot treatment. It can also be used to manage discolorations on your hands, neck, and chest. Make sure to follow with sunscreen (more on that later) and other sun protection measures, as salicylic acid can increase sun sensitivity.
*Based on a 12-week clinical study of 17 women with all skin types presented with mild to moderate severity of attributes, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
When applying your serum, avoid the sensitive eye area. To care for the skin around your eyes, you can use our Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum with 10% pure vitamin C, tri-peptide, and hyaluronic acid. It’s designed specifically for the delicate skin around your eyes and can help decrease the appearance of lines, crow’s feet, and dark circles. For the best results, apply a small amount very gently to the under eye and up to the crow’s feet region.
Lock It In With Moisture
Once you’ve applied your serum, wait a few moments for it to absorb before smoothing on your moisturizer. (Think of your moisturizer as a seal to help lock in all the goodness from your serum.) We recommend Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane, our super hydrating yet lightweight moisturizer with squalane and glycerin. Alternatively, try Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer for oily skin. Formulated with glycerin and micronized amino acid, it offers lasting hydration and shine control.
Finish With Sunscreen
Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+
Last but certainly not least, apply SPF for a final layer of skin protection. During the daytime, sunscreen is vital in protecting your skin against harmful UV rays. And this is true even on cold and cloudy days. Apply Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+ over your face, taking care to avoid the eye area. It helps protect skin from environmental aggressors, including UVA and UVB rays and pollution, which can cause the first signs of aging.
In addition to your sunscreen, you’ll also want to take other sun protection measures. These include wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat and avoiding the sun (when possible) during its peak hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.