SPF is the most important thing you should be putting on your face to prevent aging. I’m obsessed with putting it on every day and practically faint whenever someone tells me they never wear any. So naturally when I ran across this article recently saying that a proven study showed that the combination of vitamin C and E boosts your sun protection by four fold I started researching the best serum to buy!
First, let me tell you why you should use this vitamin combo. Vitamin C promotes collagen formation, inhibits melanin production which causes hyperpigmentation, and is an antioxidant that slows down the rate of free radicals (i.e. pollution, oxygen, sun damage) and even repairs skin damage so it’s great to use before and after sun exposure. Vitamin E also neutralizes free radicals, but can only do it one at a time and becomes inactive afterwards. Vitamin C reactivates vitamin E back to a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E also has anti-inflammatory properties and combined with vitamin C are great for healing sunburns.
One important thing to know is that vitamin C oxidizes very fast and when it does it loses its effectiveness. When it oxidizes it turns a yellow/orange/brown color which is why vitamin C serums are always in dark bottles to prevent it from light and have droppers to minimize exposure to air. Make sure to close your bottle tightly after every use and throw it out as soon as it starts to change color. It’s even been recommended to keep it in your fridge
Vitamin C comes in several forms. L-ascorbic acid is vitamin C in it’s purest form. It’s also the most irritating and unstable. In order for it to be effective it needs to have an acidic pH of 2.0-3.0. This form is not recommended for people with sensitive skin, but has the most research and is the gold standard so if your skin can handle it then go for it. Derivatives have also been created and can be effective at a more neutral pH between 5.0-7.0 which makes them more suitable for sensitive skin. They’re stabilized which makes them oxidize slower. Examples of some derivatives are:
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate
Here are my top 3 vitamin C and E serums including a well known (rather expensive) brand and two dupes that are more affordable and just about as effective.
SKINCEUTICALS C E Ferulic
I’ve never actually used any Skinceuticals products before, but have been offered them before at doctor’s offices and they’re pretty expensive. I’ve heard great things about the company though especially about C E Ferulic. The founding scientist actually created several patents including one for C E Ferulic because the pH level is 2.5 which is the most powerful on the market. It contains 15% vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E, and 0.5% ferulic acid. Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that enhances the stability of vitamin C and E. It retails for $163, but found it on Amazon for $134.90.
COSMETIC SKIN SOLUTIONS Vitamin C + E Serum Advanced Formula
This serum has the same formula as Skinceuticals. 15% vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E, and 0.5% ferulic acid. The difference is that the pH is 3.o to not infringe on the C E Ferulic patent. The pH level is still well within the acidic range to be effective. It’s also much more affordable at $39.95.
AZURE NATURALS Ultimate Vitamin C Skin Repair Serum
This serum contains 22% vitamin C in the derivative form sodium ascorbyl phosphate, 11% hyaluronic acid, 1% vitamin E, and 1% ferulic acid. It also has sea buckthorn, arnica flower, argan oil, tamanu, evening primrose, and advanced amino complex which help repair skin damage and has a pH level of 7 which is ideal for a derivative. The price tag is also the lowest at $33.88.
In conclusion, here are my thoughts on which one you should buy. If you don’t have sensitive skin, want the most effective product out there, and money is no object then go with Skinceuticals. If you don’t have sensitive skin and don’t mind a product that isn’t the most effective, but is very close and will save you a good amount of money then go with Cosmetic Skin Solutions. If you agree with the previous statement, but have sensitive skin and/or are not very consistent at putting on your skincare so you need the serum to oxidize slower so it last you longer then go with Azure Naturals. Remember that for maximum benefit these serums are not to be used alone, they are in addition to your SPF.