• Penn Smith

VITAMIN C in skincare: A spring and summer ESSENTIAL

Updated: Sep 19

If you're looking to get your GLOW on, lighten hyperpigmentation and battle oxidative stressors then you need to incorporate vitamin C in to your skincare routine.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin cells from the damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure. Vitamin C is also a pigment inhibitor helping to lighten hyperpigmentation (brown spots), even out skin tone, and give serious luminosity to the skin! Topical vitamin C also encourages new collagen production and helps keep the collagen that you have healthy and free of damage. Choosing the right vitamin C is key.

First, determine your skin type (if you haven't already) using the quick (and uber simplified) flow chart below.

*Penn Smith Skincare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program. Many links are affiliate links, meaning I am compensated when you shop through these at no extra fee to you.


If your skin type is "normal" you may choose any type of vitamin C without worry of irritation (irritation is less likely). The gold standard of vitamin C (and most researched) is L-ascorbic acid (LAA). L-ascorbic acid is water-soluble (meaning it dissolves in water). The issue with LAA is that it’s very unstable and can oxidize when exposed to air. For that reason it is important to choose an L-ascorbic acid with opaque (or at least dark glass) airtight packaging.

Because it's so unstable, LAA also needs some helper ingredients to keep it from oxidizing. Many formulators add vitamin E and ferulic acid (other antioxidants) to help stabilize this finicky vitamin. The last important component in a good L-ascorbic acid formula is its pH level. A low pH will increase the penetration ability and enhance the efficacy of the vitamin in the skin. While there are many L-ascorbic acid vitamin Cs on the market today, the best I have found (actually a member of my Facebook group found it and shared it with me...love my skincare community!) is by Dermalure.

Formulated with ferulic acid (yay) and glutathione (double YAY ... if you've been here a while you know my love of this amazing antioxidant!!) at a pH just under 2 this vitamin C is absolutely amazing! Did I mention that it is affordable too?! If you can tolerate LAA, this is a C to try! https://amzn.to/3dVYBrp

You don't have normal skin you say? I've got you covered! Here are my recommendations for all skin types:


If you are dry skinned you may LOVE Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD). THD is a more stable form of vitamin C than L-ascorbic acid that is fat-soluble and typically found in oil based products. In my experience these types of vitamin C products are perfect for dry skin-creating that unmistakable vitamin C GLOW. Until recently it was hard to find an affordable product... then along came Naturium and their Vitamin C Face Oil. Boasting a simple ingredient loaded with good ingredients this vitamin C oil is standout for its deck AND its price. A gem of a find! https://amzn.to/3tVX9uU

OH! If you are a copper peptide fan you can rest easy knowing that THD (and the other non L-ascorbic acid derivatives) are fine in the same part of your routine along with copper peptides! This is another reason to love the derivatives...no need to stress about what they can and cannot go with. Phew!

Consider mixing THD with a fulvic acid spray https://amzn.to/2R4iFix (this one has a cocktail of other ingredients that will compliment this C well) to get a nice non-oily consistency. You can spray the fulvic right on to the skin then apply the THD or you can mix the two in your hands and apply...Viola!


Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP)!! This vitamin C derivative is antimicrobial and a nemesis to ACNE!! Like THD it is far more stable than L-ascorbic acid giving it a much longer shelf life and making it much less irritating than LAA. Unlike THD, sodium ascorbyl phosphate is water based and up to the challenge of slaying acne, both old and new and correcting the over production of oil. Need help lightening those pesky dark spots left AFTER a pimple is gone? SAP.

I'm going to say it again for those in the back: if you have oily, combo, or acne prone skin and you are wanting to add vitamin C in to your routine SAP is the way to go!

My picks for sodium ascorbyl phosphate are Bioelements vc10 Daily Glow https://amzn.to/2SarWWL and Mad Hippie Vitamin C https://amzn.to/3aJhzjf

Both of these vitamin C formulas contain a citrus oil so please always wear sunscreen (find a list of SPF faves here https://amzn.to/3xvSKAM)

as citrus oils MAY (or may not depending on how they're formulated) cause more sun sensitivity.

How do I fit vitamin C in to my routine? In the morning after cleansing but before other serums, moisturizer and sunscreen.

I hope this post is helpful, take care!


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