Where your Vitamin C products slot into your skin line-up will depend on your existing routine, your skin, the product formulation, and of course, your personal preference. And while those factors make it tricky for us to give a blanket yes or no, we can give you all of the information to figure out what will work best for you.
Let’s get into it!
Why Vitamin C is considered an AM staple
Ever wondered why Vitamin C is always popping up in morning skin care routines? Well, it’s simple. Vitamin C is a very effective, very well-studied and widely recommended antioxidant.
“An antioxidant is a compound that prevents the effects of exposure to air which can cause free radicals that damage skin cells,” explains Dr. Imaan Joshi of Skin Essentials. Free radicals are produced naturally within the body but they can also be caused by exposure to sun, pollution, and lifestyle factors (e.g. smoking).
“When used in skin care, antioxidants protect the surface by limiting production of these free radicals leading to signs of skin damage over time,” Dr. Joshi continues. And as these free radicals can come from sun exposure, antioxidants such as Vitamin C are a phenomenal addition to your morning.
Those aren’t Vitamin C’s only benefits though. Dr. Joshi notes that outside of antioxidant defence, adding a Vitamin C into your routine can also benefit the skin by helping to fade dark spots to leave skin brighter and more even.
Got it! Can Vitamin C also be used at night?
While Vitamin C is a core product for all morning routines, that doesn’t mean it’s a hard no for your nighttime routine. However, you do need to consider a few things before you do as there is potential for it to clash with a few active ingredients that are regular stars in many PM routines.
The actives that you shouldn’t use with Vitamin C:
Retinoids: Mixing Vitamin A and C products will impact the efficacy of both products. Vitamin A will increase the pH of your Vitamin C and decrease the pH of your retinoid which will impact the efficacy of both products. Not something you want. Retinoids are definitely a PM product so save your Vitamin C for the mornings.
AHAs: If your PM routine features AHAs (lactic, glycolic, mandelic etc) then it’s better to keep Vitamin C in your morning routine only.
The big exception to this is when one product is formulated with AHAs and Vitamin C together. If you find that’s the case it’s more than okay to use it in your PM routine. In fact, using it in the PM is a great idea because AHAs cause sun sensitivity.
Benzoyl Peroxide: It’s a brilliant breakout-fighting ingredient but when layered with Vitamin C, Benzoyl Peroxide may cause your Vitamin C to oxidise. So, if BP’s in your PM routine, save your Vitamin C for morning.
What if I’m not using those other actives?
If your PM routine is nice and simple with none of the actives mentioned above, there’s no rule that says you can’t include a Vitamin C in your nighttime routine too. Some Vitamin C products will feature other boosting ingredients (niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, glycerin) which may fit in nicely alongside your pared-back PM routine.
At the end of the day (pun very intended), whether you reach for a Vitamin C at night will come down to your day and your skin. Take note of how your skin feels and the current products in your routine, make sure there are no clashing ingredients, and make the call based on what’s best for you.