Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation marks, melasma, uneven facial tans. Being on the lighter side of the light-medium skintone range, and having the ability to turn many shades darker, means that I can look like the human skintone version of camouflage. Recent research on aging has shown that uneven skintone is perceived as more aging than even wrinkles. I am not sure if it is more “aging” than wrinkles, but I know that having an uneven skintone is not a “youthful” look.
Sunscreen is only half the battle, especially, if you have post acne marks. I need to use products that visibly break up the excess pigmentation. I prefer to use Vitamin C serums over any other product to do just that. Sure, there are other products that magazines tout as the best spot removers, many with hydroquinone, but there is something highly undesireable about using a product that has so much negative press. Can’t use for more than a few months at a time, has been linked to causing cancer, or may actually increase permanent hyperpigmentation in some people. Really? No thanks. Overall, I find Vitamin C serums, at a high enough percentage, even more effective than any retail hydroquinone product, and you can use it EVERY single day non-stop. Plus, there are other benefits. Vitamin C has been known to increase collagen production, firm the skin, prevent oxidative damage, AND, at least on me, it actually shrinks my t-zone pores. No joke. It shrunk my t-zone pores. Plus, it doesn’t mess with your natural coloring and you can smack it allover your face and neck. Go ahead, hit the tops of your hands too. Vitamin C is YOU, only better!
Not all Vitamin C products are created equal, of course. Vitamin C is unstable in it’s natural form, and a lot of technology has been employed to create Vitamin C derivatives, or transfer mechanisms, that are stable enough to last as a shelf product, and penetrate your skin in its active form. L-ascorbic acid is the gold standard for collagen creation and UV protection, but it is the most unstable form of Vitamin C. Other, more stable forms of Vitamin C are ascorbyl palmitate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl tetra-isopalmitoyl, tetrahexyldecyl
ascorbate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate. I am sure there are more. But the point is there are many different types with different pros and cons that skincare nerds can go research further.
For me, the only thing that matters is the percentage. I like 20%. I see that number and I am going to buy the product. It doesn’t mean that Vitamin C serums are only effective at that level. It just suits my preference and lack of patience. That doesn’t mean I discriminate on products with less than 20%. If I see a relatively inexpensive, portable Vitamin C serum that I can take with me to the gym, I won’t care if it’s under 20%. Usually, I have no choice since it is rare to find anything over 5% that is inexpensive.
This summer I have been using two products together to reduce my melasma and post acne marks:
1. EmerginC 20 Vitamin C Serum, 1.0 oz for $89
This serum contains multiple derivatives of Vitamin C, which I like, and it has other antioxidants that protect and moisturize the skin. This serum has a distinct orange peel scent. It is slightly tacky as you rub between your hands and apply to your face, and it leaves a slight filmy feeling on skin that eventually disappears. I don’t like using Vitamin C serum’s alone. I like to layer other for acneic skin moisturizers and sunscreen on top, so even if it did leave a film, I probably wouldn’t feel it. It also does not sting. I have been quite impressed with how quickly I noticed my skin brightening, and even my hormonal acne along my jawline, seems reduced and not as prominent. However, I have not noticed shrinkage of pores with this serum, which I have seen in the past with Obagi’s Professional C Serum 20, which is pure L-Ascorbic acid, but oxidizes super fast so you literally have to use two bottles a month. Did I forget to mention that a bottle of Obagi’s C serum at 20% is over a $100? Yeah. This is why I am on the hunt for a stable but just as effective serum. What I dislike about this serum is that it seems to have a hydrating base. This may be the reason why my pores are not as shrunken as it could be. This is probably great for this with drier skin types in arid, dry environments. As my skin is oily, I do not think this is the right Vitamin C serum for my skintype, especially not in the humid summer.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Glycerin, Sodium Tocopheryl Phosphate (Vitamin E), Panax Ginsing Extract & Gynostemma Pentaphyllum, Diacetyl Boldine, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Agar , Alginic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, PEG-8 Dimethicone, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid (Vitimin F), Gluconolactone , Sodium Benzoate
2. Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, 1.7 oz for $16.99
I saw this at a drugstore and was intrigued by the packaging, and the fact that it had L-ascorbic acid as one of the first few ingredients, which is uncommon for a drugstore product. Checking out the ingredient list, I saw that it also had salicylic acid. I was sold. This product only has 5% L-ascorbic acid, but it had brief, slight sting to my skin, which was surprising. Also, the scent is a little medicinal? I have been using this product after I go to the gym. It is hard to say if this product was jointly responsible for my brightened skin, along with the EmerginC. However, for those folks who have never tried a Vitamin C serum, and do not know what percentage their skin can tolerate, this is a safe bet at 5% and it is available in most drugstores for under $20. I will likely repurchase for my gym bag.
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Ascorbic Acid, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Potassium Hydroxide, Dimethicone, Sodium Styrene/Ma Copolymer, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Carbomer, Citral, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Disodium EDTA, Gentiana Lutea Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Geraniol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Limonene, Linalool, Nylon 12, PEG/PPG 18/18 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, F.I.L. B46866/1