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A Guide to The Ordinary Vitamin C Skincare Products

A Guide to The Ordinary Vitamin C Skincare Products

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and a skincare ingredient that provides multiple benefits and supports skin health. If you’ve been thinking about trying an affordable vitamin C product, then you may want to learn about the different types of vitamin C products from the skincare brand The Ordinary.

Since The Ordinary offers 8 different vitamin C products, it can get confusing quickly, so this guide to The Ordinary vitamin C skincare products will break down each formula, it’s benefits, and who it is best suited for. Before we get into the guide, here is a quick primer on why you should consider adding a product containing vitamin C to your skincare routine.

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The Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare

Vitamin C is also known as L-Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbic Acid. It is a water-soluble compound that is well known for its antioxidant qualities. Vitamin C has the ability to neutralize environmental aggressors and free radicals that can damage your skin cells.

Vitamin C also helps to minimize the appearance of the signs of aging including fine lines and wrinkles. It supports collagen and elastin production, which makes skin look firm and youthful. Vitamin C brightens skin tone and visibly targets the appearance of uneven skin tone and dullness. It also lightens hyperpigmentation and dark spots by inhibiting melanin production.

Vitamin C levels in our outer layers of skin decrease as we age and are also diminished by environmental factors. Luckily, topical vitamin C can be applied to your skin in a variety of skincare formulas such as cleansers, serums, lotions, creams, or oils.

Drawbacks of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is truly an all-star skincare ingredient, so what’s not to like, right? Well, not so fast. Unfortunately, pure vitamin C is notoriously unstable in skincare products. Heat, air, and light may cause Vitamin C to degrade, oxidize and become less effective. Oxidized vitamin C will turn brownish in color.

This 2017 article in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology notes that reducing the pH of vitamin C to under 3.5, which makes it more acidic, will help stabilize it and help it to absorb better. Unfortunately, this causes it to become much more irritating on the skin.

Using a high concentration of vitamin C may also cause irritation depending on your skin type. The Ordinary describes this effect as a tingling but non-irritating sensation. If your skin cannot tolerate a higher amount of L-Ascorbic Acid, you can try a lower concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid, mix an L-Ascorbic Acid product with another serum or cream, or start out with a vitamin C derivative.

Due to these drawbacks of pure vitamin C, you’ll see many vitamin C derivatives included in The Ordinary’s vitamin C line of skincare products. These derivatives are much more stable than vitamin C. Unfortunately, the derivatives come with drawbacks of their own. Vitamin C derivatives are usually less potent since they must be converted to L-Ascorbic Acid in your skin cells after application.

Combining Vitamin C with other Skincare Ingredients for Better Performance

The benefits of vitamin C are enhanced when vitamin C is combined with other skincare ingredients. This study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that topical vitamin C, when combined with vitamin E, provides improved photoprotection against UV radiation.

This study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that ferulic acid has the ability to stabilize vitamin C and double its photoprotective qualities (minimizing sun damage) when also combined with vitamin E. These benefits are why you often see vitamin C combined with ferulic acid and vitamin E.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Conflicts

The Ordinary vitamin C products containing L-Ascorbic Acid, or pure vitamin C, should not be used with other vitamin C products, peptides, direct acids, retinol, niacinamide, and EUK 134 0.1%.

Vitamin C derivatives from The Ordinary should not be used with products containing niacinamide or other vitamin C products. For complete details on how to use The Ordinary vitamin C products, please see The Ordinary’s Guide to Vitamin C.

Patch Testing

When introducing new products into your skincare routine, due to the tendency of vitamin C products to irritate the skin, it is a good idea to patch test products before using them for the first time. Please see The Ordinary’s patch test guide, which will instruct you how to perform patch testing.

When Should You Use The Ordinary Vitamin C Products?

Most The Ordinary vitamin C products should be applied after water-based serums except for the following two products. Because The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% is a water-based serum, it should be applied before oils/creams. 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is mixed with other products, so it should be used during the step of your skincare routine that you would use the product that you are mixing it with.

If you are wondering whether you should use vitamin C during the day or night, The Ordinary states that 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder, Vitamin C Suspension 23%+ HA Spheres 2% and Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone should ideally be used at night. The rest of The Ordinary vitamin C products can be used morning or night. (I use vitamin C products in the morning when my skin will be exposed to UV radiation during the daylight hours. This allows me to free up my evenings for retinoid use.)

Related Post: How to Build A Skincare Routine with The Ordinary Products

A Guide to The Ordinary Vitamin C Skincare Product

The table below displays the characteristics of The Ordinary products that are formulated with pure vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid). You’ll see that these pure vitamin C products are effective and affordable. Scroll down to The Ordinary vitamin C derivates to view the characteristics of The Ordinary vitamin C derivative products.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Products - L-Ascorbic Acid Characteristics

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% contains 23% Ascorbic Acid in the form of a suspension of very fine L-Ascorbic Acid powder. It is water-free, silicone-free, and a stable suspension of vitamin C. This format provides the most direct exposure of topical vitamin C at a relatively high concentration. This formula also contains 2% hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate for hydration and plumping of the surface of the skin.

Due to this type of vitamin C exposure, The Ordinary points out that this product won’t feel like a serum, a lotion, or even a cream when first applied. It feels very gritty and powdery upon application until it is absorbed.

This product may cause a strong tingling sensation for the first few weeks of use until tolerance is increased to such high levels of direct exposure to pure vitamin C. The Ordinary notes that this product can be mixed with a cream prior to each application to dilute the potency.

If this delivery method is uncomfortable on your skin or if your skin is too sensitive for this concentration, you are in luck. The Ordinary offers many other formulations that are better tolerated by those with sensitive skin and that have a more comfortable texture. Read on to learn more about these products.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those who want a high concentration of pure vitamin C and faster results without silicone in the formula.

Related Post: RoC Vitamin C Skincare Review

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone is another pure vitamin C product from The Ordinary. It is a water-free stable suspension of 30% Pure L-Ascorbic Acid in lightweight silicones. This formula keeps the vitamin C stable, as it is a water-free base. Silicone entraps vitamin C making it slightly less efficient in skin exposure as compared to The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.

The slight reduction of vitamin C exposure of this product is offset by the increase in vitamin C content of this product – 30% vs the 23% in Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. The result is a smooth thick serum-like feel to the product with the potency of pure vitamin C/L-Ascorbic Acid.

This formula is a suspension of very fine L-Ascorbic Acid powder which may create a strong tingling sensation on the skin. It may take a few weeks before your skin acclimates. This formula can be mixed with a cream prior to each application to dilute the potency and decrease the tingling sensation.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those who want a high concentration of pure vitamin C for faster results in a smooth silicone-based formula.

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is a very fine L-Ascorbic Acid powder that must be mixed with other treatments before it can be applied to your skin. Mixing this powder with other treatments prior to each application ensures that the vitamin C is fresh and has not oxidized. This way you get an effective and potent vitamin C treatment.

This very fine powder provides direct exposure of extremely high concentrations of Vitamin C topically. Because these concentrations are so high, this powder may cause a very strong tingling sensation for the first few weeks of use until your skin becomes more tolerant.

The Ordinary cautions that you should not mix this with products containing niacinamide, EUK 134 0.1%, peptides, direct acids, and retinoids. This also should not be mixed with strong actives such as other vitamin C products and acidic products.

Related Post: The Ordinary Anti-Aging Skincare Review

How To Use The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

The Ordinary recommends adjusting the amount of powder that you use based on your skin tolerance. They suggest using between a quarter to half a scoop mixed in with 5-10 drops of serum or a pea/dime size amount of emulsion-based products.

If my skin is in need of hydration, I will mix this powder with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 or The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum. The powder dissolves quickly and completely. I use about a quarter scoop each application since I am somewhat sensitive.

In addition to serums, other product types you may consider mixing it with include a toner, essence, moisturizer or face mask.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Customized application of fresh/pure vitamin C

Related Post: The Inkey List vs The Ordinary: Anti-Aging Skincare on a Budget

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% combines pure Vitamin C and Alpha Arbutin in a water-free stable solution that feels a bit oily on your face right after application even though it is oil-free. The brightening power of vitamin C is amplified by Alpha Arbutin, a highly-purified biosynthetic active ingredient that helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone.

This product uses a lower amount of Ascorbic Acid (8%) than some of the other pure vitamin C formulations from The Ordinary, so if your skin is too sensitive for the higher strength Ascorbic Acid products, this may be an option, especially if you want to try a pure vitamin C product.

Alpha Arbutin in this product inhibits the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production responsible for dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Couple that with vitamin C, and you’ve created an effective dark spot fighting antioxidant cocktail.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Hyperpigmentation, Dark Spots, Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those who want the benefits of pure Vitamin C and a targeted target spot treatment.

Related Post: The Best Drugstore Vitamin C Serums, The Best The Ordinary Products for Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots

The Ordinary Vitamin C Derivatives

The Ordinary Vitamin C Derivatives

The remaining four products in The Ordinary’s portfolio of vitamin C skincare products are vitamin C derivatives. Vitamin C derivates must be converted to L-Ascorbic Acid in your skin cells after being applied to your skin, so they are less effective than applying L-Ascorbic Acid directly to your skin.

Many vitamin C derivatives are more stable than pure L-Ascorbic Acid, which makes them easier to formulate in skincare products. The benefits of vitamin C derivative products vary, whether it be their improved stability, effective formula, or comfortable texture.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C. The derivative is much more stable in water, which results in a better texture and more comfortable feel on the skin. But there is a trade-off. Unfortunately, it is less effective than direct L-Ascorbic Acid (pure vitamin C) as it must convert to Ascorbic Acid when applied to the skin.

Yet, per The Ordinary, this type of vitamin C is considered a gold standard of vitamin C derivates. Why? Because it’s both highly stable and has a comfortable texture on the skin. (I agree with this! Of all of the derivatives that I’ve tried, this is the most comfortable to use.)

Another plus for me is that is product has caused no tingling or irritation like some pure vitamin C products that I’ve tried. This serum also works well with other skincare and makeup products.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Dullness, Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those who cannot tolerate pure vitamin C and want a pleasant textured serum formulation or those who are vitamin C beginners. Also good for oily skin types, as this has a lightweight and non-oily serum texture.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C that is less potent than pure vitamin C (direct L-Ascorbic Acid). Since high concentrations of this vitamin C derivative don’t work in a low-viscosity serum format, it must be emulsified to form a cream.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% is a light cream that contains a very high solubilized concentration of 10% pure Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. The Ordinary notes that this derivative of vitamin C has shown to provide better specific skin brightening effects than other derivatives of vitamin C.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Dullness, Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those looking for the skin brightening benefits of vitamin C. Those with sensitive skin will appreciate the emulsified formula.

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F is an oil-soluble derivative of Vitamin C that can be used in higher concentrations without disadvantage. While stable in this format, since it is a derivative, it is not as potent as pure L-Ascorbic Acid. Also included in this formula is Vitamin F, also called essential fatty acids, which support hydration and a healthy skin barrier.

This vitamin C derivative is stable and absorbs well, but studies on its effectiveness are limited to in-vitro as opposed to in-vivo (on real people). While not yet well-proven, this lightweight oil may be an option for those with dry skin and for those who experience sensitivities to pure L-Ascorbic Acid products.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Dullness, Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those with dry and dehydrated skin looking for a newer alternative to pure vitamin C.

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution

The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution is a very stable water-free formulation of 15% Ethylated Ascorbic Acid. This derivative is closer in molecular weight to actual Vitamin C and acts directly like vitamin C which is supposed to provide faster results.

Even though there is no oil in this formula, it may feel slightly oily upon the initial application until it sinks into your skin. Studies on this derivative are currently limited to the manufacturer’s claims, but one of the best qualities of this derivative is supposed to be its skin brightening abilities.

FORMULATED TO ADDRESS: Dullness, Uneven Skin Tone, Signs of Aging, provides Antioxidant Benefits

BEST FOR: Those who want a low stinging fast acting vitamin C derivative.

Related Post: Naturium Skincare Review

Final Thoughts on The Ordinary Vitamin C Skincare Products

Whether you choose a pure vitamin C product or one of its derivates from The Ordinary, know that you are choosing one of the best skincare ingredients to target the signs of aging. As you can see from the product descriptions, each vitamin C product has benefits and drawbacks. You can choose based on your skin type and your skincare goals.

For more on The Ordinary skincare products for both dry and oily skin, be sure to check out these posts:

The Best The Ordinary Products for Dry Skin

The Best The Ordinary Skincare Products for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin

Thanks for reading, and until next time…

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A Guide to The Ordinary Vitamin C Skincare Products

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