6 Common Mistakes with Vitamin C Serums (You Must Avoid)

6 Common Mistakes with Vitamin C Serums (You Must Avoid)

In the realm of skincare, few ingredients have garnered as much attention and acclaim as Vitamin C. With the beauty industry raving about the vitamin C benefits for skin it's no wonder that it has become a staple in many skincare routines. However, despite its benefits, there are several common mistakes that individuals often make when using Vitamin C serums. Let’s delve into these mistakes and provide insights into how to avoid them, ensuring that you make the most of this powerful skincare ingredient.

In This Article

    What is Vitamin C?

    Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for various biological functions in the human body. It is a powerful antioxidant, which means it helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and plays a crucial role in maintaining good health. Its potent antioxidant properties have the ability to brighten, tighten, and protect the skin. Its role in collagen synthesis makes it a sought-after ingredient in many skincare products, particularly in the form of serums. Vitamin C serums can help brighten the complexion, improve skin texture, and protect against environmental damage. However, like any skincare product, it is crucial to understand the best time to use vitamin C serum requires attention to detail and proper application.

    6 Common Mistakes with Vitamin C Serums to Avoid

    6 Common Mistakes with Vitamin C Serums (You Must Avoid)

    1. Choosing the Wrong Formula for Your Skin Type
    One of the most prevalent mistakes when it comes to Vitamin C serums is choosing the wrong formula for your specific skin type. Vitamin C serums come in a variety of formulations, such as L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, each catering to different skin needs. L-ascorbic acid is considered the gold standard due to its effectiveness, but it can be irritating for sensitive skin types. On the other hand, ascorbyl palmitate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate are more stable and gentle, making them suitable for those with sensitive or easily irritated skin.

    To avoid this mistake, it's essential to identify your skin type and concerns before purchasing a Vitamin C serum. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a serum with a gentler form of Vitamin C. If your skin can tolerate stronger formulations, L-ascorbic acid serums may be more appropriate. Consulting with a dermatologist or skin care professional can help you determine the best formula for your skin's unique needs.

    2. Incorrect Application Order
    Applying your skincare products in the right order is more important than you may think. A common mistake individuals make is applying their Vitamin C serum at the wrong step in their routine. Before incorporating it into your skincare routine it’s important to understand the Vitamin C serum before and after. Vitamin C serums are best applied after cleansing (and toning if that is a step you follow in your skincare routine) but before moisturising and sunscreen. This allows the serum to be absorbed directly into the skin and to work effectively without any interference from heavier products.

    Applying Vitamin C serum too early in your routine can reduce its efficacy as subsequent products may hinder its absorption unless you use a pH-balancing cleanser that does not require you to use a toner. On the other hand, using it after heavy creams or oils can create a barrier that prevents the serum from penetrating the skin effectively. To ensure you're reaping the full benefits of your Vitamin C serum, incorporate it at the appropriate step in your skincare routine.

    3. Inconsistent Usage
    Consistency is key when it comes to skincare, and this holds true for all your skincare products particularly Vitamin C serums as well. Many individuals make the mistake of using their Vitamin C serum inconsistently, which can lead to suboptimal results. Vitamin C is not a quick-fix solution; its benefits become more evident with prolonged and consistent use.

    To avoid this mistake, integrate your Vitamin C serum into your daily routine. Choose a specific time of day, preferably in the morning, to apply it and stick to that routine. Incorporating it into your morning regimen can also provide added protection against environmental stressors like pollution and UV rays, thanks to its antioxidant properties.

    4. Using High Concentrations Too Soon:
    Vitamin C serums come in various concentrations, and some formulations can be quite potent. A mistake some individuals make is not taking the time to understand Vitamin C serum effects and jumping into using high concentrations of vitamin C right away. This can lead to skin irritation, redness, or even a burning sensation, especially if your skin isn't accustomed to this potent ingredient. It's advisable to start with a lower concentration of vitamin C serum and gradually work your way up as your skin builds tolerance. This approach helps minimise the risk of adverse reactions and allows your skin to adapt to the ingredients.

    5. Overlooking Proper Storage
    Vitamin C serums are notoriously sensitive to light, air, and heat. Exposure to these elements can cause the serum to degrade, leading to reduced effectiveness. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that many people overlook. Storing your Vitamin C serum on a bathroom shelf or near a sunny window can accelerate its degradation and render it less potent over time.

    To preserve the efficacy of your Vitamin C serum, store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Many serums come in dark, opaque bottles that help protect the formula from light exposure. Additionally, make sure the bottle is tightly closed after each use to prevent unnecessary air exposure.

    6. Skipping Sunscreen
    Vitamin C is known for its ability to provide some level of sun protection and boost the effectiveness of sunscreen. However, this doesn't mean that you can skip sunscreen altogether when using a Vitamin C serum. Some individuals mistakenly believe that applying a Vitamin C serum provides enough sun protection, leading them to forgo sunscreen application.

    While Vitamin C does offer some antioxidant protection against free radicals caused by UV exposure, it doesn't replace the need for a broad-spectrum sunscreen. UV rays are still a significant threat to your skin, and sunscreen is your primary defence against their harmful effects, including sunburn, premature ageing, and skin cancer. Therefore, make sure to apply sunscreen as the final step in your morning routine, after your Vitamin C serum has fully absorbed.

    6 Common Mistakes with Vitamin C Serums (You Must Avoid)

    Use SkinQ’s 15% Vitamin C Glow Serum For Face & Neck, this rich Vitamin C serum not only improves the tone of your skin but also hydrates your skin. This tailor-made vitamin C serum brightens skin from within, fights sun damage, and reduces tanning, pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. It is a light, fast-absorbing and non-drying Vitamin C facial serum formula with Sodium Hyaluronate that glides on clear and smooth, absorbs quickly, and leaves the skin feeling feather-light making this Vitamin C Face Serum your perfect companion for that undeniable facial glow.


    Vitamin C serums can be transformative additions to your skincare routine, offering a multitude of benefits for your skin's health and appearance ranging from brightening the complexion to providing protection against environmental damage. However, it's essential to avoid common mistakes that can hinder the effectiveness of these serums. Consistent usage, correct application order, timing your application in the morning, managing your expectations regarding results, and using appropriate concentrations are all key factors to consider when incorporating a vitamin C serum into your skincare routine.

    Harnessing the power of vitamin C requires a patient and disciplined approach. Incorporating the serum into your daily routine and giving your skin time to adjust can yield remarkable results over time. Remember that skincare is a journey, and the effort you put into understanding how to use vitamin C serums correctly will undoubtedly pay off in the form of healthier, more radiant skin.

    As with any skincare product, it's advisable to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional before introducing a new serum into your routine, especially if you have sensitive skin or existing skin concerns. Their expertise can help you tailor your skincare regimen to your individual needs, ensuring that you make the most of the benefits vitamin C serums have to offer.



    Can I use Vitamin C serum if I have already existing hyperpigmentation?

    Absolutely! Vitamin C serum can be a great choice for addressing existing hyperpigmentation. It works by inhibiting melanin production, the pigment that gives skin its color, which can help fade dark spots and even out your skin tone. While results may take some time, consistent use of Vitamin C serum, along with sun protection, can make a noticeable difference in hyperpigmentation.

    Are there any ingredients that should be avoided when using Vitamin C serum?

    Yes, there are a few ingredients that can clash with Vitamin C serum.  Using them together can irritate your skin or render Vitamin C less effective.  These include Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), Retinol, and Benzoyl Peroxide.  These are all exfoliating or acne-fighting ingredients, and combining them with Vitamin C can be too harsh. 

    Niacinamide (vitamin B3) can also potentially reduce Vitamin C's effectiveness.  If you want to use these ingredients, apply them at different times in your routine.

    Best type of vitamin C serum for my skin type?

    SkinQ's Vitamin C serum is an excellent choice for all skin types. Its potent antioxidant properties help brighten and even out skin tone while protecting against environmental stressors. Lightweight and non-greasy, it's suitable for daily use and effectively enhances skin health and radiance.

    How much vitamin C concentration is right for me?

    There's no one-size-fits-all answer to Vitamin C concentration. It depends on if you're looking for dietary intake or topical application (like skincare). For dietary needs, adults typically need around 75-90mg daily. Smokers may require more.

    When it comes to skincare products, concentration isn't everything. Higher isn't always better. Between 5-20% concentration of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid) is common, with 10-15% being a good middle ground for most people.  Focus on your skin's sensitivity and choose a product formulated for your needs. Consulting a dermatologist can help you determine the right amount for you.

    Can I use Vitamin C serum with other products in my routine besides moisturizer and retinol?

    Absolutely! Vitamin C plays well with many other skincare ingredients. Hyaluronic acid is a great companion, boosting hydration without interfering with Vitamin C's benefits. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is another friend, targeting similar concerns like brightening with a different approach. Just be cautious with retinol.

    While not entirely forbidden, using them together can irritate some skins. If you do combine them, try using Vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night to minimize interaction. Always listen to your skin and patch test before introducing new products.

    Are there different types of Vitamin C suitable for different skin types?

    Yes, absolutely! Vitamin C comes in various forms, and some are better suited for certain skin types. L-Ascorbic acid, the purest form, is great for normal and oily skin due to its effectiveness, but it can be irritating for sensitive skin. For sensitive skin, derivatives like sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) are gentler.

    Oily or acne-prone skin can also benefit from SAP as it's water-soluble and less likely to clog pores. There are even oil-soluble forms that penetrate deeper for all skin types. When choosing a Vitamin C product, consider your skin type and consult a dermatologist if needed.

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