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Can Vitamin C Serum Cause Acne

Dont Limit Yourself To Serums

How to Use Vitamin C Serum in Your Skincare ð? Brightening? Acne Scars? Hyperpigmentation?

The most common way to get vitamin C in a skin-care routine is in a serum. But you dont have to limit yourself! If youd rather not add an extra step to your regimen, know that you can also get vitamin C in cleansers, moisturizers, exfoliants, and even sunscreens, Dr. Hogan says.

Some of her favorite non-serum ways to get vitamin C include Ole Henriksen the Clean Truth Foaming Cleanser , Clinique Fresh Pressed Pure Vitamin C Powder , and Revision Vitamin C Lotion 30% .

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


So Can Vitamin C Cause Acne Breakouts

When you consider the fact that a concentrated vitamin C product can leave your skin more susceptible to bacteria and inflammation, its easy to see why vitamin C serums are being blamed for making acne worse.

Acne vulgaris is caused by both bacteria and inflammation, and if using a vitamin C serum leads to this, then yes, its definitely possible for the ingredient to trigger breakouts. However, it isnt the cause it has simply weakened your skins microbiome, allowing acne-causing bacteria to invade.

Its also worth noting that vitamin C can lead to skin purging. This happens with any ingredient that stimulates cell turnover it simply brings all of those low-lying pimples to the surface of the skin, which increases breakouts.

However, all of this doesnt mean that those with oily skin should avoid vitamin C altogether. When used correctly, the ingredient can actually help to reduce breakouts and prevent/fade acne scars.

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic

If I were to recommend you one of the best vitamin C serums out there it would be this one. It has won many awards and is even recommended by dermatologists. It contains a high concentration of vitamin C . I would not recommend it if you have sensitive or dry skin. It also contains 1% of vitamin E and 0.5% of Ferulic acid to help with pigmentation. It helps neutralize free radicals during the day so you can trust it to protect your skin.

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Which Vitamin C Serum Is Best

When it comes to skincare, choosing a formula largely depends on your skin type, goals and budget. Luckily, the vitamin C serum category runs the gamut in ingredient concentration, price point and consistency. Identifying the right concentration for your skin type will determine how effective your serum will be, and starting slow could help ease your skin into this new regimen. Consider starting with a lower dose of 10% before increasing to 15% and 20%. Additionally, if you have normal or oily skin, consider using L-ascorbic acid, the most potent form of vitamin C. However, if your skin is dry or sensitive, opt for magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble vitamin C, which is less irritating.

What Should You Do If Your Skin Is Purging

Vitamin c essence serum liquid for face Spot/Freckle Removing Lighting ...

Mraz Robinson suggests sticking to a gentle skin care routine to avoid further inflammation. That means just the basics: a sulfate-free cleanser, a soothing moisturizer, and sunscreen during the day. And, of course, the retinoid or exfoliator thats putting you through the purge in the first place.

Thats right: It may be tempting to stop using said retinoid or exfoliating acid altogether, but resist.

If its an Rx retinoid from your doctor, they gave it to you for a reason, Mraz Robinson says. Stick through this it gets worse before it gets better phase.

Theres a difference between purging and having a bad reaction to a new topical product. The former is a necessary evil. The latter is well, unnecessary.

Purging from a product Breakout or reaction from a product
happens where you frequently break out happens in a new area where you dont break out
disappears faster than a normal pimple typically takes 8 to 10 days to appear, mature, and shrink

First of all, irritation from a new product thats not from retinoids, acids, or peels is likely a case of an allergic reaction or sensitivity.

If youre seeing breakouts in an area of your face where you dont normally break out, its probably a response to a new product youre using, Mraz Robinson says.

In these cases, its best to discontinue use of the new product ASAP because, clearly, your skin isnt into it.

Recommended Reading: How Many Mg Of Vitamin C Is Too Much

How To Deal With A Biotin

According to both Lee and Herrmann, the first thing to do is immediately discontinue use of the product that’s causing your skin irritation or breakout. Then, settle into a less-is-more approach and religiously stick to a simple skincare regimen consisting of a gentle cleanser a gentle, oil-free moisturizer and high-quality SPF.

“Keep it basic,” says Lee. Give your skin time to heal because doing more will likely just aggravate the situation.

Keep scrolling for a few of our favorite gentle skin formulas below!

Go On A Product Elimination Diet

If youre able to pinpoint which product triggered the breakout, just stop using it. Its unlikely that your skin will get used to it if you continue to apply it. Rather, you could cause serious skin damage from inflammation, sensitivity, and deeper acne that may create scars.

If you introduced more than one new product at the same time, and arent sure which one caused the breakout, youll need to go on a product elimination diet like Dr. Sandy Skotnicki recommends in her book, Beyond Soap. Stop using the problem products and switch to a basic, gentle routine until your skin clears up. Then, you can reintroduce one new product at a time. Give your skin at least a week to see how it reacts before adding the second product. This is the only way to determine what is working for your skin .

Recommended Reading: How To Use Tretinoin For Acne

Read Also: Which Of These Foods Contains Vitamin C And Fiber

Can Vitamin C In My Skincare Cause An Allergic Reaction

Vitamin C can brighten the skin and help reduce the signs of ageing, but not all Vitamin C serums work for everyone. Although allergic reactions to Vitamin C in skincare are rare, they can happen.Now, allergic reactions are different to irritation. Symptoms of irritation normally include redness or a mild burning sensation, and they tend to appear immediately. Irritation may also cause breakouts.An allergic reaction, however, occurs after repeated exposure. The skin may be red, inflamed or scaly.With Vitamin C serums, the most common cause of allergic reaction is an acidic formula. The most common form of Vitamin C is L-Ascorbic Acid, which needs to be formulated in an acidity level of pH 2.5-3. The skins natural pH level is 4.5 5.5. This difference in acidity can lead to an allergic reaction.L-ascorbic acid is also highly prone to oxidisation. Most products come in lightproof containers to reduce the risk of oxidisation, but exposure to air can cause it to oxidise as well. When your serum is oxidised, it can irritate or even cause an allergic reaction in the skin.To help prevent allergic reactions, we recommend using a serum with a more stable and less acidic form of Vitamin C, such as Superox-C or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. Both these forms tend to be more stable, less irritating and just as effective.

What A Nutritionist Says:

Vitamin C serum for acne prone skin


“There are a couple of reasons that taking biotin can cause acne,” confirms Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, co-founder and formulator of Mija. “First, we have to consider if there is an actual biotin deficiency. There is only a small group of people who are biotin deficient, and if you take biotin when youâre not deficient, the body’s equilibrium is disturbed, and chemical processes are altered. Biotin and vitamin B5 are absorbed by the same receptors, and if there is too much biotin, the vitamin B5 wonât be adequately absorbed. Vitamin B5 helps to regulate the skinâs barrier function , so when excessive biotin is introduced, the vitamin B5 cannot be properly metabolized, the environment of your skin barrier is compromised, and you’ll become more prone to breaking out.”

While Koszyk says there is no consensus or recommended daily allowance/upper limit on how much biotin to take, the most common dose is 2.5 milligrams daily of biotin. However, since there is no regulation within the supplement industry, itâs always best to follow protocol and check with a dietitian or health professional to determine whether you need to take a specific supplement and what the best dosage would be.


“Not everyone can tolerate using strong antioxidants, and although vitamin C is a dermatological powerhouse, some people can have a sensitivity to it,” Lee explains. “The sensitivity can be due to a number of reasons.

Recommended Reading: How Much Vitamin D Is Safe

Is There A Way To Avoid Purging

If youre considering adding a retinol, acid, or peel to your routine but dont want to deal with the side effects, you can minimize purging. Dermatologists suggest the ease in method.

For example, during the first week, apply the retinoid two times a week, Mraz Robinson says. Then for week two, apply it three times that week, working your way up to daily use. This, she says, will allow the skin to gradually adjust to the ingredient.

You can follow the same pattern with exfoliating acids just be sure to start with once-weekly application, and dont exceed two to three times per week at the most.

This technique doesnt apply to chemical peels, however. Those shouldnt be used more than once a month, tops.

Benefits Of A Vitamin C Serum For Acne Scars And Hyperpigmentation

There are tonnes of acne fighting, age defying vitamin C creams, serums and treatments available out there but its important not to be blinded by the miracle marketing strategies of some of these brands. Yes, some of them may contain a good dose of topical vitamin C but they could also contain silicones, alcohols and preservatives which can all contribute to acne and damaged skin by causing clogged pores, dryness and irritation while some preservatives have even been linked to hormone disruption! This is why this blog post will cover everything you need to know about using topical vitamin C safely and effectively as part of a natural acne treatment plan! Plus, Ill be sharing my favourite topical vitamin C serums for acne and scars.

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How To Take Vitamin C For Acne

If youre interested in using vitamin C for your acne, there are a few different ways to do it.

You can take it orally in the form of supplements or use topical products that contain vitamin C. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so experiment to see what works best for you.

If you decide to take supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor first. They can help you determine the right dosage for your individual needs.

Topical products are available in a variety of forms, including creams, serums, and oils. You can find them at most drugstores and beauty retailers.

When using topical products, its important to start slowly and increase frequency gradually. This will give your skin time to adjust and will help you avoid any unwanted side effects.

Do a patch test on a small area of skin first to make sure you dont have an allergic reaction. If everything goes well, you can start using the product on your entire face.

Its also important to use sunscreen when taking vitamin C orally or applying it topically. This is because vitamin C makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Wearing sunscreen will help protect your skin from sun damage and will help you get the most out of your vitamin C treatment.

Which Serum Is Best For Face

Does Vitamin C Serum Cause Acne?

Healthline’s favorite face serums for every skin type

  • Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum.
  • Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief.
  • Dermalogica Ultracalming Serum Concentrate.
  • SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment.
  • The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum.

Read Also: Do Bananas Have Vitamin C

Uv Light Reactive Oxygen Species And Skin Damage

As mentioned above, the exposure of skin to UV light generates ROS. These radicals have a potential to start chain or cascade reactions that damage the cells. The harmful effects of ROS occur as direct chemical alterations of the cellular DNA, the cell membrane and the cellular proteins, including collagen.

Oxidative stress also triggers certain cellular events mediated by transcription factors such as ROS upgrade transcription factor activator protien-1 that increases matrix metalloprotienase production, leading to collagen breakdown. Oxidative stress induces nuclear transcription factor kappa B . This produces a number of mediators that contribute to inflammation and skin ageing. ROS also increase the elastin mRNA level in dermal fibroblasts. This may explain the elastotic changes observed in photoaged skin.

Although Vit. C alone can provide photoprotection, it works best in conjunction with Vitamin E , which potentiates the action of Vit. C four-fold. Hydrophilic Vit. C helps regenerate Vit. E, a liphophilic antioxidant. Thus, Vit. C and Vit. E together protect the hydrophilic and lipophilic compartments of the cell, respectively. Vit. C and Vit. E synergistically limit chronic UV damage by significantly reducing both cell apoptosis and thymine dimer formation.

Dont Use Vitamin C With Certain Other Ingredients

Vitamin C is generally pretty safe and well tolerated, but if you have sensitive skin, it might sting a little bitespecially if you use it in the same part of your routine as exfoliating scrubs or acids.

The one ingredient you should steer clear of when using vitamin C is benzoyl peroxide, which can oxidize the vitamin C and, therefore, make it less potent, Dr. Hogan says. You can still use your benzoyl peroxide products, just not in the same part of your routine as the vitamin C. Try using vitamin C in the morning and benzoyl peroxide in the evenings, or use them on different days.

Also Check: What Is The Best Way To Clear Acne Scars

Also Check: What Foods Give You Calcium And Vitamin D

Vitamin C Acne Scar Before And After Results

Ive suffered from very severe indented acne scars as well as some discolored acne scarring for years after I had deep cystic acne.

I tried a ton of creams and nothing worked for me for years until I finally worked up the courage to go to the dermatologist and get a professional opinion.

They recommended I do micro-needling as well as apply copper peptides and Vitamin C for skin healing.

I did one professional micro-needling session and saw some improvement. It was then I started researching more, and started at-home micro-needling 1-2X a month with the daily application of copper peptides for acne scars at night and Vitamin C serum for acne scars in the morning.

Every month I would see improvement in my skins indentations as damaged layers came off, and new skin repaired itself underneath.

Ive been treating my skin this way for over a year and my scarring has improved to the point it is either all the way gone in some areas or almost gone in the areas that were the deepest originally.

Here is a view of my forehead, which contained the deepest most severe scarring, before and after my year of at-home micro-needling, Vitamin C and copper peptide treatments:

Here is the side of my face, which had mild to moderate indented scarring as well as discolaration scarring, before and after as well:

Know The Necessary: Does Vitamin C Really Work For Acne

Vitamin C Serum for Acne Scars – Tips and Recommendations!


You read that right, though Vitamin-C is worshiped as the ultimate god for healthy skin, it could still have the flaws. This isnt to create panic but to reveal the truth.

Vitamin-C serums and supplements are best known for its antioxidant properties. Moreover, it is a natural brightening agent with collagen boosting and building up the cell turnover. These benefits make it an ideal ingredient to cure acne as committed by the beauty care products.

It is also mentioned, in general, that Vitamin-C serum for acne prone skin works wonders. It is also good for all skin types. However this is a half truth. Lets help you understand whats the whole of it.

Types of vitamin-C, identify yours :

Every skin type has its own tolerance level and it is important to identify what suits your skin the best. Vitamin C, though is the gold standard of the ingredient, but is found in various states. Hence, it doesnt suit acne in most cases.

To understand this better, keep reading on.

  • L-ascorbic acid

The purest form and the champion of the skin care game, L-ascorbic is the most potent form of Vitamin C and is most effective when formulated under pH 4.

It effectively penetrates the skin, boosts collagen production which in turn helps in treatment of hyperpigmentation.

It is great for oily and normal skin types but can be irritating for those with Dry and sensitive skin types.

  • Sodium ascorbyl phosphate
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate –
  • Calcium Ascorbate –
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate –
  • Also Check: Is Nature Made Vitamins Good

    What Should You Look For In A Vitamin C Serum

    Getting a high level of vitamin C to boost collagenwithout bringing on redness and irritationis the key to vitamin C products, Klein says. Her recommendation is to use a serum that has between 15 and 30 percent vitamin C. Vitamin C should be one of the first ingredients listed on the label, Jaliman adds.

    Vitamin C is unstable and will degrade over time, losing its efficacy. Interacting with heat, light, and air speeds up the process, which is why you should look for serums in opaque, airtight bottles.

    There are many different derivatives of vitamin C, including ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphateso if one derivative is too irritating, you can always try another. L-ascorbic acid is one popular form of vitamin C, and although its more unstable than other forms of vitamin C, its also less irritating. Look for vitamin C serums that contain ferulic acid, which helps stabilize the vitamin and creates an ideal pH level.


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