The Healthy Skin Super-Team: Using Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C Serum
If you are keeping your finger on the pulse of natural beauty products, you’ll have seen the dozens of serums on the market. It seems as though there is a serum for every issue imaginable, from eyelash shine, pigmentation and skin lines, to hydration, brightness and acne scars.
Assuming you don’t want to be hoarding 17 serums for every specific purpose imaginable, we have some good news for you. And not only will we explain why many of these benefits for your skin are available in just two products – we’ll show you how you can easily combine two of the most effective skin-saving substances for a fraction of the cost!
The power couple in question is vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. These two substances are some of the most potent natural skincare products on the market today. As you’ll find out, their benefits are multiplied greatly when working together.
This article will cover why our skin health is so critical, and the major roles of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid in achieving this. We’ll then explain how to best combine these products, with a comprehensive guide on how to use this healthy skin super-team.
Benefits of Vitamin C Serum for Your Skin
Skin is the largest organ in the body, and is usually a good representation of what’s going on underneath it. Our skin is the barrier between our bodies and the world, protecting us from mechanical or chemical dangers, pathogens, the UV radiation from the sun, and dehydration.
The skin is made up of two main layers. The outermost epidermis provides the protective barrier, and the deeper layers of the dermis give the skin strength, elasticity, and nutritional support from the bloodstream.
Our skin is exposed to many challenges throughout life. The skin deals with everything from the cuts and grazes of childhood, to the stress of teen acne, and of course, the deterioration that comes as part of the aging process.
Our skin will usually show us signs if something is wrong. For example, if a person is low on vitamin B, they could experience itchy red rashes, or fungal nail infections. One of the common vitamin deficiencies resulting in warning signs from the skin is that of vitamin C. You may have heard stories about sailors carrying citrus fruits aboard long voyages to avoid getting Scurvy, which is a condition characterized by bleeding gums and skin.
The many functions of skin are hindered when vitamin C is not present in high concentrations. Vitamin C plays a critical role in collagen production, tissue healing, and disposing of toxic oxidants that make their way into the skin through pollutants and UV radiation.
Speaking of UV radiation, statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation show that one in every three cancer diagnoses are for skin cancer. Skin cancer affects two to three million people globally each year. Vitamin C also has an important role to play in protecting us from these diseases.
Our bodies don’t make vitamin C naturally, so it must be acquired from external sources. Traditionally, we have gotten most of our vitamin C from our diets. Natural sources such as citrus fruits, berries, and leafy green vegetables are great sources.
Since the mid-70s, vitamin supplements have gained massive popularity, with vitamin C being at the forefront of this trend. More recently, in the field of dermatology, research is focused on the best way to deliver vitamin C directly onto the skin as a topical treatment.
Vitamin C serum is one solution. Vitamin C serums are amazing for reducing sun damage, breakout scars, inflammation and signs of ageing. They also boost collagen production, brighten the complexion and boost the effects of other skincare products.
Many popular brands such as Truskin, La Roche-Posay, Mad Hippie, and Cerave all provide top-quality products in this space. But there’s a way to make vitamin C even more powerful in its skin-boosting properties: Hyaluronic Acid.
Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C Serum benefits
Hyaluronic acid is another compound quickly rising to fame in cosmetic practice. This polysaccharide is naturally produced in the body, and has many benefits for our skin. Hyaluronic acid molecules can hold up to 1000 times their weight in water. This gives it many hydrating, lubricating, and cushioning effects in the skin.
Hyaluronic acid was discovered right around the time that vitamin C was becoming the first vitamin to be able to be man-made. Hyaluronic acid would first be used decades later, when a medical team used a purified form of the acid to treat the wounds of a burn victim.
Hyaluronic acid is used medically for everything from burn treatments, to osteoarthritis relief, even making it the go-to injectable dermal filler for cosmetic operations. Since it is found in high amounts in the skin, it is highly compatible and safe to use.
Hyaluronic acid is also used for things like the dermatitis caused by radiation therapy in cancer, and oral ulcers resulting from various pathologies.
When used for topical skincare, hyaluronic acid has many benefits. These include improved skin elasticity, hydration, smoothing of skin texture, firming, and suppressing the appearance of wrinkles.
This has made hyaluronic acid a popular addition to many vitamin C serums. But how do these two substances work together? Research on solutions of combined vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serums found that it is highly protective against photo-damage and effects of aging, such as dull skin, wrinkles, and dryness.
Before delving into how to add these great products into your skincare routine, let’s cover the considerations you need to make before using any product, including any potential downsides to using vitamin C or hyaluronic acid.
Risks and Side Effects of Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid
While vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are natural substances and have such positive effects on our skin, proper precautions should still be taken when using these agents in topical skincare products. Rubbing these compounds directly into the skin is different to the way our bodies are used to absorbing them, so it can have unwanted results if not done correctly.
First, the reason vitamin C-rich foods and supplements work so well is that the vitamins are absorbed and delivered to the skin via the bloodstream. With topical vitamin C, it can be hard to get the nutrients through the lower layers of the skin if the mix isn’t quite right.
Second, it’s important to remember that you are dealing with acidic substances. In some cases, minor adverse events can be experienced with the application of vitamin C, such as skin discoloration and staining of clothes. In rare circumstances, stinging, inflammation or dryness can result.
Don’t worry, topical vitamin C is generally safe to use on a daily basis, and can be used along with other common skin products. So what about hyaluronic acid?
As mentioned, hyaluronic acid is used in many treatment modalities. As an injectable for arthritis relief or a cosmetic filler, there have been reported cases of severe allergic reactions. While some of the redness or swelling could be a result of the injection itself, those with allergies should be careful with topical use of any new product.
The effects of hyaluronic acid during pregnancy and breastfeeding have not been sufficiently studied. It is advisable to consult with a doctor before trying hyaluronic acid for the first time. This also applies to anyone with a chronic health condition or taking any prescription medications.
Just make sure to consult a medical professional if you have any concerns before deciding to use these skincare products. Once you feel properly informed and confident, it’s time to learn how to best use and combine these two products.
How Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C Serum Together?
Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C both have their own ways of hydrating, protecting, and repairing the skin. But why use them together? Well, there are a couple of main reasons to combine the two.
First, hyaluronic acid helps penetrate the layers of the skin, acting as the delivery driver to help topical vitamin C be absorbed more effectively so it can do its work for your skin. Second, hyaluronic acid helps combat the irritation and dryness that can result from too much vitamin C. Because vitamin C is an acid, hyaluronic acid helps soothe the negative effects while boosting the benefits – as well as being able to deliver its own.
Knowing how well these two substances help each other improve the quality and health of your skin, let’s talk about how to add vitamin C and hyaluronic acid into your regular skin-care regimen.
How Do You Apply and Use Them Together?
In the morning, vitamin C serum is best applied to a clean face, before your sunscreen. Do not apply vitamin C serum to your skin before UV light exposure without applying sunscreen as well, as it may encourage sunburn. In addition, the zinc in your sunscreen may actually increase the bioavailability of the vitamin C 20-fold, studies have found.
To use your serum before bed, it can become part of your regular routine with any cleansers, toners or moisturizers you already use. Wash your face, use your toner if you have one, and then apply your vitamin C serum before you moisturize.
Using these products twice a day may also be a way to apply more product in smaller amounts. Rather than overdo it and risk irritation or other unwanted effects, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of more vitamin C and hyaluronic acid by splitting your application over two sessions per day.
It is important to shake your serum well before using, as it can be quite thick in the bottle. Make sure to rinse your face as mentioned before applying makeup. Speaking of thickness, it is less important to apply vitamin C or hyaluronic acid first (if applied separately), than it is to apply products from the least to most viscous.
This means that if your vitamin C is in a serum and your hyaluronic acid is in a cream, apply the serum before the cream. This obviously doesn’t apply when the two are combined into one product; in that case, apply the least to most thick rule to your broader skincare routine.
How Often Should You Use Vitamin C Serum and Hyaluronic Acid?
In terms of how often to use vitamin C serum, the short lifespan of one batch means you can feel free to use it liberally. If you don’t plan to apply it both in the morning and at night, you can use it on your neck, chest, or any other areas that you’d like to improve.
Due to its acidic nature, do avoid getting vitamin C serum near your eyes. You can apply it to any wrinkles around the eyes, just be careful and consider mixing a milder solution for that area.
While the ingredients in these serums are safe to use, they can quickly become unstable when exposed to water and air. Your mileage may vary, but do keep an eye on your serum for signs of oxidation (the solution will start to appear yellow). Even if you don’t notice anything, be sure to dispose of your serum every 2-4 weeks.
Remember that as with most things in life, less is more. Start with small amounts of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid added into your regime, and increase slowly from there. That way, you’ll maximise the skin-enhancing effects of these great compounds while minimizing the risks of undesirable side-effects.
We hope this article has helped inform you about the many benefits of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for our skin and our overall health. Research will continue to develop in this area, as the health and beauty industries strive to find ways of making topical vitamin C as effective as possible.
We’d appreciate you letting us know what your favourite hyaluronic acid and vitamin C products are! Do you prefer to combine the two into one, or use them separately? Do you like to apply a serum between your toner and moisturizer, or do you have a different routine? Let us know in the comments below!
Jesse Hyson is an accredited exercise and sports scientist. He is currently completing clinical residency for a Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology at Charles Sturt University, Australia.