Vitamin C is one of the most famous ingredients in the skincare world. And along with the fame comes the myths. Today we are going to talk about 9 common myths about vitamin C and find the facts if they are true or not.
From your mother’s classic “drink your orange juice fast, the vitamins will run out”, which was the cause of more than one indigestion on the way to school, to “a vitamin C serum made a friend’s face as orange as a cheetah”, we are well served.
So let’s debunk one by one the most popular myths that exist about the topical application of this potent antioxidant through our vitamin C serums (or whatever form you prefer).
Table of Contents
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant for the functioning of the human body. We obtain it through the consumption of certain fruits and vegetables and it has the function of helping to generate and repair our tissues.
It has numerous benefits when applied to the skin due to its antioxidant action , which is why it is a widely used ingredient in skin care products such as moisturizers and serums. Its ability to fight free radicals that are generated when our skin comes into contact with pollution, solar radiation or other external agents can prevent skin cell damage.
Vitamin C and niacinamide can be used together?
Facts and myths about vitamin C
Myth #1: “Vitamin C causes sun sensitivity”.
This is one of the most widespread myths about vitamin C. No, vitamin C does not make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays, quite the contrary: it is an antioxidant that fights free radicals that are generated when it comes into contact with external aggressors, such as solar radiation or pollution. 
Therefore, if you add a product with vitamin C to your morning routine, you will be helping to combat premature skin aging and defend it from oxidative processes resulting from sun exposure. You will get the maximum benefit if after applying it you finish your routine with a sunscreen with SPF +50.
On the other hand, you can also introduce it into your night routine: at the end of the day it helps to combat the sun damage that has been generated in the skin during the day, as well as boosting the production of collagen and elastin.
Myth #2: “The higher the percentage of vitamin C, the better”.
No, a higher percentage of vitamin C is not necessarily more effective. Several factors come into play here, such as the stability or penetration capacity of the vitamin C derivative we are using.
Pure vitamin C is known to be a highly unstable active ingredient, which needs very specific conditions to be effective in a formula as a whole.
Therefore, it is more important that the product is well formulated as a whole than the percentage it contains.
To make the right choice of a quality product, make sure that the laboratory that produces it is reputable and known for its vitamin C cosmetics.
On the other hand, if you are using a vitamin C derivative that is better absorbed than a serum with a high percentage of pure vitamin C you may need a much lower percentage to see results.
Also, keep in mind that vitamin C derivatives are characterized by being more stable, so they stand the test of time better.
Myth #3: “You can’t apply a vitamin C product on sensitive skin”.
Yes, it is true that a product with pure vitamin C or its more potent derivative, L-ascorbic acid, can irritate the most sensitive skins, due to the acid pH it needs to be stable.
For this reason, opt for less acidic forms of vitamin C, such as ascorbyl palmitate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.
In any case, remember that the overall formula is important.
Myth #4: “Vitamin C cannot be combined with niacinamide”.
Nothing could be further from the truth: in fact, there are many products that incorporate niacinamide and vitamin C in their formulas.
Niacinamide and vitamin C fight skin hyperpigmentation by different mechanisms, and therefore work in a complementary manner.
While vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for generating skin pigment, niacinamide blocks the transfer of this pigment between cells.
Myth #5: “Vitamin C protects from the sun”.
We would love to, but vitamin C does not protect us from the negative impact of the sun’s radiation on the skin, such as sunburn. That is, you cannot substitute a sunscreen with high SPF and high-spectrum protection for a vitamin C serum.
What this vitamin is able to do when applied topically is to combat the oxidation that skin cells undergo when exposed to the sun, so it is an excellent complement. 
Myth #6: “Vitamin C can cause skin blemishes.”
This myth is not completely false, although it doesn’t create the kind of hyperpigmented spots you’re imagining right now.
What can happen is that after applying a product with L-ascorbic acid that has degraded, you may notice a certain orange tone on the skin of the face or palms of the hands.
This phenomenon is due to the oxidation of this active ingredient, which is transformed into a sugar similar to the one used in self-tanning products.
To prevent this from happening, make sure you are using a serum with vitamin C that has not been opened for a long time or exposed directly to the sun’s rays.
Alternatively, you can also opt for forms of vitamin C that are less prone to oxidation.
Myth #7: “The vitamin C we ingest through our diet makes its way into our skin.”
This myth is partially true.
What happens is that the amount of vitamin C that we get through our diet and reaches the skin is not enough to provide the results that we can get with the use of a topical serum.
Myth #8: “Only mature skin can benefit from vitamin C.”
Yes, mature skin will get many benefits from applying vitamin C to the skin, such as a reduction in the appearance of blemishes and an overall brighter complexion, but so will younger skin.
In fact, applying a vitamin C product during your 20s will help prevent the signs of aging thanks to its excellent antioxidant properties. Remember: in the world of skin care, prevention is much better than cure.
Myth #9: “Vitamin C cannot be used on oily skin”.
Vitamin C can be used by all skin types. It just so happens that many products containing vitamin C come in oil form.
Still, oily skin better suits less heavy and fast-absorbing products.
Therefore, opt for products with a form of vitamin C that is water-soluble, such as L-ascorbic acid, light in formula and non-comedogenic.
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- 2. De Dormael R, Bastien P, Sextius P, et al. Vitamin C prevents ultraviolet-induced pigmentation in healthy volunteers: Bayesian meta-analysis results from 31 randomized controlled versus vehicle clinical studies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(2):E53-E59.
- 3. Murray J.C., Burch J.A., Streilein R.D., Iannacchione M.A., Hall R.P., Pinnell S.R. A topical antioxidant solution containing vitamins C and E stabilized by ferulic acid provides protection for human skin against damage caused by ultraviolet irradiation. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 2008;59:418–425. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.05.004.