Here at NewBeauty, it’s not uncommon to start the day talking about the zit you woke up to that morning or the night cream that left your skin a greasy mess. Another often-discussed topic is ingredients, and vitamin C in particular, which happens to be experiencing a major moment in beauty right now. One reason: Beauty editors, dermatologists and skin care gurus all agree the potent antioxidant is a staple if you’re looking to boost collagen production and give your skin a more even tone and brighter, more youthful glow. But, one thing we don’t all agree on is which formulation works best.
And now, there’s a new formulation to add to the list: powder. Because vitamin C is known for being unstable in many skin care products—it oxidizes little by little every time the bottle or jar is opened, making it break down and become less effective—brands are trying to find more stable compounds of the ingredient, as well as newer methods of delivering it into the skin. This is where topical powders come into play.
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“Vitamin C powder—you mix it into your other products—is more stable and less likely to degrade compared to lotion and serum formulations because ingredients in the serums and lotions (which the powder lacks), such as water, can cause vitamin C to start degrade,” says New York dermatologist Sejal K. Shah, MD. “Depending on the formulation, pH may also play a role, as vitamin C is stable in aqueous solutions (e.g. serums, lotions, moisturizers) at a pH under 3.5. Theoretically, powders may also allow for higher concentrations than you may find in a serum or lotion. Use L-ascorbic acid, which is less stable but more powerful than other synthetic versions.”
If you’re wondering which types of products you can mix your vitamin C powder into, Dr. Shah says it’s important to read the directions on the packaging because not all powders work the same way. “It has to be mixed in the right vehicle in order to be absorbed and effective. Some powders can be directly mixed into serums or moisturizers, while others need to be dissolved in water first, which it should say in the instructions. I generally recommend mixing it into a serum or moisturizer and using it during that day to get the protective and preventive benefits of vitamin C.”
Expert tip: Do a patch test of the product before applying it to your entire face in case your skin is sensitive to it. “These types of powders can be very concentrated, so your skin may become more irritated than it would with a pre-formulated vitamin C product,” explains Dr. Shah. “You should also ensure that the vitamin C is not crystallizing on your skin when you apply it. If this happens, it won’t be able to penetrate your skin and deliver its effects,” she adds.
For all of you eager to experiment with the trend, here are two of our favorite vitamin C powders: Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder ($39) and Vitabrid C¹² FACE Brightening Powder ($60)—Clinique also has one, but it’s reserved for cleansing only. Plus, cult-favorite skin care brand The Ordinary has announced that it, too, is launching a powder version of the antioxidant, but an official date has not yet been released.