vitamin-c-serum-skin(Photo: Gladkikh/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)

About a year ago a devastatingly fresh-faced and knowledgeable editor for whom I worked was telling me about some new face products she was using. I made a joke about how it is pretty cool when beauty companies send you all their latest stuff so you are always on the cutting edge of skincare technology, and she told me that actually she got all of her skincare advice from Reddit.

(Related: I Tried Chemical Exfoliation and Now I’ll Never Go Back to Scrubbing)

Her skin looked great, so I followed her lead over to Reddit’s Skincare Addiction forum, and it’s been fantastic. That’s where I learned about chemical exfoliation vs. physical exfoliation and why you should never listen to Pinterest hacks that tell you to scrub your poor, delicate face with baking soda. But one of my favorite tips by far has been the importance of using a vitamin C serum

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your skin from damage caused by pollution, UV light from the sun, and oxygen. It reportedly boosts collagen production to make your skin look firmer (if you are in your 20s you are probably too young to have noticed any lack of firmess creeping up, but it becomes a thing when you are older). Vitamin C protects against new damage, and it can even help repair old damage, like sunspots and fine lines.

I’ve been using a vitamin C serum in conjunction with a daily alpha-hydroxy acid for about a year, and I am a big, big fan of the combination. I have noticed a distinct improvement in “glowiness” and plumpness of my skin, and a lot of my brown spots have faded. I’m a redhead with very dry, pale skin and loads of freckles, so I’m never going to be completely spot-free, but there has been a distinct improvement.

I’ve been using Paula’s Choice Vitamin C serum, but there are many that are good. Ole Henriksen makes a good one. You can even make your own, which is both cheap and effective, though it does require a precise scale and a lot of paying attention to what you are doing. 

Vitamin C is a fragile thing, and it tends to oxidize very quickly, so you’ll want to use it relatively quickly. If, like me, you are the type of person who doles out her expensive face stuff in drips and drabs and force a single jar of face cream to last six years, you’ll probably want to be a little more liberal with your Vitamin C. It gets less effective the older it gets, so go ahead and use it while it’s fresh. (My serum of choice starts out clear and turns orange as it gets older, which is a good cue to me to stop hoarding it and start using it.)

I use my vitamin c in conjunction with an alpha-hydroxy acid and a face cream, and of course I never go out without a good, broad-spectrum sunblock. There’s no way to fight off the signs of aging permanently, but I’ve been really happy with my routine so far, especially since I added the vitamin C serum to the mix.