Identify Your Skin Type
The very first thing to think about is what sort of skin you have, as this can help you narrow down your search. People with dry, sensitive skin typically need a rich cream that will help the skin cells stay hydrated, while those with oily skin are often better served by a thinner, silkier moisturizer that won’t clog pores or cake too thickly. If you have “mature” skin or have spent a lot of time in the sun you will probably want a lotion that has high concentrations of vitamin C to maximize its anti-aging properties; younger people and children often do better with lower concentrations or vitamin cocktails. So-called “combination” moisturizers usually capture vitamin C’s ability to offer rich hydration but don’t always harness the antioxidant benefits as well. They tend to be a lot less expensive, however.
Think About the Results You Want
People use vitamin C moisturizer for a number of different reasons, and nailing down exactly what your goals are can help you choose the right one. Many creams are targeted at people who are looking to reduce lines and wrinkles, particularly on the face and hands. The vitamin plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, a protein that provides structure to the face by connecting soft tissues with the skeleton. As people age, the production of collagen slows down, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. Skin with an insufficient amount of collagen also bruises easily.
It can also be a very effective moisture “boost” for dry skin. Most products catering to this need come as a rich cream high in essential fatty acids, and ingredients like grapeseed oil and avocado oil are common additives. By moisturizing the skin and promoting collagen synthesis, these moisturizers may also brighten and improve the skin's appearance. Vitamin C products are also commonly paired with sunscreens. These are often sold with the promise of repairing sun damage while preventing the same in the future.
The vitamin might also help scars or other skin abrasions fade, or may at least help speed their natural healing. Products with this goal are typically sold as gels or medicated lotions, and often include other ingredients designed to help skin regenerate more quickly than normal. This type of moisturizer might not be sold in the same place as some of the others, though a lot depends on the store. It’s often the case that more “cosmetic” moisturizers are sold with regular lotions and makeup products, while those with a more medicinal purpose are grouped with first aid and wound treatment items.
Understand the Labels
Carefully reading a product's ingredient list is also key to identifying the one that's best for you. If it says "L-ascorbic acid" on the label, it contains the water-soluble form of the vitamin, which means it will probably soak into the skin fairly quickly by absorbing into water-based cells. A moisturizer with hyaluronic acid is similarly likely to be super moisturizing, as this compound increases the formula's penetration past the initial surface of the skin. Hyaluronic acid is especially beneficial for mature or dry skin.
Ascorbyl palmitate, also used in skin care, is a fat-soluble derivative of vitamin C. It is more stable than pure vitamin C and is less likely to irritate the skin. If you have sensitive skin, ascorbyl palmitate may be the best choice, though its effects aren’t typically as long lasting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but often means you’ll have to reapply more often to get good results.
It’s usually the case that vitamin C molecules are quite unstable, which means that the longer they are exposed to oxygen the less effective they will become — and in some cases, prolonged exposure to air can actually increase the formation of free radicals, which can all but erase its anti-aging properties. If you purchase a moisturizer with vitamin C, check to make sure that the product is in an airtight, sealed package. If you suspect that your moisturizer has oxidized, stop using it.
These sorts of moisturizers are usually good choices for people with sensitive or highly irritable skin, but a lot of this depends on the person as well as any additives that a particular cream or lotion contains. If you’re worried about a bad reaction, it’s usually a good idea to start with a small bottle, or a sample if you can get one, and apply it to only a bit of skin, usually on the arm or leg. It’s a good idea to avoid the sensitive facial area at first. Leave it to rest for 48 hours and, if you don’t have a reaction, it’s probably safe to use anywhere.