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Skin care

THIS IS IT— THE vitamin C skincare product you probably should be using

Photography by Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed


Published March 15 2020

THIS IS IT— THE vitamin C product that saved my life, or my skin at least. The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder. When it comes to problematic skin, there are few issues more frustrating than hormonal acne. Healing hormonal acne is a process — and one that requires a holistic approach.

So where hormonal acne typically can be minimised by focusing on reducing inflammation and while that can happen topically, most of the work is internally focused. My diet is one that eliminates as much inflammation as possible — I've been vegan for twenty years now and avoid fried and hyper-processed foods. And alcohol. And yet still my skin is my constant battle. About six months back I had been dealing with discolouration on my chin and jawline after a recent stint of hormonal breakouts. After reading some hundred plus reviews on The Ordinary, there were common themes, people that had been dealing with dark hyperpigmentation, acne scars and uneven skin tone — and that this was the 'only product' that had made a difference. At that point, I'm sold. This white powder was really getting things done.

So does Vitamin C lighten skin?

In short, yes, vitamin C does what it says it's going to do — it brightens up your skin and makes it glow. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants in the skin. And while it is no novel ingredient, due to its ability to increase collagen levels, reduce pigmentation and repair the effects of UV exposure and other environmental damage — vitamin C is for everyone. It does a lot!

L-ascorbic acid powder is more stable compared to a vitamin C serum

Vitamin C is available in several active forms — L-ascorbic acid is the most biologically active and well studied. L-ascorbic acid is significantly more stable in dry powder form compared to a vitamin C serum, which means longer shelf life. To use L-Ascorbic Acid Powder, you just add it into your regimen — whatever skincare products you already have. That said, you have to be diligent about usage with vitamin C products and apply them daily if they're going to work.

100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder Fine 325 Mesh Topical Powder

The Ordinary's vitamin C powder is L-ascorbic acid. That's it. The issue with many vitamin C serums is stability. The format is a super fine powder and, as such, provides the most direct exposure of extremely high concentrations of Vitamin C topically. The Ordinary recommends using between a quarter to half a scoop mixed in with 5-10 drops of serum, noting that the quantity of powder can be adjusted based on tolerance. With such format, an intense tingling but non-irritating sensation is expected for the first week or two until your skins' tolerance is elevated. So don't overestimate that little scooping spoon.

How The Ordinary Vitamin C mesh powder became central to my skincare routine

I tend to internalise stress, perhaps that is the issue. Still, until I reach a permanent state of acne-free skin-actualisation, I'll continue using The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder, amongst other things. And the acne will come back, and I'll get rid of it again. I've learned that the only products worth my time — and money are those that are effective while being gentle enough to maintain the integrity of my skin's natural protective barrier. For most of us, our skincare regimen is more about taking away rather than nourishing and supporting the skin barrier. Excessive exfoliation and peels only make the inflammation worse. So, to that end, here's what else I use:

I oil cleanser with Kahina Giving Beauty Oil Cleanser followed by a splash of Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Toner. After that, I combine a full scoop of 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder mixed in with 3 drops of Go-To Face Hero — a more recent from Mecca and 5-6 drops of The Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% and then follow that with Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream. And last SPF. I live in New Zealand, and you burn after fifteen minutes of sun exposure — that said, sunscreen is also vital with any skin brightening treatments. Most days I use this mineral-based one, but feel free to swap in whichever SPF you use.

And also this, the $6.40 acne treatment De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment

Now my skin is pretty good on most days though my jawline remains problematic. As soon as I start to feel a breakout, I dab some De La Cruz, Sulfur Ointment on the spot and it's practically gone by the next day. That stuff is liquid gold. I found this ointment on iHerb and priced at US$6.40 thought, why not? — the label reads 'maximum strength', and that really appealed. The active ingredient is 10 per cent sulfur which absorbs excess oil. You may also find it works to reduce your breakouts. You are supposed to rinse it off after 10 minutes, I never have. As far as application goes, you do you. This acne treatment is my night time moisturiser; it's a thick paste which I find helps keep my skin hydrated. So treating acne doesn't have to be complicated. Or, apparently, expensive.

And no, skincare can't fix everything. Diet is also super important, and so is drinking at least 2 litres of filtered water daily. And sleep. That said, fix your life, fix your hormonal acne. If you suspect hormonal imbalance, see your health care professional.

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