Your Guide To Using Vitamin C Face Powders

And how they compare to serums.

Here's how vitamin C face powders compare to serums.
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You can feed your skin its daily dose of vitamin C in many different forms, from serums to creams. Recently, though, you may have seen a different kind pop up on the shelves: powders. So why would you choose a vitamin C face powder over a more typical formula?

As a brief refresher, the beauty ingredient is a renowned multitasker. “Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants used in skin care,” says Charlene Valledor, product formulator and president of brand SOS Beauty. “It’s effective in preventing cellular damage from free radicals, it stimulates collagen production, and it inhibits an enzyme necessary for melanin production.” (As in: It protects your skin, keeps it strong and plump, and evens out hyperpigmentation.) The end result — after regular use — is a smoother, brighter, and more even complexion.

Using the all-star antioxidant in powder form has a number of unique perks you won’t find with your serums, moisturizers, and other skin care products with the ingredient. Read on to learn about the benefits of vitamin C powders for your skin, how they compare to serums, and how to incorporate them into your beauty routine.

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The Benefits Of Vitamin C Face Powders

There is one major difference between the vitamin C serums you already have in your cabinet and these powders: the ingredient’s stability. “The key challenge with vitamin C dissolved in water — as it is for use in typical skin care formulations — is its instability. It reacts with air and light,” says Dr. Luigi L. Polla, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist and founder of treatment spa Forever Institut and beauty brand Alchimie Forever. That’s why it’s advised to buy vitamin C serums packaged in air-tight, dark bottles and store them in a dark place, and also why these products are notorious for oxidizing (aka when they turn brown) — otherwise, they lose their potency, so won’t give you as effective results.

Vitamin C powders aren’t as sensitive to the outer elements, which means they have a longer shelf life and don’t degrade as easily. That said, a good rule of thumb is to still store it in a cool, dry area away from humidity and direct sources of sunlight and heat, according to Valledor. Also helpful? “Use it within six months of opening,” she says. “Just like anything else, it’s still susceptible to contamination.”

How To Use Vitamin C Powders For Your Skin

There are different types of vitamin C powder skin care products — generally, you can find them either as a cleanser or as more of a booster, the latter of which is meant to be mixed in with your serum or moisturizer. If you are using the former, follow the instructions of the specific product (typically, powder-based cleansers are mixed with a bit of water before lathering). Otherwise, you’ll want to follow these best practices, as recommended by the pros.

Pick a water-based formula: Vitamin C is water-soluble, explains Polla, so pick a water-based serum or moisturizer to mix your booster with. Check the product label to see that the first ingredient is water — not oil.

Avoid other actives: Since vitamin C is already an active ingredient, you’ll want to steer clear of other strong actives when mixing your booster — otherwise, you run the risk of irritating or inflaming your skin. Valledor recommends skipping things like chemical exfoliants, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide, so your complexion can soak up the vitamin C without any drama.

Fully blend your booster: You should also make sure your powder is thoroughly mixed into your cream or serum before applying it to your skin, says Valledor. Then, the order your powder gets applied depends entirely on the product type and where that falls within the skin care order of operations.

Use the proper amount: One thing to watch for: the potency differences between a liquid and powder formula. Powders give you more room for error — you can either use too much or too little. If you’re not using enough, you won’t see the purported results. But the real harm comes from over-using the powder, which Valledor says can cause skin sensitivity and irritation. Usually, your product will come with a tiny spatula that scoops out the perfect amount, or will provide specific instructions on how much to use.

Want one for your beauty regimen? Here are some vitamin C face powders that’ll bring the glow to your skin.

Studies referenced:

Pullar, J.M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients.

Telang, P.S. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal.


Dr. Luigi L. Polla, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist and founder of treatment spa Forever Institut and beauty brand Alchimie Forever

Charlene Valledor, product formulator and president of brand SOS Beauty