The Science of Beauty

Every Beauty Expert We Interview Says This Product is a Must-Use

It helps reduce hyperpigmentation, neutralizes free radicals, and boosts collagen production. No wonder we can’t stop, won’t stop singing the praises of vitamin C.
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If you’ve been listening to our new podcast, The Science of Beauty, you may have noticed there’s one skin-care ingredient that comes up in just about every episode. Whether we’re asking a dermatologist how to fend off fine lines or quizzing a chemist on what ingredients to look for in a brightening serum, the answer invariably includes vitamin C. Why? Because it's a hero ingredient for a multitude of skin-care concerns.

That's why we decided to dedicate an entire episode of The Science of Beauty to vitamins — and in the process, lay out exactly what makes vitamin C in particular so beloved. And while our hosts Michelle Lee, editor in chief, and Jenny Bailly, executive beauty director, could have spent the better part of an hour gushing about their own experience with the super-charged ingredient, we thought it best to also get the scoop from someone with a degree in chemistry: Dr. Frauke Neuser, PhD, Principal Scientist & Senior Director of Science Communications at Olay.

Vitamin C — also called L-ascorbic acid — is an antioxidant that boosts collagen production, decreases pigment formation, and protects against environmental stressors. Like other antioxidants, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals to protect against damage caused to skin cells by things like pollution and UV rays. Free radical damage to collagen in the skin means accelerated signs of aging — like lines and wrinkles, says Dr. Neuser.

But vitamin C is also adept at treating hyperpigmentation, she adds. It inhibits the action of the enzyme tyrosinase — the main enzyme responsible for the conversion of tyrosine into melanin — and therefore decreases melanin formation. Topical application of some formulations of vitamin C can even effectively decrease discoloration caused by melasma, one of the hardest pigment issues to treat.

At this point, we’re going to go ahead and assume we’ve convinced you this powerhouse deserves a place in your skin-care routine. So now all that’s left to do is choose your favorite vitamin C-enriched product. But as any experienced vitamin C user will tell you (and Michelle and Jenny lament on the podcast), some blends can be sticky, smelly, or — we’ll just say it — all-around unpleasant to use.

So when formulating Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C collection (available at Target), the team at Olay took pains to create products you’ll actually want to apply. The fragrance-free formulas have smooth textures and are fast-absorbing — meaning they’re perfect for layering under makeup.

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That’s important because — as Dr. Neuser told us during the episode — vitamin C helps protect against the environmental stressors your skin faces during the day. So you’ll want to use your product of choice in the morning, before applying your daily SPF and any makeup you chose to wear.

Jenny loves using a vitamin C serum — like Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Serum — each day to help lessen existing hyperpigmentation and prevent new dark spots from forming. And when her skin is feeling dry, a creamier formula like Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Hydrating Moisturizer does the job.

For Michelle, eye cream with vitamin C is a must for brightening dark circles. Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Eye Cream hydrates the undereye area instantly, and with continued use, helps prevent fine lines and crow’s feet from forming.

Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Serum

Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Hydrating Moisturizer

Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Eye Cream

If you’re wondering if this episode of the podcast is actually an audio love letter to vitamin C, you’re not wrong — but we promise there’s lots to learn from Dr. Neuser about other skin-care vitamins, too. (Vitamin B3 — aka niacinamide — we’re looking at you.) For all that and more, subscribe to The Science of Beauty on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.