The complete guide to using a vitamin C serum in your skincare routine

We've devised an everything you need to know guide so you can easily slot this product into your skincare regime.

Written by
Imogen Kars
Medically reviewed by
min read
twitter iconpinterest iconfacebook icon
Table of contents

Vitamin C serums are a popular kid on the block in the skincare world. Chances are you've used one of these serums before or you're interested in reaping some of the benefits that only topical vitamin C serums can provide.

To help you navigate the world of vitamin C serums, we've devised an everything you need to know guide so you can easily slot this product into your skincare regime and start experiencing the brightening benefits as soon as possible.

What is a vitamin C serum?

Put simply, vitamin C serums rely on the star-studded effects of the wonderful and well-loved ingredient vitamin C.

Vitamin C, which is also known as L-ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant, which means it works hard to protect your skin cells from air pollution, sun damage and anything else that prematurely ages your skin health.

Vitamin C is powerful because of the way it boosts your skin's natural regeneration process, which in turn helps your body repair damaged skin cells. The topical application of vitamin C works similarly to the way consuming antioxidant-rich foods does.

In scientific terms, antioxidants prevent or reduce damage to our cells by neutralising the production of highly reactive molecules called free radicals.

In plainer terms, antioxidants are an amazing helping hand for keeping our bodies and skin cells healthy.

So the process of protection is known as the neutralisation of free radicals, and in the perfect concentration, it is an extremely effective and safe acid to cover your skin in.

But the power of free radicals isn't just beneficial for keeping premature skin ageing at bay — vitamin C serums can also be a powerful player when it comes to protecting the skin from pre-cancerous changes caused by hefty doses of sun exposure.

Software's Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum leverages the best part of vitamin C and ferulic acid to brighten and firm skin, even out skin tone, stimulate collagen production and reduce fine lines.

Unlike others, our formula contains a full 15 per cent dose of vitamin C which works fast to fight dullness, dark spots and discolouration deep within the skin, while protecting precious cells from free radicals caused by UV rays and environmental stressors.

And, it's also a fraction of the price of other serums that include the same ingredients, coming in at $49.

What are the benefits of vitamin C serums?

Using a vitamin C serum religiously in your skincare routine has to be one of the greatest skin health hacks of all time.

This highly effective acid reduces dullness, improves uneven skin tones, and textures and even improves acne scarring — all while offsetting environmental aggressors and leaving your skin glowing and bright.

In even better news, vitamin C is best used topically in serum form. Why? Well, serums boast the highest concentration of active vitamin C and usually have better methods of skin penetration compared to other vitamin C-spiked products like creams or cleansers.

While we've covered some of the most common benefits above, it's important to know just how far-reaching this magical antioxidant really is.

Here's the lowdown on how vitamin C serums can boost your skin health:

It can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

Good news! While fine lines and wrinkles can be the bane of an ageing person's existence, vitamin C serum could save the day. Antioxidants, especially when used topically‚ can help your body produce collagen, which is a protein that gives your skin a firmer, bouncier feel.

Collagen production helps to improve the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles, leaving skin looking more youthful.

It can help brighten your skin

If a vitamin C serum is used regularly, it can help even out your skin tone.

Putting a stop to excessive melanin production (the substance that causes pigmentation in your hair, eyes and skin), vitamin C serums are an amazing product to have up your sleeve if you suffer from skin discolouration or an uneven skin tone.

It can protect your skin

As we mentioned above, vitamin C works to protect your skin from unwanted environmental aggressors like the sun and air pollution. It also boasts healing effects thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, boosting wound healing by helping cells migrate to the area of injury. What can't vitamin C do?

How to use vitamin C serums

While we all have different skin, and in turn, the need for different skincare routines, the general rule of thumb when it comes to applying vitamin C serum is to use it every day, or at least every other morning.

It's best to use a vitamin C serum in the morning as the antioxidant component can protect you from environmental stressors like sunlight and pollution. Using vitamin C serums in the morning also leaves room for heavier acids and exfoliants at night.

Where does vitamin C serum fit into skincare routines?

Using a vitamin C serum? You'll want to pop it on straight after your cleanser, and before any moisturiser or SPF.

Make sure your skin is completely dry from your cleanser, as any leftover residue from oils or creams can prevent the serum from absorbing into your skin.

Who should use vitamin C serum?

While vitamin C serums can generally be used by anyone, make sure you avoid the product if you have sensitive skin or encounter an allergic reaction or redness from any vitamin C products.

In general, folks who experience issues with skin discolouration, wrinkles or dull skin would benefit from using vitamin C products in their everyday skin care routine.

Potential side effects and risks of vitamin C serums

While most people have no trouble with using vitamin C products, there are a few side effects that you should keep a look out for. For most people, experiencing a side effect of a vitamin C product involves mild skin irritation like tingling upon application.

However, it can also cause more severe effects like redness and itching – mostly occurring in people who have sensitive or reactive skin.

To make sure this isn't an issue for you, patch test the product by applying a small dollop to your inner arm for a day or two to see how your skin reacts before integrating it into your skincare routine.

For those with dry or extra sensitive skin, products like vitamin C serums can often have a low pH which is well-known for irritation. If you have sensitive skin, try using a gentler formula of vitamin C serum at first, preferably one that contains under five per cent vitamin C.

Generally, most people with sensitive skin can boost their use up to 10 or even 20 per cent.

How long does vitamin C serum take to work?

While every situation is different, most people see results from using a vitamin C serum within three months.

Whether you're noticing a brighter complexion, plumper skin or improvements in hyperpigmentation, vitamin C can work wonders quite quickly!

Using vitamin C serums with sunscreen

Pairing a vitamin C product with sunscreen is a recipe for success as it helps boost the effectiveness of your skin's sun defence capabilities!

In fact, research has shown that the combination of SPF and vitamin C products helps protect the skin from photodamage caused by UV rays.

How to use vitamin C serum and retinol

Previously, experts believed that we should adamantly avoid using vitamin C products alongside retinoids, but now, the science is a little blurrier.

Retinoids and retinol are both vitamin A derivatives that encourage the turnover of skin cells, which can sometimes be counterproductive for your skin if you're also using an antioxidant-rich vitamin C serum.

The truth is that they are both powerful pillars of skincare, but today, skincare experts believe they should be kept separate, and if they are to be used, they should be slathered on at different points in the day.

Generally, vitamin C products should be used in the morning and retinoids at night. This helps lower the risk of irritation caused by using the products one after the other.

How to use vitamin C serums and hyaluronic acid

While mixing potent skincare products is often frowned upon, using hyaluronic acid with topical vitamin C can create the perfect environment for healthy skin.

In fact, mixing L-ascorbic acid with hyaluronic acid can visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the radiance and texture of skin.

What other ingredients to avoid when using vitamin C serum?

Vitamin C is usually safe to use in most circumstances, but there are a few instances when it's best to avoid blending ingredients.

Vitamin C is an acid so it shouldn't be combined with other acids like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). These include salicylic acids and lactic and glycolic acids.

You'll also want to avoid using benzoyl peroxide and vitamin C at the same time as the former can oxidise the latter and make it less effective.

Can you use vitamin C serums while pregnant?

Vitamin C is not only safe for pregnant women to use, but it's also an incredibly potent addition to your skincare routine. The environmental and hormonal factors that affect your body during pregnancy benefit greatly from topical vitamin C.

If you're ready to dip your toe into the wonderful world of vitamin C serums, Software's Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum is a hardworking addition to your skincare routine and one that you'll start reaping the benefits from straight away.

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.


1. Nathan, Neera; Patel, Payal. Why is topical vitamin C important for skin health?, Harvard Health Publishing, 2021.

2. Bilodeau, Kelly. Skin serum: What it can and can’t do, Harvard Health Publishing, 2018.

3. Gordon, Kerry. Everything you need to know about incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine, MECCA, 2020.

4. Jacoby, Sarah; Traber Burns, Chelsea. What Does Vitamin C Do for Your Skin, Exactly?, SELF, 2022.

5. Dusang, Kaylee. Benefits of adding vitamin C to your skin care routine, Baylor College of Medicine, 2019.

6. Habib, Fatema. Ingredients you should never mix with vitamin C, Be Beautiful, 2020.

See all