Anti-Aging Skin Care

Choosing the Best Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid Serum

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: September 5, 2017
best vitamin c and hyaluronic acid serum

It’s A Jungle Out There

Everyone and their brother are claiming they have the best vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serum. I usually don’t dedicate a blog to discussing what is tantamount to one of our products I use in my own skincare regimen. However, I am going to use our renewal serum to illustrate that you might be falling for false claims and enhanced b/a photos. A good serum will show visible results; not exaggerated “20 years younger in a month” type of results advertised on the internet. This article will also offer invaluable consumer information as to what you should look for in hyaluronic acid and vitamin C products.

Why is Hyaluronic-C serum “all the rage”?

These two ingredients have recently received a lot of airtime thanks to a particular T.V. doctor making a good profit from his product. An endorsement from the organization, Skin Deep, which monitors what is “natural” and healthy is always beneficial. All of our MoorSpa products present on the Skin Deep website are safe, organic and natural. You likely are unaware of the difference between a hyaluronic acid product that penetrates well and one that doesn’t. There is a lot of junk on the market, and I’m going to arm you with the truth. Let’s start with the main ingredient.

Hyaluronic Acid Versus Sodium Hyaluronate For Your Skin

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is the naturally occurring component found dispersed in the extracellular matrix within bodily tissues, especially those of the face. Originally extracted from rooster combs for commercial use (Ew!), it is now produced as a reactive byproduct of benign bacteria. It is identical to the substance found in the dermis. It’s water-binding, and water-attracting attributes fill up the spaces between the connective fibers in the dermis; collagen and elastin. When injected into the face, HA functions to hydrate and separate. It holds onto water and supports all that makes the face plump and as a result, line-free. When applied topically it does nothing—absolutely nothing.

Why do you need hyaluronic acid?

The dermal layer of your skin is made up of about 70% water and claims nearly 50% of your body’s total hyaluronic acid allotment. It helps to support and hydrate the above and below structures, resulting in a healthy and attractive appearance. As your amount of HA decreases (which happens with age; in fact, adults have only 1/20th the amount of HA of a baby), the membranes become dehydrated. This leads to flaking, fine lines, surface roughness, and more. Dry skin also leads to wrinkles. Wrinkles come about from the loss of three important components: collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin. Hyaluronic acid provides the nutrient-transporting and skin moisturizing framework needed to “hold it all together.” If elastin is not bathed in water, it becomes dry and brittle, invariably leading to a dull, loose and less-elastic skin. If topical hyaluronic acid does nothing, then what should you do?

It’s all about Sodium Hyaluronate

Sodium Hyaluronate is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid. Sodium hyaluronate has a smaller molecular size than hyaluronic acid, allowing it to penetrate the skin’s surface easily. It can retain a relatively large amount of water—up to 1,000x its weight. This means it can penetrate to lower layers, attract and retain water, and promote nutrient absorption. Due to these attributes, when applied topically, it can work it’s magic and should never be confused with large molecule injectable hyaluronic acid.

It can extend deep down into the dermis to combine with, maintain and attract water. It also promotes microcirculation and nutrient absorption. Due to its super-sized hydrating properties, sodium hyaluronate will result in smoother, softer skin with decreased wrinkles and an all-around “skin-plumping” appearance.

Will Sodium Hyaluronate Help You Look Younger?

Topically adding sodium hyaluronate transforms the dermal layer into a super-duper sponge for your face. By helping to maintain and attract water within the extracellular matrix, it not only hydrates the skin and increases its volume and density, but it also stabilizes the entire intercellular matrix. This matrix is the glue that holds your face together!

The result is a slight swelling of the skin that reduces the appearance of wrinkles. This means you will look younger! The intense moisturization does allow for the skin to operate at a higher capacity to provide a better defense against the environment even if most of the results are temporary.

Now, onto the next magic ingredient!

How Does Vitamin C Help?

If you’ve shopped the skincare aisle lately (or in the last decade), you know there is no shortage of so-called anti-aging ingredients or anti-aging products on the market. Despite the marketing hype often assigned to a single ingredient, research is clear that using a selected range of beneficial ingredients is always best for promoting the appearance of healthy, young “acting” and appearing skin. This includes inside-out care like getting rid of inflammation and oxidative stress, of course. It also includes sound sleep and proper management of stress.

There are some exceptions—standout ingredients that, whether included among a mix of beneficial ingredients or in a concentrated treatment, are among a select few that can treat multiple skincare concerns. Vitamin C is one such example.

Vitamin C For Anti-Aging & Brighter, Healthier Skin

In any form (and we’ll get to which types work best), vitamin C provides potent antioxidant protection, shielding skin from damaging free radicals. Free radicals are those unpaired electrons which promote premature aging in the skin and the entire body. The most abundant forms of free-radical damage are environmental factors we can’t escape. For example, sun damage and pollution. That’s where topical vitamin C can help. When incorporated into your daily skincare regimen, well-formulated products containing vitamin C can provide a range of benefits that keep your skin looking younger, longer.

What Vitamin C Can Do For Your Skin

It can help boost healthy collagen production. It can also reduce the appearance of brown spots and other types of sun damage. Vitamin C will also fade post-breakout red marks by improving your skin’s natural healing response. It will reduce inflammation and irritation; both of which cause a cascade of damage. Lastly, it will increase the effectiveness of your sunscreen and boosts your skins’ defense against UV exposure.

Ascorbic acid—also known as L-ascorbic acid—has the most research of any form of vitamin C when it comes to topical benefits. For that reason, ascorbic acid is the most common form of vitamin C used in well-formulated skincare products. When properly formulated, it helps create younger, firmer skin while fading signs of sun damage and even certain types of acne scars.

With decades of research around its benefits, vitamin C is a long-established skincare superstar that can help you achieve a younger, healthier and more radiant glow. However, like any ingredient, skincare will never be as simple as any single ingredient. Just as no single nutrient can keep your body healthy, you need more than just one ingredient to keep your skin in great shape, too!

It’s important to mention that vitamin C forms are effective in lower concentrations than what the media advertises. In other words, don’t let marketing claims fool you into thinking only higher strengths (15-20%) are beneficial for skin. Research shows concentrations as low 0.6% provide identical antioxidant and anti-aging benefits to skincare products. (That’s what we use.) Higher concentrations will (commonly) cause irritation which defeats the whole purpose unless you are counting on an “irritant effect” to stimulate collagen production.

Best Delivery Of Vitamin C

A topical vitamin C serum is an oil-and-water-based cosmetic product that delivers concentrated vitamin C. Vitamin C serums offer two major advantages over vitamin C moisturizers: rapid absorption and deeper penetration. These two traits create a distinctive characteristic of serums—their ability to produce results in less time than moisturizers.

Vitamin C Serums

Vitamin C serums should be designed to deliver a high (but not irritant) concentration of vitamin C right to the dermis. Although the formulas are generally oil-and-water-based, they are created to have an oil-free texture. In fact, good serums are described as having a velvety finish.

Collagen Production

Collagen is naturally present in the body. It is responsible for the plumpness of our skin. With age, however, collagen production begins to slow. Topical vitamin C serums can stimulate collagen production. The added collagen just might reduce and prevent the signs of aging, such as wrinkles. Therefore, for collagen stimulation, choose a vitamin C serum with either ascorbic or L-ascorbic acid as the active vitamin C ingredient.

Sun Protection

Vitamin C serums offer some protection against UV rays. However, vitamin C is a weak sunscreen; use it in conjunction with traditional SPF. Again, vitamin C is able to repair some signs of sun damage, such as discoloration and fine lines. It’s the potent antioxidant properties of vitamin C serums that are responsible for reversing some signs of aging and reducing age spots.

Brightens Skin

Topical vitamin C serums can brighten age spots and hyper-pigmentation. The vitamin C serums act as a natural bleaching agent to lighten the skin, including age spots and dark circles under the eye. In addition to having brightening effects, non-high-dose-topical vitamin C serums can prevent mild redness associated with sun damage.

What Else Do We Add To The Best Vitamin C And Hyaluronic Acid Serum?

Plant Collagen (Phytocollagen)

The phytocollagen sourced from plants gives skin the effect of a protective film with a firming effect.

The firming ingredients in animal collagen are the two amino acids hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine. However, a plant protein, extensin, contains a form of hydroxyproline which appears to outshine the animal source. Plant-derived hydroxyproline increases the moistening and plumping of the skin. In clinical studies, its effects are similar and possibly superior to animal-derived collagen.

best hyaluronic acid and vitamin c serumIn fact, vegetable collagen might be more suitable for promoting the hydrating and conditioning properties desired than animal collagen. Some scientific testing has determined that plant based collagen is superior to animal collagen for moisture-holding ability. The added benefit is that you are not putting animal-derived products on your face!

What Happens When You Add Yeast To The Best Hyaluronic Acid And Vitamin C Serum?

Yeast’s benefits include antioxidant and cell renewal properties, with the ability to improve skin smoothness and texture. Yeast also “calms” inflamed skin. Recall that inflammation of skin is part of what causes aging skin. Yeast’s calming claims are substantiated because it is a known source of beta-glucan making it a great antioxidant and a soothing active ingredient. Pigmentation and age spots are diminished by yeast extracts which decrease the production of brown or red skin pigments. Used topically, yeast extract promotes skin lightening by regulating the production of the enzyme, tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is the key enzyme in melanin production.

As you know, collagen production slows down with age, and the remaining collagen bundles and fibers become disorganized and damaged. Yeast extract can stimulate collagen production. Exposure to sunlight also accelerates the loss of collagen by activating enzymes that break it down. This is what causes the skin to develop wrinkles and laxity that make it look less youthful. Therefore, yeast extract and yeast proteins may help to fight skin laxity and keep wrinkles in check by helping protect you from the environment.


Now you know to shop for the “right” form of hyaluronic acid called sodium hyaluronate. You also need to couple that with the right type, strength, and delivery system for vitamin C. A serum will work more quickly than a moisturizer. You’re now a very informed consumer!

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