Looking like you’ve slept for 12 hours?!….YES PLEASE! As all new mamas and mamas-to-be know, sleep is reserved for the charmed, if not the most very lucky of us out there. To be honest, I’d use just about anything to make it look like I’ve gotten more than 3 hours of sleep at a time…Luckily for me, I stumbled upon Vitamin C skincare products early on and haven’t looked back since!
I had been hearing about Vitamin C nonstop from industry pros and skincare experts alike and knew I needed to get my hands on it immediately. Vitamin C is a heavy lifter in the world of skincare, solving just about every issue one might encounter during pregnancy and bringing back that mama-to-be glow when you’ve been up most of the night. Intrigued? Here’s the lowdown on this miracle worker.
The benefits of Vitamin C skincare
Vitamin C is a skincare powerhouse and one of the most reliable forms of anti-aging on the market, helping with everything from free radical damage due to sun exposure (hello summer sun rehab!), hyper-pigmentation and acne (fluctuating hormones.. oh my!), slow collagen production (fine lines, what?!), and that ever-elusive luminous glow which some of us see for a couple of months before 2am wake up calls become the norm.
Ingredients to look for
Vitamin C can come in many forms, but L-Ascorbic Acid is by far the best. It absorbs quickly and has a great saturation rate. Products with added ingredients such as Ferulic Acid, Rose hips, Hyaluronic Acid or Aloe Vera will boost your antioxidant quota and any concentration of Vitamin C at or above 10 percent is most effective.
Where you can find Vitamin C skincare
These days, Vitamin C can be found in just about any skincare product, although serums seem to be the most popular and my preferred method of application as they tend to pack the strongest punch. Additionally, if you have a pretty basic skincare routine or not much free time, you can find Vitamin C in face wash, cleansing oils (perfect for the upcoming winter months), day or night creams, and even sleeping masks (because yeah, those exist!) If you feel like you need some extra anti-aging, anti-puff brightness in your life as you tend to your newborn, look for eye creams/masks/peels/lip balms and even lipsticks containing Vitamin C…the possibilities are almost endless!
Safety notes about Vitamin C
Vitamin C can be stressful for sensitive skins or anyone with rosacea. So for those who fall in that category, make sure you’re utilizing a product containing less than 10 percent Vitamin C. Outside of this note, Vitamin C is perfectly safe to use throughout pregnancy and new mama-hood. It’s my preferred skincare choice, and I have been able to source so many serums that are organic, natural and vegan to boot! When it comes to serums, ensure you’re putting them directly onto a freshly washed face and waiting a bit to add your additional skincare — this baby needs a minute to permeate the skin. Also, be sure to check with your healthcare provider to be certain of which ingredients are right for you.
Now on to the goods!
Here are our top Vitamin C skincare picks for you all, expecting and new mamas out there.
Vitamin C skincare for pregnancy & postpartum
Skinceuticals is basically synonymous with Vitamin C. Their best-selling serum is arguably the gold star of Vitamin C, recommended by countless dermatologists, beauty editors and skincare junkies like myself. The reason? Its efficacy is undeniable. The patented formula combines three powerhouse ingredients: 15% L-ascorbic acid, a super potent form of pure vitamin C that can help reverse sun damage and offers anti-aging benefits; 1% alpha-tocopherol, the pure form of vitamin E that works when paired with vitamin C to neutralize free radicals and replenish skin; and 0.5% ferulic acid, a plant-based antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and enhances the antioxidant benefits and stability of vitamins C and E. Skinceuticals is a top choice for all kinds of skin, but it’s an especially fab choice for those with sensitive skin due to its higher PH levels. Unlike competitors, the higher level means it more easily penetrates without disrupting the protective barrier (which can be the cause of redness and discomfort.) Be warned though. The smell is…not great. (Hot dog water is probably the closest descriptor.) That said, the smell does dissipate as it dries and since it’s best to follow up with a moisturizer, it’s not under your nose for long.
Sand and Sky
Forget Florida oranges—Australia is where it’s at when it comes to natural Vitamin C sources. Australian skincare brand Sand & Sky leverages local heroes Kakadu Plum and Emu Apple to create their cult-worthy, glow enhancing products (and racking up impressive waitlists with each new release!) For everyday use, I love the Dreamy Glow Drops—a bi-phase serum (which means it’s got both oil and water) that sinks in instantly to deliver hydration (thanks to the addition of five types of hyaluronic acids), plumpness and all-over glow. The consistency is more water than oil, so it works fabulously under makeup and doesn’t appear greasy in the least.
To be honest, it took me a while to adopt Vitamin C into my routine because so often it’s sticky and stinky. That’s why I was pretty excited about Goop’s latest launch—a lightweight but super hydrating lotion that’s packed with Vitamin C (courtesy of Kakadu Plum) spirulina enzyme and protein that helps combat dullness caused by sun, computer time or just life in general. It’s an ideal choice for anyone struggling with dry skin as it absorbs easily, without that heavy, bogged down feeling you can get from some moisturizers.
A sheer serum with a soft, citrusy rose scent. After sleepless nights and that lovely postpartum drop in hormones, my skin was desperate for something to bring it back to life; and this serum really brightened up my fatigued skin. Ursa Major’s serum contains all-natural ingredients and none of the bad guys (sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrance, etc), which is perfect if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You’ll find Ascorbic Acid Polypeptides delivering your Vitamin C kick along with Rose hip, Aloe and Edelweiss to intensify the antioxidant and hydration factor.
Bringing you the ‘slept for 8 hours’ look, Glossier’s Super Glow serum brightens and evens skin texture using Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, a super-stable form of vitamin C. This serum has a thin water-like texture, perfect for oily skin types and that summer humidity. Any new mama dealing with hormonal acne will love this serum — so light, you’re sure to feel hydrated but not oily. Super Glow is hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, paraben and fragrance-free, cruelty-free and vegan so you can get that super glow, super safely.
State of the art, modern scientific formulations meet with Ayurvedic blends in Sahajan, which is based on an ancient mind-body system of medicine developed by Indian sages. This cream is deeply nourishing and features Triphala, a triple-fruit blend including the Amla fruit that has 20 times the amount of Vitamin C contained in an orange. This guarantees brighter, firmer glowing skin, all without any of the harmful ingredients. It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, petroleum and artificial colors/fragrances. upon using this cream, my skin felt hydrated instantly, which was a lifesaver. My skin has been desert dry since day one postpartum, and the Coconut Oil in this cream solved that problem in its first use.
Lightweight and oil free, Maelove is an impressive budget-friendly alternative to Skinceuticals. Similarly, it’s packed with the power trio of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Ferulic Acid to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation with the added bonus of hyaluronic acid to hydrate parched skin. As compared to other Vitamin C products we’ve used it’s a little more gentle. Whereas some formulas can leave your face a bit red and/or stingy, we’ve never experienced that with Maelove. It’s also less “hot dog” scented than its more expensive counterpart.
A version of this story was published April 6, 2021. It has been updated.