From dullness and dark spots to fine lines and inflammation, Vitamin C is one beauty’s best-loved ingredients when it comes to tackling some of skin's trickiest bugbears. Trust me, sleep on Vitamin C at your peril, because this is one mighty ingredient - a skincare superhero if you will. It has the power to fend off the free radical damage caused by pollution, and protect against further damage, and help brighten the skin. Oh, and it also stimulates collagen synthesis, just as an added extra. This genius ingredient is found in abundance in Kiehl’s newly reformulated Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate - and with good reason, as it really works overtime for your skin.
"Not all Vitamin C products are created equal," cautioned Dr Alexis Granite, Kiehl’s Dermatologist. "It can be a very tricky ingredient to use in skincare for a few reasons. Firstly, light and air can cause it to break down. This means that even if you start off with a great strength in a product, over time, the opening and closing of the packaging, and even the translucency of the packaging itself can deteriorate its efficacy. It’s also hard to get the dosage of Vitamin C just right, as it’s water soluble." Luckily, Kiehl's has come up with the solution to all these problems. "To keep it fresh and potent, Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate is in a tinted opaque bottle to prevent light damage, and a pump to stop it being exposed to air. It was also a very long and laborious process to formulate it in a way that maintains a strong efficacy profile with no irritation," explained Dr Granite. "We have a strength of 12.5% Vitamin C in this new formulation, which will deliver all the results you need, but still be kind to skin."
In addition to being rich in Vitamin C, Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate has hyaluronic acid and glycerin in the formula. Both HA and glycerin are powerful humectants, meaning they bind water into the skin from the air, with glycerin forming a layer within the skin that prevents water loss, and hyaluronic acid holding over a thousand times its own weight in water. The result? Skin that feels supple, soft and bouncy all day long - all delivered in a lightweight serum texture. "Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate does so much! It really helps to streamline your routine," said Dr Granite. "I use it in the morning after cleansing and before applying sunscreen. It’s taken a lot of other steps out of my regime as it’s brightening, protecting and hydrating."
Thanks to stress at work, mounting chores at home and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, we’re all more tired than ever, and our skin often bears the brunt of it. "Over and over, I hear complaints from clients that they feel their skin is lacking in radiance, or looks dull and grey," Dr Granite tole us. "Even if you don’t have the targeted concerns of say, pigmentation or fine lines which Vitamin C is brilliant for, you’ll still benefit from the brightening properties." It helps that unlike some active skincare ingredients, Vitamin C is pretty well-tolerated universally and isn’t known to cause much skincare irritation, though you can always start by using it a few times a week rather than every day if you want to be cautious. But when's a good time to start? "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," added Dr Granite. "Regardless of your age, even in your early 20s, Vitamin C can help prevent wrinkles from forming and shield against pollution damage."
That’s right - those nasty fumes and clouds of smog you see in cities are impacting our health as well as our environment. "We’re really just starting to understand the impact of pollution on the skin," explained Dr Granite. "There’s evidence that suggests it might be as damaging to the skin as UV rays, which is alarming." (I think we all know an octogenarian who used nothing but cold cream their whole life and looks positively ageless - well, having not been exposed to staggering amounts of pollution will have helped that.) It’s not tangible and sensorial like strong sunlight or lack of moisture, but it is there everyday, especially if you live in a city. In fact, a 2017 study linked higher air pollution to higher incidences of acne - and that’s before we move onto the premature ageing it can cause.
The way pollution attacks the skin is through free radical particles in the air, which cause oxidative stress in the skin. The stress causes your stores of collagen and elastin to break down, and the resulting inflammation is thought to play havoc with the barrier function of your skin, making you more susceptible to spots caused by grime and dirt. "Vitamin C is such a good all-rounder in this respect. It works to neutralise free radicals, and is involved in the biosynthesis of collagen, as well as helping to protect existing collagen," explained Dr Granite.
Banishes dullness, repairs the skin and gives you a shield against the ravages of city life? Vitamin C deserves a raise for all the hard work in puts in around the clock to keep your skin looking firmer and fresher for longer. If it’s not already a cornerstone in your regime, make some shelf space for it now.