Slap on the vitamin C, says our expert but use it carefully, or you won't see the sunshine
Most of us grew up believing that vitamin C could cure anything. There was good sense in the forcing of this vitamin on us, though. Vitamin C is a building block of our bones, blood and, pertinent on this page, collagen. Collagen, which firms and plumps the skin, and diminishes with age, has vitamin C at its heart, but popping a vitamin pill won't fix your face.
The keys to getting the collagen and antioxidant benefits of vitamin C are to apply it directly to the skin, using a stable product. Vitamin C deteriorates rapidly in sunlight and with exposure to air, so only buy products that come in dark or opaque bottles with a pump-action dispenser - never in a jar that you open repeatedly. Let the sunshine vitamin light you up.
Seoulista Beauty Brightening Instant Facial, €8.99, Dunnes Stores; selected pharmacies nationwide, or see beautyfeatures.ie
As the name suggests, this brand is Korean-inspired, but it is the brainchild of Irish woman Una McGurk. Sheet masks are big right now, and Seoulista has four good-value, big-results options. There's a mask to detox, to calm, or to hydrate - or, in this case, to brighten, with vitamin C and gently exfoliating fruit acids. "The results were immediate and obvious," said a panellist. "Fab before a night out. Or after one."
Best Week in the Sun
Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C, €34, Clinique counters nationwide
This product is meticulously packaged to protect the vitamin C and keep it as potent as possible, ensuring you get the very best out of it over seven days. In the kit, you get seven sachets of face wash, along with a sachet of vitamin C powder to dispense into the pump-action bottle of serum. Morning and night for a week, you add this blend to your usual moisturiser, and the promised result is brighter and smoother skin. "I felt it did the work of a peel plus a really good serum, all in the space of one week," said one panellist.
Best Softening Serum
Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum, €71, selected salons nationwide, for stockists, see renaissance-skincare.com
This product boasts "pharmaceutical-grade vitamin C" but that's not all that is of note. The serum also has vitamin A, which works wonders for collagen and skin-cell turnover. Brighter, smoother skin is the promise, but not dried-out. Instead, the combination of vitamins promises to reduce redness, irritation and even rosacea. "It says 'all skin types'," said a panellist, "and it did wonders for my combination, spotty-but-dry skin."
Best Bright Eyes
Dr Dennis Gross C + Collagen Brighten and Firm Eye Cream, €81, Space NK, 82 Grafton St, D2; Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Gross, the dermatologist behind this brand, is best known for his Alpha Beta range, which combines various skin-saviour acids to good effect. We like the effects of this vitamin-C-rich range, too, which has high-potency variations of the vitamin, as well as antioxidant amino acids. "A belligerent sun spot below my eye seemed reduced after a couple of weeks," one panellist said, "and the delicate skin in general seemed that bit less dull."
Best for Men
Eminence Citrus & Kale Potent C+E Serum, €98, The Anne McDevitt Clinic, 13 Wicklow St, D2, or see annemcdevitt.com
This French brand majors in biodiversity, naturally derived and organic ingredients, but efficacy is also central to its products. We loved this serum, a bestseller that won a Vitamin C Product award last year. Yes, there is such a thing. A fresh-feeling gel, it could be used without any cream on top to lend a bit of light moisturising. "My skin seemed stronger, if that makes sense," said one panellist, "and it lost redness."