For starters, the concentration of your vitamin C serum is key, especially if you have sensitive skin. According to Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist located in New York City, choosing a serum that’s too highly concentrated can cause irritation. “It’s best to stick with vitamin C serums that contain L-ascorbic acid between 10–20%,” she shares. “If you’re sensitive, it’s best to start with a concentration of 8–10% and increase if needed.”
Going for a lower concentration isn’t the only option, either. There are other forms of vitamin C, like magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), that can be just as beneficial for delicate skin types. MAP is water soluble and oil loving, so it more deeply penetrates the skin. This also makes it less irritating and easier on a sensitive visage. Another important factor to consider when buying the right vitamin C serum for your skin? The product’s pH level. “Those with sensitive skin may prefer a vitamin C with a pH that more closely mimics the skin’s natural pH,” says Garshick. “Often, vitamin C products are formulated to have a low pH to help with stability, but the lower pH can be irritating, so remember this if you have sensitive skin.”
Additionally, some vitamin C serums are formulated with other ingredients. This can be either a win or a loss if you’re prone to sensitivities. Garshick reports that moisturizing and soothing agents like niacinamide or hyaluronic acid combine well with vitamin C in this case. “These [ingredients] contain other antioxidants, which may help to stabilize and boost results,” she adds.