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I Swapped My Skin-Care Routine for This Vitamin C Line—Here’s How It Changed My Summer Skin

Photo: Stocksy/DZ FILM
I'm just going to throw this out there: I don't really wash my face. After spending my teens and early 20s dealing with bouts of hormonal acne, I emerged into a delicate equilibrium of (mostly) clear skin I was hesitant to disrupt. So for well over a decade, I've gone back to basics: splashing with water in the morning and using soap (yes, I'll say it, bar soap) to remove mascara—and dabbling in a rotation of various moisturizers and oils. Welcome to my skin-care routine.

But now that I'm in my 30s, a few things have happened. First, I had two babies, and was left with an unwelcome souvenir: melasma, a skin condition (and common side effect of pregnancy) that leaves brown or grey spots on your skin. I may be blemish-free, but uneven skin tone and just, you know, getting older have made dullness enter the picture. Meanwhile, I've been hearing about vitamin C everywhere—from the internet, social media, friends. Recently, my mom asked me if I was using it (because she was). It was time to up my game.

So in honor of my less-than-glowy summer complexion, I brought in some new friends from NOW® Solutions—a full vitamin C lineup including serum, moisturizer, toner, scrub, and cleanser—and turned to a dermatologist to learn more about vitamin C skin care benefits.  "Vitamin C can address many different skin concerns, including dullness, dryness, and uneven skin tone," says Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD. "It is a very powerful antioxidant that helps to improve the appearance of dark spots. Additionally, it aids in the skin’s ability to retain moisture which results in more hydrated and radiant skin."

Hydration is always top of my list, so along with evening skin tone and combating dull skin, it sounded like I was on the right track. But when selecting product for max vitamin C skin care benefits, the options are plentiful—and often pricey. Here's what Dr. Engelman says to look for: "You want to pay attention to the concentration levels. Anything with a concentration of below 10 percent will likely not be very effective in achieving the desired results."

The entire NOW® Solutions line meets that threshold, and ranging from $9 to $20, it's a seriously budget-friendly way to add vitamin C into your routine. Dr. Engelman puts it best: "You know you’re getting highly tested, high quality and cruelty-free products at a really affordable price point." Here's my highlight list of my vitamin C journey—join me.

NOW® Solutions Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum
NOW® Solutions Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum — $20.00

I’m now the mother of a preschooler and toddler, so tired skin goes with the job description—and this serum has become my BFF. “[It’s] perfect for brightening, tightening, and providing antioxidant protection,” says Dr. Engelman. “You’ll notice the purple versus white label on this product, which means it’s part of their premium line that’s comprised of clinically validated ingredients at a fraction of premium brand prices.” The gel-like consistently glides on and sinks right in, and while it can be used both morning and night, Dr. Engelman particularly recommends it for your a.m. routine before moisturizer and SPF.

NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Sea Buckthorn Moisturizer
NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Sea Buckthorn Moisturizer — $13.00

This was the first product that arrived on my doorstep, which seemed like fate: Moisturizers are my skin-care love language. Dr. Engelman recommends it as the last step in your routine: “Apply a nourishing moisturizer like the Vitamin C & Sea Buckthorn Moisturizer that helps lock in moisture to improve elasticity, brighten dull or dark areas, and promote healthy-looking skin,” she advises. The subtle sea buckthorn scent—which smells like nature’s candy, in the best way—is such a welcome touch, and the formula has that not-too-light and not-too-heavy feel to make it an everyday staple, even in the summer.

NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Manuka Honey Gel Cleanser
NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Manuka Honey Gel Cleanser — $6.00

For my much-anticipated return to using facial cleanser, this mild formula was the just-right gateway. “[It] provides a deep, gentle cleanse that helps brighten skin tone, smooth texture and renew dull skin,” says Dr. Engelman. I now cleanse as the first step both morning and night, and the extra virgin olive oil, aloe vera, and vitamin E ensure I’m left with no tightness or dryness. Dr. Engelman does advise, though, to start with a lower concentration of vitamin C if you have sensitive skin, and build your way up.

NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Acai Berry Purifying Toner
NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Acai Berry Purifying Toner — $9.00

If I ever feel I need a deeper clean—which is more common now that it’s summer and my skin is more congested with SPF and sweat—I reach for this bottle. According to Dr. Engelman, there’s truth in vitamin C packing extra oomph during the sunniest months: “Vitamin C is particularly beneficial during the summer months due to the impact it can have on stressed skin. I recommend incorporating vitamin C into your daily skin-care routine to better protect yourself from environmental stressors that can lead to aging.”

NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Oryza Sativa Gentle Scrub
NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Oryza Sativa Gentle Scrub — $11.00

Once or twice a week, I opt for a deeper slough with this scrub, which also packs niacin and aloe vera into the gentle formula. With this full routine, I’ve noticed more radiance in the past few weeks, and feel confident that I’m helping to protect my skin from further summer damage. “Depending on the potency of the vitamin C product and the frequency of use, you will typically start to notice results from vitamin C skin-care products in roughly two weeks to three months,” says Dr. Engelman. Glow up, initiated.


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