The popular ingredient isn’t just for skin.
Vitamin C is widely known as a skincare ingredient that provides brightening, glow-boosting benefits to the skin, but *spoiler alert*, vitamin C isn’t just for your skin—there are dedicated vitamin C products for your hair, too.
Why? Well, you may have heard of the ‘skinification’ trend, whereby skincare ingredients are being incorporated into haircare products. After all, the scalp is just an extension of the skin on your face, and so you’d think that it would benefit from vitamin C too, right?
To find out, we rallied some experts for the lowdown.
Benefits of Using Vitamin C for Hair
Vitamin C acts in much the same way in haircare products as it does in skincare products, according to Valerie Aparovich, biochemist, certified aesthetician and science team lead at OnSkin, a platform which analyses ingredients in skincare products.
“Vitamin C is a fortifying antioxidant that reduces free radical induced cellular damage, and it also prevents oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors, such as air pollution and ultraviolet radiation, in both skin and hair,” she says.
Noreen Galaria, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Inner Glow says that vitamin C can also help to boost collagen production on the scalp, just like it boosts collagen production for skin. She explains that this improves scalp and hair health, and additionally aids hair growth.
“It can also smooth our strands and boost shine,” she adds. “Imagine damaged hair shafts to look like shingles on a roof that are all lifted up. Vitamin C will help to lay the shingles down flat and tighten them so that the hair looks glossier and more hydrated. It also protects it from styling stress.”
How Often Should You Use Vitamin C for Hair?
It depends what product you’re using.
If you’re using a vitamin c shampoo and conditioner, it’s easy — Aparovich reveals that they can be used regularly according to your individual hair wash frequency.
“Vitamin C hair masks can be applied once or twice a week for a potent effect, and the usage of vitamin c hair serums depend on their specific usage advice. For example, some can be applied after washing, some are applied to the scalp an hour before washing, some can be left on overnight, so make sure you read the label in order to apply your product correctly,” she says.
Aparovich continues that there are generally no contraindications to the regular use of any cosmetic products with vitamin C. “It’s a relatively safe ingredient that causes virtually no side effects. Nevertheless, individual allergy reactions may occur, so taking a patch test before fully engaging with your new product is crucial to avoid unwanted consequences,” she advises.
Which Hair Types Should Use Vitamin C?
Vitamin C based products are ideal for thinning hair or hair that's been over processed, reveals Yvey Valcin, a master hairstylist who has styled top editorial and fashion events such as New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks.
“Additionally, if you notice any breakage, that's the perfect time to incorporate Vitamin C into your haircare routine,” he says. “It will help lock in moisture and the nutrients needed for the hair to remain healthy.”
Aparovich agrees that over-colored, damaged and brittle hair will benefit the most from vitamin C due to its antioxidant and fortifying properties. “Vitamin C helps maintain the integrity of capillaries, which is essential for adequate blood supply to hair follicles and, thus, for hair growth. It can help strengthen the strands' protective potential and make them appear groomed and shiny,” she comments.
But Dr. Galaria has a word of warning for those with a sensitive scalp. “It’s worth remembering that vitamin C is an acid, so use it with care if you have sensitive skin or a sensitive scalp,” she says. “If you are trying to improve your hair’s luster, shine and hydration but your scalp is on the sensitive side, I recommend patients avoid direct application on the scalp. Instead, use it from the middle of the scalp down to the ends of your hair.”
When to Expect Results from Vitamin C
Valcin reveals that you’ll typically see results in two to three months. “For the best outcome, try not to mix it with too many other products or treatments, so as not to affect the efficiency of the vitamin C,” he says. “To get the best out of the ingredient, focus on solely using vitamin C products, so that you can manage and track your hair's improvement.”
There is an ingredient that can be used alongside vitamin C haircare though, as Aparovich reveals that vitamin E perfectly complements vitamin C. “Vitamin E helps to maintain the hair’s overall health, and is a great ingredient to combine with vitamin C. Look for panthenol and betaine too, as they promote hair hydration and strength.”
Best Vitamin C Products for Hair
You’ve heard what the experts have had to say — so why not try incorporating the below vitamin C haircare products into your regimen?
Valcin recommends the Vita C Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner, due to it being a cruelty free, vegan, and paraben free product line that promotes hair thickening and reduces hair loss.
Dr. Galaria recommends the Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Conditioner. “Make sure you leave this on long enough to reap the benefits, but I like that this is formulated with multiple vitamins of B5, C and E,” she says. Consider your locks nourished, soft and silky smooth.
A nifty powder to jelly treatment, this offering from hair god Philip Kingsley clarifies, cleanses and hydrates the scalp and hair for gloriously glossy locks. Pop it on wet hair pre-shampoo for just five minutes for restored radiance, stronger, smoother hair, and to achieve more removal of product and pollution build-up than if you were to just use shampoo.
Vitamin C, biotin, and blood orange extract make up the formulation of this thickening shampoo, which provides up to 72 hours of increased volume and fuller, thicker looking hair, whilst feeling weightless. The dream, no?
Vegan and cruelty free, this dry oil spray spritzes a delicious smelling, delicate mist onto hair to aid softness, smoothness and shine, thanks to the key ingredients of vitamin C and plant-based squalane, with the addition of sunflower seed and rosemary leaf oil to seal the hair’s cuticle, locking in hydration. Use on damp or dry hair and wait for the compliments to start rolling in.
Calling those with unbalanced scalps: this could be your new ride or die product.
Taking inspiration from microbiome science, this serum contains vitamin C and a Bifidus prebiotic to revitalize, rebalance and hydrate the hair and scalp — whether your concern is dryness, sensitivity, or oiliness. It has a gel texture that absorbs quickly into the scalp, with 98% of people revealing that their scalp felt more comfortable. Yes please.
R+Co’s offering contains a wealth of nourishing ingredients for silky smooth and healthy strands. Think hyaluronic acid (yep, that ingredient that holds 1,000 times its weight in water), vegetable collagen for its strengthening properties, and of course, vitamin C to help protect against environmental damage. It’s also vegan, cruelty free, gluten free and safe for colored hair.
Envelop your strands in this luxe pre-shampoo treatment, that contains a beautiful blend of sweet orange, papaya and macadamia oils to make hair softer, stronger and protected from free radicals. Expect to see the appearance of breakage, brittleness and frizziness improved.
Give your curls, coils, and waves the love they deserve with this sulfate-free shampoo that is formulated with not just vitamin C, but also vitamins A, B1,and B6 to strengthen, nourish and hydrate curls. Bonus? It has a refreshing, tropical island-like scent that wafts around you like an ocean breeze.
95% of users revealed that this left their scalp in better condition in two weeks, so this is certainly a product we can get behind. It uses vitamin C to promote a happier, healthier scalp, such as stimulating the roots and protecting from environmental stressors, leaving you with shiny, swishy hair.
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