Know Your Ingredients: Menthol

peppermint

What it is
Menthol is derived from peppermint or other mint oils. It can also be made synthetically in a lab.

What it does
Menthol is used to impart a minty fragrance to beauty products.
Menthol is also used in many lip plumpers to make lips bigger. It does so by irritating lips, causing them to swell.

Side effects
Menthol is irritating.

(Source: Archives of Dermatologic Research, May 1996)

Know Your Ingredients: Daisy Flower Extract

daisy flower extract

What it is
Daisy flower extract is (obviously!) an extract derived from the daisy flower.

What it does
Daisy flower extract is said to be able to lighten hyperpigmentation, but I couldn’t find any studies supporting these claims.

Side effects
Daisy flower extract can cause severe contact dermatitis in some people.

(Source: paulaschoice.com)

My Vitamin C Serum Has Turned Brown! Can I Still Use it?

vitamin c serum turned brown

I can’t live without my Vitamin C serum.

Actually, I don’t have a favourite. I like to try different ones all the time. I’m fickle like that. But they all need to be high on Vitamin C. And come in small bottles (or tubes). The smaller, the better.

Whenever it’s available, I’ll go for the sample size. It’s better value for money. Not because it is cheaper. It’s because vitamin c is highly unstable and goes bad quickly. You’ll know when that happens: it turns brown.

And that’s bad news for your skin (and your wallet). Although decayed vitamin c doesn’t harm skin, it doesn’t benefit it either. It just becomes useless.

complete guide to vitamin c serums 02

Here’s How It Works

Vitamin C is a wonderful antioxidant that has many benefits for the skin. It can fight free radicals and stimulate the production of collagen, helping to keep skin elastic and preventing the formation of premature wrinkles. It also has photoprotective properties that allow it (especially when used with vitamin e – the best vitamin c serums contain both) to protect skin against sun damage.

In addition, Vitamin C helps reduce the appearance of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skintone. It does so by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme, which is essential for melanin production. Like all that weren’t impressive enough, this vitamin can reduce transepidermal water loss as well. That’s a fancy way of saying it helps moisturize skin.

But, overtime, vitamin c starts losing its effectiveness. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a gradual process, and it occurs even faster when it is exposed to light and air. Day by day, your vitamin c loses some of its potency. That’s when it starts turning brown.

The darker the brown, the less effective the vitamin c. That means you are only getting a fraction of its benefits. What a waste of money! But you can’t just skip using a vitamin c serum. It is too beneficial for your skin. So, what can you do to get the most bang for your buck?

skin actives vitamin c serum

How To Prevent Your Vitamin C Serum From Turning Brown

While you can’t really stop the oxidation process, there are a few things you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen too quickly, giving you plenty of time to finish your precious serum before it goes bad:

1. Choose A Stable Form Of Vitamin C

There are lots of forms of vitamin c. L-ascorbic acid is the pure form, and the most effective, but also the most unstable. If you go for this form, you must use it up quickly. If you want to take your time, opt for a slightly less effective, but more stable form, like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. They may work more slowly, but you’ll still get some great results.

2. Pick Products Packaged In Opaque And Airtight Tubes And Bottles

This will prevent (or at least minimize) the contact between light, air, and vitamin c, helping the latter last longer. Instead, avoid jars. Serums rarely come in jars, but moisturizers do, and they are a waste of money. Every time you open the lid, the vitamin c loses a bit of its effectiveness. Before you know it, your precious anti-ageing cream has turned into a basic moisturizer that only keeps skin hydrated. Not exactly what you paid for!

3. Opt For Sample Sizes

L-ascorbic acid is one of my favourite forms of vitamin c because it is the most potent. But, as I already mentioned, it’s also the form that lasts less. So frustrating! But you don’t need to give it up. You can still use this form without wasting your money. How? By choosing the sample format. Sadly, not every brand offers this option, but if your favourite one does, snap up a sample bottle. You’ll have to buy it more often, but at least you’re sure to get all the benefits of vitamin c before the bottle runs out.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that works wonders for the skin. But it is often unstable ad loses its efficacy quickly. To make sure you’re getting both the best results and your money’s worth, opt for a stable form packaged in an opaque and air-tight small container.

Do you use vitamin c serums? Has yours ever gone bad before you had the chance to use it all?

Know Your Ingredients: Benzyl Alcohol

benzyl alcohol

What it is
Benzyl Alcohol is an organic alcohol that naturally occurs in some fruits, like apricots.

What it does
Benzyl Alcohol is commonly used as a preservative.
In addition, it can also impart a floral-like scent to cosmetic products.

Side effects
Although irritating in high amounts, it is considered safe at the small concentrations in which it is used in cosmetics.

(Sources: Contact Dermatitis, September 2011 and Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, March 2007)