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Why You Need Vitamin C in Your Morning Skincare Routine

Why You Need Vitamin C in Your Morning Skincare Routine.

Over the last few years, I took a deep dive into improving my skincare routine.

I wanted to figure out, as a 40-something-year-old woman, what was I missing?

I very quickly learned that the answer was Vitamin C.

Specifically, adding Vitamin C in Your Morning Skincare Routine.

I discovered so much helpful information, I thought I would share it with you, too. 

What Vitamin C Does for Your Skin.

Vitamin C serum is a potent topical product that helps produce collagen, which we begin to lose as we age.

Collagen is what gives our skin bounce.

It helps with elasticity and hydration, giving the appearance of smooth, revitalized, youthful skin.

Because Vitamin C is highly acidic, when applied, the skin is triggered to ‘heal’ itself by accelerating collagen and elastin production.

That acidity also acts as a mild exfoliator, so if you have dark spots or hyperpigmentation, Vitamin C will help fade those areas as well.

Why Should You use Vitamin C in Your Morning Skincare Routine?

Here’s where skincare truly becomes science.

Adding the proper products in the correct order can make a significant and lasting difference in your skin.

Vitamin C should be used in your morning skincare routine for a few reasons. 

First and foremost, it will help protect against free radicals. When used in conjunction with a broad spectrum SPF 30 (or more), which we should all be using every day, we are giving our skin double protection.

Vitamin C is best used in the morning since you are likely using a retinol at night.

The combination tends to be too much for most skin types to use at once. So use Vitamin C in your AM routine and your Retinol in the PM. 

The best way to apply is in the morning, after you cleanse and before you moisturize and apply sunscreen. 

Here’s my morning routine: 

There is a lot of debate right now about whether or not to wash your face first thing in the morning.

Personally, I do.

A few days a week I wake up at an unholy hour to go workout.

On those mornings I wash my face right away to help me wake up. I use the Tatcha oil cleanser, it’s light and doesn’t stripe my skin of moisture.

Other mornings I’m up a little before 6 and I’ll do my routine when the kids are all off to school.

By then a million things have touched my face so I want a good cleanse. I use this gel cleanser by Drunk Elephant or this La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser.

Then, I use a toner. I like the REN Ready Steady Glow AHA Toner .

Let the toner dry for a minute, then apply your Vitamin C. 

The Best Vitamin C to Splurge, Spend or Save

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $166, | Sunday Riley C.E.O Glow, $40, | TruSkin vitamin C Serum, $20

I tried many Vitamin C treatments over the last few years at all prices.

The Goop Glow Vitamin C Serum was on the expensive end at $125. I love a lot of Goop products, but this one was underwhelming at best.

Then I gave the french drugstore brand, Vichy’s LiftActiv Peptide-C Ampoule Serum Anti Aging Concentrate a try. I liked the product; the problem was I went through it too fast.

So while the initial cost was only $30, I was constantly reordering, and opening and saving capsules became annoying, time consuming and wasteful. 

About a year ago, after a ton of research and reading countless reviews by actual skin experts, I finally ordered the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.  

It seems like every dermatologist on the planet swears by it and, on Dermstore alone over 4,000 5-star reviews. 

And I’m pleased to say, I’m glad I spent the money, because it is fantastic. 

You just need a few drops every morning.

Gently PRESS it into your skin, you might feel a little tingle – that’s ok. 

Then let it absorb before you add your moisturizer and SPF.  I’ll brush my teeth, make the bed, just to give it a minute. 

And store it in your fridge, because the refrigeration will help delay the oxidation process longer than storing it at room temperature.

How do you know if it oxidized? The serum will turn dark. You want it to stay clear for best results. 

The Results

Unlike a lot of other topical products, you won’t see an immediate result.

Although some people say they see an instant glow, I think this one takes some time to notice a real difference.  So have patience. 

This is also NOT hydrating. There are other products on the market that mix hyaluronic acid into their formula but this does not.

So put it on, let it sink in and add your hydrating serums and lotions and your SPF last.

There are also some reviews that say this smells bad. Maybe it depends on the person but I put this in my nose and don’t smell anything. So I can’t speak to that.

With continued use, after a few weeks I saw a noticeable change in the surface of my skin.

Some mild dark spots softened and acne scars on my cheek disappeared.

My skin appears smoother, brighter, and firmer,

Now, admittedly, I spend on skincare.

My approach is to take as good of care of my skin as possible so I can go as barefaced as my confidence will let me, and I save in other categories.

I would pick skincare over a designer bag every time.

A reader recently asked me if I could only spend on one would I pick SkinCeuticals or Vintner’s Daughter and I said without hesitation I would continue to spend on Vintner’s Daughter. It’s my holy grail, stranded on an island, hero product.

But SkinCeuticals is best of class when it comes to Vitamin C, it’s the industry standard. So it’s a very close second favorite.

There are, however, other options at more affordable prices.

Because I will never gatekeep, it’s been rumored that The Glow Maker from Maelove is a dupe for SkinCeuticals. I haven’t tried it but I’m going to order and see. I’m never mad about saving some money.

If you have tried it, let us know in the comments.

I’ve also used Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C & Turmeric Face Oil (two bottles worth).

This is a gentler option, I didn’t get that immediate tingle when I applied it.

What I did get right away was a nice glow and it feels more hydrating than SkinCeuticals.

If you are just getting started with Vitamin C, consider TruSkin Vitamin C Serum on Amazon for under $20.

It’s gentle and hydrating and has over 100,000 five star reviews.

Whichever you go with, give it time to see results.

And keep in mind, your best skin is never the result of one product, rather we need a layered approach, like get sleep, drink lots of water, cut out inflammatory foods, dial back the booze.

We need everything working together.

Why You Need Vitamin C in Your Morning Skincare Routine

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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Thursday 9th of February 2023

I’ve used Maelove Vit C for a few years. Works for me!

Kathy-Anne Carr

Thursday 9th of February 2023

Timeless Skin Care has a CEF that is also very close in compilation to the SkinCeuticals if you are looking for budget friendly. They mix it fresh when you order it and it arrives in a pump so that air is not introduced to the serum. Air is the enemy of L-ascorbic acid (gold standard vitamin C). I buy two at a time and keep one in the freezer so it's still fresh when the first one is empty. For reference I am in Canada so getting it is a bit of a pain, but it's still worth it in my estimation.

Megan Kristel

Thursday 9th of February 2023

Great recommendation! Putting it on my list to try, thanks!


Thursday 9th of February 2023

since you use Drunk Elephant I was wondering why you did not mention their Vit C. You mix it yourself so it has not been sitting on a shelf deteriorating. If you did try it do you still like the other recommendations better


Thursday 9th of February 2023

I use the SkinCeuticals Vitamin C and it definitely improves my skin’s texture. I’ve always wondered why you’re supposed to press it into the skin instead of smearing it. Do you know the ‘why’ behind that recommendation?


Thursday 9th of February 2023

Hard to justify the cost of the SkinCeuticals when I have to also pay my kids’ college tuition! Don’t know how you do it!

Megan Kristel

Thursday 9th of February 2023

I think I was really clear in the post that I pick and choose where I spend. And I also recommended other more affordable options. Everyone has a different budget and I try to be really respectful of that.


Tuesday 4th of January 2022

Hi Megan. How long does a bottle of Skin Cueticals Vitamin C last you?

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 5th of January 2022

I can make it about three months :)


Tuesday 4th of January 2022

You previously included a Hyaluronic, wondering why you may have eliminated?

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 4th of January 2022

I use it at night, I find the moisturizer I use in the morning to be all I need. I also usually use my Vintner's Daughter in the morning too, after the Vitamin C but before my moisturizer, and that does the trick. You can see the nighttime routine here:


Friday 8th of January 2021

Whay exfoliator do you use in the morning? Do you mind sharing the name?

Thank you!

Megan Kristel

Friday 8th of January 2021

I have been devoted to Goop Exfoliating Facial for years, but I just discovered yesterday that it is being discontinued, that's why I didn't include a link. Now I'm on the hunt for something to replace it. I'll update once I find one I like as much :)

Leanne Lee

Thursday 7th of January 2021

Well done. I’m a licensed esthetician and I love your morning routine. 💕

Megan Kristel

Thursday 7th of January 2021

That's the BEST compliment thank you!