You are wasting your money on vitamin C unless you know this one thing

While vitamin C is unrivaled as a skin-brightening antioxidant, there is a catch (well, sometimes) and that is that it is notoriously unstable. If it breaks down (or oxidizes) before it hits your skin, it becomes ineffective. What’s more, the oxidized vitamin C can potentially cause irritation and blackheads.

“That’s the downside of vitamin C,” says Fernandez. “It can be unstable, meaning it can be rendered ineffective by environmental factors (like too much light or heat). For most formulas, the color will darken and it will have an incorrect balance of actives and alcohol.”

So how do you make sure your vitamin C is stable? Fernandez says all you need to do is check the color and smell of the product. If the color is darker than it was when you bought it (eg if it turned dark brown) or it smells a little funky, throw it away. It is not worth using anymore. The fact is, it’s already oxidized and you simply won’t get the benefits you once did. To prevent this from happening, Fernandez recommends “make sure to store in a temperate location without direct sunlight or heat fluctuations.”

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