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PLEASE NOTE: This article represents my own method - this technique may not be suitable for everyone - please do not substitute anyone else's judgment for your own. Always Patch Test and always take the time to allow your skin to gradually acclimate to any new product.
I'm Skincare Heidi, and if you know anything about me, you know that Vitamin C (otherwise known as L Ascorbic Acid) is my STAR skincare ingredient. I just love the stuff. It has so many wonderful advantages and it's one of the true heroes of skincare because it treats both the structure of the skin (with it's awesome antioxidant powers and collagen boosting) and the surface too (oh the glow!)
Unfortunately it's also one of the most irritating ingredients around. Having experienced the struggle of a broken barrier, I realised that treating this product as a serum just didn't work for me; I knew that I'd have to find another way because there was no way I was giving up on this hero.
This post isn't here to tell you WHY you should use C, WHAT it does or the difference between the various forms of C. This post is here so I can share how I solved my problem.
WHICH PRODUCT? In this post I use the C23% Suspension from The Ordinary as my frame of reference. Other products may be suitable as well, but that should be determined on a case by case basis. The product must be water-soluble, contain pure LAA (not a derivative) and be sufficiently potent for the 1MM to be effective, somewhere close to 20%, ideally.
💛 THE ONE MINUTE METHOD 💛
HOW TO GET PURE LAA INTO YOUR ROUTINE IN A WAY THAT MINIMISES THE POTENTIAL FOR IRRITATION, WHILE STILL GETTING A DECENT DOSE OF C.
The 1MM uses pure C as something between a treatment and a cleanser, with a short contact time and full removal afterwards. This is a *Massage-On Technique*, as you're not simply just trying to spread the product over the skin, but you are actually physically assisting the absorption of the C through the skin barrier.
💛 EXPANDED DIRECTIONS 💛
Always Patch Test. Discontinue if irritation occurs.
Gently dispense a small amount onto your fingers - this can be tricky as the product is slightly runny, so it might not be necessary to squeeze, just let a small amount fall out.
On clean skin, massage a small amount of the C23% onto dry or very lightly damp skin. You don't need to use more product than you would usually use.
Massage thoroughly all over the surface of the face (avoid the eyes) for 30 seconds, paying particular attention to any areas of pigmentation or texture.
Use light, even pressure - studies suggest that C can be physically pushed into the skin so make sure you really hit those target areas (pigmentation, texture, 11s, etc).
Avoid the eye area - I mean it! Some of my burns were on my eyelids, even though I never used it directly on that area. Products migrate within the skin, so be cautious.
Don't worry about the grittiness, it will enhance the exfoliating qualities of this technique. If you wish to avoid the exfoliating characteristics of this product then simply apply on damp skin and don't wait before dissolving with additional water.
After 30 seconds, lightly wet your fingertips and continue to massage in a way that dissolves and emulsifies the product. Re-wet the fingertips as needed to get the desired texture - only a small amount of water is necessary, don't allow the product to get drippy. Did I mention that you really don't want to get it anywhere near your eyes?
This second stage massage should dissolve any remaining grittiness.
Once the product has been in contact with the skin for a full minute or so, remove with a damp, wrung-out, face cloth (flannel). You may wish to re-cleanse the skin at this time, using a gentle cleanser.
Proceed with the rest of your routine as usual.
You may find it best to avoid combining the 1MM with any potentially irritating products, including any other acids, AHAs, BHAs etc.
Any conflicts for LAA are still valid, so avoid peptides, Euk, etc.
The 1MM is Deciem Approved! Although not mentioned on their site, Deciem has shared this technique as a *hack* for this product and so we can safely assume that it's fine to do this.
Good reasons to try the 1MM
To minimise the risk of irritation that goes hand-in-hand with C products that exceed a 20% concentration (and actually, lower concentrations as well).
To enable us to use the product more often without risking negative side effects like irritation, redness or burns.
To reduce the appearance of blackheads that can be caused when Vitamin C is trapped in the pores and oxidises.
To deal with the gritty texture of pure LAA.
To keep your Vitamin C levels within the skin topped up for that antioxidant boost.
To leave the skin with a nice plump finish that's ready to receive the rest of your routine.
Some of you may have seen my other posts about C, including the pics of the crazy burns and rashes I got from it - even though I had used the product daily for months with no issue. My skin became sensitised and I almost gave up on it.
Yes, life is not always golden on planet L Ascorbic Acid (the scientific name for pure C) as it's also one of the most irritating ingredients out there. In fact, studies have shown that there's no point in using ultra-high concentrations of the stuff, because irritation increases but efficacy doesn't. Go too high and you're literally risking chemical burns for nothing.
[Wait... wha? Burns? Yes, burns. You can read more on my Cautionary Tale, but yes, I broke my barrier in a serious way because I didn't really understand the acidity and strength of pure LAA.]
💛Why it works💛
Vitamin C is one of the most widely studied topical actives and there is a lot of information available. Studies have shown:
Vitamin C is one of the few actives that can sink into deeper layers of skin tissues.
Your skin only has the capacity to take in a small amount of C at a time, so less is definitely more. The skin will take what it can, but the rest is excess with no benefit.
Applying on dry skin means the pH of the product is maintained as it's absorbed into the skin, aiding absorption due to the charge of the particle.
Vitamin C sinks in almost instantly.
The small molecular size, (at roughly 175 Dalton, well under the widely recognised threshold for penetration of the corneal layer of 500 Dalton) allows LAA to cross the barrier quickly.
Any C left remaining on your skin after application will stay on the skin, not penetrate, and is at risk of oxidising. Oxidised C may become pro-oxidant. When exposed to air, LAA converts to Dehydro Ascorbic Acid (DHAA) - basically, fake tan.
Vitamin C has a half life of roughly 4 days so it's just not necessary to use it every day (this is in reference to pure LAA, not any derivatives).
Once applied to the skin C cannot be washed off.
For more details about the published studies and science of Vitamin C you may want to consult the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Centre. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C
Some final hints:
Certain products are not compatible with strong LAA products so it's probably best to avoid using Buffet, peptides, Euk, acids etc following this method.
I do this AM after cleansing in order to get the photoprotective benefits from C but you could do it evening as well.
If you're concerned about irritation or you are new to this product you might want to add a drop of oil into the mix.
The key to success with this method is to remember that it's a ONE minute treatment - don't risk irritation and burns by leaving it longer! Depending on your tolerance you can do this every 2-5 days and your C levels will stay topped up. I also use a Vitamin C derivative on non-1MM days as I find that derivatives offer complimentary benefits.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have you tried using this method?
Any results to report? Hints? Tips? Questions?
💛💛💛 Have a wonderful glowy day! 💛💛💛
THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON AUGUST 31 2018 AND SINCE THEN HAS APPEARED ONLINE IN VARIOUS INCARNATIONS AND PLACES.
Most recently updated March 8, 2021.
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I'm Heidi. Skincare is not just some passing trend to me – I do skincare every single day! I’m 46, and I’ve been caring for my skin daily since the age of 14. In that time I’ve collected a lot of skincare knowledge and I want to share it with you. I also want to inspire and empower you to take control of your skin. I believe that anyone can improve their skin if the effort and patience is there. Everyone is invited to explore my Skincare Circles for a step-by-step system for getting the skin you always wanted.