You’re probably familiar with our mantra to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day, even indoors, even in winter, but did you know that adding in vitamin C can actually boost skin protection levels further? Wearing SPF every day is key to preventing aging damage from the sun’s UV rays, but when you pair a vitamin C serum with SPF, you’re essentially doubling-down on multiple skin-shielding and preventative aging benefits.
"Our skin is constantly being exposed to damaging external aggressors like UV rays, blue light from electronics, pollution and more, which can cause accelerated aging (photoaging) in the form of lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, etc," explains Dr. Dendy Engleman, board-certified dermatologist.
"Worse, the sun’s rays also put us at risk of developing skin cancer, which can be fatal. Skin damage can—and often does, happen without us realizing, and it accumulates over time. That’s why it’s so important to wear SPF every single day, regardless of your skin tone or what the weather is like.”
Now, we can’t stop our skin from aging—we’re not Benjamin Button, but we can protect it from environmental damage that accelerates those signs of aging. This is what we call preventative aging, and pairing vitamin C serum with SPF will be essential to this approach.
"I love vitamin C and antioxidants for brightening and protection," says Dr. Dendy. "The way I look at them is as a safety net under SPF to neutralize any free radicals that may form that haven’t been filtered out by our SPF. Even the best sunscreen covers about 98% of UV radiation, so that 2% can slip through and wreak havoc if we’re talking cumulative effect over our lifetime. If you think of it as everyday we’re accumulating free radical damage, so you want there to be a second line of defense neutralizing those free radicals so they’re not causing cellular damage, premature aging, and in worst case, skin cancers. First layer vitamin C, then add your EGF serum, then sunscreen.”
Studies have shown that using an antioxidant vitamin C serum prior to sunscreen can optimize your SPF, addressing damage from the sun and pollutants by neutralizing free radicals before exposure. According to that study, sunscreen only blocks 55% of the free radicals produced by UV exposure. When vitamin C is introduced into the mix, statistical reduction of skin damage occurs. So, on its own vitamin C doesn’t directly contribute to sun protection, but when combined with a broad-spectrum SPF, helps amplify its effectiveness. And of course, vitamin C has a whole host of its own benefits too.
“SPF and vitamin C work so well together because they offer incredible daily protection for our skin,” explains Anna De La Cruz, Glo’s VP of Product Development. “Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant, meaning that it neutralizes free radicals by “donating” an electron to a free radical, preventing a chain reaction called a free radical cascade which protects our skin cells from damage. So, using the two together helps protect and prevent environmental damage for overall skin health.”
OK, so what actually are free radicals and why are they so bad for our skin? Well, they’re unstable molecules that “steal” electrons from the nearby atoms in healthy cells, setting off a cycle of free radical creation, which ultimately results in the destruction of healthy cells and tissue. Free radicals are thought to cause a number of skin conditions related to aging, including skin darkening, inflammation, and the breakdown of collagen and elastin—accelerating the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of firmness and elasticity. Basically, all the things we don’t want. This is what we mean when we say photo-aging.
Vitamin C is best applied via a vitamin C serum such as C-Shield Anti-Pollution Drops or Hydra-Bright Vitamin C Drops—both high strength serums. This is the most concentrated way of delivering a strong dose of vitamin C to skin daily. Clinically proven to boost skin’s brightness, targeting pigmentation issues and revitalizing dull skin, vitamin C serum helps protect skin against free radical damage from the sun, pollution, and blue light.
We love vitamin C and SPF so much in fact we’ve combined it into one handy multitasker: meet C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint. A reef-safe, SPF 30, infused with hydrating ingredients, plus a hint of a tint, this tinted vitamin C moisturizer with SPF protects, perfects, and moisturizes.
“I love that C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint packs three essential skincare benefits into one product - moisturizer, SPF and lightweight mineral makeup—yet maintains a truly gorgeous texture and appearance on skin,” shares Dr. Dendy. “It feels and looks like my real skin but better, with SPF protection, dewy hydration and a natural-looking tint that blurs imperfections. This product really streamlines my skincare routine and is a huge-time saver when I need to run out the door - it takes care of three steps in just one product application, and I know that my skin is protected and will stay hydrated all day. Plus, on days when I want to put on more makeup or need a little extra coverage, C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint is a great base.”
We recommend layering it over C-Shield Anti-Pollution Drops for the ultimate vitamin C boost.
For a higher factor SPF with an invisible finish, try Oil Free SPF 40+ layered over your vitamin C serum. It provides reef-safe, all-mineral, broad-spectrum protection. Loaded with next-generation hydrators including hyaluronic acid, it soothes and settles with bisabolol and oat kernel extract, nourishing skin’s moisture barrier without clogging or congesting the complexion.
We could wax lyrical about the benefits of vitamin C serums for days. If you’re not yet in the C serum club, discover everything you need to know about skincare’s most important ingredient.