Should you use your vitamin C serum in the morning or at night?

When is the best time to apply your vitamin C serum, morning or night?

Close up image in yellow of vitamin C serums overlayed with a graphic shot of a pipette with vitamin c serum
(Image credit: Getty Images / Anna Efetova)

We all want our skincare products to be at their most efficacious so that we see the best results. We know that we should care for our products by keeping them out of direct sunlight or exposed to other elements, but can WHEN we use a product make a difference? Well, in the case of vitamin C, there has been a lot of debate on whether it's best to use your vitamin c serum in the morning or night. Let's put the debate to bed and delve right in.

With a new skincare hero seemingly cropping up every month, it's hard to know where to start. There is no doubt that adding one of the best vitamin C serums to your routine is one of the many keys to unlocking great skin. We want to know how to harness it to its fullest potential and soak up all the endless benefits of vitamin C

It might not seem like a walk in the park, there are often several questions that come up when trying to figure out how to use a vitamin C serum properly, which part of your skincare routine should they sit within, and which time of day debate is one of them, the latter of which we are here to discuss. 

Vitamin C works to protect skin against free radicals and other damaging environmental factors like pollution and UV. It's also famed for inhibiting the production of melanin and helps to fade discoloration and dark spots.  

A young woman is seen caressing her face to illustrate a rosacea skincare feature

(Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

It also helps to encourage skin cells to produce collagen—which is naturally occurring in the skin but levels of it decrease as we get older. 

What’s even more impressive is that it’s one of the few scientifically proven ingredients that can actually help improve existing, visible signs of aging.

That means regular use of a vitamin C serum will leave skin even-toned, radiant, plump, and free of any fine lines or wrinkles. A true skincare hero.

So, once you've chosen your preferred vitamin C serum it's time to put it to work. But before you do, you'll want to work out the best time to use it. 

There is an ongoing debate around whether vitamin C is best used as part of your daily morning routine or whether it should be applied before bed so it can work its magic through the night. 

We’ve broken down the benefits of both ways to help you make an informed decision based on what’s right for your skin type.

Young woman stands against a patterned wall, she has omre blonde to pink hair and is holding her hand up infront of her face to keep the sun away, this casts a shadow of her fingers across the lower half of her face

(Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

The benefits and how to use vitamin C in the day

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants out there. That means it really comes into its own during the day when it can get to work protecting skin against harmful elements like pollution, free radicals, UV rays, and other factors that can leave skin looking dull and lifeless. 

If you are using your vitamin C serum during the day, it should always be followed with a minimum of SPF30 to help protect it against the sun. However, if your skin is super sensitive and prone to irritation, you may want to switch it up. You could either use a gentle antioxidant during the day and switch to using vitamin C at nighttime instead. Or, you could opt for a lower strength vitamin C serum which is less likely to cause any sensitivity or reaction. 

The benefits and how to use vitamin C at night time

While you’re sleeping, your skin undergoes its natural repair process. During sleep skin’s blood flow increases, it rebuilds collagen and repairs damage like fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots that have been caused by UV exposure. 

So using a curated edit of products that will help aid skin as it gets to work isn’t a bad idea. Using a vitamin C serum during the night means it will have the biggest and most effective impact on the skin. 

If your chosen serum is quite potent, like the Medik8 Super C30 Intense, you also reduce the risk of photosensitivity occurring (a reaction that can be triggered by sunlight).

It’s worth adding that if you do choose to use vitamin C at night, you should always ensure you’re using SPF the following day to ensure maximum efficacy. 

The benefits of using vitamin C in the morning and in the evening

Think of slathering vitamin C in the morning and night as the best of both worlds. You get to reap the rewards of vitamin C's powerful antioxidant properties by essentially getting a double dose. 

One thing that you need to consider is that the skin has a limit for absorbing vitamin C. In other words, once this limit has been reached any extra product is essentially wasted (and it doesn't come cheap). So if you’re using a product that’s more gentle and has a lower percentage of vitamin C in it, you’re good to use it twice a day. But if your chosen serum has a higher, more potent level in it then it’s best to adopt a less is more approach and stick to using it just once.

A close up image of a pipette with a face serum or oil slowly dropping out on a yellow background

(Image credit: Getty Images / Anna Efetova)

So, should you use vitamin C in the morning or night?

While it’s all down to your skin (and no one knows your skin better than you), most prefer to apply vitamin C serums in the morning because of its antioxidant properties, as it helps defend against pollutants and free radicals. However, never forget to follow with SPF to protect your skin against sun damage.

If your skin tends to verge on the sensitive side, then using vitamin C at nighttime is advisable. During sleep, the skin repair process is at its most optimal so therefore nighttime use of vitamin C is preferable as it will have the biggest impact on your skin. 

Lucy Partington
Lucy Partington

Lucy Partington has been a beauty journalist for eight years, writing for titles including Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She’s a true skincare nerd who’s on a lifelong quest for a glowing complexion and loves nothing more than learning about new ingredients and products. She’s obsessed with having perfect eyebrows and collecting eyeshadow palettes she’ll probably never use.