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Does Vitamin C Serum Really Go Bad?

Oct 07, 2022

If the idea of expiration dates makes you hesitant, you’re in good company. So, does skincare, more specifically Vitamin C Serum, really go bad? The short answer is yes. That’s exactly why Common Heir Vitamin C Serum is formulated and packaged the way that it is, but don’t take our word for it…

The Science of Vitamin C Volatility

We all know by now how power packed Vitamin C Serum is, fighting against environmental pollutants, sun damage & time itself, that would make you tired too! But what does science say about how and why Vitamin C serum really goes bad? 

First we’ll answer the question of conventional “expiration.” Though most Vitamin C products will not have a printed expiration date, if you hold on to them for a while they start to break down causing them to be chemically altered. There are a lot of external factors that go into how quickly it degrades, but we’ll get into that in a minute. In absolute perfect conditions with no external factors Vitamin C Serum is almost completely degraded after 12 months, and is most effective if used within the first 3-4 months of storage. 

What are those external factors that speed up the expiration process? Sunlight, air & moisture…they’re ideal for keeping plants alive but will kill your Vitamin C Serum! 

  • Sunlight causes Vitamin C Serum to oxidize (and yes, smell a little funky) so keeping it off the bathroom counter, and away from bright natural light.
  • Exposure to air can also cause it to break down quickly, most bottled serums are not air tight and let's be honest, who screws the lids on as tight as they can go? 
  • Studies have also shown that Vitamin C Serum shows signs of significant breakdown after being exposed to humidity above 80%, which is about what is produced by the steam from a shower.
  • Contamination is clearly a factor in rapid breakdown but how it happens may be surprising, it’s you! If your serum uses a dropper and it touches your skin and is returned to the bottle consider your Vitamin C contaminated! If you touch your fingertips to the top of the bottle or use a face pad that has already been in contact with your skin, your fate is the same. All those environmental toxins are now safe and sound in that little bottle. Yuck!

Avoiding Skincare Trash Talk 

To those in the know, these exact factors may have kept you away from Vitamin C Serum all together. Some of you may be ready to stop reading and throw out that bottle that you’ve been nursing for months. But let’s not trash talk just yet. 

Quality over quantity is key, higher quality formulations have been proven to break down more slowly. Vitamin C packaged in a smaller volume is ideal so that you’re less likely to attempt to stretch it and make it last longer. 

Vitamin C Serum packaged with less moisture and air, i.e. stored in individual capsules will also have extended shelf life. Bonus, those little capsules can’t be penetrated by sunlight or cross contaminated by your skin so you can ensure they won’t oxidize that way either.

So while that serum of sunshine does have a shelf life it’s not something to shy away from. Look for high quality, low volume, intelligently packaged Vitamin C Serum and set those order reminders. Your face is worth it!