“Vitamin C ranks as one of my top three ingredients,” gushes dermatologist Dr Davin Lim in one of his many YouTube videos. His quick-fire breakdowns of popular skincare treatments have earned him a tidy 650,000 subscribers. He’s a medical professional. And, he’s not alone; vitamin C has become one of the most hyped substances in the business of looking better, now considered one of countless vitamins for skin that are conducive to glowing up.

Makes sense that you probably want in too. But before diving into the next fawning TikTok video from a youthful prince of retinol, we’ve asked the experts to truly find out the effectiveness of vitamin C skincare.

What is it?

Vitamin C comes in all the usual products: fancy serums, creams, and masks promising to brighten your complexion, fade dark spots, and turn back the clock – all thanks to a hefty dose of the stuff you find in oranges that stops kids getting scurvy.

“Vitamin C in skincare is essentially for those who are looking to revive their skin” says Nicole Campbell-Watson, skin health expert and founder of Facespace. “Ascorbic acid (vitamin C’s sunday name) is an antioxidant that prevents, reduces and protects against environmental stress (UV rays and free radicals), promotes collagen production and, with consistent use, brightens the complexion by evening out skin tone and fading hyperpigmentation.”

Sounds too good to be true right? It’s enough to give any man worth his salt a minor breakdown in the skincare aisle and ask “can I not just drink orange juice?” No, you cannot.

Does it work?

First off, does it actually work? Vitamin C does have some scientific evidence backing its benefits. “Vitamin C is an antioxidant which means it’s your personal army against free radical damage”, says dermatologist Dr Cristina Psomadakis. “Free radicals create oxidative stress which damages the structures of your skin like collagen.”

“Its benefits to skin health when applied topically and ingested through fruits like grapefruit and kiwi, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are remarkable” says Jude Jackson, master facialist at Face Space, a collective of skincare practitioners. She points to a 2013 study from India that found vitamin C to be “a naturally occurring drug with multiple desirable effects” when used to treat various conditions including (but not limited to) photo-ageing, hyperpigmentation, tissue inflammation and tissue healing.

Who should use it?

Well, in theory, anyone looking to brighten their complexion or fend off premature ageing. But here’s the catch: vitamin C isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all solution. Some guys might see amazing results, while others are left scratching their heads. “The right form of vitamin C is essential for it to work. Look for ‘l-ascorbic acid’ at (10%-20% concentration) within the ingredients list as this is the most active form of vitamin C” says Campbell-Watson.

It’s like skincare roulette: you never know the result until you try it.

How to use it

It can be as easy as slapping on some serum in the morning and calling it a day, but beware: vitamin C is a fickle beast when not treated with the care and attention it deserves. “If you’re choosing a serum, also consider the packaging” says Jackson. “Vitamin C oxidises when exposed to light, heat and oxygen so should always come in a dark-coloured bottle. You should also store it somewhere cool and dark.”

The experts believe that a vitamin C serum is best, and should be layered underneath a moisturiser and SPF for a triple pronged regimen. “Your vit-C serum will act as your first ‘natural form’ of sun protection that will sink into the skin tissue and work work from deeper within, then your moisturiser to nourish the outer layer of the skin, and lastly your SPF to create a shield between your skin and the outside world” says Campbell-Watson.

Any side-effects?

Aside from the potential for wasted money and broken dreams, vitamin C is generally considered safe for most skin types. If you’re prone to sensitivity or have a history of reactions however, proceed with caution my friends. And whatever you do, don’t forget the sunscreen! Vitamin C may make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, and some side effects have been reported to include redness, irritation and itching.