Sunscreen protects skin by reflecting or absorbing some of the sun’s UV rays, according to board-certified dermatologist and Lycored ambassador Dr. Amanda Doyle. (Physical-blocking sunscreens, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based formulas reflect, while chemical formulas absorb.)

Your topical vitamin C essentially acts as another barrier against sun damage by fighting UV-induced free radical damage. This maintains the integrity of skin’s cells, which gives it anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits, reports Doyle.

One note: Layering skin care products correctly is important to ensure their full benefits. Gerald Imber, MD, NYC plastic surgeon and founder of Youth Corridor Skincare, says that your vitamin C needs to go on before your moisturizer or SPF; otherwise it won’t be able to be absorbed and will therefore be “useless.”

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