5 Vitamin C Benefits For Your Skin, and How To Use It

5 Vitamin C Benefits For Your Skin, and How To Use It


Dedicating some time to your skincare routine can boost your confidence and help prevent dangerous health conditions like skin cancer. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that’s naturally found in your skin. It can help neutralize and remove oxidants, such as those found in environmental pollutants and after exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Research suggests that applying vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid, its most common form) as a serum or lotion might help reverse signs of aging, regulate collagen production, and reduce hyperpigmentation.

Sun exposure, acne, and even medication can leave scarring and dark spots on your skin, also called hyperpigmentation. Some research shows that having a hyperpigmentation disorder can be a distressing experience and that people of color are disproportionately affected.

Healthcare providers can treat hyperpigmentation with various methods, including chemical peels, laser therapy, and topical applications. However, topical vitamin C is a relatively affordable way to reduce dark spots because its chemical makeup can decrease melanin synthesis, a biological process that can lead to dark spots. Long-term, consistent use is important to see results.

While everyone develops wrinkles at some point, long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin and cause premature wrinkles to appear.

Vitamin C is well known for boosting your collagen production through the process of collagen synthesis. In fact, vitamin C is crucial for collagen synthesis. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in your skin and other connective tissue that depletes over time.

Retinoids are prescription-strength skincare products derived from vitamin C. They’re commonly used to treat signs of aging, such as wrinkles. However, vitamin C can be an effective alternative if a retinoid is too harsh for you. Some studies show that it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles when used for at least 12 weeks. It can be combined with a low retinoid concentration for an extra boost.

Hyperpigmentation can affect your skin’s radiance, making it appear uneven, dull, and with dark spots. One review notes that vitamin C use has been shown to reduce melanin production. Melanin is the pigment responsible for skin color. By reducing melanin production, vitamin C helps to fade dark spots, age and sunspots, acne scars, and melasma for a brighter, more even complexion.

Some research suggests that topical vitamin C might also help the skin retain water and stay moisturized, which affects its radiance. However, more research is needed because the moisturizing effects of vitamin C vary depending on the specific serum you choose and its additional ingredients.

The wound-healing process is extremely complex. Vitamin C can play a key role in helping your skin heal from a burn or other injury because it helps the skin produce more collagen. If you have a vitamin C deficiency, your wounds will likely take longer to heal. This is partly because wound healing is associated with collagen formation, and vitamin C boosts collagen production.

Topical vitamin C use can help reduce the risk of permanent scarring and the appearance of scars. One study found that taking vitamin C supplements positively affected skin healing and growth by boosting antioxidant levels in the body and the skin.

Exposure to oxidative stress in the form of pollutants or UV rays reduces vitamin C levels in your skin.

Sun damage is caused by molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules or fragments of molecules with at least one set of unpaired electrons. They try to form bonds with atoms, electrons, or molecules from which they can “steal” an electron. This leads to significant skin damage.

Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect healthy skin cells by “giving” free radicals an electron, making them harmless. Some research has shown that applying vitamin C before exposure to UV rays can decrease your chances of developing sun damage or wrinkles that might accompany it. Applying sunscreen daily can also help protect your skin from the sun and its harmful effects. 

Vitamin C is generally safe to use and affordable to incorporate into your skincare routine. However, potential side effects include itching, redness, and peeling if used in high concentrations. Vitamin C can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s important to layer sunscreen on top.

Vitamin C is most commonly found in topical serums, creams, and lotions. It can also be administered to the skin via microneedling, a procedure in which a healthcare provider makes small puncture wounds in the skin to reduce scars and wrinkles.

A few derivatives of vitamin C appear in products on the market. These include:

  • L-Ascorbic acid
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP)
  • Ascorbic Acid 2-glucoside (AA2G)
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)
  • Palmitoyl-KVK-L Ascor-bic Acid (Palm-KVK-L-AA)
  • Ascorbyl 6-palmitate (AA-Pal)
  • Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (IPAA)

Each of these has been shown in some way to have a positive impact on the skin, but some research has shown that L-Ascorbic acid is more effective and stable than some of the other derivatives.

Vitamin C is a relatively unstable molecule that is sensitive to light and air. This means that it will oxidize faster when exposed to light and air. So look for a product in dark or tinted packaging with an airless pump.

Most products on the market come with a concentration of around 10% of vitamin C. If you’re looking for a topical vitamin C product and you have sensitive skin, you should avoid any products that contain a concentration of 20% or higher of vitamin C. Research has established that this can be irritating and that the higher concentration doesn’t mean you will absorb more of the antioxidant.

Additionally, finding a product with vitamin C and vitamin E can be especially good for targeting wrinkles and brightening your skin tone.

Dermatologists have a few recommendations on how to incorporate vitamin C into your skincare routine:

  • When looking at products, make sure the formulation isn’t higher than 20% if you have sensitive skin.
  • Apply vitamin C in the morning because it can help protect your skin from the sun.
  • Apply it after cleansing, before you put on sunscreen.

While a small number of studies have indicated that taking vitamin C supplements can help improve things like skin elasticity, the majority of research focuses on topical applications.

Vitamin C is a popular, safe antioxidant that can help decrease signs of aging, reduce dark spots and scars, and protect against sun damage. Adding it to your skincare routine, ideally in the mornings, can improve the look and feel of your skin if used long-term.

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