It May Help Prevent Skin Sagging
Collagen production is tied to skin elasticity and firmness. When your collagen levels begin to drop, your skin may also begin to sag.
Applying a vitamin C serum may boost collagen production, resulting in an overall tightening effect, reports a 2017 review . This is true for sagging due to natural aging, oxidative stress damage, or extreme weight loss.
This means it can help reduce the appearance of sagging skin, making your skin look firmer and more toned.
Promoting Differentiation Of Keratinocytes
The integrity of the skin barrier may be related to the differentiation of keratinocytes, which affects the function of the skin barrier and causes skin diseases. Vitamin C enhances the late differentiation of keratinocytes, overcomes the differentiation-dependent oxidative stress, and maintains the integrity of the entire cuticle , which is an important prerequisite for the integrity of the skin barrier, ensuring the function of the skin barrier and preventing skin water loss, which in turn can lead to skin disorders.
Helps Prevent Iron Deficiency
Iron is an important nutrient that has a variety of functions in the body. Its essential for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body.
Vitamin C supplements can help improve the absorption of iron from the diet. Vitamin C assists in converting iron that is poorly absorbed, such as plant-based sources of iron, into a form that is easier to absorb .
This is especially useful for people on a meat-free diet, as meat is a major source of iron.
In fact, simply consuming 100 mg of vitamin C may improve iron absorption by 67% .
As a result, vitamin C may help reduce the risk of anemia among people prone to iron deficiency.
In one study, 65 children with mild iron deficiency anemia were given a vitamin C supplement. Researchers found that the supplement alone helped control their anemia .
If you have low iron levels, consuming more vitamin-C-rich foods or taking a vitamin C supplement may help improve your blood iron levels.
Vitamin C can improve the absorption of iron that is poorly absorbed, such as iron from meat-free sources. It may also reduce the risk of iron deficiency.
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It Helps With Hyperpigmentation
When our skin is damaged due to sunburns or inflamed acne, the part of the healing processes is triggering skin cells to create more melanin and, thus, prevent further damage. However, overproduction of melanin can cause age spots, sun spots, and melasma.
Topical application of vitamin C has been shown to reduce melanin production . Therefore, it reduces dark spots and leads to a brightened and faded dark spots.
Functions In Healthy Skin
Vitamin C limits the damage induced by ultraviolet light exposure. Vitamin C is not a Ã¢sunscreenÃ¢ because it does not absorb light in the UVA or UVB spectrum. Rather, the antioxidant activity of vitamin C protects against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C transport proteins are increased in keratinocytes in response to UV light, suggesting an increased need for vitamin C uptake for adequate protection .
UV light decreases vitamin C content of skin, an effect that is dependent on the intensity and duration of UV exposure . In cultured keratinocytes, the addition of vitamin C reduces UV-related DNA damage and lipid peroxidation, limits the release of pro-inflammatorycytokines, and protects against apoptosis. Vitamin C also modulates redox-sensitivecell signaling in cultured skin cells and consequently increases cell survival following UV exposure .
In two rodent studies, addition of ascorbic acid to the diet reduced the size and number of dermal neoplasms and skin tumors induced by chronic UV exposure . To date, no other studies with UV exposure and oral ascorbic acid supplementation in animal models have been published.
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How To Use Vitamin C In Your Skin Care Routine
Jamal recommends using a vitamin C serum in the morning under a basic moisturizer but unfortunately, you cant just slather it on and go about the rest of your usual skin care routine. Certain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide can oxidize vitamin C, rendering it useless while other ingredients like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids can alter the pH of the vitamin C and reduce efficacy, Jamal says. Basically, you dont want to layer a vitamin C moisturizer over a product with lactic or glycolic acid unless you want them to cancel each other out or worse, cause irritation or redness. Additionally, ingredients with a high potential for skin irritation such as retinoids may cause more irritation if combined with vitamin C.
The only exception to the rule, Jamal says, is any product thats been specifically formulated with both vitamin C and an AHA or BHA, as the brand likely tested it for efficacy or included other stabilizers, like ferulic acid. As with any product that can brighten skin, be sure to wear sunscreen and limit sun exposure.
Its Safe For Most Skin Types
Vitamin C has an excellent . Most people can use topical vitamin C for an extended period of time without experiencing any adverse reactions.
A 2017 review of research notes that vitamin C may cause minor skin irritation in concentrations above 20%. Because of this, its concentration often ranges between 10% and 20% in skin care products.
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Vitamin C For Wrinkles
Vitamin C is great at helping to maintain our skins structure as it helps support our skins natural collagen molecules this is necessary in stabilizing the outer layer of our skin, also known as the epidermis. Studies often assess skin health by the changes in depth or the number of wrinkles on an individual. In order to preserve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, Vitamin C products also help hydrate the skin through forming a barrier that helps decrease trans-epidermal water loss.
How To Use Topical Vitamin C
During your morning skincare routine
- use a gentle cleanser
- apply a few drops of a vitamin C serum to the face and neck
- apply moisturizer and sunscreen.
You may experience a mild tingling sensation with the use of vitamin C. You may choose to begin applying it every other day, and if tolerated you may apply it daily. It may take up to three months of consistent use to see a noticeable improvement. If you experience substantial discomfort or irritation, please stop using vitamin C and consult with your physician.
Vitamin C does not replace the use of sunscreen or wearing sun-protective clothing. Be sure to use broad-spectrum, tinted sunscreen daily, and limit sun exposure during peak hours.
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About the Authors
Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS, Contributor
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How To Use Vitamin C Serums
Vitamin C serums at 8%20% concentrations are optimal for skin as higher concentrations do not bring greater results and can, in fact, lead to irritation.
A vitamin C serum is best applied in the morning to protect your skin from UV radiation when you go outdoors.
The rule of thumb is to apply skin care products in order of thinnest to thickest consistency.
In this case, you would apply it after toning but before moisturizing. Two pumps should produce a pea-size amount of serum no more than this is required.
Smooth the serum onto your skin with upward strokes and allow it to absorb for about 1 minute before applying moisturizer.
You can also look for vitamin C serums that are formulated with other skin-rejuvenating agents such as hyaluronic acid which can boost skins moisture and plump skin. When combined, it can produce a significant improvement in wrinkles, skin texture and elasticity.
What To Look For In Vitamin C Serums
While you might be tempted to get a dropper of pure vitamin C and douse your face in it, Thornfeldt points out that it could do more harm than good: Theres no place in human skin that cells have receptors only for vitamin C and nothing else. In fact, the skin cells have receptors to metabolize multiple vitamins. If cells are only given vitamin C without the context of all the other vitamins the cells need, then the single antioxidant actually becomes pro-oxidant, creating damage over time.
Instead, look for a water-based serum thats packaged in a dark, oxygen-free environment, like a tinted or lined pump bottle. A formulation with 10-20% vitamin C is optimal for absorption, according to a study in Dermatologic Surgery, the official journal of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
Ahead, find expert-vetted vitamin C serums that can transform your skin.
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Top 6 Vitamin C Skin Care Benefits
Fades Mild HyperpigmentationEVENS OUT COMPLEXION
Vitamin C is natural beauty blender that evens out your overall complexion and lightens hyperpigmentation . Vitamin C reduces melanin levels by cutting off the supply of what your skin uses to make melanin: tyrosine. Less tyrosine means less melanin, which means –> faded dark spots. Hell yeah. For the record, don’t confuse lighten with whiten. Vitamin C will lighten dark spots to match your base skin tone. Vitamin C will not whiten your skin.
Reduces RednessSOOTHES INFLAMMATION
Vitamin C is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that reduces redness . Vitamin C also strengthens blood vessels and minimize the appearance of broken capillaries.
Collagen Booster ANTI-AGING. YES PLEASE.
Vitamin C increases collagen production to maintain firm, bouncy skin. Vitamin C boosts collagen by increasing the production of the amino acids needed to make collagen . Fun fact: vitamin C not only stimulates new collagen production, but also protects existing collagen in your face .
Brightens ComplexionGET THE JLO GLOW
Vitamin C brightens complexion . We call it the The Vitamin C Glow: the combo of faded hyperpigmentation and pigmented dark circles, reduced redness, and boosted collagen means goodbye to tired, dull skin.
Fights Free Radical DamageANTI-AGING. YES PLEASE.
Prevents Fine Lines and WrinklesANTI-AGING. YES PLEASE.
The Promotion Of Collagen Formation
Vitamin C acts as a co-factor for the proline and lysine hydroxylases that stabilise the collagen molecule tertiary structure, and it also promotes collagen gene expression . In the skin, collagen formation is carried out mostly by the fibroblasts in the dermis, resulting in the generation of the basement membrane and dermal collagen matrix . The dependence of the collagen hydroxylase enzymes on vitamin C has been demonstrated in a number of studies with fibroblast cells in vitro , with both decreased total synthesis and decreased crosslinking when vitamin C is absent . The activity of the hydroxylases is much more difficult to measure in vivo, as the amount of collagen synthesised may vary only a little . Rather, animal studies with the vitamin-C-deficient GULO mouse indicate that the stability of the synthesised collagen varies with vitamin C availability, reflecting the stabilising function of the collagen crosslinks formed by the hydroxylases . In addition to stabilising the collagen molecule by hydroxylation, vitamin C also stimulates collagen mRNA production by fibroblasts .
Structure of the dermis. Higher magnification of H& E-stained dermis, showing the irregular nature of the bundled collagen fibres and sparse presence of the fibroblasts . Vitamin C present in the fibroblasts supports the synthesis of the collagen fibres.
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Why Is Vitamin C Good For Your Skin
As a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C neutralizes the free radicals that cause oxidative stress to skin and lead to premature skin aging. It is also essential to the production of collagen in skin cells, helping to support skin structure and delay signs of aging.
Vitamin C as anti-oxidant
Vitamin C is proven to help neutralize the free radicals in our body that lead to oxidative stress. This helps to prevent premature skin aging and delay the visible signs of biological skin aging. Oxidative stress leads to dull, tired-looking skin and Vitamin C gives it the boost it needs to look younger and fresher. You can find out more in What are free radicals and how do they affect skin?
Vitamin C and collagen
Collagen is one of the natural filler substances in skin. Its in plentiful supply when were young and helps to give skin its firm and even appearance. As we age, collagen declines, and this decrease contributes significantly to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles and a loss of volume and contours in aging skin.
Vitamin C helps in two ways. Firstly, it is essential to the production of collagen in skin cells. Secondly, as a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C helps to protect skin from the free radicals that break down the cells that produce skin components such as collagen and speed up its degradation.
May Reduce Your Risk Of Chronic Disease
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your bodys natural defenses .
Antioxidants are molecules that boost the immune system. They do so by protecting cells from harmful molecules called free radicals.
When free radicals accumulate, they can promote a state known as oxidative stress, which has been linked to many chronic diseases .
Studies show that consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. This helps the bodys natural defenses fight inflammation .
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can boost your blood antioxidant levels. This may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease.
Approximately one-third of American adults have high blood pressure .
High blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death globally .
Studies have shown that vitamin C may help lower blood pressure in both those with and without high blood pressure.
An animal study found that taking a vitamin C supplement helped relax the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, which helped reduce blood pressure levels .
Moreover, an analysis of 29 human studies found that taking a vitamin C supplement reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.5 mmHg, on average, in healthy adults.
In adults with high blood pressure, vitamin C supplements reduced systolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.7 mmHg, on average .
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Antioxidants Can Increase Vitamin C’s Potency
Vitamin C works on its own, but pairing it with other antioxidants can boost its potency. “Certain antioxidants are synergistic,” says Hunter. “They strengthen one another, regenerate one another, and last longer in the body, so they’re more available in the skin.” One study16 found that vitamin E and ferulic acid increase vitamin C’s effectiveness eightfold. Try or Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum. Another option is EGCG, which is the most active component in green tea, like in Beauty Stat Universal C Skin Refiner. Other additives to look for: hyaluronic acid to smooth the skin, and aloe to soothe. Downside: With more active ingredients, products can get pricey.
Reduces The Appearance Of Dark Spots And Under
Clinical trials have found that vitamin C can reduce sun spots, age spots, and dark spots by blocking the formation of melanin in the skin. Vitamin C serums can also have an overall brightening effect on the skin. Moreover, improvement in dark spots with vitamin C is usually achieved without causing any skin irritation or other side effects.
Vitamin C has hydrating and plumping effects on the skin. It can also help to reduce pigmentation and discoloration. These skin effects of vitamin C can be beneficial in reducing the appearance of under-eye circles and eye bags.
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Benefits Of Vitamin C For Skin
Vitamin C is an impressive skincare ingredient that is shown to be effective in the following areas:
- Protects against environmental stressors: As an antioxidant, one of vitamin Cs main functions is protecting the skin. “Normal cellular processes, as well as environmental insults like ultraviolet light and pollution, create free radicals in the skin,” Herrmann explains. “Free radicals are inherently unstable molecules that damage cells, promoting skin dullness, wrinkles, and even cancers.” Guanche adds, “Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means that it can protect skin from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure.” By scavenging these free radicals, vitamin C protects the skin, keeping it healthy and improving visible signs of aging.
- Promotes collagen production: Vitamin C also plays an important role in collagen synthesis. “Collagen gives our skin support and structure, and as it degrades with age, we begin to notice wrinkles and lines,” Herrmann explains. “Vitamin C is a necessary cofactor for building collagen bundles, without which this process halts.”
- Lightens dark spots: Vitamin C is also helpful in lightening unwanted dark spots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or decreasing brown discoloration by blocking the pathway of pigment synthesis, according to both Herrmann and Guanche.
Jenna Ignieri / Design by Cristina Cianci
Vitamin C won’t always make a visible difference, but it can make skin brighter and more light-reflective.
Tip #: Dont Mix Vitamin C With Certain Skincare Ingredients
Vitamin C can typically be used in conjunction with many other skincare ingredients without any adverse effects. Itâs also well-tolerated by most skin types. But if you have hypersensitive skin, you might want to skip it altogether, or at least avoid using it the night youâre using a face scrub or exfoliating acid.
In addition, vitamin C shouldnât be mixed with benzoyl peroxide or soap-based cleansers. If used alongside these ingredients, vitamin C will oxidize and lose its potency. You can still use products that contain these ingredients, just not the same day you use vitamin C or as part of the same routine.
You should also avoid using a vitamin C serum together with retinoids, AHAs or BHAs as it can increase the risk of irritation.
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