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6 Vitamin C Skin Benefits for Radiant Health

Evidence-based Reviewed Article

An image of a woman holding an orange slice in her eyesVitamin C is a popular vitamin that many use to boost their health. One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin C is its role in enhancing your immune system and preventing colds and flu. However, vitamin C can benefit your body in many different ways including helping to maintain healthy skin. This article will explore the skin benefits of vitamin C and how you can use this in your skincare routine.

What Is Vitamin C?

Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a vitamin soluble in water and found in many foods including fresh fruits and vegetables. Because it is soluble in water, your body does not store it and removes it through the urine if it is consumed in excess. Whilst this limits the risk of toxicity, it can place you at risk of becoming deficient in vitamin C.

Within your skin, there is a high content of vitamin C. However, with age and sun damage, this amount of vitamin C can decline. Additionally, a deficiency in vitamin C can directly impact your skin health by impairing wound healing and increasing bleeding just below the skin. This makes it important to replenish the vitamin C stores within your skin (1).

Replenishing your stores of vitamin C can be done through dietary sources as well as directly through your skin cells through skincare products such as cleansers, moisturizers, and serums.

6 Skin Benefits of Vitamin C

Repairs and Protects From Skin Damage

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, meaning that it can help to neutralize free radicals. These unstable molecules are produced in response to stress, pollutants, UV light rays, and illness.

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C can help to protect your skin from damaging UV rays. Vitamin C penetrates the skin and helps to neutralize the free radicals caused by these rays. This is also known as photoprotection. Damage from these rays can cause fine lines and dark spots, ultimately leading to premature aging.

Many sunscreens contain vitamin C to help enhance the protection they can offer from the sun and to help prevent skin aging. However, it is important to note that whilst this vitamin can protect from harmful UV rays, it does not act as a barrier from the rays.

Improves Dark Spots

Also known as hyperpigmentation, dark spots can occur due to sun exposure, changes in hormones, age, and inflammation. Melanin is a natural pigment in your skin and is responsible for these dark spots. One of the vitamin C skin benefits is that it can block the production of melanin and can help lighten these dark patches of skin (2).

Helps to Support Collagen Production

Collagen is an essential protein in the body, and it plays an important role in maintaining the:

  • Skin
  • Tendons
  • Cartilage
  • Blood vessels
  • Bone
  • Connective tissue

Collagen helps to keep your skin plump, retain moisture, and prevent sagging. However, due to age, collagen production declines, which can contribute to the occurrence of fine lines (3).

Vitamin C can help to exert an anti-aging effect on the skin, and it is one of the nutrients that are necessary for the production of collagen and can help to stimulate the production of collagen (1). This can help to increase collagen production as you age.

Wound Healing

An image of a wounded elbowWith vitamin C's antioxidant and collagen-stimulating abilities, it can help in wound healing as well. Studies suggest that topical vitamin C may even help to speed up wound healing. This can help individuals who are experiencing acne and can help heal the acne as well as help reduce and prevent scarring in the case of cystic acne.

Reduces Redness

There are many different causes for skin redness such as sun exposure, hormones, and inflammatory conditions such as eczema and rosacea. Vitamin C may help here by reducing inflammation, helping to repair damaged cells, and reducing redness.

Skin Hydration

If your skin is not sufficiently hydrated, it can lead to the top layer of skin becoming dry. This can cause itching and scaling as well as premature aging. Vitamin C can help to retain water, improving the hydration of the skin. Additionally, research also suggests that it may help the skin in protecting itself from water loss (1).

Vitamin C In Skincare Products

With the multiple roles of vitamin C, it's not a surprise that it is an ingredient in many different skincare products. In these products, the biologically active form of L-ascorbic acid is used. L-ascorbic acid cannot penetrate your skin by itself and is therefore combined with different ingredients and vitamins to assist with absorption. Additionally, the concentration of vitamin C used in skincare products is 10-20% with a pH of 3.5 as this helps aid in absorption.

There are many different products that claim to offer the skin benefits of vitamin C. These include:

  • Vitamin C serum
  • Toners
  • Cleansers
  • Moisturizers
  • Sunscreen

Toxins to Avoid In Vitamin C Skincare Products

Whilst there are many skin benefits of vitamin C, it is important to choose your skincare products wisely and choose products that are free from toxins. Toxins to wathc out for include:

  • Parabens and phthalates
  • BHA and BHT
  • Coal tar dyes
  • Petroleum
  • DEA
  • Formaldehyde
  • Undisclosed fragrances

It can be overwhelming, to say the least, to find a product that not only has the optimal concentration of vitamin C but also does not include toxic ingredients. One range that achieves this is the Complete Skincare Package. This consists of a variety of different products to assist you in your skincare routine and includes:

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Moisturizers
  • Sunscreen
  • Serum
  • Scrub
  • Eye gel
  • Masque

Whilst not all the products contain vitamin C, the majority of them do. These products are the moisturizers, sunscreen, serum, and masque. This helps to provide the skin benefits of vitamin C.

Side Effects and Considerations of Skin Benefits of Vitamin C

Side effects that some individuals may experience when using vitamin C, specifically a vitamin C serum, include:

  • Stinging
  • Itching
  • Dryness

If you experience these side effects, using a moisturizer can help. If you have sensitive skin, using a product with a low concentration of vitamin C can help you determine how your skin reacts. You can then gradually increase the concentration. Additionally, you can start by using it every other day and slowly work to increase it daily.

Furthermore, there are some individuals for whom vitamin C skincare products may not be appropriate. These include:

  • Children
  • Individuals with sensitivity or allergies to the ingredients in the product

Stress and Its Effect On The Skin Benefits of Vitamin C

An image of a woman looking into the mirror with a worried faceThe health of your skin is affected by many different factors and can be an indication of your overall health. One of the factors that may affect your skin is stress. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system supports your body through stress and consists of six different circuits of related organ systems that help to manage the stressors.

When stress becomes long-term, imbalances within these circuits can start to occur, and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) can result. AFS is the non-Addison's form of adrenal dysfunction, where the body's stress response cannot keep up with life's chronic stressors. Symptoms of AFS will depend on where the imbalance is occurring. Imbalances in the detoxification circuit and hormone circuit, for example, can affect the health of the skin.

AFS can affect your skin by increasing dryness and inflammation. Vitamin C can come in handy here by helping to improve the hydration of the skin as well as lower overall inflammation. However, it is best to use it in conjunction with an overall plan to lower stress levels and rebalance hormones.

Takeaway Message on The Skin Benefits of Vitamin C

The skin benefits of vitamin C can help support your skin health by:

If you are looking to enhance your skin health and are interested in using a line of supplements that are free of toxic ingredients and contain high-quality ingredients, you can click here for more information on our product range.

© Copyright 2024 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Pullar, J. M., et al. "The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health." Nutrients, vol. 9, no. 8, Aug. 2017, p. 866.

Sanadi, R., and Deshmukh, R. S. "The Effect of Vitamin C on Melanin Pigmentation- A Systematic Review." J Oral Maxillofac Pathol, vol. 24, no. 2, May-Aug. 2020, pp. 374-82.

Varani, J., et al. "Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin: Roles of Age-Dependant Alteration in Fibroblast Function and Defective Mechanical Stimulation." Am J Pathol, vol. 168, no. 6, Jun. 2006, pp. 1861-8.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

There are many skin benefits of vitamin C. However, these benefits are short-term, since vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and is readily excreted by the body. In order for you to receive the benefits of this vitamin C, you would need to incorporate it into your skincare routine on a regular basis.

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