Key Benefits of Vitamin C for the Skin

Vitamin C is increasingly touted as a blockbuster ingredient used in a lot skincare products. Whilst ingesting Vitamin C as a cold and flu remedy has been a recommendation passed down for generations, using it on the surface of the skin, as an ingredient, is a relatively new development. In this article we are going to look at the benefits of Vitamin C as a skincare ingredient and cover examples of when that might be less effective.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it’s easily absorbed by the body. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant agent and an effective nutrient. It provides several benefits for the body. It can provide a defense against:

  • Immune system deficiencies
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Eye disease 
  • Prenatal health problems

That said, these are all good examples of why you might want to ingest it, but is it good for your skin? The short answer is a resounding yes.

How Does Vitamin C Improve Skin?

As discussed, most people get their vitamin C through fruits and vegetables or as a simple supplement. However, its many benefits can also be transferred by applying it directly to the skin via a serum or other skincare product.

When applied directly to the skin, Vitamin C has the effect of brightening your complexion whilst also adding some protection from sun and environmental exposure, not as a sunscreen per se, but more as a way of nourishing your skin, so it can increase its natural defenses against free radicals and toxins. This has the effect of making lines and wrinkles less pronounced and diminishing dark spots and blemishes.

To get the full benefit of Vitamin C, it's definitely worthwhile to make sure you are getting plenty of it through a combination of topical application and regular vitamin C intake.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Now that we can be confident Vitamin C has a wide range of benefits both in terms of a topical application and as an ingestant, here are a few specifics of what it can do:

  • Prevents premature aging: Vitamin C diminishes fine lines and wrinkles and repairs aging skin giving your skin a more youthful appearance. It also reduces the appearance of dark spots, which can sometimes make you look older.
  • Repairs damaged skin: Vitamin C can help repair skin and cartilage that has been damaged. It helps wounds heal quickly, decreases swelling and inflammation, and returns the texture of the skin back to normal after a stressful exposure like sun, wind or poor air quality.
  • Accelerates collagen production: Collagen is a protein that helps to keep skin youthful and plump. The body naturally produces less collagen as we age, but vitamin C can help accelerate its production and keep the skin firm so it doesn’t sag in all the wrong places.
  • Treats and prevents hyperpigmentation: Environmental stresses like sun exposure can lead to dark spots on the skin. Vitamin C helps to reduce the appearances of these dark spots while also protecting the skin from sun damage through enzymes that help with melanin production.
  • Evening your skin tone: The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in vitamin C helps with your skin tone by reducing redness and repairing damaged capillaries.
  • Hydrates your skin: Vitamin C helps keep the skin properly hydrated and not too oily or dry. As a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C ensures that the top layer of your skin is properly hydrated by helping it retain water. This keeps your skin healthy and youthful while preventing it from drying out and becoming itchy or scaly. Evidently, using a vitamin C clay mask is a great way to improve your skin. Apply one and your skin will thank you.

Vitamin C and Oxidation

Most manufacturers of skincare products don’t advertise the fact that when Vitamin C is exposed to oxygen, it starts to oxidize. When this happens, the Vitamin C starts losing its strength and it degrades to become erythrulose, which can also cause some unwanted damage and discoloration of the skin. The good news is that this damage is not long lasting and will wear off within a week. Although there is no scientific evidence to suggest that oxidized vitamin C is bad for your skin, bear in mind that the products you use are best used fresh or in self contained single-use doses that ensure the Vitamin C’s integrity to give you the full benefit of this amazing compound.

In summary, Vitamin C has tremendous health benefits whether that be as a food or as an ingredient applied directly onto your skin. Ideally you want exposure to fresh forms of Vitamin C that have not had a chance to oxidize and degrade, giving you the maximum benefit.