What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C (Vit. C) is a naturally occurring antioxidant. Unfortunately for humans, Vit. C isn't created in the body, so we must find it from other natural sources (most commonly from citrus fruits).
L-Ascorbic Acid is the active form of Vit. C used in skin and dermatology practices. Unfortunately, when we eat vitamin c rich foods, only some of the Vit. C is absorbed into the gut, and we only receive a small amount of the antioxidant benefits. So, when we think of the skin and orally ingesting Vit. S, there is not enough Vit. C accessible to reach the skin and to have an effect. This is why we use Vit. C on top of the skin (topical skincare) to ensure that we receive the benefits.
What does Vitamin C do for the skin?
1. Vitamin C as an antioxidant
Vit. C is a water-soluble antioxidant that protects the skin from oxidative stress (the imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals). How does it do this?
When the skin is exposed to oxidative damage (ex. from UV radiation), Vit. C donates electrons to neutralize the free radicals that damage the skin. In simple terms, Vit. C acts to stabilize very reactive molecules from damaging the skin. This neutralization is essential for reducing signs of aging and can protect the skin from precancerous changes caused by the sun.
2. Vitamin C and Collagen Synthesis
Vit. C is essential for dictating the amount of collagen produced and the changes that occur in the collagen molecule. Collagen enzymes depend on Vit. C to stabilize the collagen molecules. When there is a Vit. C deficiency is an overall decreased synthesis of collagen, and a less stable collagen molecule is created.
3. Vitamin C and Pigmentation
Vit. C inhibits the action of a specific enzyme that produces melanin (skin pigment) formation. So, Vit. C acts as a skin brightening agent by inhibiting the skin's melanin production. It can even prevent the formation of dark spots!
4. Vitamin C and Inflammation
Vit. C inhibits the activation of inflammatory cells and has benefits in reducing inflammation for those who suffer from conditions like acne, rosacea, and dermatitis.
How to get Vitamin C in your skin routine:
We see Vit. C most often used in serums. This is because most serums are high concentrations of active ingredients and will produce the most significant effects. However, if you don't feel like adding an extra step for serums in your skincare routine, you can find Vit. C in other products such as cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens.
- Use Vit. C serums in the morning and on freshly cleansed first. Vit. C works to protect the skin from UV rays, so apply the serum before starting your day.
- Concentrations range from 5%-30: the lower the concentration, the less irritating.
- Mixing Vit. C: pretty well tolerated with other active ingredients. Don't mix it with benzoyl peroxide, and be careful when mixing with retinol
- Store Vit. C products in a dark location, in an opaque, airtight container. Vit. C's sensitivity to light and air will cause it to become less effective.
- Vit. C works best combined with vitamin E. Vitamin E increases the photoprotection (sun protection) of Vit. C by four-fold! So, when used together are great at protecting the skin against UV damage.
Some great Vit. C Products:
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic (15% Vit.C)
- MadHippie Vitamin C Serum
- La Roche Possay Pure Vitamin C10
- Vichy LiftActiv
- Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster
- Maelove The Glow Maker Antioxidant Serum