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The Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that the human body cannot produce on its own, which is why it is vital to seek out this vitamin from different sources, not only for your skin but also for your overall health.

Why is vitamin C so important?

Read on to find out exactly how this powerhouse ingredient can benefit your skin.

It Boosts Collagen Production

When it comes to the health and appearance of your skin, collagen plays a huge role.

What is collagen?

It is one of the structural proteins that make up the building blocks of your skin, meaning that it is largely responsible for how smooth, firm and tight your skin is.

Illustration of the layers of the epidermis

As you age, the rate at which your body naturally produces collagen declines, and this is one of the main reasons why your skin begins to wrinkle and sag.

This is where vitamin C comes in…

While there are many ingredients out there that can help to boost the collagen production in your body, vitamin C has been scientifically proven to be extremely effective at this, which is why it is such a popular anti-aging ingredient.

Not only that, but vitamin C has also been shown to boost the quality of the collagen that is produced, meaning that you will notice its effects much faster than if you were to use another collagen-promoting ingredient.

It Prevents UV Damage

With the sun’s UV rays responsible for up to 90% of facial wrinkles, as well as sun spots, skin cancer, and so much more, UV damage is definitely something that you want to avoid as much as possible.

Of course, some UV exposure is inevitable, and, when in small amounts, your body can usually cope with this, largely because of the vitamin C contained in your skin.

How exactly does vitamin C prevent UV damage?

Well, when UV rays hit your skin, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are atoms that are missing an electron, and in order to “fix” themselves, they end up attacking nearby cells to steal their electrons. This then causes damage to the attacked cells, which then attack more cells in order to try to heal themselves.

This constant cycle ends up causing DNA damage within your skin cells, which cannot be fixed.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning that it targets these free radicals and provides them with the electron that they are missing, stopping them from attacking surrounding cells, and therefore preventing the cycle of damage from continuing on.  

Wondering if the vitamin C you consume through your diet is enough to provide your body with this UV protection?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Although research on this topic is limited, the studies that have been carried out so far show that oral consumption of vitamin C is not sufficient when it comes to providing the body with extra UV protection.

However, when applied topically, UV protection is magnified, likely due to the fact that your skin is directly receiving the vitamin C, rather than it having to travel through your body first. 

It Protects the Skin From Damage Caused by Pollution

Pollutants are all around you, and it is pretty much impossible to completely avoid them.

Even if you live in a rural environment with plenty of fresh air, indoor pollutants can still be a problem.

How does pollution actually affect the skin?

In a number of ways, including:

  • Premature aging due to breaking down the skin’s collagen and elastin
  • Skin rashes
  • Eczema
  • Contact dermatitis 

Being such a potent antioxidant, vitamin C is able to counter the damage that pollution causes, by minimizing oxidative stress and inflammation. The way in which it is able to boost collagen production also helps to make up for some of the collagen that is broken down by exposure to pollution, preventing premature aging.

It Speeds Up Skin Healing

When it comes to the healing of wounds, whether these are from a cut, a burn, an acne lesion, or anything else, vitamin C can really help.

How?

Well, to begin with, vitamin C helps to lower the inflammation experienced at the site of the wound, while also limiting free radical activity, in the same way that it does when it comes to UV protection. The way in which vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis is also important in wound healing, as extra collagen will be needed at the wound site.

If all of that was not enough…

Vitamin C also helps to stimulate the formation of the skin’s natural protective barrier, helping it to regenerate after it has been damaged by a wound.

It is also vital when it comes to creating keratinocytes within the body, which are the cells you need in order for a wound on the skin’s surface to close up.

It Evens Out Skin Tone

Do you have an uneven skin tone?

If so, vitamin C can really help with this.

Yes, there are plenty of other stronger ingredients, such as hydroquinone, that are better known for evening out the skin tone, but these often come with unwanted side effects. Vitamin C does the job in such a gentle way, making it suitable for even the most sensitive of skin.

How does vitamin C help with skin tone?

Well, an uneven skin tone is usually caused by your body overproducing melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color. When this happens, your skin will develop darker spots in certain areas, which is known as hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C works by disrupting the over-production of melanin, preventing this excess pigment from showing up in your skin. This then helps to lighten up any dark areas, evening out your skin tone.

If the main reason you are using vitamin C is for its skin lightening and brightening benefits…

Try to opt for a product that also contains other gentle, skin lightening ingredients, such as licorice extract, kojic acid and soy, as these will all help to boost the way in which the vitamin C works

It Helps With Dry and Sensitive Skin

As mentioned above, vitamin C helps with the formation of the skin’s natural protective barrier. It does this by boosting the production of ceramides in the skin, which is what the skin’s barrier is primarily made up of. 

Those with dry or sensitive skin suffer from a damaged barrier, which is why the moisture within the skin evaporates so readily, leaving the skin dry, as well as vulnerable to environmental damage.

By strengthening the skin’s natural barrier, dryness can really be tackled, as the skin will be much more able to retain moisture.

It also helps with sensitive skin, as a strengthened barrier will function much better when it comes to keeping dirt, toxins and bacteria from the environment from entering your skin.

It Exfoliates the Skin

Another reason as to why vitamin C can really help to brighten up the complexion is due to the mild exfoliating effect it has.

Vitamin C exfoliates the skin, but in such a mild and gentle way, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin.

By clearing away the dead skin cells that sit on the surface of the skin, this then allows the rest of the vitamin C to quickly and easily penetrate into your skin’s layers and work its magic. 

What Are the Different Forms of VitaminC?

There are quite a few different forms of vitamin C out there, with each one varying when it comes to how they actually work.

These are a few of the most common forms of vitamin C available:

  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Sodium Ascorbate
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
  • Ester-C
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

So, which form of vitamin C is best?

Well, the one with the most research behind it is ascorbic acid, which is why this is the most common form of vitamin C used in skin care.

What makes ascorbic acid so powerful?

The fact that this is the most bioavailable form of vitamin C, meaning that your body and skin can use it in the state that it is in. With the other forms of vitamin C, the cells in your body will need to first convert the vitamin C to ascorbic acid before it can be utilized.

Maximizing the Effectiveness of Vitamin C

There is no denying that vitamin C is such a powerful and effective ingredient in skin care, but did you know that there is a way to maximize its effects even more?

Research has shown that when vitamin C is combined with other antioxidants, it works even better than it does when used on its own, providing double the amount of UV protection, free radical protection, and everything else.

Wondering which antioxidants you should be combining vitamin C with?

Research shows that vitamin E is the best one to go for, with this being especially helpful when it comes to preventing UV damage. 

How to Choose Vitamin C Products

Vitamin C is an extremely vulnerable ingredient, and is hugely affected by both light and air.

This can make it difficult when it comes to formulating skin care products containing vitamin C, as it is hard to ensure that the vitamin C within the product is stable.

No matter how great a vitamin C skin care product may sound, the packaging that contains it is extremely important…

To ensure that light does not degrade the vitamin C in a product, the packaging needs to be completely opaque, as this will block any light from penetrating into the formula.

A container that is air-restrictive, such as one with a pump top, is better, as these prevent oxygen from coming into contact with the vitamin C.

Vitamin C oxidizes extremely quickly. If the formula has already started to oxidize when it is being packaged, then rather than preventing free radicals from damaging your skin, the product will actually create even more free radicals, with this increasing with the more the product oxidizes.

How do you know if a vitamin C product has oxidized?

One big sign is if it has changed color. If it has gone from a clear or light color to a darker, browner color, then this is a clear sign that the formula has oxidized and will end up generating free radicals. Keep in mind that the changing of color is expected with certain formulas, and will not affect the vitamin’s stability in these cases, but this will always be stated on the packaging.

Wondering if glass or plastic packaging makes a difference?

It does when it comes to products containing a high percentage of ascorbic acid. These acids can react with plastic, meaning that glass bottles are always better at keeping the ingredient stable

One more thing to look out for…

Does the product you are considering contain water?

If so, this is best avoided.

Why?

Because when vitamin C is mixed with water, it is converted into a more vulnerable form that is highly prone to degradation. Water-based products also tend to have a shorter shelf life, which is why you are best opting for a vitamin C product that does not contain any water at all.

You should also make sure that vitamin C is at the top of the ingredients list when it comes to skin care products.

This ensures that it is being used at a higher dose, meaning that you will reap much more of its benefits. If vitamin C is listed at the end, then it is likely that the product contains too little of the ingredient for it to actually make a difference.

Vitamin C is such a powerful skin care ingredient, and its fantastic effects have been recognized for years, which is why this ingredient is becoming even more popular. Whether you decide to use a vitamin C serum, cream, face mask or anything else, this is an ingredient that just about everybody would benefit from incorporating into their skin care routine.

 

Lionesse

By Lionesse

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