Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a small commission for purchases made via affiliate links.
There are a lot of things that are supposed to be good for your skin. Today I’m looking at one that is in a lot of anti-ageing products, and has rave reviews on Makeupalley – vitamin C.
Vitamin C (aka L-ascorbic acid) is essential in your diet – it has a lot of roles in the functioning of your body, including production of collagen, as an antioxidant and in your immune system. Luckily, most people these days get more than enough vitamin C in their food. It’s in many fruits and vegetables, as well as liver. However, it’s possible to overdose on it, so be careful!
Collagen is an important part of skin strength and elasticity. Loss of collagen is one of the reasons wrinkles develop. Although collagen production naturally decreases as you get older, some things such as sun exposure (also known as photoageing) and smoking can prematurely lower your collagen.
You might also know that free radicals can also age your skin, and as an antioxidant, vitamin C can help soak these up before they damage you – so there’s more than one reason vitamin C is good for unwrinkling your skin. It’s even been found to be effective at preventing sunburn, if applied before sun exposure.
Related post: Antioxidants in Skincare: What Do They Do?
Additionally, for those who are worried about darkened spots from the sun, topical vitamin C has also been shown to lighten hyperpigmentation. It’s also been shown to help lighten acne scarring and get rid of roughness.
A study found that people who didn’t have enough vitamin C in their diet saw the most improvement using topical vitamin C products. However, eating a lot of vitamin C doesn’t really increase the amount of vitamin C that ends up in your skin, because your digestive system gets rid of the excess. The most effective way to get it into your skin (if you have enough vitamin C in your diet) is to slop it on!
But the form of vitamin C that you put on your skin is a complex issue too! The problem with just using straight vitamin C (as it looks in the molecular diagram above) is that it’s quite unstable when you store it exposed to air for too long. Creams often use an inactive form which can be converted to the active form in the skin, such as ascorbyl-6-palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP).
Vitamin C-containing creams tend to be quite expensive, so you can just use powdered L-ascorbic acid, or grind up some vitamin C tablets, and use it immediately (and in fact, one study found that results were better when plain vitamin C was used!). However, the low pH means that it can irritate your skin, so be careful and stop if you see irritation. There are many vitamin C serum recipes available online.
Related post: Easy (5 Minute) DIY Vitamin C Serum Recipe
Are you going to start using vitamin C now? Or are you going to wait until you start getting wrinkles?
P. K. Farris, Topical vitamin C: a useful agent for treating photoaging and other dermatologic conditions, Dermatol. Surg. 2005, 31, 814-818.
Humbert et al., Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo, Exp. Dermatol. 2003, 12, 237–244.
Nusgens et. al. Topically Applied Vitamin C Enhances the mRNA Level of Collagens I and III, Their Processing Enzymes and Tissue Inhibitor of Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 in the Human Dermis, J. Invest. Dermatol. 2001, 116, 853-859.