Vitamin C is a common recommendation when it comes to helping boost your immune system during cold season. Vitamin C is also often suggested to help up your energy levels on busy days. But have you considered vitamin C for skin care?
Using vitamin C for skin health is a popular idea at the moment. Is it just a fad? Here’s some information on the potential benefits of vitamin C for your skin, so you can decide whether you want to add it to your skin care regimen.
A Brief History of Vitamin C
The importance of vitamin C as part of a balanced diet dates back to the 1700s. The effects of vitamin C were discovered when scurvy was a major problem for sailors. Eating oranges and lemons seemed to be the only thing that helped this issue while at sea.
In the early 1930s, vItamin C was identified as ascorbic acid. It’s a natural enzyme found in many fruits and vegetables. One of the most well-known vitamin C benefits is that it acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body.1,2
Antioxidants and enzymes, including ascorbic acid, are found in many foods.They naturally help protect your cells from free radicals, which can weaken your immune system, causing tissue damage and hindering healthy cell function. Free radical damage can also lead to premature aging of your skin.
Your Dermis is Showing
Given its benefits for your body and cells, it makes sense you’d want to consider the benefits of vitamin C for skin. Your skin, or dermis, is the largest organ in your body. And as the largest organ, it has the most cells so it needs the most protection from free radicals. Plus, your skin is the only organ you have that is directly exposed to environmental damage. This makes skin health even more important.
Studies show that vitamin C levels drop as your skin ages, and after exposure to sun damage, or environmental pollutants. So, you want to incorporate vitamin C into your diet and skin care routine to help boost that beautiful complexion!3
From the Outside In
You can enjoy vitamin C benefits in many ways, including using it topically and internally.
Topical application is the most direct way to see the benefits for skin health, but when you apply vitamin C topically it needs a little help to break through your top protective skin layer to absorb into the deeper layers of your dermis.
One way to boost vitamin C benefits is to combine a topical application with exfoliation.
Consider using a gentle face scrub before you apply your vitamin C to help buff away dead skin cells and allow for better absorption. Even better? Try a gentle exfoliant that contains vitamin C. Additionally, vitamin C is most potent when it is not exposed to oxygen (think a pump, instead of a bottle) or light (think opaque containers, instead of clear ones), so look for packaging that maximizes your skincare investment.4
When vitamin C is applied topically and combined with the extra step of gentle exfoliation and proper exposure to light and oxygen, your skin tone may appear brighter and more youthful and vibrant.
Vitamin C for Sun Damaged Skin
Vitamin C is in no way a replacement for daily sunscreen use, but it can definitely play a big role in your skin health thanks to the effects of ascorbic acid on sun-damaged skin. It is important to remember that sunscreen absorbs and blocks the harmful UV rays that cause sunburn and more serious long-term skin issues. And vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, might also offer some extra protection. Studies suggest it’s particularly beneficial when combined with another powerful antioxidant – vitamin E.5,6
Vitamin C for Skin: Turning Back Time?
Another key use of vitamin C for skin care is to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You see, collagen is what helps your skin appear youthful and plump. But over time, your skin’s natural collagen production slows down. It’s part of the body’s natural aging process. And, as this collagen production declines, fine lines and wrinkles may appear more noticeable.
Vitamin C helps protect your skin from losing collagen, but it may also help to support new collagen production.7,8
Interestingly, ingesting vitamin C for skin may be more effective in helping to minimize the appearance of wrinkles than applying it topically. One study showed that when middle-aged women consumed higher levels of vitamin C and linoleic acid, their complexions appeared less wrinkled, crepey, and dry.9
Vitamin C for the Assist!
The range of benefits that come from vitamin C for skin improvement are many, but it is clear that this vitamin can’t stand alone. Yes, it may be beneficial for skin issues, but research suggests that ascorbic acid works best when paired with other antioxidants.
One thing is for sure: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and it can vastly improve your skin health when added to your diet or beauty routine.
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