Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient that packs a punch when it comes to skincare. We explore the many benefits it provides, and why a vitamin C serum is one of the most essential products in your skincare routine.
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin.
It cannot be synthesized by the human body(1), yet it plays a vital role in the health of both skin and the body.
BENEFITS OF VITAMIN C FOR THE SKIN
Normal, healthy skin has high concentrations of vitamin C in the epidermis (the skin’s outer layer), but exposure to UV light can deplete this reserve(2). This ingredient serves multiple roles within the skin, and its two most important functions are:
vitamin C may play a role in the skin’s ability to protect itself from water loss
1. Its ability to stimulate collagen synthesis(2)
This vitamin helps to stimulate and promote collagen, which in turn keeps your skin looking smooth, fresh and youthful. It works like this: collagen formation is carried out by fibroblasts in the dermis (the second layer of the skin). Fibroblasts are important cells that are involved in the formation of skin- studies have shown that they are dependent on the presence of vitamin C for the synthesis and regulation of collagen in the dermis(2).
This results in the creation of the dermal collagen matrix. Research also shows that without Vitamin C, synthesis and crosslinking decrease(2).
Additionally, it plays a very significant role in repairing wounds, which is directly related to the synthesis of collagen(2). In fact, inadequate amounts of vitamin C are associated with a number of impaired skin functions, including poor wound healing and fragility and loss of connective tissue(2).
Vitamin C is also proven to enhance the production of barrier lipids- the vital oils that help protect skin. This suggests that vitamin C may play a role in the skin’s ability to protect itself from water loss(2).
How can a vitamin C serum benefit skin?
- It can be used in serum form for a radiant, smooth complexion.
- As it has an anti-pigmentary effect on skin, it decreases the presence of melanin formation, keeping your complexion looking brighter(3), while targeting dark spots.
- Due to its antioxidant properties, studies show that vitamin C limits the damage induced by UV exposure on the skin, and this is proven to occur when using both a topical and dietary intake of vitamin C(2).
- Some studies also indicate that topical application of this vitamin may decrease skin roughness(2), resulting in softer and smoother skin.
2. Its antioxidant properties
Vitamin C's antioxidant properties make it an excellent protection against external toxins(2), because it can neutralise and remove oxidants, and has the ability to repair any damage created. This is particularly important when it comes to the harmful effects of environmental factors, such as solar radiation, pollution and smoking. All of these factors can accelerate damage to the skin in the form of oxidative stress(3), contributing to the signs of premature aging. However, Vitamin C neutralizes these oxidative factors, resulting in powerful anti-aging benefits and photoprotection for the skin(3).
Vitamin C also has an impact on other vitamins in the body such as vitamin E. This vitamin is also an antioxidant that protects cells against oxidative stress, while maintaining the collagen network in the skin. Studies have also shown that vitamin C is a primary replenisher of vitamin E, and is similarly depleted when exposed to UV rays(3).
Benefits of vitamin C for the body
Vitamin C is beneficial for many aspects of the body, especially when it comes to the body’s tissue. It’s important for the growth, development and repair of tissues and bones, and it is also essential in stressful conditions for its anti-inflammatory effects on the immunity. Moreover, the vitamin helps to stimulates the immune system by increasing its strength and protection(4).
1. 'Vitamin C Fortification of Food Aid Commodities: Final Report.' in Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on International Nutrition--Vitamin C in Food Aid Commodities Washington (DC), National Academies Press (US), 1997 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230157/]
2. Pullar, J.M. et al, 'The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health' in Nutrients 9.8 (2017) p. 866 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/]
3. Al-Niaimi, F. et al, 'Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications' in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 10.7 (2017) pp. 14-17 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605218/]
4. Sorice, A. et al, 'Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases.' in Mini Rev Med Chem 14.5 (2014) pp. 444-52 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24766384]