You may have heard that vitamin C is good for your skin. Skin care companies tout vitamin C serum as an antidote to aging, wrinkle-prone skin. But how does vitamin C help your complexion?
What Does Vitamin C Do?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals that come from the foods we eat. You get vitamin C from foods like fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants, including vitamin C, neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that damage cells in our bodies. We’re exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Because vitamin C fights free radicals, it boosts immunity and helps protect us from disease.
The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps wounds heal and keeps joints, bones, and skin healthy.
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How Vitamin C Serum Benefits Your Skin
It’s important to eat foods rich in vitamin C for your overall health. But vitamin C applied directly to the skin offers added benefits. It can help keep your skin younger-looking and smooth out your complexion.
Vitamin C in the form of serum is highly concentrated. It is the most effective way to make sure vitamin C gets to your skin. Here’s how vitamin C serum benefits your skin.
It triggers collagen production
Collagen is a protein that provides skin with strength and elasticity. We lose collagen as we age, and the skin on our face tends to develop fine lines and wrinkles.
Because vitamin C boosts collagen production, it helps prevent premature aging. It may also reduce the appearance of sagging skin, so your skin looks firmer and more toned.
It fights free radicals
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C can help protect the skin from environmental damage. That includes sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke. All those things can lead to skin damage, including discoloration, fine lines, and some forms of skin cancer.
It minimizes skin discoloration
Vitamin C reduces the formation of melanin, the natural pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin is also present in age spots and melasma (dark patches on the face). Regular use of vitamin C serum can help even out your skin tone by reducing melasma and age spots.
How to Add Vitamin C Serum to Your Skin Care Routine
Most people can safely use vitamin C serum on their skin. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your dermatologist before adding anything new to your skin care routine.
When you’re shopping for a vitamin C serum, choose a water-free formula. Look for a bottle that’s opaque and airtight because light and air can make the serum less potent. The vitamin C concentration should fall somewhere between 10% and 20%.
You should apply the serum once or twice a day after washing your face with a mild cleanser. You only need a few drops. Apply your moisturizer after the vitamin C serum to help lock in the antioxidants.
Other Tips to Get a Smooth Complexion
Adding vitamin C serum to your skin care routine may offer benefits. But no product can take the place of good nutrition, sleep, and exercise. Stick to a basic skin care routine for the healthiest skin, no matter what your age.
- Wash with a gentle cleanser twice a day. The cleanser will remove dirt, debris, and oil. Don’t scrub your face. Scrubbing can irritate the skin.
- Always use sunscreen to help prevent wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun-protection factor) of 30 or higher or opt for a moisturizer that contains sunscreen.
- Drink plenty of water. Women should aim for about 9 cups of water per day for healthy skin.
- Get good rest. If you short-change yourself on sleep, it will show in puffy eyes and irritated-looking skin. Shoot for seven to eight hours of shut-eye every night.
- Eat a balanced diet. Cut back on sugar and eat more fresh fruits and veggies for healthy-looking skin.
- Exercise most days. Working out improves your circulation and gives you a brighter complexion.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, try to stop. Smoking speeds up the aging process and gives you a dull complexion.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, causing it to look older.
U.S. National Library of Medicine, The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health, Link
U.S. National Library of Medicine, Vitamin C in dermatology, Link
U.S. National Library of Medicine, Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications, Link
National Institutes of Health, Vitamin C, Link
American Academy of Dermatology, Skin Care on a Budget, Link
American Academy of Dermatology, 11 Ways to Reduce Premature Skin Aging, Link
Connect with UPMC
The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.