Vitamin C is clearly a multi-tasking marvel. The nutrient found most abundantly in fruits and vegetables helps your body absorb iron, neutralizes the impact of the nitrites in your diet, shows promise for delaying or preventing cataracts, and more. Although the vitamin makes numerous contributions to overall health and wellness, its role in immune system support is what most people remember. But the tides are turning.1
If you’re only reaching for vitamin C supplements at the first sign of a cold, you could be missing out. Vitamin C also plays a significant role in skin health and appearance. If you’re intrigued by the possibility of using time-tested supplements to revitalize your complexion, here’s what you need to know about the skin care benefits of vitamin C creams, lotions, and serums.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble nutrient your body can’t make on its own. Yet, your system needs vitamin C for bone health, immune system function, and wound healing. The vitamin C in your diet also helps protect vulnerable cells from free radicals.
The oxidative stress caused by free radicals damages cellular membranes, DNA, proteins, and lipids. That’s why there’s so much emphasis placed on the importance of dietary antioxidants and supplements. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant.2,3
How Topical Vitamin C Might Benefit Your Skin
There was a time researchers believed applying vitamins topically was rather pointless. Back then, it was assumed that most molecules were too large to pass through the outermost layer of the skin. It was also thought that nutrients had to be ingested to have any meaningful impact on skin health.
While both theories were disproven long ago, many people still don’t realize how impactful the topical application of certain nutrients can be. Since the amount of vitamin C in your skin decreases with age, even slight dietary deficiencies can make your skin look rough and uneven.4
Based on what the data shows so far, applying vitamin C topically can be up to 20 times more effective for improving skin health and appearance than oral supplements.5 Now that we’ve got your attention, consider what the following observations about vitamin C could mean for your skin.
Protecting Skin from Cellular Damage
Sun damage is the leading cause of premature skin aging. The accelerated aging process is the direct result of free-radical damage. Stress, environmental pollution, poor food choices, and even wearing cosmetics can also leave your skin vulnerable to free radicals. When applied topically, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C help neutralize free radicals and reduce the risk of damage.6
One of the most visible signs of sun damage is hyperpigmentation. The dark patches that inevitably surface if you’ve spent too much time in the sun are caused by the overproduction of melanin. When applied topically, vitamin C is shown to help fade discoloration. The vitamin is also shown to reduce melanin production, an effect that can help keep new spots from forming.7
Reducing the Appearance of Lines and Wrinkles
The same UV exposure that causes hyperpigmentation also accelerates collagen loss. It’s the collagen in your skin that helps keep the surface firm and supple. Your skin can’t make collagen without vitamin C. After a small-scale, 12-week clinical trial, investigators credited vitamin C’s impact on collagen production for a statistically significant reduction in lines and wrinkles.8
Can Vitamin C Skin Care Product Cause Side Effects?
Like many topical products, vitamin C does have the potential to cause side effects. Since the vitamin is acidic, there’s a moderate risk of dry skin or irritation. Topical ascorbic acid can also cause visible redness, itching, and a tingling sensation when first applied. You’ll also find more than a few reports of blemishes and breakouts.
Vitamin C can also interact with other ingredients. If you’re using retinol (vitamin A) or niacinamide (vitamin B-3), don’t use vitamin C at the same time. The pH levels of vitamins A and B-3 don’t interact well with vitamin C. The products could end up canceling each other out. There’s also a higher risk of skin irritation.
Instead, wait at least 30 minutes after applying one product before applying the next. You might also want to consider alternating products, using one as part of your daytime skincare routine and the other at night.9
What type of Vitamin C Product Should I Try?
When selecting vitamin C-infused skincare products, it’s important to do your homework. Vitamin C is highly unstable. When exposed to air or light, the vitamin oxidizes. In water, it destabilizes. When oxidized, vitamin C becomes a free radical, and your skincare products could accelerate the very skin issues you’re trying to resolve.
You can protect yourself from a potentially disappointing experience by selecting vitamin C skincare products made with vitamin E or ferulic acid, antioxidants that help stabilize the vitamin. If any vitamin C skin care product darkens, discolors, or has a sour odor, it’s likely become unstable.
Can I Protect My Skin from Free Radicals Without Topical Vitamin C?
There are several ways to help your skin fight the impact of free radicals. A diet high in antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens is the best place to start. You might also want to consider investing in plant-powered skincare products fortified with hemp-derived CBD.
Although CBD itself is not a vitamin, full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients in the same ratios as the original plant source, including vitamins A, E, C, and B.
When applied topically, CBD penetrates to tissues below the surface of your skin and interacts with specific receptors on nearly every type of skin cell. That includes receptors regulating collagen production, pigmentation, skin cell formation, and moisture retention. Current investigations also suggest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential.10
To learn more about how your skin might benefit from the power of plants, visit BOTA™ to view our Complete Guide to Natural Skin Care. Then consider browsing our selection of high-quality CBD-infused skincare products. When you shop with BOTA™, you’ll know your products are cruelty-free, third-party tested, and formulated to be kind to your skin.
- National Institute of Health. (2021) Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Consumers.
- Dr Weil. (2012 October 29) Vitamin C Benefits.
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2019 January 31) Understanding Antioxidants.
- Oregon State University. (2021) Vitamin C and Skin Health.
- Cosmetic Business. (2020 September 09) Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Vitamin C.
- Life Extension. G Goldfaden. (2021 January) Revitalizing Aging Skin with Topical Vitamin C.
- Medical New Today. R Nall. (2019 July 19) Top 3 Benefits of Vitamin C Serum.
- Dermatological Surgery. R Fitzpatrick, E Rostan. (2002 March 28) Double-Blind, Half-Face Study Comparing Vitamin C and Vehicle for Rejuvenation of Photodamage.
- InStyle. E Lukas. (2021 April 19) The Dos and Don’ts of Mixing Skincare Ingredients.
- CBDistillery. (2020 August 27) What Is Full Spectrum Hemp Oil?
11. Antioxidants. S Atalay et al. (2019 December 25) Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol.