In the times of deadly viruses, we’re hearing enough about vitamin C’s immunity-boosting powers, aren’t we? Because vitamin C is definitely a lot more than just a slice of lemon that helps de-tan your face.
Time and again, skincare experts across the world stress on the benefits of vitamin C for skin concerns like pigmentation, acne scars, uneven skin tone and dullness. Let’s explore the kind of wonders this ingredient can do for your skincare goals.
We also have some important tips from our chief dermatologist Dr. Harish Koutam, an accredited member of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) and Cosmetic Surgeons of India.
What Is Vitamin C? How Does It Help Your Skin?
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid plays a vital role in the growth and development of many body tissues. It helps in the formation of collagen , absorption of iron, wound healing and maintenance of bone and cartilage.
Your skin’s epidermal and dermal layers  contain high concentrations of Vitamin C. However, its layers are depleted due to physical factors like sunlight, pollution, smoking and aging. Thus consumption and application of Vitamin C act as a powerful antioxidant  that neutralizes free radicals. Wondering what antioxidants are?
Well, your body makes free radicals whenever it is exposed to stresses like pollution, sunlight and aging. Free radicals contain unpaired electrons and cause damage to the body while they are searching to pair. Vitamin C has the power to fight these free radicals and thus, prevents the skin from damage.
Skin Benefits of Vitamin C
1. When Taken Orally
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties . Inflammation is your body's response to bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances. White blood cells release chemicals into the blood that increase the blood flow to the inflamed area.
This is why you experience redness, warmth, swelling and pain at the site of inflammation. Vitamin C can reestablish the skin’s natural barrier (stratum corneum) and reduce inflammatory responses in the skin.
2. When Applied On The Skin (Topical)
Vitamin C, when applied topically, triggers the skin to help heal itself via the production of collagen  and elastin. This is how Vitamin C helps in delaying the aging of your skin. Collagen and elastin are fibrous proteins in the skin, which provide its strength and elasticity.
Vitamin C prevents TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) and retains moisture in your skin. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (derivative of vitamin C) exhibits this skin hydrating property. Vitamin C is also believed to reduce melanin content and address hyperpigmentation caused due to melasma, sun spots and age spots.
Because of its hydrating and depigmenting properties, vitamin c is a great addition to under eye creams. Vitamin C reduces the puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. What's more? Vitamin c boosts collagen production. Collagen is a protein that gives firmness to the skin. It helps in tightening the skin and prevents skin sagging due to loss of collagen.
How Much Vitamin C Is Good For Skin?
The allowed concentration of vitamin C in serums is anywhere between 10-25%. For people with sensitive skin, Dr. Harish recommends a 5% vitamin C serum.
Vitamin C breaks down when exposed to sun and light. So always look for vitamin C serums that are packaged in dark-colored glass bottles.
Sources For Vitamin C
There are several foods that are rich in vitamin C . Some of them are:
- Citrus fruits including oranges, lemons, amla or gooseberry and tomatoes
- Green leafy vegetables
- Berries like strawberries and blueberries
- Bell peppers
What Kind Of Vitamin C Is Good For Skin?
A serum is considered the best delivery vehicle for Vitamin C. Let’s look at all the available forms of vitamin C:
1. L-AA (L-Ascorbic Acid)
This form of Vitamin C exhibits highest efficacy. However, it is unstable and there is a risk of skin irritation when used in high concentrations.
2. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
3. Ascorbyl Palmitate
Despite the fact that it is not as potent as other forms of vitamin C, it is used in anti-aging skincare. This type of vitamin C fights free radicals and oxidative damage.
4. Ascorbic Glucosamine
It is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C. It helps in skin brightening.
5. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
It is one of the latest additions to Vitamin C family. It is fat-soluble and hence, has a better penetrative ability. This is a stable form of Vitamin C.
What Happens When You Take Too Much Vitamin C?
If you happen to use Vitamin C serum in concentrations greater than 25%, you may experience one or all of the following:
- Skin irritation
Since Vitamin C is acidic, start with applying a thin layer of vitamin C serum on alternate days and make the shift to daily application a bit later, says Dr Harish.
How Long Does Vitamin C Stay In The Body?
As Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it is excreted within 24 hours after is it absorbed by the tissues in the body.
Given its powers, Vitamin C has and will always remain an age-old favorite of skincare experts. Go for a mix of oral consumption and topical application to reap all its benefits, while following the precautions of starting with low doses.
Disclaimer: While vitamin C has proved to help a majority of people in their skincare journey, it is always best to conduct a patch test and consult your dermatologist before including anything new in your regimen.
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