You know the saying, “an orange a day keeps wrinkles away.”
(What, that was apples and they keep doctors away, you say? Never mind, let’s just ignore that).
Oranges are loaded with vitamin C, an anti-aging superstar that saves skin that’s spent a bit too much time in the sun, gives a tired and dull face a much needed pick-me-up and makes everyone age slowly.
Hint: if it’s not part of your skincare routine, you’re missing out. Here’s why:
What The Heck Is Vitamin C?
It’s a water-soluble vitamin that comes in many forms:
- Ascorbic acid polypeptide
- Ascorbyl glucosamine
- Ascorbyl glucoside
- Ascorbyl palmitate
- Ethyl ascorbic acid
- L-ascorbic acid (pure form)
- Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
- Sodium ascorbyl palmitate
- Sodium ascorbyl phosphate
- Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
PRO TIP: if It has “ascorb” somewhere in the name, it’s a form of vitamin C.
Related: Types Of Vitamin C Used In Skincare
How Does Vitamin C Benefit Skin?
How does it not? This guy does everything. Well… almost.
Vitamin C Benefit #1: It Fights Free Radicals
You’ve probably heard of free radicals. They’re molecules that have gone crazy when they’ve lost one of their electrons. To get it back, they attack other molecules.
It’s the start of a chain reaction that damages your collagen and cellular DNA and ends in wrinkles.
Vitamin C is always on the lookout for those nasty free radicals. Once it spots one, it fights it and destroys it. How?
As an antioxidant, vitamin C works in two ways: “it can act both directly, by reaction with aqueous peroxyl radicals, and indirectly, by restoring the antioxidant properties of fat-soluble vitamin E.“
If vitamin C is around, those wrinkles won’t show up anytime soon.
Vitamin C Benefit #2: It Boosts Collagen And Elastin
If your skin were a building, collagen and elastin would be the scaffolding that supports it.
Collagen is the protein that keeps skin firm. There’s no sagging on its watch.
Elastin is its BFF. It keeps your skin elastic. If your skin bounces back when you pinch it, you know elastin’s doing its job well.
Problem is, these two are always under attack. As you go carelessly about your day, UV rays, pollution, smoking and all the other usual culprits attack and destroy them.
To make things worse, as it gets older, your skin can’t produce all the collagen and elastin it needs to stay young and firm. Skin starts to sag. Wrinkles appear.
That’s when vitamin C comes in. Vitamin C is essential for collagen and elastin synthesis. When it’s around, it pumps up their production a notch or two, helping your skin stay younger for longer.
Vitamin C Benefit #3: Fades Dark Spots
Spent a little bit too much time in the sun when you were younger and now your skin is riddled with sun spots?
Or maybe you’re pregnant and, all of a sudden, melasma has made an unwelcome appearance on your face?
Or you’ve popped that zit and now a dark spot has appeared where the damn thing used to be?
Blame melanin. It’s the substance that gives your skin its beautiful colour. When it goes into overdrive, dark spots show up all over the place.
Don’t panic. Vitamin C can fade them all. It speeds up your skin’s natural exfoliating process, helping to replace those darker and more damaged cells with lighter and healthier ones.
Wait! There’s more. Vitamin C also prevents the sun damage that makes your skin produce too much melanin in the first place. Those pesky dark spots won’t come back anytime soon.
Vitamin C Benefit #4: Brightens Skin
Maybe you don’t have dark spots, yet.
But, your skin’s looking all dull and lackluster. Its natural glow has completely disappeared.
That’s a sign your skin isn’t exfoliating as quickly as it used to. Vitamin C can speed that up.
Exfoliation does wonders for your skin. It fades uneven spots, smoothes out rough patches, and brightens the complexion.
If you want your natural glow back, vitamin C’s your guy.
Vitamin C Benefit #5: Treats Sun Damage
Vitamin C is very powerful on its own. But, when it meets together with its friends, vitamin E and ferulic acid, it is unstoppable.
A study conducted by Duke University has found that adding ferulic acid “into a topical solution of 15%l-ascorbic acid and 1%alpha-tocopherol improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection to solar-simulated irradiation of skin from 4-fold to approximately 8-fold as measured by both erythema and sunburn cell formation. This combination of pure natural low molecular weight antioxidants provides meaningful synergistic protection against oxidative stress in skin and should be useful for protection against photoaging and skin cancer.”
Translation: vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid boost one another’s effectiveness and the protection your sunscreen gives you.
Where’s The Catch?
Vitamin C is a pain to formulate with. Both the ph and carrier system must be right or it won’t be able to penetrate your skin. If it can’t get in, it won’t work as well.
The concentration must be right, too. Too little and it won’t do anything for you. Too much and it’ll irritate your skin.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Yep. Nothing’s perfect, you know. So, what’s wrong with it?
- Irritation: if you use it too much, too often, it may irritate your skin (especially, if it’s sensitive)
- Stability: pure vitamin C is very unstable. When exposed to light, air and heat, it loses its effectiveness (its derivates are more stable, but less effective).
If vitamin C turns yellow or brown, it means it is starting to lose all its anti-aging goodness.
Related: Can You Still Use Your Vitamin C Serum After It’s Turned Brown?
What Are The Best Products With Vitamin C?
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice C15 Booster ($49.00): available at Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00): available at Adore Beauty, Blue Mercury and Dermstore
Shop Vitamin C Serums
The Bottom Line
Vitamin C is one of the anti-aging superstars you should include in your skincare routine. It keeps wrinkles away, firms your skin, fades dark spots and even treats sun damage. What more could a girl ask for?
Are you already using vitamin C in your skincare routine? Share your experience in the comments below.