Vitamin C Benefits for Skin (2024)

Vitamin C—also known as ascorbic acid—is a water-soluble nutrient that plays an important role in keeping your body and skin healthy. If you're curious about what vitamin C does for your skin, this incredible antioxidant has many benefits, including the potential to:

  • Boost collagen production
  • Reduce the appearance of dark spots
  • Reduce the appearance of early aging
  • Protect against sun damage
  • Promote wound healing
  • Keep the skin hydrated
  • Reduce redness

Researchers have discovered that when it comes to healthy skin, topical vitamin C is significantly more effective than consuming it. It's no surprise that this potent antioxidant is commonly found in face cleansers, serums, oils, and moisturizers.

This article discusses the benefits of vitamin C for skin, how to use products with it, and potential risks.

Vitamin C Benefits for Skin (1)

Boosts Collagen

Vitamin C is absolutely essential for producing collagen in the body. Collagen is the building block of skin, hair, muscles, and tendons, and it is what keeps our skin looking youthful and smooth. As we age, collagen production slows down, which may lead to sagging skin.

When applied topically, vitamin C accelerates the production of both collagen and elastin, which help keep the skin plump and firm.

Reduces Hyperpigmentation

Vitamin C may help improve skin complexion by reducing the appearance of dark spots.

Hyperpigmentation—a common condition characterized by the development of darker spots on the skin—is most often caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and environmental stresses. Although harmless, hyperpigmentation can lead to an uneven skin tone.

Vitamin C helps inhibit the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme that aids in the production of melanin, preventing hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C doesn’t have an effect on normal skin coloration—it won’t fade away normal dark skin pigmentation, only the abnormal melanin deposits caused by excess sun exposure.

Has Anti-Aging Effects

Topical vitamin C can help prevent premature aging of the skin, restoring a youthful, smooth appearance to the skin.

Not only does vitamin C boost collagen production, which can reduce wrinkles and increase elasticity of the skin, but it also help prevent the loss of collagen that results from natural aging.

In addition, this antioxidant plays an important role in combating unwanted dark spots and preventing signs of premature aging caused by factors such as smoking, environmental pollutants, and chronic sun exposure.

Protects Against Sun Damage

Studies show that vitamin C in the skin can help protect against UV damage.

Exposure to UV radiation from the sun (as well as tanning beds) can create free radicals in the skin, which may damage skin cells and lead to the breakdown of collagen. This causes photoaging (or premature aging). Signs of sun damage include wrinkles, sagging skin, uneven skin tone or texture, skin redness, and broken capillaries (spider veins).

As one of the most potent antioxidants in the skin, vitamin C can help combat oxidative stress caused by excess free radicals in skin cells. A 2023 systematic review published in Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that vitamin C was useful in treating uneven, wrinkled skin caused by prolonged or repeated exposure to UV radiation.

Promotes Wound Healing

Vitamin C plays a key role in tissue repair and regeneration due to its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to encourage collagen production—an essential component of connective tissue. That said, it's not surprising that poor wound healing is a common symptom of a vitamin C deficiency.

A 2022 systematic review published in Antioxidants found that vitamin C supplementation was able to improve healing outcomes in people with certain types of wounds, particularly pressure ulcers.

Hydrates Skin

Without sufficient moisture, the epidermis (top layer of skin) starts to dry out, which leads to itchy, scaly skin and premature aging. Hydration is vital to keeping your skin healthy and youthful-looking.

According to a 2017 review article published in Nutrients, vitamin C may play an important role in the formation of the outermost layer of skin—enhancing the skin's ability to protect itself from water loss.

Fortunately, vitamin C is clinically proven to help skin retain water, keeping it plump and smooth and preventing it from becoming too oily or dry. Researchers found that individuals who were given a supplement containing vitamin C showed significant and sustainable improvements in skin hydration, elasticity, and roughness.

Reduces Redness

Blotchy, uneven, and red skin can result from a number of factors, including inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., eczema and rosacea), sun exposure, hormones, and medical conditions.

But you don’t have to live with skin redness, thanks to vitamin C. A significant body of research shows that this powerhouse vitamin minimizes redness thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Vitamin C also helps mend damaged capillaries that cause skin redness, creating a smoother, more even complexion.

Learn About Other Vitamins That Support Skin Health.

How to Use Vitamin C for Skin Care

Whether your skin is dry, oily, or a combination, vitamin C is beneficial for skin health, helping it look and feel healthier and younger longer. There are two ways to use vitamin C for skin care: nutritional intake and applying it topically.

Nutritional Intake

Foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges and berries, offer many health benefits. And while it’s true that you can get plenty of vitamin C by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, dietary vitamin C generally won’t provide enough for you to see a noticeable improvement in your skin.

This is because dietary intake of vitamin C is sufficient to reach lower levels of your skin, but generally won’t reach the top layers of the skin. However tasty, eating a pint of blueberries isn’t likely to help your skin get that youthful glow (even if it's great for the rest of your body). That’s where topical vitamin C comes in.

Topical

Topical vitamin C is absorbed directly into the topmost layers of the skin, allowing it to get to work immediately on smoothing the skin, reducing fine lines and dark spots and protecting against free radicals.

Vitamin C is available in facial moisturizers and serums. Serums are more concentrated than moisturizers and more easily absorb into the skin, which is why more skincare specialists recommend vitamin C serums.

Sometimes, less is more. Most research says that vitamin C is best implemented into your skincare routine when used as a topical serum. Even serums containing low concentrations (under 1%) of vitamin C still deliver antioxidant protection and skin benefits.

How Often Should You Use Vitamin C?

For best results, apply vitamin C topically one to two times a day—morning and night. Be sure to apply a moisturizer with a broad-spectrum SPF after vitamin C application for daytime.Follow the directions on your product’s packaging, as instructions may vary from product to product. If you find your skin is sensitive to daily application, try starting with applying a low concentration a few times a week or every other day, then build up use as tolerated.

Ready to incorporate vitamin C into your daily skin routine? Your skincare routine should generally include:

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Vitamin C serum
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen

Before you go all-in on the vitamin C, test a patch of skin with a lower-concentration formula to see how your skin reacts. Some minor tingling is normal, but if you experience anything more intense, stop using the product and talk to your dermatologist.

Rebuilding Collagen When Depleted by Age

Risks

Vitamin C is generally safe when consumed in foods or applied topically. However, those with sensitive skin or allergies may experience a yellowish discoloration of the skin.

Some people may experience irritation such as stinging, itching, and dryness after using topical vitamin C. This can be treated by layering a moisturizer over the vitamin C serum when you use it, in addition to moisturizing daily. If you have sensitive skin, you can also start with a lower concentration of vitamin C to observe how your skin reacts.

No matter your skin type, it’s important to test vitamin C out before making it a part of your regular skin care routine. Start by applying vitamin C every other day or every few days, and then work your way up in frequency to avoid potential redness and irritation.

Research on Future Possible Uses Underway

Continuous efforts are being made to research other benefits of vitamin C, including its effects on hair growth, wound healing, smoking-related skin aging, scars, and stretch marks.

Summary

Vitamin C is one of the most well-researched skin care ingredients. When you’re young, levels of this powerful antioxidant in the skin are abundant, but they naturally deplete as you age. Vitamin C skincare products such as serums and moisturizers can help supplement, leading to skin that feels firmer and has a brighter, more even complexion.

When purchasing a vitamin C serum, look for dark bottles. Vitamin C breaks down when exposed to light or air, so dark glass bottles help maintain its efficacy and stability.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I use vitamin C every day on my skin?

    It’s recommended that you apply vitamin C twice a day. However, some people have sensitive skin that can get irritated by that much vitamin C. If you notice a reaction, try using vitamin C products a few times a week or every other day. You may be able to build up to daily applications as your skin gets used to it.

    Learn More:Which Vitamin C Serums Should I Buy?

  • What antioxidants are good for the skin?

    Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants to protect the skin and promote a healthy look. Niacinamide is another antioxidant that can reduce lines and make skin brighter.

    Learn More:How to Use Antioxidants for Skin Health

  • Does applying vitamin C to your skin protect against skin cancer?

    It may, but for some people, it may do more harm than good. There is some research showing that high levels of vitamin C may promote cancer while others show that it may protect against cancer. The results could be affected by other substances used on the skin and your risk for skin cancer.

    Learn More:Facts About Melanoma

Vitamin C Benefits for Skin (2024)

FAQs

Vitamin C Benefits for Skin? ›

Topical vitamin C is a science-backed, dermatologist-favorite ingredient that may help slow early skin aging, prevent sun damage, and improve the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.

What does vitamin C do for your face? ›

Topical vitamin C is a science-backed, dermatologist-favorite ingredient that may help slow early skin aging, prevent sun damage, and improve the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.

Does vitamin C really improve skin? ›

Conclusion. Vitamin C is an essential part of skin health both as a small molecular weight antioxidant and as a critical factor for collagen synthesis. Vitamin C contributes to photoprotection, decreases photodamage, and is needed for adequate wound healing.

Is vitamin C good for skin daily? ›

It's recommended that you apply vitamin C twice a day. However, some people have sensitive skin that can get irritated by that much vitamin C. 14 If you notice a reaction, try using vitamin C products a few times a week or every other day. You may be able to build up to daily applications as your skin gets used to it.

How does vitamin C clear skin? ›

Vitamin C contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the redness and swelling that comes with acne. The results are more pronounced when you use the vitamin topically. It, therefore, helps improve the appearance of acne wounds. It may help reduce hyperpigmentation.

What not to mix with vitamin C? ›

Vitamin C is effectively an acid (it's sometimes known as ascorbic acid), so layering it with AHAs and BHAs like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids is a big no-no.

Should I use retinol or vitamin C? ›

If you have dull and dry skin then you should try Vitamin C first. If your problem is fine lines and wrinkles then you should start incorporating Retinol into your daily skincare routine. Using both of these products together can work significantly fast in improving your skin and its texture.

How long does vitamin C take to improve skin? ›

How long does vitamin C serum take to work? While every situation is different, most people see results from using a vitamin C serum within three months. Whether you're noticing a brighter complexion, plumper skin or improvements in hyperpigmentation, vitamin C can work wonders quite quickly!

How long does it take for vitamin C to work on your face? ›

The Ingredient: Vitamin C

When Youll See Results: Once you add vitamin C to your skincare regimen, you may start seeing noticeable improvements in three weeks. It can help significantly fade hyperpigmentation in about two months.

Which vitamin is best for skin? ›

Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for your skin, along with vitamins C, E, and K. Making sure you get enough vitamins can keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.

Why avoid taking vitamin C at night? ›

The evening is not the best time because vitamin C is acidic and can cause problems when consumed on an empty stomach, especially in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease – of course the dosage matters.

Do I need hyaluronic acid and vitamin C? ›

Combining the two makes for a great all-in-one skin care step. “Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are commonly used together because they complement each other to hydrate, protect, and repair aging skin,” says Zeichner.

Is it better to use vitamin C serum at night or morning? ›

Nearly across the board, dermatologists recommend incorporating vitamin C serum into your morning routine (as opposed to using it at night). The reason for this recommendation relates to its ability to protect the skin.

Does vitamin C help hair growth? ›

Vitamin C Benefits for Hair

Vitamin C benefits for your hair are from a necessary property within the vitamin that creates the protein, known by the more popular term, collagen. Vitamin C promotes hair health, reduces hair loss, and improves hair growth. Vitamin C deficiency can also result in dry hair and split ends.

Does vitamin C boost collagen? ›

Vitamin C (Vit C) benefits to human skin physiology notably by stimulating the biosynthesis of collagen. The main cutaneous collagens are types I and III, which are less synthesized with aging. Vit C is one of the main promotors of collagen formation but it poorly bypasses the epidermis stratum corneum barrier.

Does vitamin C help skin look younger? ›

As you age, you lose collagen, which causes the skin to sink and create wrinkles. The decline of collagen also allows facial expressions and movements to leave marks on our faces. Vitamin C is known to give you younger and firmer skin because it increases and stimulates collagen production to avoid aging in your skin.

What does vitamin C react badly with? ›

Possible Interactions

Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- Both aspirin and NSAIDs can lower the amount of vitamin C in the body because they cause more of the vitamin to be lost in urine.

What cancels out vitamin C? ›

Benzoyl Peroxide + Vitamin C: Benzoyl peroxide can oxidize vitamin C, which renders the pairing useless. This combination cancels out the benefits of the individual ingredients, so make sure to use them separately – either at different times of the day or alternating days throughout the week.

What is the best combination with vitamin C? ›

Vitamin C works best in combination with vitamin E, ferulic Acid, vitamin B, and hyaluronic acid.

Which is better vitamin C or hyaluronic acid? ›

Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C Serum for face offer similar skin benefits but have different effects. Hyaluronic Acid keeps skin feeling plumped and keeps it hydrated. Vitamin C works explicitly to protect skin from sun damage and reduce skin discoloration due to acne.

What is better for aging skin vitamin C or retinol? ›

While vitamin C is most notable for helping to brighten and improve hyperpigmentation, retinol is typically considered best-in-class for wrinkles and fine lines.

What happens if you use vitamin C and retinol together? ›

The combination of Vitamin C and Retinol in a skincare regimen can help you achieve glowing, healthy-looking skin, while improving the look of dark spots and uneven skin tone, as well as visibly improving signs of skin aging including fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness.

How do you know vitamin C is working? ›

However, the best way to know, according to Dr Kiran, is to notice the difference in your skin. “If you use the serum for a month and find your skin to be bright, clear, less sensitive to the sun, and you are feeling fresher, then vitamin C is definitely working,” she said.

Does vitamin C go all over your face? ›

Dr. Chiu warns that because vitamin C is a skin-care “active”—meaning it's particularly potent—applying too much of it on your face can potentially lead to more breakouts or irritation.

How long to wait between vitamin C and moisturizer? ›

Vitamin C should be completely absorbed so as to get the maximum out of it. Let Vitamin c dry off for a minute or two before applying the next product. To know more about Vitamin C, click here. Sublime's verdict: Wait for two minutes before layering.

Does vitamin C tighten facial skin? ›

It may help prevent skin sagging

Collagen production is tied to skin elasticity and firmness. When your collagen levels begin to drop, your skin may also begin to sag. Applying a vitamin C serum may boost collagen production, resulting in an overall tightening effect, reports a 2017 review .

What is the best form of vitamin C for skin? ›

For oily or normal skin, L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C and can be the most beneficial, while for dry and sensitive skin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble vitamin C, is less irritating.

Is it OK to use vitamin C serum everyday? ›

While most people can tolerate daily use of vitamin C serum, some people may experience redness, irritation, or even breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, it's important to start slowly when using a vitamin C serum. Begin by using it every other day, and gradually increase to daily use if your skin can tolerate it.

Which vitamin helps tighten skin? ›

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative damage and plays a role in the production of collagen, which helps keep skin firm and elastic. Particularly in topical applications, Vitamin C has been shown to decrease skin wrinkling and increase collagen production.

Which vitamin is best for wrinkles? ›

Whether you want to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, have more moisturized skin, or clear up redness, the best vitamins to meet your needs include vitamins E, C, A, D, B, and K.

Which vitamin is best for anti-aging skin? ›

Vitamin A is the strongest argument for why you should keep going after supplementing with collagen. This powerhouse vitamin prevents and slows the effects of aging on both your insides and outsides. Vitamin A is also known as retinol, which forms the key ingredient in many anti-aging supplements and serums.

What are the symptoms of low vitamin C? ›

In adults, symptoms of vitamin C deficiency develop after weeks to months of vitamin C depletion. Lassitude, weakness, irritability, weight loss, and vague myalgias and arthralgias may develop early. Symptoms of scurvy (related to defects in connective tissues) develop after a few months of deficiency.

Can I take vitamin C and D together? ›

The short and simple answer is: Yes! Vitamins C and D are commonly found together in multivitamins. They have complementary effects, which means that taking them together can better support your health. They're particularly beneficial to the immune system.

Does vitamin C help you sleep better? ›

What many do not know is that vitamin C plays a significant role in boosting sleep health. Studies have shown that individuals with greater concentrations of vitamin C have better sleep than those with reduced concentrations.

What not to mix with hyaluronic acid? ›

“Hyaluronic acid plays well with most ingredients, while caution must be taken when using retinol in combination with alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, and some types of vitamin C.” Linkner echoes the tip about avoiding vitamin C.

What happens when you stop using hyaluronic acid? ›

Hyaluronic acid is renowned for its ability to hydrate skin. But if you don't use it right, you could end up with even drier skin than before.

Should I use a moisturizer after vitamin C and hyaluronic acid? ›

So you can apply your vitamin C first, let it dry completely, then apply your hyaluronic acid. Just remember to top everything off with a moisturizer—you still want to seal in the HA to lock in the hydration.

Can I apply vitamin C serum under eyes? ›

Yes, yes, yes! As long as you have picked up a formulation suitable for use on your face, Vitamin C serums rank among the best ingredients to use around the sensitive eye area.

What moisturizer to use after vitamin C serum? ›

Step 4: Vitamin C Oil-Free Moisturizer

In a Vitamin C skincare routine, it's important to apply the moisturizer after the application of the serum. This is because the serum helps the moisturizer gets absorbed better, and the moisturizer helps seal the serum's nutrients within the skin so they can work all day.

How many drops of vitamin C serum should I use? ›

Four to five drops a vitamin C serum is enough to protect the skin. As vitamin C serum is a potent antioxidant and its high quantity may cause adverse effects, so always use in a small amount.

Does vitamin C help with thinning hair? ›

Therefore, vitamin C intake is important in patients with hair loss associated with iron deficiency. Humans are naturally deficient in an enzyme called l-gulonolactone oxidase that is required for vitamin C synthesis, and should therefore take vitamin C through their diet.

What deficiency causes hair loss? ›

Deficiencies in vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, as well as iron and zinc, have been associated with hair loss.

Does vitamin C thicken hair? ›

Vitamin C is one of the most effective nutrients to help grow and strengthen hair, says Guy Parsons. “Vitamin C helps build collagen, which is highly important for hair growth, but maintaining the strength of hair is just as crucial,” Guy says.

Can you reverse wrinkles with vitamin C? ›

A few clinical studies have demonstrated that vitamin C can improve wrinkles. One study showed that daily use of a vitamin C formulation for at least three months improved the appearance of fine and coarse wrinkles of the face and neck, as well as improved overall skin texture and appearance.

What vitamin deficiency causes sagging skin? ›

Inadequate Vitamin D in the skin causes it to become thin, saggy, wrinkled, and weak. Your skin is your largest organ, so making sure it's strong and healthy is incredibly important in preventing premature aging. Dr.

Does vitamin C help deep wrinkles? ›

Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient in many anti-aging products. Some studies show that it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles when you use it for at least 12 weeks. A healthy diet that's high in this nutrient might help, too. Research suggests that people who eat more vitamin C have fewer wrinkles.

How often should you put vitamin C on your face? ›

Vitamin C is best used in concentrations between 5% and 15% and should be applied once daily after cleansing in the morning or night. Keep in mind that vitamin C is highly acidic, which may lead to skin irritation. To avoid any irritations, test a small area of your skin before applying it to your face.

Does vitamin C tighten your face? ›

Vitamin C prevents sagging

Our skin loses elasticity and firmness and you may see skin sag under your eyes, on your cheeks, on your neck and elsewhere. Using Vitamin C can help tighten skin anywhere the serum is applied.

How long should you leave vitamin C on your face? ›

Vitamin C serum (leave to absorb for 1-2 minutes)

Every expert we spoke to agreed that vitamin C should ideally be left from a little while before going in with the next step, but the recommended times varied dramatically. The average time suggested was somewhere between 1-2 minutes.

What happens if I use vitamin C serum everyday? ›

While most people can tolerate daily use of vitamin C serum, some people may experience redness, irritation, or even breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, it's important to start slowly when using a vitamin C serum. Begin by using it every other day, and gradually increase to daily use if your skin can tolerate it.

Does vitamin C fade dark spots? ›

By inhibiting melanin production, vitamin C can help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation. It may also help brighten your skin's appearance.

How long does it take for vitamin C serum to work? ›

How Long Does Vitamin C Serum Take to Work? You will likely notice skin improvement 4-12 weeks after starting routine use of vitamin C serum.

How do I know if vitamin C is working? ›

However, the best way to know, according to Dr Kiran, is to notice the difference in your skin. “If you use the serum for a month and find your skin to be bright, clear, less sensitive to the sun, and you are feeling fresher, then vitamin C is definitely working,” she said.

What happens if you put too much vitamin C on your face? ›

Dr. Chiu warns that because vitamin C is a skin-care “active”—meaning it's particularly potent—applying too much of it on your face can potentially lead to more breakouts or irritation. Keep it to a max of two applications a day when a formula that has no more than 10% vitamin C each time.

Which vitamin is best for face skin? ›

Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for your skin, along with vitamins C, E, and K. Making sure you get enough vitamins can keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.

What vitamin is best for skin elasticity? ›

A diet high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and lycopene may help maintain skin's elasticity and overall health.

How can I tighten my saggy face? ›

In-office procedures
  1. Laser peel. Laser skin resurfacing aims to promote collagen production in the deeper layers of your skin while peeling off your top layer of skin that'll improve the texture and tone. ...
  2. Ultrasound therapy. ...
  3. Microneedling. ...
  4. Botox. ...
  5. Kybella. ...
  6. Facelift surgery.
Aug 7, 2019

Should I apply vitamin C before or after moisturizer? ›

Dermatologists recommend you apply vitamin C serum before you apply moisturiser and sunscreen. The steps for application are: Use a gentle cleanser to remove any makeup or free radicals from your skin. Apply a few drops of vitamin C serum to your face and neck, and gently rub in.

How long to put moisturizer after vitamin C? ›

Wait for the Vitamin C serum to be absorbed completely before applying the moisturizer. This is the best vitamin c serum in india and it will take about 5-10 minutes. After this, apply the moisturizer all over the face and neck, avoiding the eye area.

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