Role of Vitamin C in Skin Care

Vitamin C for the skin

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant known for its health benefits, but it's also beneficial for your skin. As research continues to support its anti-aging abilities, more and more skin care companies are including vitamin C in their products.

Vitamin C Skin Care Benefits

According to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center, vitamin C's "antioxidant properties and its role in collagen synthesis" is what makes it critical for skin care. Vitamin C is found naturally in the skin's inner and outer layers, but aging, smoking, and exposure to sunlight and ozone reduce its amount.

Vitamin C is transported to the skin through the bloodstream, and vitamin C supplements increase its levels in the skin.

Topical Vitamin C Skin Care

According to an article published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, vitamin C offers many skin care benefits when used topically:

  • As an antioxidant, it seeks out and neutralizes skin-damaging free radicals.
  • It helps protect the skin from UV light and helps reduce sun damage, especially when used with vitamin E.
  • It is integral to collagen synthesis. Collagen is an important protein, which helps make new skin and improves its elasticity.
  • When combined with soy or another depigmenting product, it helps reduce skin hyperpigmentation.
  • It has anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties and may help relieve acne and rosacea.


Vitamin C is generally safe to use on its own or with other skin care ingredients, such as sunscreens and alpha-hydroxy acids. Side effects may occur, especially when products are used in excess. Potential side effects include:

  • Skin discoloration
  • Hypopigmented hair
  • Stinging
  • Dry skin
  • Urticaria (hives)

Vitamin C Skin Care Products

You'll find vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid in cream, patch, powder, serum, and lotion, but you'll also find derivative ingredients in some products. These may include:

  • Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
  • Disodium isostearyl 2-0 L-ascorbyl phosphate
  • Ascorbic acid sulfate

Of these, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is the most stable and preferred due to its absorbability, its hydrating effects, and its free-radical abilities. Additional vitamin C derivatives are being researched.

Once opened, products containing ascorbic acid have a short life. Since magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is more stable, the effectiveness of products made with this ingredient lasts longer.

Where to Buy

The following products are made with ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and are marketed to reduce wrinkles and aging, and brighten skin.

A Potent Skin Care Ingredient

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that offers sun protection and fights premature aging. When used as directed, vitamin C is safe and causes few, if any, side effects. Remember, there's more to healthy skin than just one ingredient. Eating healthy foods including vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated also play roles.

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Role of Vitamin C in Skin Care