The Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin

Vitamin C is the organic substance that gives orange juice its superpowers and amps up your immune system when you feel a cold coming on. So what’s up with slathering it on your face?

What Does Vitamin C Do for Your Skin?

Vitamin C is an important building block for collagen synthesis in your skin. Collagen is a structural protein that makes up the skin itself and contributes to its firmness and thickness, she explains. As we age, we lose collagen, which contributes to laxity and results in fine wrinkles.  Encouraging the skin to make more collagen is the cornerstone of everything dermatologists do to combat the signs of aging.

Vitamin C, a common ingredient that builds collagen in two ways: as a natural antioxidant, it combats the free radical damage that results from everyday exposure to the sun’s UV rays and environmental pollutants by donating electrons to neutralize the free radicals that cause oxidative stress. In turn, this reduces inflammation and reorganizes the skin structure to mimic younger skin, which helps build up lost collagen. And as if vitamin C couldn’t get any more impressive, the stuff actually stimulates collagen synthesis directly, as well.

Jump on the bandwagon, and pretty soon, you may see the perks of skin repair and collagen production when you look in the mirror. Your skin may appear brighter and more even with less noticeable dark spots, less inflamed and tighter. 

How to Use Vitamin C on Your Skin

In a multi-step skincare routine, we recommend applying the thinnest products first and progressing to the thickest. Vitamin C serum typically falls into the former category. Use Vitamin C serum under moisturizer, particularly when introducing a new serum to the skin. After all, if your skin is dry or inflamed, any new product can cause some irritation. 

When to Use Vitamin C

Because vitamin C reverses some of the oxidative stress and free radical damage that takes place during the day, it makes sense to apply it at night when the skin regenerates. Give your skin an extra push by applying a serum that contains vitamin C. There’s no downside to applying vitamin C in the morning, instead, or even twice a day.

If you opt for the am, don’t confuse the sun damage-reversing benefits of vitamin C with skin protection. Vitamin C combats oxidative stress and free radical damage that leads to the breakdown of collagen, but it doesn’t protect your skin from UV rays and further damage. In other words, even a generous application of vitamin C serum won’t take the place of a good old SPF, which should be applied after serum and moisturizer but before makeup.

Some Advice Before Using Vitamin C

Vitamin C is well-tolerated by most skin types with no known risks for pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you do happen to notice stinging, redness, or dryness after applying a vitamin C serum, layering on a moisturizer should nip these side effects in the bud. And if you’re nervous? Begin with a serum that contains a lower concentration of vitamin C—think 5 to 10 percent rather than the ideal 15 to 20 percent—particularly around the eyes where skin can be more sensitive.

If your skin is acne-prone, you don’t have to worry about vitamin C making things worse.  It doesn’t clog your pores and it can actually improve acne by reducing irritation that can compromise the skin barrier and lead to breakouts. 

Vitamin C can be a vehicle for other ingredients that do cause breakouts or don’t agree with sensitive skin, so, If you experience irritation, avoid using vitamin C on days you use potent active ingredients, like retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

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