Do you want more radiant, brighter, firmer, and overall better-looking skin? If you do, let me introduce you to this “superstar” ingredient called VITAMIN C! This powerhouse ingredient also known as Ascorbic Acid, is usually the go-to ingredient when you are feeling a little ill and want to “boost” your immune system, however, it also works wonders on your skin.
Eating Vitamin C rich foods (mainly fruits and vegetables) and taking oral Vitamin C supplements is important for maintaining one’s overall health, unfortunately it is not very effective at increasing the concentration of vitamin C in the skin because a finite amount of it is absorbed and your digestive system gets rid of the excess. The most effective method for replenishing vitamin C in the skin is therefore to go straight to the source, and apply it directly to the skin. According to research, applying vitamin C directly to the skin is 20 times more effective than oral digestion.
THE SKINCARE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is a key anti-ageing skincare ingredient that helps to gently brighten and smooth your skin. It’s one of the most powerful antioxidants and helps protect your skin against free radical damage caused by the environment, which can breakdown the skin’s collagen. It also helps create scar tissue to aid the skin’s self repair.
Boosts Collagen Production
Collagen is a protein that gives our skin its firmness, strength and elasticity; loss of collagen encourages wrinkles and sagging. The amount of collagen in the skin tends to decline with age, an ongoing process that is accelerated by factors like sunlight, smoking, free radicals and inflammation. As the production of collagen slows down, replenishing levels of vitamin c in the skin by topical application can help boost collagen synthesis and slow its degradation.
Most ingredients used to treat hyperpigmentation like Hydroquinone can completely destroy melanocytes (cells that produces melanin), but Vitamin C simply interrupts the key steps of melanogenesis (the production of melanin) thereby reducing the amount of melanin produced. Because vitamin C can aid in the skin’s ability to heal itself, it helps lighten acne scarring and get rid of roughness.
Fights Free Radicals
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals in the skin. Free radicals are atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron so they frantically seek opportunities to complete their odd electron. When a free radical steals an electron from one of the proteins in collagen, it causes a change in the chemical structure of the collagen therefore damaging the collagen. As a result, the skin begins to sag and wrinkle. Vitamin C donates the electron the free radicals look for to prevent them from taking electrons from vital chemical compounds in the skin. Unfortunately, free radicals are an unavoidable fact of life that must be dealt with everyday.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF VITAMIN C
Vitamin C sounds simple, but there are actually several different types of vitamin C used in skincare products including L-Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, and Retinyl Ascorbate. L-Ascorbic Acid has the most amount of scientific research surrounding its benefits and is the most common when it comes to skincare. It absorbs the quickest and has the highest potency when applied topically. Research has shown that vitamin C concentrations as low as 0.6% provide antioxidant and anti-aging benefits to skin.
The stability of vitamin C in topical solutions is a concern, as exposures to air, heat, and/or light may slowly degrade vitamin C. Although L-Ascorbic Acid (the natural form of vitamin C) is the most effective for topical application, it is also the least stable in solution. Unfortunately, the synthetic derivatives of Ascorbic Acid that are designed to be more stable have not been scientifically proven to act the same as Ascorbic Acid or penetrate the skin as well as it does, they are considered to have limited permeability.
Keep in mind that regardless of which version of Vitamin C you choose, all antioxidants remain vulnerable and will break down when exposed to light and air. If you want to get the best possible results from your antioxidant-enriched skincare products, then buy only those packaged in small opaque bottles with a pump or air-restrictive containers so the ingredients remain stable after you start using the product.
Photo Credit: Into The Gloss, Garnier USA