When you think of Vitamin C, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s the bright, citrusy colors of fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, strawberries or kiwis, or the orange powder packets that float around during cold and flu season.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is found in those fruits, but it’s also on shelves in serums or supplements for skin and immune system health. Ascorbic acid helps heal wounds, and maintain bone and teeth health, according to Mount Sinai.
Here’s what to know about what Vitamin C may add to your skincare routine.
What does vitamin C do for your skin?
Vitamin C owes its anti-aging effect to an increase in collagen synthesis. According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, it stabilizes collagen fibers and decreases collagen degradation. Collagen replaces dead skin cells, helps new cells grow and gives the skin structure and elasticity. Vitamin C also stimulates and reinforces collagen reproduction, which helps the skin stay hydrated.
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How to use vitamin C serum
According to the Cleveland Clinic, look for a product that says “ascorbic acid” or “L-ascorbic acid” that has a concentration between 10-20% and is in a dark or tinted glass. Vitamin C is an unstable molecule and can easily break down if exposed to high heat or sunlight during transit and storage, the New York Times previously reported.
Cleveland Clinic recommends applying vitamin C serum in the morning alongside sunscreen after using a daily cleanser.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adults is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, pregnant individuals should increase their daily intake to 85 milligrams and 120 milligrams during lactation.
Taking too much vitamin C could cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headaches and diarrhea. Everyone is different – consulting your dermatologist can help determine how vitamin C can fit into your daily skin routine. Children and people with sensitive skin or known allergies should avoid vitamin C products.
Does vitamin C help acne?
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties that may help with acne, although more research is needed to confirm this. Studies have also shown vitamin C to be an effective treatment for post-acne scars when combined with topical insulin and microneedling.
Your best bet is to speak with a dermatologist to assess your skin’s unique needs and determine if vitamin C is a viable treatment course.
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