Vitamin C helps fight skin aging, sun damage, and helps in collagen formation. These benefits can be achieved by eating Vitamin C rich foods like oranges, kiwis, lemons, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, yellow and green peppers, and sweet potatoes, and from topical application.
Have you heard that Queen Nefertiti used black seed oil for her skin and hair, while Cleopatra, the queen of ancient Egypt, bathed in the milk of asses. The search for that magic ingredient for spotless and ageless skin has led people to try various ingredients and products, both from the kitchen and the lab. The one ingredient that comes close to being the magic elixir for skin is vitamin C. One of the biggest skin benefits from vitamin C is that it protects the skin from damage by free radicals.
Let’s first understand what free radicals are. These are “unstable” molecules, and they are so because they have unpaired electrons, and they are constantly in search of atoms and molecules with electrons. These free radicals have the propensity to attach themselves to molecules with atoms to become whole again and stabilise themselves. This process causes oxidative stress to cells and tissues, and weakens them. The body has its antioxidant defenses against oxidative stress, however, a high number of free radicals can be overwhelming for the body and reduce its fighting capacity.
Free radicals can be present everywhere, including your own body. You can be exposed to free radicals through air pollution, sunlight, alcohol, nutritional deficiencies, and smoking. The damage done by free radicals shows itself on skin in the form of fine lines and wrinkles, dull skin, pigmentation, and spots.
Vitamin C protects your skin from free radicals and from cell and tissue damage, in effect fighting premature aging and other skin issues. This is what makes Vitamin C a star ingredient in many skincare products.
It also has benefits like boosting our immune system and enhancing iron absorption, giving it the name—Ascorbic Acid. It is found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, apples, strawberries, tomato, spinach, cauliflower are all good sources of the vitamin. Apart from ingesting it, it has great benefits from topical application.
Here’s different ways that vitamin C helps improve skin health
1. Sun protection
As is well known that while sunlight is an essential source of vitamin D, too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light causes skin damage. This happens partly because of the generation of reactive oxygen species. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and if applied topically it can protect the skin from the sun, or increase photoprotection. Studies show that UV radiation can reduce the vitamin C levels of the skin, hence putting the skin at risk of impaired healing from sun-damage.
2. Fighting skin aging
Studies say that skin aging is a complex process in which both genetics and external factors like sun exposure play a role. As people age, the collagen starts to reduce. A study, which was conducted on 20 women with photoaged skin, showed that the topical application of 5% vitamin C and 0.1% madecassoside (skin care ingredient which is derived from the Centella asiatica or Indian pennywort plant) significantly improved suppleness and firmness of skin and reduced superficial wrinkles.
3. Collagen formation
Collagen is the most used word, perhaps, when it comes to conversations about skin. So, what is collagen? It is essentially a protein; think of it like a building block for skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue. Collagen gives structure to our skin, and keeps it young, supple, and firm. The process of formation of new collagen or collagen synthesis also helps in wound healing. Our bodies start producing less collagen in our mid-to late-thirties. A study showed that Vitamin C is important for the maintenance of “a normal mature collagen network” in people. It prevents the auto‐inactivation of enzymes—lysyl and prolyl hydroxylase—which are necessary for collagen biosynthesis.
These benefits can be achieved by eating vitamin C rich foods but more importantly by topical application.
Here are some serums and moisturizers containing vitamin C
- Topical vitamin C protects porcine skin from ultraviolet radiation-induced damage – Darr D1, Combs S, Dunston S, Manning T, Pinnell S
- Clinical, biometric and structural evaluation of the long-term effects of a topical treatment with ascorbic acid and madecassoside in photoaged human skin – Haftek M, Mac-Mary S, Le Bitoux MA, Creidi P, Seité S, Rougier A, Humbert P.
- Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts – Boyera N1, Galey I, Bernard BA.
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