What Vitamin C Can Do for Your Skin? Here’s the Truth


Vitamin C is best known for its antioxidant properties (aside from its availability and affordability). This essential water-soluble vitamin is in fact present in high concentrations in normal human skin. This is to stimulate collagen synthesis and protect against skin damage induced by the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

As a result, vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid, ascorbate) is now being added in many skin care products. Moreover, the addition and indication of the presence of vitamin C makes many skin care products appear natural and organic.

However, there might be a significant difference between vitamin C intake and its topical application. After all, vitamin C may undergo different reaction pathways (e.g. vitamin C might be further metabolised or processed by the body). We’ll touch on this later as we discuss the effectiveness of vitamin C on skin care applications.

Why vitamin C is effective and widely used

As mentioned earlier, vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis. This is important in maintaining the appearance and health of skin. That’s because collagen is the skin’s main structural protein. Degradation or lack of it will “compromise” the skin’s structure. The key here is to maintain and stimulate collagen synthesis while also protecting it from UV rays and other harsh natural elements.

Many skin care companies actually emphasise this mechanism. They mention things such as collagen synthesis and protection. There are also products that emphasise sequestering of free radicals to prevent or slow down further cellular damage.

Those are the best known features of vitamin C (“fighting” free radicals and promoting protein synthesis). All those things happen when our bodies process and absorb ascorbic acid. Vitamins and other nutrients are often transported from blood vessels into the tissues that need them. They act on a cellular and molecular level to ensure proper functioning of our bodies (including shortening the duration of a cold and modulating cortisol levels).

However, this mechanism by dietary intake is not targeted. Vitamin C is distributed throughout the different organs and tissues of the body. Also, it’s possible that some are not getting enough of it (or some parts such as the skin may require higher amounts).

That’s why it’s been thought that direct application into the skin would be more effective. After all, the effectiveness of vitamin C will be more targeted. The results could also be more noticeable and measurable due to this straightforward approach.

Topical application could then become more effective in achieving an intended outcome (having a healthier skin). After all, studies show that there are lower vitamin C levels in aged skin. The nutrient also gets depleted due to external stressors such as ultraviolet rays. As a result, replenishing the vitamin C levels by topical application could be a promising way to maintain or somehow bring back the skin’s younger appearance.

Considerations in vitamin C effectiveness

We briefly mentioned earlier that there might be a difference in nutrient intake and topical application. Although the latter is more straightforward and targeted, the absorption rate and effectiveness might differ due to the different pathway.

In effective nutrition, both the amount and the nutrient’s bioavailability affect how and how much of it is absorbed into the body. It’s a similar case with the absorption and reaction of vitamin C into the skin. If it has zero or very low bioavailability, topical application won’t be effective at all (even though this approach is targeted, straightforward and very promising).

Also, recall that ascorbic acid is normally transported from the blood vessels into the tissues. In nutrient delivery to the skin, this happens through diffusion. With this mechanism, many of the nutrients (or high amounts) don’t actually reach the outermost layers of the epidermis.

This is actually a huge opportunity in improving skin health. If the vitamin C will be reactive to the skin when topical application is done, collagen synthesis and free radical sequestering could be much more effective and pronounced.

However, the skin’s purpose (shield tissues from external elements and substances) also prevents passage of substances into it. It’s a defence mechanism because most substances outside may penetrate and damage the skin and underlying tissues. That’s why there should be a way to deliver the nutrient (vitamin C) into the skin successfully to realise the benefits.

What’s the best approach?

Often the best approach is a combination of two or more different methods. It’s also the case with skin care and ensuring the skin receives the right amount of nutrients it requires.

For instance, dietary intake and topical application may lead to optimal results. Dietary intake would take care of nutrient delivery to innermost skin layers and surrounding tissues. On the other hand, topical application may somehow take care of the outermost layers.

This combination can lead to higher rates of collagen formation and scavenging of free radicals. The result is healthier and younger-looking skin. In addition, getting the right amount of vitamin C would improve your overall well-being. Your body will have enough nutrients to function normally every day and fight off free radicals that cause cellular damages.

What vitamin C can do for your skin?

In summary, vitamin C can benefit your skin through dietary intake and topical application. Its antioxidant properties result to the scavenging of free radicals. In addition, vitamin C is vital in collagen formation (which is the main building block of the skin). Lack of vitamin C (and therefore inadequate collagen) could lead to a skin that’s looking far from its best.

To prevent that, it’s recommended to have vitamin C through dietary intake and topical application (even small amounts will do). Aside from collagen formation, this approach will also help repair and protect your skin against external stressors such as the harsh ultraviolet rays.

As a result, you can achieve a brighter and younger looking skin. Vitamin C can also help reduce fine lines (perhaps due to stimulation of collagen formation) and make the skin firmer. Whether it’s through nutrient intake or direct skin application (commonly in the form of gel), vitamin C can help in protecting your skin against the harmful outside elements of the modern world.

If you’re interested in the effects of vitamin C on natural skin care, we have the right products for you. Here at Earth Derm, we specialise in providing the most effective cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals to the Australian Professional Beauty Industry. We do this by sourcing the products with proven and natural actives. If you need more information, you can contact us today or browse our online shop.