When it comes to the vitamin that offers up the greatest body benefits, the one named “C” arguably takes the crown. And it’s not just your insides that are BFFs with vitamin C: this nutrient can also help transform the appearance of your skin.
“Vitamin C products are packed with antioxidants that are known for providing a brightening and “glowy” effect on our skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Kathy Taghipour. “It naturally improves the appearance of skin by fighting signs of aging and UV exposure, along with hyperpigmentation and dark patches.”
1. Fights lines and wrinkles
When it comes to fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of your skin’s wear and tear, vitamin C is a handy tool to have in your arsenal. Research shows this nutrient helps protect against damage and aids in skin regeneration, by neutralizing free radicals.
2. Revitalizes sun-damaged skin
Prolonged sun exposure does a number on the skin — flakiness, discolored patches (sunspots), rough areas, rosacea, etc. But topically applying a daily vitamin C dose may guard your skin from taking too much damage.
One study found people with mild to moderately photo-damaged skin experienced a significant improvement in skin appearance, including fine lines, roughness, and skin tone, after using a topical vitamin C treatment for 3 months.
3. Evens out tone and minimize redness
Blotchy, uneven skin can result from a number of factors, from sun exposure to hormones to medical conditions.
The good news is, vitamin C has proven itself a hearty warrior in the fight against redness, as it helps mend the damaged capillaries that cause this discoloration and strengthen them for the future.
4. Hydrates thirsty skin
With the average adult carrying 2 square metres of skin on their body, this organ is certainly thirsty — and we’re not talking about looking for attention.
Comprising 64 percent water, your skin needs to be kept hydrated, and your new chum vitamin C is here to bring the juice (or water, we should say). It also helps your skin retain water, preventing it from becoming too dry or oily.
5. Improves elasticity
Topical vitamin C has been shown to encourage collagen production, a naturally occurring protein in our body that helps give skin that tight, plump look.
Since the body naturally makes less and less collagen as it ages, using an ingredient like vitamin C can help slow down skin aging.
6. Helps reduce inflammation
If your skin is red, irritated and showing signs of a rash, there’s a good chance that an underlying immune response, infection, or allergic reaction is behind it.
While many causes require medication to ease their effects, studies show topical vitamin C to be effective in relieving signs associated with inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis.
7. Eases hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation refers to dark patches of skin, caused when the body produces too much melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its color).
While generally not harmful, hyperpigmentation can prove distracting — but topically applying vitamin C has been shown to decrease its signs, as it inhibits production of tyrosinase, an enzyme that contributes to melanin production.
8. Calms down sunburn
While we’re certainly not suggesting vitamin C as an alternative to ditching the SPF, if you do have a sunburn mishap, it can help steer you away from Rudolph territory.
This clever nutrient helps speed up cell turnover, meaning sunburned skin is rejuvenated and heals faster.
9. Aids healing
As if it didn’t already boast enough superpowers, vitamin C has been proven beneficial in helping repair wounds.
This is thought to be as a result of its ability to increase the movement and number of fibroblasts in our skin — the connective tissue cells that are key to the healing process.
How else does vitamin C benefit the skin?
Amazingly, vitamin C's skin-saving benefits aren't limited to its antioxidant status. It has plenty of other skin-healing properties that make it worthy of a permanent place in your medicine cabinet. For one, because it's highly acidic, when vitamin C is used topically "the skin is triggered to heal itself by accelerating the production of collagen and elastin," explains New York City-based dermatologist Howard Sobel. Remember: Collagen and elastin are both naturally occurring protein fibers that help keep skin plump and firm. So, in helping to promote collagen production, topical vitamin C can help prevent premature aging of the skin.
Another cool thing about the ingredient: It contains a property that inhibits your skin's melanin production, which is what causes skin discoloration like dark spots and hyperpigmentation, Wexler explains. With continued topical use, vitamin C can help prevent dark spots from forming in the first place.
"It's a superior brightening agent that works to fade brown spots without altering normal skin pigmentation," Sobel adds.