Vitamin C is a nutrient essential to overall good health. It has been reported in numerous studies that vitamin C is important for heart health, a strong immune system and much more . Additionally, many studies have demonstrated the importance of vitamin C for good skin health. These studies indicate that vitamin C functions mainly as a collagen supporter and antioxidant to protect our skin and keep our skin looking younger and smoother.
A Natural Collagen Supporter
Collagen is integral to the skin’s underlying support system and the loss of collagen leads to the breakdown of this structural support, which in time reduces the skin’s strength and integrity and leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Unfortunately, our skin’s ability to produce collagen slows as we age.
Vitamin C functions as a cofactor for several enzymes responsible for the formation of polypeptides that are critical for collagen production. Fortunately, research has shown that topical application of vitamin C can help maintain healthy skin and a younger-looking appearance.
In one study, a vitamin C lotion was applied daily to the upper forearm of postmenopausal women for 6 months and compared to a lotion not containing any vitamin C . Application of the vitamin C lotion supported healthy expression levels of collagen I and collagen III genes as well as genes for three enzymes responsible for the formation of procollagen. While this study only indicated a promotion of collagen genes, a more recent study showed that topical application of vitamin C promoted the formation of collagen I, collagen III, and cytokeratin .
In addition to promoting healthy skin collagen, studies have reported that topical application of vitamin C helps support a healthy epidermal-dermal junction. This junction is the area that connects the upper layer of the skin (epidermis) with the layer directly below it (dermis). This epidermal-dermal junction is responsible for communication and the exchange of nutrients between these two layers of the skin. As we age, this junction flattens and loses normal function. Studies show that application of a vitamin C lotion enhances the integrity of this junction [4, 5] and reduces the appearance of facial fine lines and wrinkles .
Protection from Photoaging
Photoaging is a process whereby overexposure to the sun’s UV-rays causes damage to the skin (i.e. photodamage) and results in older-appearing skin. As a result of this photodamage, the skin becomes drier, rougher, less supple, and more wrinkled. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps fight photodamage and slow photoaging.
A recent study examined the potential benefits of topical vitamin C on photoaged skin of 20 women . After 6 months, clinical assessment showed that daily use of a vitamin C lotion improved the appearance of deep and superficial wrinkles as well as skin suppleness, firmness, and roughness. An earlier study reported that topical application of a vitamin C cream to photodamaged skin for 6 months reduced the appearance of deep furrows . Similarly, application of a cream containing a vitamin C complex for 12 weeks was shown to decrease the appearance of photoaging on the cheeks, around the mouth, and around the eyes .
Vitamin C is one of the most common ingredients found in skin care products and has been so for many years. It is clear from the research that vitamin C has multiple benefits for the skin, including improving skin hydration, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, and keeping skin feeling softer and more supple. Vitamin C does this primarily through supporting healthy collagen in the skin and suppressing oxidative damage. It is clear that vitamin C will remain a popular skin care ingredient.
Is your skin getting the vitamin C it needs?