Vitamin C… you have it all wrong
Vitamin C skin care is so much more than a skin brightener. She might be the most underrated anti-aging ingredient out there!
Don’t get me wrong. Vitamin C does do a great job at skin brightening, she works by slowing down the production the brown, in brown spots… otherwise known as melanin production. So yes, she is a great skin brigthener, skin evener, and lightener.
However, What I really want to convince you of is that using vitamin C is a must, even if you are not trying to achieve brighter skin. Well….. its a must if you want to keep your skin as firm, plump, and youthful looking as long as you can.
Here is how Vitamin C works to make you look younger.
Vitamin C is like any other vitamin. It is a molecule that humans cannot make ourselves and must obtain from the environment. Our bodies depend on it to survive.
Inside the body the main function is to support immune cells. That seems to be where the general knowledge of most people ends. Most people think, "What do you mean by support? And is it just immune cells?"
No. It is not just immune cells, Vitamin C finds her way into almost every cell in the body, and her job is the same for all. To support… aka… help any cell ‘recover’ from a stressor. When a cell is going about its daily live, doing the things cells do, they use chemical fuel and they have chemical left overs. Just like a car engine burning gasoline and then creating exhaust fumes. Except for our cell, the exhaust fumes remain inside our cells, causing damage and premature aging.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and when she is absorbed into a cell, she acts like a net, surrounding and neutralizing the cellular exhaust inside the cell. Thus helping the cell stay healthy and younger for longer.
In our skin cells, Vitamin C works much the same way. Vitamin C is taken up by every type of skin cell we have, and we have a lot of them. What makes this story interesting, is how she gets to these outer skin cells.
You may wonder why this is the interesting part?
You say, “If our body absorbs Vitamin C, from our diet, then we’ll all just continue to eat our fruits and veggies for younger looking skin.”
I say, “Well… because if you are over 30, then your body is likely not doing a very good job at this anymore. Here is what’s happening.”
Our skin is made up of basically two parts. The inside part that has direct access to our blood and body. Then you have, essentially, a wall, called the stratum corneum. On the outside of this wall are the surface layers of our skin. These layers rely on tiny blood vessels, glands, and tubes to get nutrients from inside the body through the wall and out to the surface layers. Basically a supply convoy for your skin.
Vitamin C is no exception. Our body relies on the transportation of vitamin C from inside our body through small vessels that literally pump and dump vitamin C into the spaces between cells, and then the cells soak it inside their walls through a process called passive diffusion.
After the age of 30 for some reason, this vitamin C pump and dump process slows waaayyy down. Even if you are eating pounds and pounds Vitamin C,…. so much of that youthful vitamin C is kept behind the stratum corneum wall, with no convoy to get it to your skin cells that are on the front line of the UV damage, pollution, etc.
Not to fear, science is here! Well… there are plenty of studies out there that show, simply by spraying it on our skin, or rubbing in a serum serum, or lotion, our skin cells will take up plenty of this wonderful plant power molecule and get to work! Check some of them out here (1) and here (2).
Caution: pure Vitamin C is quite acidic and it can actually burn your skin. It is very important that what you are putting on you face is formulated for you. If you have sensitive skin like me, then you need to be extra cautious with choosing the right product.
First, let us start by talking about concentration. For Vitamin C to be effective in her youth preserving powers, and for enough cells to absorb to make a difference, studies have shown that the minimum concentration should be at least 8%, see here.(3)
On the high end is 20%. Over that, the effectiveness just won’t be there and you’ll be let with more adverse effects than happy skin cells. Usually the higher concentrations, I’d say above 15% can be irritating to most skin types. Leaving redness and dryness. Another downside to using high concentration vitamin C products is that it can actually sensitize your skin to the sun, which is what its supposed to be protecting you from in the first place. Therefore 10% concentration is best 15% tops depending on how fussy your skin is. I wouldn’t bother spending more money on a bigger concentration. Being consistent is more important than overdosing your skin in Vitamin C.
Another interesting fact is that the main skin care studies which saw the most benefits: these were of skin brightening, reduced appearance of crows feet wrinkles ,and plumper looking skin had these patients applying vitamin C 10% every 8 hours, thats three times a day people! While that is not super feasible for most, morning and night would still go a long way to helping. And scientists have learned that your skin cells can actually build up a little reservoir for Vitamin C to use when it needs a little extra, or you forgot a day.
There you have it. Vitamin C is much more than a skin brightener. She is an anti-aging goddess.
Dr. Chantelle Davidson, Pharm. D.