Vitamin C is a normal skin component, and is found at high levels in both the dermis and epidermis. Topical application of Vitamin C will cross the epidermis into the underlying dermal layers. Human studies often assess skin health by changes in depth or number of wrinkles, and by the individual's per- ception of skin health. Aging causes a decline in vitamin C content in the epidermis and dermis. Observational studies found that topical applications along with higher intakes of vitamin C from diet, provided a better skin appearance, and notable decreases in skin wrinkling.
BENEFITS of Topical applications of Vitamin C for ~ 12 weeks has been shown to:
- Decrease wrinkling
- Reduce skin protein fiber damage (glycation and cross-linking of skin proteins)
- Decrease apparent roughness of skin, and may aid in keeping the skin naturally hydrated
- May be useful against acne to reduce inflammatory lesions
- Reduce free-radical damage
- Gently lighten and brighten the skin. Topical vitamin C may have mild skin lightening effects that are caused by reductions in melanin production and melanin oxidation (the dark pigment in skin that can cause age spots)
- Help with wound healing
- Increase production of collagen (the firm infrastructure or scaffolding that holds the skin in place). Without Vitamin C, your body cannot make collagen.
- Vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photo-damage (sun damage), and possibly help with damaged DNA. Topical application of vitamin C, alone or in combination with other nutritional substances, may result in greater photo-protection than oral supplementation because of the more direct route of administration
- Topical vitamin C has also been shown to reverse some of the age-related structural changes in the interface between the dermis and the epidermis
Intrinsic aging is the normal process of physical change over time that’s more about genetics than lifestyle. Lifestyle-induced aging is known as premature or extrinsic aging. Environment, stress, smoking (leads to increased wrinkling and decreased collagen synthesis, which corresponds to a decline in plasma (blood) vitamin C levels), alcohol, chemicals, hormones, and medications may severely use up Vitamin C in the body. Excessive exposures to UV light or pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke and ozone) may lower vitamin C content, primarily in the epidermis.
Your body does not manufacture or store vitamin C. It has to come from healthy foods, and internal & external supplementation. Daily oral supplementation of a food-sourced Vitamin C is recommended (iherb.com, vitacost.com, amazon.com) in combination with topical C serum. Try to take a C supplement with bioflavonoids “C-complex” included.
I strongly caution against over the counter ‘OTC’ serums… for many reasons:
- Most are manufactured with a cheap lab-created ascorbic acid, sourced from China
- Most serums, even the brand-name designer/pricey ones, are highly preserved because they are mass-produced. Generally, more revenue is allotted for marketing than quality & ingredient quantity.
- The Vitamin C in OTC products is generally not the more expensive form, not chiraly (molecularly) correct form of the vitamin, so your skin will not recognize it. You are wasting your money.
- Most OTC Vitamin C serums are not stable, and have been colored to mask oxidation (breakdown) of the vitamin. Applying oxidized serums are worse than none at all.
- OTC serums cannot exceed certain percentages. Your licensed provider carries different percentages generally higher than what can be obtained in a retail store.
Your provider may recommend a particular professional serum with additional substances in it for enhanced results and further antioxidant benefits. There are many forms of Vitamin C serums. Your provider will make the best determination for your skin type and sensitivity. Some require daily use, others are time-release and only need to be applied 2x weekly. Over-doing Vitamin C more than recommended is not beneficial.
When you read an ingredient label, the highest amount of a substance will be at the top. In this case, there’s more water in this product (below) than anything else. The more water in a product, the more risk it has of oxidizing and going rancid quickly.
Here is a Vitamin C product from a popular vitamin store – their store brand:
Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Petrolatum, Propylene Glycol, Glycerol Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Diazolidinyl Urea, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Carbomer, Methyl Paraben, Triethanolamine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Ascorbic Acid, Propyl Paraben, Fragrance
This is basically a drop of Vitamin C in a hair conditioner base! And… it’s marketed for the face!
- Isopropyl Myristate is a synthetic oil used as a solvent to enhance penetration
- Petrolatum: AKA: Vaseline. A derivative of petroleum generally full of petro-chemical contaminants
- Glycerol Stearate is highly comedogenic (pore clogging)
- Hydrogenated Polyisobutene: synthetic mineral oil substitute
- Methylparaben and Propylparaben: PARABENS! Endocrine disrupters, false estrogen, bioaccumulative.
- Fragrance: Whenever you see the word Fragrance it is a CHEMICAL/SYNTHETIC, lab-created substance used to scent something, (and in some cases, to mask undesirable odors from smelly ingredients and/or mask the odor of degradation (breakdown/oxidation) of the ingredients. Nothing natural about it. Most every ‘fragrance’ is a combination of endocrine disrupters, false estrogens, and are bioaccumulative. If a product is naturally scented, it has to be labeled: Essential oils.
- Ascorbic acid = Vitamin C. Notice it is third from the bottom of the list. Very little Vitamin C, and the wrong chirality (molecular structure) necessary for absorption.
One last rule: NEVER apply Vitamin C serums in the morning. Only at bedtime. Sunlight rapidly degrades, oxidizes, and breaks down Vit. C. Your time, investment, and anticipated results are wasted.