Pretty much everyone in the skincare industry, from chemists to dermatologists, agrees Vitamin C is good for the skin. Found in high concentrations both in the skin and in many fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, blocking chemical reactions that damage the cells. It’s also part of the process that stimulates the production of collagen—the protein that holds your skin together, keeping it tight, elastic, and youthful. Sailors used to carry lemons—a fruit full of Vitamin C—to hedge against the threat of scurvy, a disease that developed because of impaired collagen synthesis and caused bleeding of the gums.
While there’s agreement that Vitamin C is essential for healthy skin, there is no real consensus about the best way to get more of it. Diet, supplements, or serums? Clinical studies acknowledge that scientists just don’t really know yet, even if they have a fair idea, a conundrum that rings true for a lot of science.
Some nutritionists point out that whole foods are the most effective way to receive nutrients. Others point out that with the level of processing in our food system and the depletion of essential minerals and nutrients from our soils, it’s best to take a supplement.
And while studies show oral ingestion of Vitamin C is effective for keeping the skin healthy, an increasing number of experts is promoting serums as the best way to get your daily dose.
Serums are acidic, so they prompt the skin to “heal” itself by eliminating dead cells and generating new ones. As part of this process, collagen production gets triggered, and the body produces fibers that make skin look taut.
Serums have also been shown to eliminate sunspots. Vitamin C can help to prevent the production of melanin, the pigment that gives your skin color. If your cells are producing too much melanin, you get sunspots; Vitamin C serums can lighten these without lightening the rest of your skin. Serums have also been shown to reduce wrinkles, protect against sun damage, even skin tones, and brighten complexions.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a serum, look for 10-20% L-asorbic acid. For best results, apply with a roller.
Beyond the debate over serums and supplements is a larger truth: that the best way to boost the levels of Vitamin C in your body is to take a holistic approach. Combining a balanced, nutritional diet, cutting out processed foods, exercising, taking supplements, and developing a healthy skincare routine involving natural products and serums is the formula for best results. In other words: Eat broccoli. Sweat out your stress. Take Vitamin C. And apply a Vitamin C serum daily.
The vitamin has what’s called an excellent safety profile, which is basically a fancy way of saying you’d be hard-pressed to actually ingest, take, or apply too much of it.