Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. The vitamin stimulates collagen production, offers protection from the sun and aids in reducing free radicals. Much like an apple that browns after being exposed to air and sunlight, free radicals damage the skin’s DNA, its proteins, and fats. Though essential in keeping the skin and body healthy, the human body lacks a required enzyme to produce Vitamin C from glucose. Cited in Skin Inc.’s December edition (2012), researchers have also found that vitamin C supplements do not reach the epidermis—the skin’s uppermost layer. When the goal is combating free radical damage caused by sun exposure, smoking, and or a diet lacking in citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, topical application is necessary.
Topical application of vitamin C protects the skin in a variety of ways. It improves skin texture, reduces brown spots, decreases, and helps prevent wrinkle formation. Vitamin C, however, must penetrate the skin to reduce free radical damage. Not all vitamin C products are the same. For optimal results, Vitamin C requires an appropriate molecular structure, a balanced pH, and proper packaging.
When purchasing Vitamin C products, be sure that the ingredients state only L-ascorbic acid, with a 20% concentration, as its active ingredient. Though the product may help moisturize, the vitamin component will not penetrate effectively into the skin. Be sure to know the pH of L-ascorbic acid in the serum. With a pH of 4, the L-ascorbic acid will oxidize, defeating the purpose. Vitamin C can also irritate sensitive skin if its pH is over 3. Look for an ideal pH of 2.6-2.8 for maximum effect. Should this information not be on the label, call the manufacturer. Also, be sure that the packaging is air tight and protected from UV light. When using the product, close the lid securely and store in a cool, dark place, as exposure to sunlight and air will render the product ineffective.