In the world of skincare and anti-aging, Vitamin C has become a “must-have” on your bathroom counter (and hopefully on your face). The chemically active form of Vit C is L-ascorbic acid. Most Vitamin C users take it orally, however the bioavailability of Vitamin C in the skin is inadequate. In dermatology, we therefore favor the topical use to benefit your skin.
Vitamin C is water-soluble and functions as an electron-donor to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) within the skin cell. When cells are exposed to UV light, they generate ROS which can instigate harmful reactions when not neutralized. These harmful effects include changes in the cellular DNA, the cell membrane, and destruction of collagen. In one pathway, the oxidative stress also upregulates certain transcription factors such as AP-1 which leads to an increase in matrix metalloproteinase production and ultimately to collagen breakdown.
Vitamin C is equally effective against both UVB and UVA. Although Vitamin C can provide protection alone, it works best in conjunction with Vitamin E or ferulic acid (8x potency). In today’s market, we see this science in action as most Vitamin C serums utilize these add-ons to better deliver Vitamin C to your skin.
The Skin Lightener
Vitamin C interacts within the pigmentation pathway to safely interrupt the creation of pigment. In particular, it inhibits the key enzyme tyrosinase, which is directly involved in melanin production. This leads to improvement in hyperpigmentation.
Protip: Your Vitamin C serum should be clear. Since Vitamin C is unstable, it will change to a yellow/brown color when exposed to light as it is being oxidized to Dehydro Ascrobic Acid (DHAA). Most manufacturers put Vitamin C in a light-blocking container to prevent this process…so remember to keep your serums out of direct sunlight when possible to prolong its use.