Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is used to create a brighter, smoother, more youthful complexion when applied directly to the skin in the form of lotions, serums or masks. According to the book "Cosmetic Dermatology," topical application of vitamin C may also protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun, and help reverse the signs of aging by firming the skin and reducing wrinkles 3. You can purchase an over-the-counter lotion or serum containing vitamin C, or you can make a simple at-home facial.
Topical Vitamin C Products
Look for a vitamin C cream, lotion or serum that contains 3- to 10-percent vitamin C. The active ingredients listed on the label should include ascorbic acid, which is a name for vitamin C.
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Wash your face with a gentle cleanser formulated for your skin type and then pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
Smooth a small amount of the vitamin C product over your clean, dry skin.
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Apply a moisturizer suitable for your skin type. Vitamin C creams and lotions may be slightly drying and may irritate sensitive skin.
Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every time you go outdoors. Although vitamin C may address some of the harmful effects of sun exposure, it isn't a replacement for sunscreen.
- Look for a vitamin C cream, lotion or serum that contains 3- to 10-percent vitamin C. The active ingredients listed on the label should include ascorbic acid, which is a name for vitamin C. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser formulated for your skin type and then pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
Homemade Vitamin C Facial
Place a small amount of oil in a cup or bowl. Oils that benefit the skin and serve as a carrier for the ascorbic acid include olive or sunflower oil. You can also use emu oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil or grape seed oil.
Stir in powdered ascorbic acid until the powder is completely blended. Use approximately 1 part ascorbic acid to four parts oil. Make only enough for one facial because the ascorbic acid breaks down quickly and loses its effectiveness.
Smooth the mixture over clean, dry skin and leave it in place for 30 minutes. Rinse the mixture by splashing your face with lukewarm water and then pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
Apply a light moisturizer followed by sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15. You can also use a product that contains both moisturizer and sunscreen.
Apply a fresh vitamin C facial every week.
Although you can apply vitamin C creams, serums and lotions in the morning, applying the product before bed provides time for the acids to fully penetrate the skin.
Ascorbic acid breaks down and loses its effectiveness quickly. Lotions and creams in opaque bottles hold up longer than products in clear bottles.
If possible, purchase products in pump bottles to minimize exposure to air.
Store topical vitamin C products in a cool, dry location when not in use.
- Place a small amount of oil in a cup or bowl.
- You can also use a product that contains both moisturizer and sunscreen.
Vitamin C for Cystic Acne
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- Growing Younger: Breakthrough Age-Defying Secrets for Women; Bridget Doherty and Julia VanTine
- The Dr. Oz. Show: Drop a Decade From Your Face
- Cosmetic Dermatology: Cheryl M. Burgess, Editor
- Age-Proof: Beauty Alternatives You Need to Know
- The Complete Guide to Creating Oils, Soaps, Creams, and Herbal Gels; Marlene Jones
- Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical vitamin C and the skin: Mechanisms of action and clinical applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.
- Ohshima H, Mizukoshi K, Oyobikawa M, et al. Effects of vitamin C on dark circles of the lower eyelids: quantitative evaluation using image analysis and echogram. Skin Res Technol. 2009;15(2):214-217. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0846.2009.00356.x
- Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
- De Dormael R, Bastien P, Sextius P, et al. Vitamin C prevents ultraviolet-induced pigmentation in healthy volunteers: Bayesian meta-analysis results from 31 randomized controlled versus vehicle clinical studies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(2):E53-E59.
- Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A collagen supplement improves skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density: Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. doi:10.3390/nu11102494
- Farris PK. Topical vitamin C: A useful agent for treating photoaging and other dermatologic conditions. Dermatol Surg. 2005;31(7 Pt 2):814-818. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31725
- Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.