Vitamin C and Healthy Skin


People keen on having healthy looking skin are often advised to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The scientific basis for this advice is the supply of vitamin C which is absolutely essential for skin health. Skin is composed of two layers, the epidermis which provides a barrier function and the internal dermal layer which provides elasticity and strength and also provides nutritional support to the epidermis. But why is vitamin C essential for skin and what role does vitamin C play within skin?

How does it work within your skin?

Normally, skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C which supports important and well known functions including collagen synthesis and providing antioxidant support to shield against UV-induced photo-damage. Skin is the largest organ in the body and its appearance generally reflects the health of its underlying structures. We also know that vitamin deficiencies within the body, and hence the skin, can result in significant skin disorders. Vitamin B deficiency within skin may result in red rashes, seborrheic dermatitis and increased incidences of fungal infections of the skin and nails. A vitamin C deficiency is characterised by skin fragility, corkscrew hairs and impaired wound healing. Prolonged vitamin C deficiency results in skin haemorrhages as found in scurvy.

What are the skin benefits of Vitamin C?

The high concentration of vitamin C in skin indicates that it has important biological functions as outlined below.

Collagen formation: Studies indicate that vitamin C is required for the manufacture of the structural protein collagen. Additionally, vitamin C has been found to stabilise the messenger molecules that encode proteins for the repair of damaged skin. So not only does vitamin C enhance stability of the structure of skin, it also enhances its repair process.

Photo-protection: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which limits the damage induced by UV light exposure. Vitamin C is not a sunscreen because it does not absorb any part of the light spectrum. It protects skin against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals. UV light exposure decreases the vitamin C content within skin and therefore exposure to the sun suggests greater vitamin C will need to be replenished.

Protects against and treats hyperpigmentation: Vitamin C visibly brightens and improves an uneven skin tone. Its antioxidant properties and hence Its ability to scavenge damaging free radicals means that it may provide protection against the formation of age spots and excess pigment formation within skin.

Vitamin C has also been shown to inhibit the synthesis of melanin, skin’s pigment. It does this through a variety of mechanisms and so could prove to be valuable in the treatment of melasma and hyperpigmentation.

Photo-damage, fine lines and wrinkles: Ageing of skin can be thought of as two processes; natural ageing caused simply by the passage of time and environmental ageing as a result of pollutants, UV radiation and lifestyle factors. Observational studies have found that increasing vitamin C intake from the diet resulted in better skin appearance and less wrinkling. Topical applications of vitamin C for 12 weeks were shown to decrease wrinkling, reduce protein fibre damage, reduce roughness of skin and increase collagen production.

Dry skin: Many people will experience dry skin at some stage in their lives. The effect of vitamin C are not clear however increasing dietary intake of vitamin C has been correlated with a decreased risk of dry skin. Studies indicate that vitamin C enhances the production of barrier lipids, called ceramides, which protect skin against water loss.

These are just some of the functions and benefits that vitamin C confers to the skin and its importance to the health of our bodies and skin is unquestionable.

Is a serum better than supplements?

Since its discovery in 1930’s, the role of vitamin C in skin health has been the subject of discussion and this still remains today. As mentioned previously, skin contains high amounts of vitamin C particularly the outer layer called the epidermis suggesting a need to ensure that its levels never deplete. I am a proponent of taking vitamin C supplements as well as using a topical form of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is involved in countless enzyme reactions carried out within the body and this has led scientists to investigate if many of us are deficient in it. Most of us understand the importance of vitamin C and yet we simply are not able to consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Scientists believe that we should be consuming between 700 mg and 2000 mg of vitamin C on a daily basis – to put this into perspective, a large orange provides 50 mg. This in my opinion makes it imperative that we supplement vitamin C and the one of choice is Liposomal Vitamin C.

Liposomes are tiny phospholipids that resemble the outer membrane of each of our cells. Using a liposomal form of vitamin C ensures that each and every cell of the body including those within skin receives vitamin C.

I also believe that almost every one of us would benefit from the use of topical vitamin C to deliver this nutrient to both the epidermis for protecting skin against environmental aggressions and to also deliver vitamin C to the dermal layer.

Vitamin C can be delivered topically to the cells too. The biggest obstacle to this delivery is the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. Studies indicate that the absorption of vitamin C, l-ascorbic acid, greatly depends upon the pH of the topical being used. Topicals with a pH below 4.0 aid in transporting the uncharged form of vitamin C, ascorbic acid, into the epidermis and into the dermis too.

What should you look for in a cream or serum?

The stability of vitamin C in topical solutions is also of concern as exposure to heat, air and/or light starts to degrade it. Unfortunately, the most effective form of vitamin C, l-ascorbic acid, is also the most unstable. The stability of l-ascorbic acid serums may be increased by the use of other antioxidants such as ferulic acid which is a potent plant-based antioxidant.

Garden of Wisdom’s Vitamin C 23% + Ferulic Acid Serum addresses all the issues concerning stability and pH. It is presented in an airless pump to protect it from light and air; ferulic acid is added to the formulation to protect the ingredients from oxidation and to work in synergy with vitamin C to protect skin against free radical damage.

Vitamin C is essential for skin health. It offers protection from UV-induced photodamage, helps decrease photodamage and encourages wound healing. Taking vitamin C through the diet or by way of supplements helps to insure against a deficiency within skin especially when combined with the right topical vitamin C serum.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Shabir Daya | , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Victoria Health

    Hi, pure L-ascorbic acid’s as found in GoW Vitamin C Serum is best used in the PM regimen after cleansing onto dry skin because the stability of this form of vitamin C is hindered by pH of other products and of course by water, heat and light. You can then follow this with the other serums with the exception of niacinamide which is in conflict with vitamin C. Therefore in a regimen combining both, it would be prudent to use niacinamide in the AM and vitamin C in the PM.
    Best wishes,

  • Lyn Rozier

    Hi Shabir!
    I’m a huge fan of GoW products and love the vitamin C. I’ve now added Glycolic acid to my evening routine and am waiting on retistar to complete it but where would the vitamin C fit in? Am thinking that maybe I should alternate glycolic and vit C? Don’t want to stop using it as it really has evened out my skin.
    Also interested in reading the need for supplements, may well get the vitamin C but which vitamin B supplements would you recommend as I’ve been advised to take these to help support healing with various skin/cell issues I’ve struggled with recently.
    As always a fab article, it’s so good to know your recommendations, every one of them has been a hit so far!
    Thank you
    Lyn ??

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Lyn, I am so glad that you are a fan of GoW serums and that they have worked well for you. As far as vitamin C is concerned, I would recommend this in your PM regimen and based on the pH of this product, Vitamin C would be the first serum to use after cleansing onto a dry face followed by Glycolic acid. You may wish not to overuse serums in one regimen so you could potentially use Glycolic and Vitamin C on alternate days.
    Optimal levels of vitamin C within skin are hard to reach because the majority of us do not even have optimal levels to support the processes carried out within the body let alone the demands of the skin. Vitamin B’s are involved in numerous processes and I prefer the use of Solgar Vitamins Megasorb B Complex. Although the strengths of the individual B vitamins equate to a B50 supplement, Megasorb B Complex contains several coenzyme forms of these vitamins which means that they are efficiently utilised by the body.
    Thank you for your kind words about the editorial.
    Best wishes,

  • disqus_qBqteyA734

    Hi Shabir
    I use raw tomato juice on my skin for acne and it has worked wonders where nothing else has. I just wondered if the vit c from the tomatoes absorbs into the skin? I have noticed a reduction in fine lines and i do combine the tomato with glycolic acid. I apply the tomato juice from a freah tomato about 5 times and let it dry each time before applying more.

  • Victoria Health

    Hi, thank you for sharing this. Potentially a small amount of vitamin C would be absorbed from the tomatoes but of course tomatoes are also a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid which protects skin.
    Best wishes,

  • Mai Mohamed

    Can I ask you please if I can use the GOW VITAMIN C +FERULIC ACID SERUM with the derma roller tool ???

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Mai, Vitamin C Serum and the use of a derma roller are ideal companions. Be careful though because pure vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid, is at a low pH and may irritate skin with the strength of the GoW serum. I suggest building up reserves of vitamin C a few days before rolling and then not using the serum for a couple of days after. Having said this, many users find the GoW Vitamin C Serum does not sting and they are perfectly happy using it immediately after the needling.
    Best wishes,

  • Mai Mohamed

    Thank you ???? I wanted to know if I can use the GOW RETINOL with the GOW VITAMIN C SERUM at the PM routine???

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Mai, Vitamin C and Retinol are great partners in an anti-ageing regimen and you use the vitamin C first followed by the retinol.
    Best wishes,

  • Angie

    I was wondering if it is possible to work both the Granactive Retinoid and the GOW Vitamin C into my skincare routine. Would I need to use each on alternate nights perhaps or is having both in my skincare regimine overkill?

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Angie, Granactive Retinoid will work very well alongside Vitamin C Serum. There were some misconceptions around this usage probably based on the pH since vitamin C works best at a low pH and retinoids at a slightly higher pH but retinol for example is manufactured in skin which has an acid mantle anyway. Try using the Vitamin C first followed by the retinoid but remember retinoids need to be introduced slowly so use this only twice a week initially.
    Best wishes,