Vitamin C Serum is a super popular skin care product. People swear it reduces wrinkles, brightens skin, and heals hyperpigmentation aka dark spots. But, is all this true or is it just hype?
We got to the bottom of this using the best research articles out there. To explain properly, first, we need to understand how skin is put together.
What Skin Is Made Of
There are 2 main layers of skin and they’re both composed of very different things.
This is the top, or outermost, layer of skin. It’s the part we see and touch. It’s made of mostly keratinocytes, which are skin cells that help keep skin strong and flexible. When forming the epidermis, they go through a process called keratinization, which builds the epidermis with lipids (fats) and proteins. As it does this, all the structures inside a skin cell (the nucleus, mitochondria, etc) essentially disappear and flatten out. So, the epidermis is mostly made of dead skin cells, especially the very top of it.
When all these dead skin cells get sealed together with lipids (fats), they make a barrier to the environment. This is called the stratum corneum layer. It is water-impermeable (water won’t just soak into your bloodstream from skin) but fats and lipids can get through. The lower epidermal layers also help form this barrier. And, beneath this, is the dermis.
The deeper layers of the epidermis, below the stratum corneum, is the dermis. The dermis gives skin its strength and elasticity and among other things, has your lymph system running through it. The lymph moves your immune system around your body and helps carry fluid away from skin, which reduces swelling. The dermis is made of up to 75% collagen fibers (fibroblasts) and elastic fibers which create the elasticity and strength of skin.
How Skin Gets Damaged
If you want to see the perfect skin, look at a baby. No dark spots, no wrinkles (except for maybe super cute ones!), and no areas of skin damage. This is how skin starts off in everyone, so why does it change as we get older?
The biggest most preventable factor for skin damage is the sun. UV rays create UV radiation and wreak havoc on skin causing photodamage.
Your perfect dermis, with it’s 75% collagen and elastic fibers, gets blasted with UV radiation and over time all those strong elastic fibers and collagen become weak and damaged. This is called Solar Elastosis and Epidermal Atrophy.
To make it worse, when this happens the UV light sends a signal to skin cells to start making cytokines. Long story short, these kick start a process that degrades the elastic fibers even more. Making a bad situation worse.
This ends up making wrinkles and saggy skin and puts us at risk for skin cancer. And that’s just how the sun affects the dermis.
The epidermis isn’t happy either.
Chronic UV radiation damages it creating those lesions we all know and love as hyperpigmentation, aka dark spots, sun spots, liver spots, or even freckles. It’s caused when an enzyme in skin cells called tyrosinase produces melanin and gets supercharged with too much UV radiation. Hence, an overproduction of melanin making dark spots.
Needless to say, wearing sunscreen every day is not optional.
Other Factors Causing Skin Damage
- Pollution, smoking, and other environmental irritants create dry skin and speed up wrinkles by breaking down collagen and elastin in the dermis
- Chemical exposure from personal care products, like hair dyes, soaps, bleaches, and detergents break down the dermal layer which damages collagen
- Direct injury from wounds or burns damages the dermal layer
- Normal aging causes deterioration of collagen which causes wrinkles and a loss of elasticity
Role of Vitamin C in Skin Healing
When skin is healthy and undamaged, it has high concentrations of Vitamin C. So, it stands to reason that skin not looking like a baby’s bottom, such as with photodamage or aging, has low concentrations of Vitamin C (this has actually been proven in a lab).
Vitamin C has been proven to:
- Stimulate collagen synthesis which firms skin, helps wounds heal, and reduces raised scars by producing more fibroblasts in the dermis
- Act as an antioxidant protecting and repairing cells with photodamage, especially when combined with Vitamin E
- Help the stratum corneum layer build up protective lipids which makes skin strong, thick, and reduces bruising
- Reduce inflammation which causes swelling and redness
- Stop the overproduction of melanin as a potent tyrosinase inhibitor. This helps diminish dark spots and brightens skin.
Now we know how great Vitamin C is for skin, but there’s a problem in getting the full benefit of it.
Vitamin C Serum for Skin Brightening
Remember that the epidermis is made up mostly of dead skin cells and doesn’t have blood vessels to deliver nutrients, like Vitamin C. It gets nutrients from the dermis, but the outermost layers of the epidermis doesn’t get much of anything because of how blood moves between cells.
This makes taking a Vitamin C supplement or even eating it in your diet very unhelpful to rid the skin of hyperpigmentations, raised scars, or to make it brighter (all epidermis things).
Vitamin C as a topical, like in a serum, is a must to reach the epidermis and get the full benefits.
That being said, studies have proven that eating a diet with lots of fruit and vegetables improves overall skin health. It just won’t banish the epidermis problems we all despise all by itself.
Before and After Using Vitamin C Serum
Credit: Reddit @flowersandkitties
To Sum It Up
Skin becomes damaged for different reasons but by far the most common is UV damage. Wearing sunscreen is a must to prevent sun damage and using topical Vitamin C is a must to help reverse the damage. It has been proven many times over to improve and repair skin cells, diminish hyperpigmentations, improve strength, stimulate collagen production, repair free radical damage, and protect skin. Find out How to Buy the Best Natural Vitamin C Serum That Works.