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vitamin c in skincare

Vitamin C in Skincare

Vitamin C is the biologically active isomer, also referred to as L-ascorbic acid, known to neutralize free radicals which helps combat the signs of skin aging and enhance tone and firmness. Known for its potent antioxidant properties and its role in collagen synthesis, vitamin C can help protect the skin from environmental damage, brighten the complexion, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What is Vitamin C?

While there are a number of oil and water soluble derivatives of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid is the most biologically active form. It is the most abundant antioxidant in the skin and is essential for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. Although the human body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, it plays a critical role in various bodily functions. In skincare, it's recognized for its antioxidant properties, its role in collagen synthesis, and its ability to brighten the skin and reduce visual hyperpigmentation.

What Does Vitamin C Do to the Skin?

Vitamin C, when applied topically, can offer several benefits to the skin. It acts as a potent antioxidant, helping to protect the skin from environmental stressors like UV radiation and pollution that create free radicals leading to topical redness, inflammation, and premature skin aging. It’s also clinically documented for its crucial role in collagen synthesis, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is especially important in photoaging as UV exposure expedites the depletion of collagen in the skin. Additionally, vitamin C can help to brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation, resulting in a more even and radiant complexion.

Benefits of Vitamin C:

  • Skin Brightening: Vitamin C inhibits melanin production, helping to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots, even out skin tone, and enhance skin radiance.

  • Collagen Production: As a cofactor in collagen synthesis, vitamin C aids in skin's natural regeneration process, leading to healthier, more resilient skin.

  • Antioxidant Protection: Vitamin C protects the skin from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure, helping to prevent premature aging.

  • Reducing Inflammation: Vitamin C has been shown to reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

How Does Vitamin C Work?

Structurally, vitamin C is a good antioxidant because the negatively charged form is resonance stabilized so vitamin C is able to donate electrons easier to free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the skin searching for electrons. The vitamin C molecule can sacrifice an electron easily to a free radical so surrounding cells in the skin are not damaged. Free radicals cause oxidative damage and come from UV exposure, pollution, and other external stressors. Unchecked free radicals or oxidative stress in the skin can lead to inflammation, erythema, premature skin aging and hyperpigmentation. ROS from UV exposure induces Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs) which then break down the collagen in the skin. Topical application of vitamin C can quench these ROS to prevent these enzymes from breaking down collagen.


In addition to protecting collagen in the skin, vitamin C has a crucial role in collagen synthesis important in aging skin which has depleted levels of collagen. It aids in collagen production necessary for skin regeneration. Vitamin C is well known for its brightening properties because it reduces melanogenesis or the production of melanin in the skin helping fade dark spots and even out skin tone.

Concentration Levels & Recommended Usage for Vitamin C:

Vitamin C has many derivatives but L-ascorbic acid is typically found in concentrations of 10% to 20% in skincare products. It's often found in water-based or water-soluble serums, creams, and lotions. For best results, it is recommended to use vitamin C products consistently over a period of several weeks. L-ascorbic acid oxidizes in the presence of air, light, and water so limiting these factors through opaque, airtight packaging and low water concentration can help slow the oxidation process and keep your vitamin C products active longer.

Is it Okay to Use Vitamin C Daily?

Vitamin C can generally be used daily but you should always cater the frequency of use to your skin’s tolerability. It's important to monitor your skin's response and reduce usage if any signs of irritation or sensitivity occur. In order to penetrate the skin and provide a biological benefit, L-ascorbic acid needs to be in its uncharged form which requires low pH formulations. Water soluble formulas with L-ascorbic acid are generally around pH 3.5 or below which provides optimal stability and permeability in skin. If your skin is sensitive to these products try using a different derivative of vitamin C such as the oil soluble Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate.

Who Should Use Vitamin C?

Vitamin C can be beneficial for anyone looking to protect their skin from environmental damage, reduce visual signs of aging, brighten complexion or reduce hyperpigmentation. It's suitable for all skin types, but particularly beneficial for those with dull or aging skin. Those with sensitive skin should introduce it into their routine cautiously. It’s recommended to patch test any new ingredient introduced into a regimen.


We offer a 15% l-ascorbic acid serum, Lucent-C Vitamin C Serum 15% that enhances the radiance, luminosity, and lucency of the skin while improving firmness and elasticity. Our Lucent-C Vitamin C Serum 15% is alcohol-free, fragrance-free, dermatologist-developed, dermatologist-tested, and allergy tested.





DISCLAIMER: All skin care articles are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational. Any reference to a specific patient experience is not a medical suggestion for treatment. Please note that any Prequel products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician advice and/or pharmaceutical product recommendations.

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