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Woman putting on face cream, with vitamin C fruits in the background

Vitamin C for skin

Aesthetic nurse specialist Julie Brackenbury shares everything you need to know about superhero skin ingredient vitamin C, which can help leave your skin looking brighter and younger.

Is vitamin C good for the skin?

Whether you want to keep your skin looking younger, even out your skin tone, reduce fine lines and wrinkles or tackle spots, vitamin C's benefits for skin are impressive. It can even help with acne.

Who should use vitamin C?

The good news is that vitamin C is beneficial for all skin types. Those with acne-prone skin or sun-damaged skin benefit from vitamin C just as much as those with dry or oily skin. It works wonders for pretty much everyone!

What does vitamin C do for your skin?

Vitamin C helps to reduce uneven pigmentation and dullness

Vitamin C has been described as a brightening agent, which means it's great at tackling uneven pigmentation and improving skin's radiance. As a well-known antioxidant, it also protects the skin from free radical damage, so skin will get fewer age spots or dark patches to begin with.

Vitamin C boosts collagen production

By helping the skin make more of this vital protein, vitamin C plays a pivotal role in keeping skin tissues and cells intact, firm and hydrated. Collagen is one of the main reasons why youthful skin looks so smooth and healthy.

Vitamin C helps reduce lines and wrinkles

Another benefit of vitamin C being an antioxidant is fewer lines and wrinkles. Oxidative stress and damage to skin cells from the ageing process results in changes to the skin’s structure, but by reducing this damage as well as increasing collagen production, vitamin C helps to repair damaged skin and thicken the dermis, thereby reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin C helps reduce acne

Vitamin C is effective at reducing inflammation, which is associated with acne. It also helps in skin regeneration, so can help reduce acne scars.

Clementines on a wooden chopping board

Take advantage of vitamin C in your skincare and enjoy a number of benefits, from improved radiance to a more even skin tone.

Top tips for vitamin C skincare

Start slow

As with any active topical ingredient, vitamin C should be introduced gradually. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to do a small patch test beforehand, as one of the most common side effects of using vitamin C can be irritation and redness, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Otherwise, vitamin C is generally well tolerated.

Build a routine

Once your skin is happy with vitamin C, build a routine. You should expect to see results in around three weeks – but don't forget that skin cell turnover is every four weeks, so you do have to be patient!

How to use vitamin C serum

  1. Cleanse and tone, then apply your eye serum.
  2. Next, firmly press (don't rub) your face serum into the skin for deeper penetration.
  3. Wait 1-2 minutes for the vitamin C serum to absorb.
  4. Then, spread your moisturiser evenly across face, neck, and décolletage in a feathering motion.

Consider the strength of your vitamin C

For a vitamin C serum to be effective, it should ideally have a concentration between eight and 20 per cent. The higher the concentration, the more potent it is. Healthspan's Nurture serum is 10%, which is a perfect percentage for most people. Stronger isn't always better!

Older woman putting cream on face

Vitamin C is suitable for all ages and skin types.

Types of vitamin C

There are many different sources of vitamin C, and not all sources are the same. The three vitamin C types used in the Nurture range have been chosen to give you the best results. Here's what they do.

3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (EAC)

3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid is an effective melanin inhibitor that stimulates collagen synthesis, protects DNA and lightens skin. It is a water-soluble, stable source. The active substance is an ascorbic acid derivative, and is metabolised to vitamin C after penetration through the skin.

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (VC-IP)

Numerous studies have shown that Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate penetrates the skin deeper than any other form of vitamin C, and can reach both the epidermis and dermis. It has also been clinically proven to suppress the formation of pigmentation after exposure to UVB rays.

Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract

This is vitamin C from the Kakadu plum, a fruit native to Australia, with the highest recorded level of natural vitamin C. In fact, the Kakadu plum contains more than 100 times the vitamin C content of oranges! It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and has been used in traditional medicine by Aboriginal Australian people for many centuries.

Julie's top tips

  • Vitamin C does not cause sun sensitivity, but you do need to wear an SPF when using it.
  • Diet is so important for skin health. Eating foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and green veggies is also a good idea.
  • It's not recommended to apply separate retinol, glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid products when you first start using vitamin C. You can eventually introduce them when you get into the routine and your skin gets used to the vitamin C products.
  • Vitamin C is unstable and breaks down in sunlight. For this reason, look for products that come in opaque packaging, such as Healthspan's Nurture range.

Julie Brackenbury (RGN, INP) is an experienced Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner She specialises in all aspects of non-surgical cosmetic treatments and skin care and has had over 30 peer reviewed articles published. She also sits on the editorial board for the Journal of Aesthetic Nursing and the British Dermatological Nursing Group.

Find out more about Julie Brackenbury, or read more about Healthspan's beauty, skin and hair experts.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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