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  5. Vitamin C For Skin: Sources, Uses & Benefits

Are you looking for that one magical product to resolve all your skin issues? Vitamin C might be the key to achieve a healthy, younger version of your skin.

A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C is an irreplaceable nutrient for your skin’s health. You can simply add Vitamin C rich foods to your daily diet and Vitamin C enriched skin care products to your routine to maintain even toned, smooth and healthy skin.

Scroll down to know the various uses of Vitamin C and its forms that are best suited for your skin’s needs.

Why Is Vitamin C Good For Your Skin?

Your skin, being your body's exterior most line of defence, is constantly exposed to environmental damages. Such factors contribute to premature skin ageing, loss of fibrous matters such as collagen and elastin leading to dry, depleted, wrinkle prone skin. The only kind of nutrients capable of reversing such damage are antioxidants.

Vitamin C is the most potent type of antioxidant which when supplied to your skin in required amounts can combat various skin issues to give you a radiant, glowing, younger appearance.

How Important Is Vitamin C For Your Skin?

Your skin naturally has high concentrations of Vitamin C that keep it healthy and functional. However, factors like age, improper diet, wrong methods of cooking and certain internal medical conditions can cause a dip in your natural Vitamin C levels.

Vitamin C deficiency has been related to the impairment of various vital skin functions. Skin that has a low concentration of Vitamin C is more vulnerable to elemental damages. Apart from depletion of skin layers and loss of elasticity, lack of Vitamin C can also slow down wound healing after an injury. With delayed cell regeneration and a weakened epidermal barrier, your skin is more prone to sun damage and skin diseases such as Atopic Dermatitis and Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT).

As per the ancient science of Ayurveda, food is not graded according to its nutrition value but its effect on the human body. Though the concept of Vitamin is directly absent in Ayurveda, it recommends foods that are high in Vitamin C for keeping your Doshas (bodily humours) balanced, strengthening your immunity and helping you achieve problem- free healthy, young skin.

“Triphala is one of the best anti-aging formulations in Ayurveda. Recent research confirms that it is a rich source of Vitamin C,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin C For Your Skin?

step by step concept of healing and removing freckles

1. Promotes Collagen Production

Vitamin C plays an active part in the generation of collagen [1]. Fibroblasts found in the dermis mainly produce collagen. This makes up the collagen matrix in the dermal layer of your skin. During the production of collagen, the presence of Vitamin C is required for the functioning of collagen producing enzymes. Research shows low production of collagen in the skin in case of Vitamin C deficiencies. More collagen ensures your skin stays young, firm and wrinkle free.

2. Strengthens The Epidermal Barrier

The skin barrier formed of corneocytes tightly bound in a lipid matrix keeps your skin healthy, protected and supple. It traps essential moisture inside and prevents your skin from getting dry. It also prevents pathogens from entering your body. Vitamin C aids in the formation of ceramides and constructs the lipid matrix. This is why skin that lacks Vitamin C is more susceptible to dryness and infections due to a weakened skin barrier. Vitamin C also promotes differentiation of stem cells, thus promoting cell renewal.

3. Prevents Skin Damage From Free Radicals

Vitamin C plays a key role in scavenging free radicals that cause skin damage and premature ageing. Constant exposure to harsh UV rays of the sun and pollution can result in oxidative stress [2]. Being a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C teams up with Vitamin E to reduce oxidative damage to skin cells.

4. Ability To Reduce Cancer Cells

High concentrations of Vitamin C is an effective cancer treatment. Vitamin C is known to regulate gene expressions and cell functions to inhibit cancerous activity in cells.

5. Melanin Repression

Your skin specialist must have recommended Vitamin C whenever you dealt with hyperpigmentation. Over exposure to the sun triggers melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) into producing excess melanin. This results in tanning. Constant tanning can not only give you an uneven appearance, but also increase your chances of getting skin cancer.

Other factors such as age, injury and medical conditions can also lead to pigmentary disorders. Vitamin C is a known melanin inhibitor that suppresses the tyrosinase enzyme and prevents hyperpigmentation. This is why most skin whitening products contain Vitamin C.

6. Helps Wound Healing

Vitamin C is crucial for wound healing [3]. In case of tissue damage or infection, your body’s natural response is inflammation. This alerts White Blood Cells to rush to the site of injury and fight the infection. Once done, these WBCs need to be cleared off. Vitamin C actively participates in neutrophil (a type of WBC) apoptosis or elimination. It also plays an important role in the production of collagen and helps the wound to heal.

7. Prevents Skin Diseases

Presence of Vitamin C keeps many skin diseases at bay such as scurvy, atopic dermatitis and Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT). High Vitamin C levels strengthen your skin barrier which in turn keeps dry skin, eczema and infection away. Vitamin C for oily skin also prevents acne conditions.

How To Get Vitamin C For Your Skin?

vitamin c and fresh fruits on white wooden table

A. Vitamin C Foods For Skin

1. Amla

You must have heard your dietician say an amla a day keeps all your Vitamin C worries away. 100 gm of Indian gooseberry or amla can give you about 600 mg of Vitamin C which is far higher than most known Vitamin C food sources. Also rich in iron and calcium, amla is a wholesome nutrition source for your body and skin.

How To Consume Amla

  • To get glowing skin, soak amla overnight or boil to soften it. Add honey and have it every morning.
  • To make a Vitamin C rich Amla juice, blend 2 to 3 de-seeded amlas and strain its juice. Now add honey and a little ginger for taste. Drink this every morning to fight various signs of ageing.

2. Kiwi

This yummy fruit is fraught with the goodness of Vitamin C. 100gms of kiwi can give you around 92.7mg of Vitamin C. Kiwis are known for boosting your immunity and preventing heart problems. Daily intake of Kiwi juice enhances your overall skin health and flushes out harmful toxins from the body.

How To Consume Kiwi

  • Consuming kiwi as a fruit is advised by nutritionists.
  • You can also have it as a juice or add milk to make a healthy milkshake.

3. Strawberry

Strawberry milkshakes are an amazing source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. 100 gm of strawberry contains around 59 mg of Vitamin C. Due to the abundance of antioxidants, regular consumption of strawberries can give you an even complexion. Alpha Hydroxy Acids in strawberries further enhance blood flow to the skin and promote regeneration of healthy skin cells.

How To Consume Strawberry

  • Add strawberry pulp, milk and honey to make a yummy strawberry milkshake.

4. Bell Peppers

If you're looking to shed some calories and get healthy skin at the same time, bell peppers are your best choice. Low on calories and super high in nutrients, a cup of bell peppers can give you around 120 mg of Vitamin C. Also rich in beta-carotene (especially red one), bell peppers prevent UV ray induced skin damage. They also enhance your metabolism, keep your cholesterol levels low, ensuring better heart and skin health.

How To Consume Bell Peppers

  • Bell peppers make for amazing dips. You can even put them in your salad or add them to your favourite sabji.

5. Green And Red Chillies

The irreplaceable spice in Indian kitchens, chillies, both red and green are great sources of Vitamin C. Green chillies have a higher Vitamin C content, around 109 mg, whereas a red chilli gives around 65 mg. Including chillies in your meal can spike up your Vitamin C intake and give your skin its required antioxidant supply. Green chillies can also keep your blood sugar levels in check and prevent various diabetes related skin problems.

How To Consume Green And Red Chillies

  • Most Indian recipes include chillies from their taste and essence. So next time skip the market chilli powder and throw in some real chillies in your cooked meal for healthy, glowing, young looking skin.

6. Kale

Kale, a member of the cabbage family, packs in a whooping 120 mg of Vitamin C. Regular consumption of kale promotes collagen production that prevents early depletion of your skin layers. It also strengthens your epidermal barrier and improves your overall immunity.

How To Consume Kale

  • Detoxify every morning with a tasty glass of kale juice. Add ginger, a pinch of rock salt and lemon to enhance its taste. You can also skip the salt and include a fruit like apple if you have a sweet tooth.
  • Adding kale to your salad is also another great option.

7. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are unbeatable sources of Vitamin C for oily skin. Adding a dash of lemon to your food or including an orange juice in your breakfast can give you amazing skin benefitting results. Most fruits in this family contain around 53 mg of Vitamin C per 100 gm.

Apart from the antioxidant uses of Vitamin C, consuming citrus fruits every day can keep you safe from skin infections and microbial diseases. Citrus fruits are great detoxifiers that remove toxins from your body. This helps fight hyperpigmentation and keeps your skin rejuvenated.

How To Consume Citrus fruits

  • Lemon is a great water add-in that keeps your skin hydrated and fresh all day. To use Vitamin C for skin lightening, simply squeeze a ripe lemon in your regular drinking water. Add a pinch of rock salt to fulfil your salt requirements.

8. Tomato

Tomato contains the double power of antioxidants. With both Vitamin C and Lycopene, including tomato in your regular diet can keep most of your skin problems away. From fighting oxidative stress caused by sun damage, preventing premature skin ageing to fighting cancer causing elements in your body, tomatoes do it all.

How To Consume Tomato

  • Tomatoes make a delicious base for most Indian curries.
  • Apart from tomato juice, tomato soup is also another super yummy way of consuming this Vitamin C fruit for your skin.

9. Broccoli

Most green vegetables are good sources of Vitamin C and broccoli is no exception. It contains around 89.2 mg of Vitamin C per 100 gm. With a high fiber content, broccoli is an excellent choice for those who are considering weight loss. Regular intake of broccoli can help you fight high blood sugar levels, promote better wound healing, reduce skin inflammation and enhance cell regeneration.

How To Consume Broccoli

  • Boil broccoli along with other vegetables like tomatoes, beans, peas and carrots. Sprinkle some salt and olive oil for a tasty Vitamin C enriched snack.

10. Blackcurrant

The amount of Vitamin C in blackcurrants by far surpasses that of citrus fruits like oranges. With amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C, blackcurrants help skin injuries heal faster. They also suppress cancerous cell proliferation. Having blackcurrants everyday can greatly improve your skin complexion and appearance. They also keep your kidneys and liver healthy which allows your skin to detoxify and absorb more nutrition.

How To Consume Blackcurrant

  • A healthier way of eating blackcurrants than your regular juice is popping them in with a pinch of salt. For a tastier version add rock salt or black salt instead of regular salt and a pinch of chilli powder to it.

11. Papaya

A cup of papaya can fulfil more than half of your daily vitamin C requirement. Enzymes in papaya improve your metabolism and help your body to flush out toxic wastes. This Vitamin C fruit nourishes your skin and keeps it hydrated, thus preventing dry skin related problems. Due to its high antioxidant count, regular consumption of papaya keeps your skin taut, wrinkle free and healthy and young.

How To Consume Papaya

  • Papaya shakes and juices are always a delight.
  • You can also cut papaya into small chunks, refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes and have it like a healthy summer snack.

12. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is an underrated vegetable especially if you take into account its multiple body and skin benefits. With powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, kohlrabi is considered a Vitamin C superfood for the skin. 100 gm of kohlrabi can easily give you around 62 mg of Vitamin C.

Daily intake of kohlrabi can reduce chances of skin cancer and ulcers. It also makes your blood more alkaline, which helps fight microbes and infection causing pathogens that may enter the bloodstream.

How To Consume Kohlrabi

  • Kohlrabi can make for a great side dish with your meals.

B. Vitamin C Herbs And Spices For Your Skin

 thyme isolated on white background

1. Thyme

Thyme contains 160.1 mg Vitamin C per 100 gm, which is significantly higher than many food sources. Adding a spoon of thyme to your salads, soups or pasta can up your Vitamin C intake.

2. Saffron

This luxurious spice contains around 80.8 mg Vitamin C per 100 gm. Already known for its antimicrobial and skin brightening properties, adding saffron to your milk or dessert can serve an added benefit.

3. Bay Leaves

One of the most commonly used spices in Indian cuisine, bay leaves are a good source of Vitamin C. 100 gm contain around 46.5 mg of Vitamin C. Add bay leaves to flavour your curries, soups, and rice.

4. Turmeric

Most cuisines in India cannot do without turmeric. A miracle spice known for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and skin brightening properties also contains around 25.9 mg Vitamin C per 100 gm.Turmeric can also be added to milk to enhance your immunity.

5. Peppermint

Peppermint is a known anti- acne solution for oily skin. It contains around 31.8 mg Vitamin C per 100 gm. There are lots of ways to have peppermint. Add it to your salad, smoothie, rice, curry or simply prepare the famous South Indian mint chutney.

C. Vitamin C Supplements For Healthy Skin

woman holding pills and grapefruit in two hands

Our busy schedules rarely allow us to eat enough nutrition rich food to meet our daily vitamin requirements. This is where dietary supplements come handy. Vitamin C supplements in the form of health drinks, tablets or shots have gained popularity for their ability to supply necessary nutrients to combat deficiencies in your body. However, with numerous brands and products claiming to be the best, it is advisable to consult your nutritionist to understand your specific requirements.

Choose supplements that are herbal and contain natural ingredients. Thoroughly read their labels and avoid products that contain added flavours, colours, artificial sweeteners, sugar, gluten and preservatives.

D. Natural Sources Of Vitamin C For Skin

Topical application of Vitamin C rich natural ingredients is also a good way of meeting your skin’s needs. Ayurveda stresses upon such natural Vitamin C enriched lepas (face packs), Abhyanga (massages) and Ubtan (scrubs) for improving your skin health.

1. Vitamin C Scrub For Your Skin

A. Orange Peel Scrub

Orange peel is a great source of topical Vitamin C for your skin. Exfoliating 2 to 3 times in a week with orange peel powder can increase your cell turnover rate, prevent clogged pores and reduce sun tan. Add some honey to the orange peel powder for added moisturization. Orange peel acts as a natural Vitamin C powder for your skin and is effective in fighting acne conditions.

2. Vitamin C Face Pack For Your Skin

A. Tomato Pulp

Applying fresh tomato pulp is a great way to supply Vitamin C for your skin. This is often used as a natural source of Vitamin C for skin whitening. Mash a ripe tomato and apply to remove the tan and bring a fresh glow. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.

B. Lemon Juice And Honey

Lemon juice and honey is a powerful antioxidant pack that clarifies and nourishes your skin. To use Vitamin C for skin lightening, mix honey with lemon juice and apply on your skin. Wash off after 20 minutes.

C. Strawberry, Papaya And Aloe Vera

Pamper your skin with a pack made from strawberry, papaya and aloe vera. Apart from being fabulous sources of Vitamin C for the skin, these ingredients are super hydrating. Blend strawberry and papaya to make a paste and add freshly extracted aloe vera gel to it. Apply on skin and wash off after 30 minutes.

D. Turmeric, Kesar And Milk

This Ayurvedic Vitamin C pack is perfect for skin suffering from acne, infections, sun damage and dryness. Make a paste of raw turmeric and add saffron and milk to it. Apply on your skin and wash off after 20 minutes.This is one of the best face packs that use Vitamin C for skin lightening.

3. Vitamin C Oils For Your Skin

Massage your skin with the below mentioned Vitamin C rich essential oils twice a day to improve sub-cutaneous blood circulation and reveal healthy skin.

A. Lemon Oil

Regular massage with lemon oil promotes cell renewal and wards off skin infections. Lemon oil can also reverse sun damage. It is often considered a natural substitute for Vitamin C serum for oily skin.

B. Rosehip Oil

Highly hydrating rosehip oil is a fantastic source of Vitamin C for your skin. Massage daily to reduce hyperpigmentation, prevent skin ageing and enhance your skin's immunity.

E. Vitamin C Skincare Products

There is a whole range of skincare products that have Vitamin C as their chief ingredient. From vitamin C serums, cleansers, scrubs, moisturizers and sunscreen, including a Vitamin C enriched product in your daily skincare routine is always beneficial for your skin. However, check the concentration of the vitamin in your product.

Sensitive skin may get irritated with higher concentrations. Thus it is advisable to consult your Ayurvedic doctor to get your Doshas checked. Knowing your Prakriti or body constitution will help you choose products that suit your skin better.

What Are The Different Forms Of Vitamin C Found In Skincare Products?

There are 6 different forms of Vitamin C that are used in skincare products. Knowing their names and basic characteristics will help you choose the best form of Vitamin C for your skin's needs.

A. Ascorbic Acid

The most common and well known form of Vitamin C that is used in skincare products [4]. Ascorbic acid is water soluble and has a higher penetration ability that allows it to go deep into your skin layers and work its magic. However, this is considered more suitable for oily, normal and combination skin. This is why ascorbic acid is a frequently found ingredient in Vitamin C serums for oily skin.

B. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

A more gentler version of Vitamin C, sodium ascorbyl phosphate can be used on all skin types.

C. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a boon for acne prone skin. It has an unique ability to prevent oxidation of the plug within blackheads. Water soluble, extremely hydrating and suitable for all skin types, this form of Vitamin C is the most stable in the group.

D. Sodium Ascorbate

This is an ascorbic acid salt mainly found in scrubs and masks or simply as a Vitamin C powder for skin which can be added to other skincare products. Sodium ascorbate is mild and suitable for all skin types.

E. Calcium Ascorbate

Another ascorbic acid salt with amazing collagen boosting and skin whitening abilities. This can also be used as a Vitamin C powder for your skin. Suits all skin types.

F. Ascorbyl Palmitate

This fat soluble form of Vitamin C is used for skin whitening, collagen building and anti- ageing. Being milder than ascorbic acid, it can be used on sensitive skin along with other skin types.

The potency of your Vitamin C product can be reduced if used together with certain products like Retinols, AHAs and Benzoyl Peroxide.

How To Use Vitamin C In Your Daily Skin Routine?

Vitamin C serum in cosmetic bottle with sliced oranges

Vitamin C skin care products may begin from concentrations of 5% and go up to 30%. It is always advisable to start from a lower concentration and gradually go up as your skin adjusts to the product. Store your Vitamin C product in an opaque container to prevent its oxidation as Vitamin C is unstable when exposed to light. If you notice that your cream or moisturizer has turned yellowish in colour, it is better to replace it with a new one.

1. Vitamin C Cleansers And Face Washes

Vitamin C cleansers benefit skin that is constantly exposed to environmental damages. They not only clean your skin but also work towards giving you an even tone.

2. Vitamin C Scrubs

Exfoliating your face with Vitamin C scrubs reduces acne and acne scars. Vitamin C scrubs keep your pores clean and fight off acne causing bacteria. They are often used for skin whitening.

3. Vitamin C Serums

Vitamin C serum for skin is probably one of the most effective ways of topically supplying the nutrient. Vitamin C serums contain active ingredients with smaller molecules than lotions or moisturizers. This helps them to penetrate deeper and resolve your skin issues.

While selecting Vitamin C serum for oily skin, look for ones that contain ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. As mentioned earlier, these forms help with acne conditions. You can also choose your Vitamin C serum for oily skin based on specific skin issues. Or those serums which have other natural extracts infused in them for better benefits.

4. Vitamin C Masks

Vitamin C masks and sheet masks are specifically designed to fight skin ageing, hyperpigmentation, dryness and oxidative stress. Include a Vitamin C mask once or twice a week into your skincare regime for a noticeable difference in your skin’s appearance.

5. Vitamin C Moisturizers

When it comes to Vitamin C moisturizers, understand your skin type and its requirements. Opt for water based moisturizers that have water soluble forms of Vitamin C for oily and combination skin. In case of dry skin, go for a more hydrating formula.

6. Vitamin C Sunscreen

We cannot stress more on why sunscreen should be a crucial part of your daily skincare routine. But using one that has Vitamin C in it, is an added advantage. This not only allows you to deflect the harsh UV rays of the sun but also reverse sun damage suffered by your skin.

Vedix Tip: Skin specialists recommend using antioxidants in combination. Choose products that have both Vitamin C and Vitamin E in them for enhanced skin benefits.

How Much Vitamin C Per Day Is Required For Your Skin?

Vitamin C requirement is different for different age groups [5]. The daily requirement per age group is mentioned below in the table:

Age Group

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) Of Vitamin C

Infants

50 mg / day

Children

25 - 45 mg/ day

Teenagers

65mg (girls), 75mg (boys)

Adults

75mg (women), 90mg (men)

Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women

85mg (pregnancy), 120mg (breastfeeding)

How Long Does It Take For Vitamin C To Work On Skin?

Both intake and topical application of Vitamin C works quickly. If you are meeting your daily Vitamin C requirements, the results can be noticed within a week. High concentrations of Vitamin C in skincare products also claim to produce results within 2 to 3 days of application. However, such products must be used with caution to avoid skin irritations.

What Are The Side Effects Of Too Much Vitamin C?

Well it is difficult to go overboard with Vitamin C with only food sources unless you are overdosing on supplements. Which may cause Vitamin C toxicity. In general, your body can consume only a limited amount of the vitamin at a time. Which is why Vitamin C treatments for scurvy and cancer include frequent doses rather than one concentrated dose a day. As for topical application, too much Vitamin C or the wrong form of Vitamin C can cause skin irritations.

The common side effects of too much Vitamin C are as follows:

  • Skin Sensitivity
  • Itching
  • Dry Skin
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The Last Word

The benefits of Vitamin C for skin and body are endless. This has led to its popularity in both skin care and the dietary supplement market. So in whichever way you choose to supply your skin this essential nutrient the results will be beneficial. Preventing collagen depletion, suppressing melanogenesis and reversing oxidative skin damage is sure to make your skin look 5 to 7 years younger.

Know Your Dosha Now

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