Vitamin C Serum: Should You Be Using One?

Skincare companies have been earning billions of dollars in sales in the anti aging skincare market segment.  None of that is going to change any time soon. This is mostly due to the business of making promises, regardless of whether or not their product can actually deliver.  This results in the endless cycle of trial and error.  As market conditions change and consumer trends shift toward ‘organic’ and ‘all natural’ oils and serums it is important consumers stay focuses on the evidence and not just the empty promises.  

An evidence based ingredients ingredient approach and transparency are important to consumers in todays finicky skincare marketplace.  Yet despite their claims, these same consumers seldom read the evidence thoroughly, missing important details about the efficacy (effectiveness) of the ingredient.  A perfect example of this is the latest excitement about Vitamin C Serums and oils.  

Vitamin C – What You Need to Know

Your skin needs vitamin c, experts can all agree on that fact.  Where the opinions start to diverge is on the topic of whether or not your skin needs a topical serum or if your skin gets all of the benefits it needs from consuming vitamin c in foods or supplements.  The human body does not naturally produce vitamin c, so we must find it through our diets, supplements and perhaps topical oils.  

Vitamin C plays big roles in the overall health of your skin.  Responsible for processes such as collagen production, wound healing and moisture retention, the evidence is clear that vitamin c is important.  What’s not so clear is whether or not adding vitamin c (either through foods or topically) benefits the skin for consumers who have healthy levels of vitamin c already.  

For those who are deficient or have low levels of vitamin c, bringing those levels up are naturally beneficial to the skin. 21 million individuals in the United States are vitamin c deficient, another 30 Million could develop vitamin c shortages due to lifestyle or disease status.  The other 300 Million Americans have healthy vitamin c levels.

Vitamin C is an Antioxidant, which means it can reduce the damage of UV Rays on the skin.  However, it is NOT a sunscreen or a sun screen substitute.  It simply has properties that are beneficial for skin that has been exposed to uv rays.  Vitamin C also plays a role in the regulation of collagen production.  Collagen is a protein that keeps skin thick, strong and wrinkle free.  Collagen production declines as we age as well as exposure to sun damage.  Lastly, Vitamin C seems to have moisturizing properties as well, it works to prevent moisture from escaping the skin.  

Smoking, sun damage and the normal aging process are responsible for the decline in skin’s vitamin c content.  

Evidence – Do the Research

In 2002 a study was done on ONLY 10 Subjects.  These 10 people put Vitamin C on half of their face and Placebo on the other half.  After 12 weeks, there was enough change to register it statistically as beneficial.  

In 2017, the journal Nutrients does a deep dive on all of the existing literature on the benefits of Vitamin C on skin health.  They find increasing the Vitamin C levels in the blood, either through supplementation, diet or topical serums has positive effects on the skin, but only for those individuals who are deficient in Vitamin C levels.  For individuals with healthy Vitamin C levels, there was no statistical change.  

The Bottom Line – Do You Need a Vitamin C Serum?

It’s clear that Vitamin C plays a big role in your overall health and the health of your skin.  Vitamin C Serums and oils may help your skin stay hydrated and even work to improve wrinkles, but only if you are currently deficient in vitamin c.  There is little evidence to support the benefits of a Vitamin C Serum for individuals who have healthy levels of the vitamin in their body already.  

If you believe that you are deficient in Vitamin C, statistically it’s possible.  There are millions of individuals in the United States who are.  If that is the case, taking a daily vitamin that contains vitamin C is sufficient enough to reap all of the benefits that Vitamin C has to offer.