INGREDIENTS 101

8 Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin, Hair and Health

By Jessie Quinn · January 11, 2021

Few ingredients are as deserving of a place in your routine as vitamin C. While many of us are familiar with its benefits as part of a healthy diet, the antioxidant has also become a staple in skin care regimens, and for good reason. From cleansers to serums to moisturizers and face masks, formulas with vitamin C make the most of its “widespread properties and ability to regenerate the skin,” says Dr. Lily Talakoub, a board-certified dermatologist in McLean, Va.

Health and Skin Care Benefits of Vitamin C

When we think about a healthy diet, vitamin C almost certainly comes to mind. According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, vitamin C “boosts your immunity to prevent or treat a cold, helps wounds heal quicker and also may help reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Along with boasting some major health benefits, vitamin C is also good for your skin. “Vitamin C not only helps repair free radical damage, but it brightens the skin and helps fade dark spots,” says Dr. Jaliman, who notes it also “stimulates collagen production, improving the skin’s texture and quality.”

Using vitamin C regularly can help prevent the effects of sun damage and pollution from showing up on your skin, too. The antioxidant helps defend against hyperpigmentation by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is responsible for converting tyrosine into melanin in the skin, Dr. Jaliman explains.

The best part? Unlike some other buzzworthy skin care ingredients, vitamin C doesn’t come with a long list of precautions. “Vitamin C is generally safe, gentle and effective when used in skin care,” says Dr. Jaliman.

Hair Benefits of Vitamin C 

Vitamin C also has benefits for your hair. The ingredient is a “necessary component to create the protein known as collagen,” which promotes hair health, explains Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, NMD, a naturopathic medical doctor in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Vitamin C also helps your body absorb non-heme iron, a necessary mineral for hair growth,” she adds.

To see these benefits, Dr. Zenhausern recommends getting adequate levels of vitamin C through your diet, with antioxidant-rich foods and even supplements in some cases. “We often see the biggest benefit of supplementing vitamin C in patients with vitamin-C deficiency,” she explains. As for those without a deficiency, she recommends adding more parsley leaves, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi and citrus fruits to your diet, as they are some of the best ways to reap the benefits of vitamin C for hair.

Vitamin C Products to Try

Vitamin C might have made its way to every corner of skin care, but not every formula is created equal. “When used in products that penetrate and hydrate the skin, it works very well,” Dr. Jaliman confirms. If you’re on the hunt for an effective vitamin-C product, we’ve got you covered with these top picks.

  • 1. Block Free Radicals

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    Loved by editors, dermatologists and skin care obsessives alike, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic protects the skin against environmental aggressors to help prevent premature signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, dullness and dark spots. It’s been shown in clinical studies to reduce combined oxidative damage from free radicals (generated by UV and pollution) by up to a whopping 41 percent.

  • 2. Restore Moisture

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    According to Dr. Jaliman’s advice, vitamin-C formulas work better when combined with hydrating ingredients—and this moisturizer from Sunday Riley checks that box. The formula features lime-pearl extract, which retexturizes the complexion and allows the added vitamin C to better absorb. Additionally, it is also enhanced by turmeric and chamomile to calm signs of redness.

  • 3. Preserve Hair Color

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    Add a dose of antioxidant protection to your hair care regimen with these Power Drops from Oribe. The formula features vitamin C and quinoa protein to boost color retention, shield against UV rays and even reduce breakage. Adding a few drops to your styling products or shampoo and conditioner can help promote healthier hair all around.

  • 4. Minimize Fine Lines and Wrinkles

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    When it comes to signs of aging, our eyes are typically a top concern. Luckily, an eye treatment with vitamin C can help minimize fine lines and discoloration. In addition to vitamin C, this brightening eye serum from Dermalogica is enhanced with chia seed oil, rich in antioxidants that help neutralize pollution particles.

  • 5. Boost Collagen Production

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    Collagen is responsible for keeping skin firm, supple and smooth, but our bodies produce less of it as we age. Vitamin-C serums—like this one from BeautyStat Cosmetics, featuring a unique, patented form of the antioxidant—can help rev up collagen production. In an independent clinical study, this serum was shown to significantly firm and tighten skin.

  • 6. Protect Against UV Rays

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    Vitamin C might protect against sun damage, but it shouldn’t be your only line of defense. That’s where this antioxidant-infused sunscreen from Supergoop! comes in handy. The mist formula uses SPF 50 to shield your skin from the sun and the antioxidant power of vitamin C to neutralize free radicals, nourish and protect.

  • 7. Fight Off Fatigue

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    If you’re looking to up the ante on your vitamin-C intake and feel a boost of energy, the Uber Energy supplements from HUM Nutrition are a must-try. The capsules contain a blend of vitamin C, as well as L-tyrosine and rhodiola rosea, which help combat feelings of fatigue. On top of that, they’re also enhanced by gotu kola for mental clarity and vitamins B5 and B6 for energy.

  • 8. Soothe Irritation

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    Vitamin C promotes skin healing, which makes it ideal for stressed skin in need of a refresh. This serum from Allies of Skin features two forms of vitamin C to protect, brighten and firm skin, plus strengthen the skin barrier. Inflammation-fighting and repairing ingredients like superoxide dismutase and glutathione help boost the skin-renewing benefits.

Jessica Quinn | Dermstore Blog

Jessie Quinn

Jessie Quinn is a writer and editor with work published in NYLON Magazine, StyleCaster.com, Girlboss.com, Marvel.com, and more. She is a graduate of Academy of Art University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Journa... Read More >