Skin Care Blogs

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

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. Vitamin C
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    Vitamin C

    A favorite among dermatologists, vitamin C is one of the most studied antioxidants out there. As a free radical scavenger, vitamin C has many skin benefits, like boosting collagen production (which leaves skin firmer) and fading dark spots. Use it in the morning to make the most of its ability to prevent sun damage and inhibit hyperpigmentation—and always follow it with sunscreen.

    Read more: Best Vitamin C Serums for Brighter Skin

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  2. Niacinamide
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    Niacinamide

    “Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a powerful antioxidant that improves the skin’s texture and tone. It reduces fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties,” explains Dr. Klein. Thanks to its ability to calm inflammation, niacinamide can also soothe breakouts, improve skin’s barrier function and help fight redness.

    This vitamin is often used to treat skin conditions like rosacea and acne and is not known to cause any adverse reactions, making it ideal for sensitive types.

    Read more: 7 Things You Absolutely Need to Know About Niacinamide

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  3. Resveratrol
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    Resveratrol

    Resveratrol is known as the “longevity molecule” thanks to its impressive anti-aging abilities. An antioxidant found mostly in the skins of fruits like grapes and berries, resveratrol serves as the plants’ defensive armor—and has a similarly reparative effect when used in skin care products. “Resveratrol has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, which calm down the skin, reduce skin aging and may keep [the skin] free of infections,” says Dr. Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, a board-certified dermatologist in Missouri. It’s best used in the evening, since UV exposure can hamper its effectiveness.

    Read more: Resveratrol 101: What You Need to Know About This Anti-Aging MVP

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  4. Vitamin E
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    Vitamin E

    Vitamin E is an important antioxidant required for the proper function of many organs in the body, including the skin. It’s widely recognized for its ability to accelerate the skin’s healing process. No wonder vitamin E is often found in moisturizers, creams and lotions formulated to treat dry skin, as well as products designed to reduce stretch marks. Vitamin E also helps to stabilize other antioxidants and improve their effectiveness, so you’ll often find it paired with vitamin C or resveratrol.

    Read more: 6 Reasons to Add Vitamin E to Your Skin (and Hair) Routine Now

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  5. Retinol (Vitamin A)
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    Retinol (Vitamin A)

    If there’s one ingredient that’s been proven time and time again to help turn back the clock on aging skin, it’s retinol. A derivative of vitamin A, this antioxidant is particularly effective due to its small molecular structure, which allows it to penetrate deep enough into the skin that it can effectively stimulate collagen production and accelerate cell renewal and repair. Both over-the-counter retinol and prescription forms of vitamin A (retioids like tretinoin) are adept at smoothing fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin tone and discoloration.

    Read more: How to Pick the Best Retinol Cream and Serum for You

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  6. Coenzyme Q10
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    Coenzyme Q10

    Ever wondered how you used to pull an all-nighter with no hint of fatigue on your skin the next day? Well, thanks to the abundant supply of coenzyme Q10 or coQ10 in your body, those late nights didn’t take a toll on your skin—back then. But as we age, the presence of coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, in our body slowly diminishes, making us more susceptible to wrinkles and photo-aging. Research shows that an increased topical application of this antioxidant helps fight off free radical damage and keeps your skin cells healthy. This nutrient is easily absorbed by the skin and helps stimulate collagen production, which helps improve elasticity and texture.

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  7. Polyphenols
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    Polyphenols

    There are thousands of types of polyphenols (resveratrol is one) which are found in fruits, vegetables, green or black tea (also called flavonoids) and other botanicals. These compounds “possess anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antioxidant properties to prevent UV-induced skin photodamage,” Dr. Klein explains. Studies show that consumption and topical use of ingredients rich in polyphenols help improve our skin’s natural defense against oxidative stress, prevent signs of aging and repair DNA damage.

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  8. Allies of Skin 35% Vitamin C Perfecting Serum (1 fl. oz.)
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    Allies of Skin 35% Vitamin C Perfecting Serum (1 fl. oz.)

    35% Vitamin C+ Perfecting Serum (formerly known as "Vitamin C 35% Collagen Rebuilding Serum") shields skin against pollution, stress and lack of sleep while creating a more refreshed appearance. What sets this Allies of Skin formula apart from the rest? Its waterless formulation and 35% vitamin C content deliver a more powerful dose of antioxidants to give you noticeable results.Key Ingredients: * 25% Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid: pure form of L-Ascorbic Acid that is extremely stable. Provides superior antioxidant protection, firms, strengthens skin barrier and visibly improves uneven skin tone
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Beauty Reporter

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 Journalism. Originally from Los Angeles, she currently resides in Brooklyn—her home for the last five years. In Jessie’s free time, you can find her creating content for her beauty blog, Hair Skin Kale, testing out DIY beauty recipes, exploring her neighborhood, or binge-watching episodes of Friends. Her background in fashion has taught her that beautiful skin never goes out of style. Follow her on Instagram.