Vitamin C: Why We Need It And What Beauty Products To Use According To Dermatologists

Including what products to look for that will actually do you good

By Emi Schemmer
January 10, 2019
Health & Beauty

Your guide to one of the most powerful skin antioxidants you can easily add to your daily beauty routine.

It’s hard to open up a beauty magazine these days without seeing page after page of the latest offerings from some of the world’s largest cosmetic brands featuring reformulated, repackaged and redesigned, skin creams and serums full of yes…Vitamin C. But as much as we are familiar with the vitamin and have the basic knowledge that it’s good for us, for the most part, our knowledge about this essential nutrient stops with the tablets we take religiously to fend off a cold during the flu season or the slices of lemon we add to our drinks for extra self-care.

Truth is, Vitamin C has become the new raved about beauty item and according to experts and dermatologists, there’s really no wonder why: the vitamin is said to improve discoloration, brighten skin, help combat and treat acne, and even reduce fine lines and wrinkles. So we, get it — it’s essential, but why and how should you be using Vitamin C? And more importantly — is it effective? And, does it work?

While reading product reviews may be a decent way to get a feel for the reliability of different Vitamin C products, we decided to go straight to the pros, the dermatologists and skin experts. Luckily for me, I have access to several at arms reach having a father as a dermatologist who just recently celebrated his 40th anniversary of practicing medicine – Thanks, Dad! And here’s what he had to share with me.

It’s an ultra-versatile vitamin

Vitamin C improves skin elasticity, decreases wrinkles by stimulating collagen synthesis, boosts the skin’s immune system, and repairs damages caused by external elements. In a busy cosmopolitan city like Tokyo, each day, our skin is exposed to a variety of environmental pollutants such as radiation, vehicle exhaust fumes, cancer-causing free radicals, and of course sunlight. These pollutants break down collagen, stressing the skin and accelerating the aging process. Vitamin C serum helps to counter this process.   

Vitamin C is also an important nutrient for our immune system. It helps our bodies fight off inflammation and bacterial infections that could be the culprit of redness, face swelling, and overall dull or unfavorable skin condition.

It’s the perfect anti-aging skincare remedy

Knowing the composition of Vitamin C serum helps us grasp the reasoning behind the effects it has on our skin. As well as being an anti-aging skincare remedy that helps to gently brighten and smooth your skin, overall, Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants out there.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which can damage proteins, lipids, and DNA in your skin causing cell damage. Since Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen in the body, it makes sense that it helps prevent and reverse the signs of aging.

It also has skin brightening effects, which can be attributed to the vitamin’s role in inhibiting tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is a key enzyme in producing pigment in our skin. By inhibiting that function, Vitamin C will lighten any discoloration from sun damage, age spots, or acne scars with consistent use.

What to look for when shopping for Vitamin C

Before you add Vitamin C to your skincare regimen, it’s important to remind yourself that our bodies don’t produce vitamin C, which means that it has to be absorbed through food or applied topically to the skin. While the majority of skincare products these days do have Vitamin C in their ingredients list, most often, these products do not have the best yielding results due to the lack of proper formulation.  

Vitamin C based-products come in gels, creams, oils and powders. One of the best forms is a serum, which is lightweight and can be layered under moisturizer and even your makeup. In order for Vitamin C to be effective and yield noticeable results, it is crucial that you find a Vitamin C serum that has a high concentration or percentage of Vitamin C or l-ascorbic acid. A great tip to know if a Vitamin C serum is going to be effective or not is ensuring that it contains a concentration of at least 15 to 20 percent. The higher the concentration, the more Vitamin C that is contained within the serum, and the better the result. If you want your skin to go back to the way it used to be or have a healthy glow, it is also important to also take an oral Vitamin C supplement. 

For those of you wondering where to start, here are five Vitamin C-rich beauty products that are by all means worth your money and your time.

  • SkinCeuticals – Serum 10 (¥16,000)
  • La Roche Posay – Redermic C (¥4,370)
  • Obagi  – Vitamin C Serum 20% (Around ¥8,000)
  • Rohto Melano CC (Around ¥1,000)
  • b.Glen – C Serum (¥5,076) 

Natural intake: The best goodies

If you’re into a more natural intake of the vitamin, below are fruit, vegetables and drinks that packed with Vitamin C. Incorporating them into your regular diet will have a number of positive effects on your skin and overall vitality. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for adult women and men is 100mg, 110mg for pregnant women and 145mg for breastfeeding women.

  1. Fresh sour acerola cherries 1700mg*
  2. Green kale juice (aojiru) 1100mg
  3. Dried parsley 820mg
  4. Green tea 260mg
  5. Guava 220mg
  6. Baked seaweed 210mg
  7. Tomapi (Hungarian giant bell pepper) (bell pepper that looks like a tomato. In Japan, native to Kumamoto) 200mg
  8. Red bell pepper 180mg
  9. Fresh yuzu (Japanese citrus) 160mg
  10. Yellow bell pepper, stir-fried 160 mg
  11. Brussels sprouts 160mg
  12. Golden kiwi 150 mg
  13. Chili pepper 120mg
  14. Lemon 100mg
  15. Cauliflower 82mg

*Per 100g. For a list of the top 100 Vitamin C-rich foods, see here (in Japanese).

Stay healthy, stay gorgeous!