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

Including Where To Find It Naturally

By Emi Schemmer
September 22, 2020
Health & Beauty

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

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 creams and serums full of yes…Vitamin C. As much as we are familiar with the vitamin and have the basic knowledge that it’s good for us, for the most part, it stops with the tablets we take religiously to fend off a cold during the flu season.

Truth is, Vitamin C has become a staple beauty item over the recent years. According to experts and dermatologists, there’s really no wonder why: the micronutrient 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? 

the micronutrient is said to improve discoloration, brighten skin, help combat, and treat acne—and even reduce fine lines and wrinkles

While reading product reviews may be a decent way to get a feel for the reliability of different Vitamin C products, we went 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 celebrated his 40th anniversary of practicing medicine–Thanks, Dad!—and here’s what he had to share with me.

1. It’s an ultra-versatile vitamin

Vitamin c caps in a glass with oranges

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, 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.   

This molecule 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.

2. It’s the perfect anti-aging skincare remedy

Young Black woman applying cream

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 it 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, thanks 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

Before you add Vitamin C to your skincare regimen, it’s important to know that our bodies don’t naturally produce vitamin C. This means that you have to absorb it through food or apply it 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 serum: you can layer this lightweight texture under your moisturizer and your makeup. In order for Vitamin C to be effective and yield noticeable results, it is crucial that you find a serum that has a high concentration or percentage of Vitamin C or l-ascorbic acid. In order to be effective, it has to contain a concentration of at least 15 to 20 percent. The higher the concentration, the more nutrient 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 (around ¥10,000, import)
  • La Roche Posay – Redermic C (around ¥3,000, import)
  • Obagi  –  Professional C Serum 20% (around ¥9,000)
  • Rohto Melano CC (around ¥800)
  • b.Glen – C Serum (around ¥5,000) 

The best way: natural intake! 

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

  1. Fresh sour acerola cherries 1,700 mg
  2. Green kale juice (aojiru) 1,100 mg
  3. Dried parsley 820 mg
  4. Green tea 260 mg
  5. Guava 220 mg
  6. Baked seaweed 210 mg
  7. Tomapi (Hungarian giant bell pepper) (bell pepper that looks like a tomato. In Japan, native to Kumamoto) 200 mg
  8. Red bell pepper 180mg
  9. Fresh yuzu (Japanese citrus) 160 mg
  10. Yellow bell pepper, stir-fried 160 mg
  11. Brussels sprouts 160 mg
  12. Golden kiwi 150 mg
  13. Chili pepper 120 mg
  14. Lemon 100 mg
  15. Cauliflower 82 mg

This article was originally published in 2019 and edited with the latest information on Sep. 22, 2020. 

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