Vitamin C. Some of us drink it daily as part of our breakfast rituals while some of us slather it on our face. Besides being found in every other cold and flu remedy out there, it is also the most abundant antioxidant found in the human body, being vital to the production of collagen – the glue that holds your body together.

Serums made from Vitamin C are rising up the popularity ladder in the world of skincare. The acidic antioxidant is famed for its ability to slough off dead skin cells for smoother and brighter skin. When applied, it triggers the skin to accelerate production of collagen and elastin – proteins that are responsible for the skin’s bounce and elasticity.

One of Vitamin C’s most touted benefits is its effectiveness in reducing the appearance of scars, dark spots and other pigmentation. When used topically, it interferes with abnormal pigmentation (dark spots and whatnot), and fades it away without altering normal skin pigmentation.

So what should you look out for when shopping for a Vitamin C serum?

A balanced formula consisting of Vitamin E or ferulic acid. As Vitamin C is an unstable ingredient that oxidises fairly quickly, it is also an expensive skincare ingredient to get right. That’s why picking a product with a good formula is fundamental in getting the most bang for your buck.


Will munching on oranges give me the same kind of glow as a Vitamin C serum?

Apart from being in your traditional flu season cure-all, Vitamin C is also present in high concentrations in both the dermis and epidermis layers of your skin. Ageing, excessive exposure to UV light and pollutants have been found to cause a decline of Vitamin C concentrations throughout the skin, accelerating the signs of ageing.

But studies have found that when ingested, Vitamin C has the potential to prevent and treat UV-induced photodamage as well. The antioxidant works from within the skin to limit the damage caused by UV exposure by protecting against free radicals.

However, Vitamin C alone seems to be limited in its effects. Two human studies found that oral supplementation alone did not significantly impact Minimal Erythemal Dose (MED), a measure of photoprotection from UV light in the skin.  But when combined with Vitamin E, oral supplementation of Vitamin C effectively increased MED.

Supplementing or topical application?

Image via Choupette’s Diary

Thanks to a mutation in our genetic code, human bodies – unlike other animals – do not produce vitamin C, making it a must to obtain it through our diet. What’s more, our bodies do not store the vitamin for long thanks to its water-soluble properties. This makes a Vitamin C deficiency an easier-than-expected condition to develop if you’re not a fan of fruit, vegetables and the like.


However, when it comes to skincare, topical application of the essential antioxidant wins. “It sounds easy to just eat an orange for good skin, but there’s a limit when it comes to the amount of Vitamin C that your body can absorb,” says Yin, a nutritionist at Kinohimitsu.


Generally, adult women need a minimum of 75mg of vitamin C while adult men require at least 90mg, but some studies suggest an optimal intake of at least 500 – 1000mg daily.


For maximum effects on pesky spots, wrinkles and scars, experts recommend consistent topical application coupled with a diet rich in natural sources of the antioxidant. “Taking Vitamin C does help to bolster collagen production within the skin, when combined with topical application, it helps to boost the results of your skincare routine,” Yin says.