Scientifically, Vitamin C is known as L-Ascorbic Acid. We have known for a long time that Vitamin C is essential for overall health and that a deficiency in Vitamin C can result in a range of health conditions including those that affect the skin, like scurvy, infections, poor wound healing and scarring, and accelerated photo damage (damage from UV exposure).
More recently, topical Vitamin C has been studied for its antioxidant qualities in the form of creams and serums, where it penetrates the stratum corneum and upper cell layers of the epidermis. Once in the skin, studies reveal that L-ascorbic acid:
- Stimulates collagen production
- Provides UV protection
- Protects the skin by reducing free-radials that would destroy healthy skin cells
- Improves tone and texture of the skin
- Reduces brown spots
- Promotes normal cell growth
- Aids in the development and maintenance of connective tissue
- Improves wound healing
- Promotes normal metabolic reactions (necessary for maintaining body and skin health)
- Decreases appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Prevents the formation of fine lines and wrinkles
These studies also reveal that when Vitamin C is used daily, the depth of penetration increases, producing concentrations of L-ascorbic acid that are more than 20 times the normal levels after just three days of use. Moreover, studies show that this concentration of L-ascorbic acid in the skin lasts for three days, even if use is stopped. This lasting effect of L-ascorbic acid in the skin explains the skin rejuvenating benefits we see with daily applications of Vitamin C.
Sources of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid)
L-ascorbic acid is one of the most important and powerful water soluble antioxidants in the body. Foods rich in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes, green/red peppers, Brussels sprouts and turnips. But oral Vitamin C (food sources) cannot deliver adequate amounts of L-ascorbic acid to the skin. For optimum levels of Vitamin C for maximum skin health, you need both oral and topical sources of Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid).
For topical L-ascorbic acid to be properly absorbed into the skin, the creams or serums must be correctly formulated. Most preparations are not pH balanced for optimal biologic activity and penetration. It’s a complex chemical formula, but suffice it to say, if you want a quality Vitamin C skincare products, look for preparations with the following levels for optimum benefits:
- L-Ascorbic Acid concentration of 20%
- pH of 2.6 to 2.0
Finally look for Vitamin C serums and creams that are properly packaged in light protected, airless containers to avoid oxidation of the product which will render it ineffective.
Homemade Vitamin C Skincare
Strawberries are packed with Vitamin C. They are also rich in alpha-hydroxy acids that help exfoliate the skin. So fresh strawberry masks are great for dull, damaged or acne-prone skin. Here are two strawberry masks that can help cleanse, exfoliate and brighten your skin.
Basic Strawberry Mask
- 8 Fresh strawberries
- 3 Tablespoons of honey
Mash/blend strawberries in a bowl. Add the honey and mix the ingredients together until smooth. Apply the mixture to face, avoiding the eye area. Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Pat dry and follow with moisturizer.
Creamy Strawberry Mask
- 5 Fresh strawberries
- ½ Tablespoon of plain yogurt or heavy cream (yoghurt for oily skin; cream for dry skin)
- 2 Teaspoon of honey
Mash/blend the strawberries until smooth. Add honey and yoghurt or cream oil and blend well. Apply the mixture to face, avoiding the eye area. Leave the mask on for 10 – 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Pat dry and follow with moisturizer.
For more natural remedies for skincare (as well as more strawberry recipes) read our article on Natural Remedies.