Vitamin C is one skincare ingredient we can’t live without. This powerful natural antioxidant is a skincare powerhouse that boasts a slew of benefits for every skin type. It’s a key part of any effective anti-aging skincare routine and can help address countless skin concerns, from dullness to dark spots and discolorations. Of course, adding an extra glass or two of OJ to your breakfast in the morning probably won’t do a whole lot for your skin. To reap the full beauty benefits of vitamin C, you have to use it topically.
Since vitamin C is so beneficial (and widely-used), we felt it was high time to do a deep-dive on this potent skin-perfecting ingredient. Ahead, you’ll learn everything you need to know about vitamin C and how it benefits your skin. Plus, we’ll provide you with recommendations on the best Kiehl’s products that contain vitamin C. Keep reading to discover four vitamin C benefits worth noting.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in a wide range of plants, including leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits. It is the most plentiful antioxidant in human skin and is closely involved with maintaining skin’s overall health and appearance. Since humans cannot synthesize vitamin C, we get this essential vitamin mainly through the regular consumption of fruits and vegetables. However, only a small portion of dietary vitamin C makes its way to the skin. Instead, bolstering the skin’s concentration of vitamin C is best achieved via topical application. As such, you’ll find vitamin C in a wide range of skincare products, including serums and moisturizers.
What Is L-Ascorbic Acid?
L-ascorbic acid is the biologically active, stabilized form of vitamin C most frequently used in skincare formulations. On its own, it cannot penetrate the skin’s natural moisture barrier effectively; however, it can be manipulated to enhance absorption. It is often combined with other vitamins or acidic substances that enable it to penetrate the barrier. It is most effective in concentrations above eight percent; in skincare products, you’ll generally find it in concentrations between 10 and 20 percent.
What Does Vitamin C Do?
In the skin, vitamin C has several critical roles. It provides antioxidant protection against damaging free radicals and helps protect the skin from UV rays (though this protective effect is not enough to serve as a replacement for sunscreen). Additionally, vitamin C helps produce several essential compounds and is connected to skin’s elasticity. And that’s just the beginning. Below, we’ll outline four notable benefits of vitamin C for skin and share Kiehl’s products with vitamin C that can easily fit into your skincare routine.
Vitamin C Benefit #1: It’s an Anti-Aging Powerhouse
As the first line of defense against the outside world, the skin is constantly exposed to stressors, including UV radiation and pollution. These stressors trigger the formation of free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species. With repeated exposure to stressors, these damaging compounds can accumulate on the skin and inhibit the production of key proteins, including collagen and elastin (both critical for skin’s structure and elasticity).
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals before they have the chance to accumulate. This helps protect the skin from damage, which in turn helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, some studies show that topical vitamin C can help diminish the appearance of existing fine lines and wrinkles.
You’ll find vitamin C in several of our anti-aging formulations, including Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. This potent, water-free serum contains 10.5% L-ascorbic acid and 2% ascorbyl glucoside, a vitamin C derivative with humectant properties. The unique formula instantly boosts radiance while helping to smooth skin’s texture. It’s clinically-demonstrated to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles within just two weeks and helps promote a firmer skin texture with consistent use.* The top-rated serum is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily to promote smoother, more radiant-looking skin.
For men’s skin, we recommend Age Defender Cream Moisturizer, which contains ascorbyl glycoside, caffeine, and linseed extract. This effective daily moisturizer for men helps strengthen skin while improving skin’s overall texture and elasticity. It also helps visibly reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and other early signs of skin aging to promote smoother, healthier-looking skin with continued use.
Vitamin C Benefit #2: Topical Use Helps Promote an Even Skin Tone
Aside from wrinkles, one of the most noticeable signs of skin aging is an uneven skin tone due to discolorations like age spots. These discolorations result from disruptions to the skin’s natural production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin production naturally slows with age, but chronic exposure to stressors and free radical damage can speed up this process, resulting in the premature formation of age spots, sun spots, and other discolorations. Studies show that topical vitamin C helps reduce the appearance of these discolorations, which helps to give skin a more even, youthful appearance.
To help correct the appearance of individual or widespread discolorations, we recommend incorporating Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution into your daily skincare routine. This potent serum, which contains activated vitamin C and white birch extract, helps boost radiance and even your skin tone. It’s clinically-demonstrated to help correct a wide range of dark spots and discolorations, including age spots, sun spots, and post-acne marks.** It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used as an all-over serum or a spot treatment for individual dark spots to help promote brighter, more even-looking skin.
Alternatively, try Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate, an overnight treatment formulated with exfoliating phytic acid and ascorbyl glucoside. This gentle nightly facial peel helps accelerate skin cell turnover and refine the skin. It’s clinically-demonstrated to help even skin tone and texture with consistent use and is gentle enough for all skin types.*** Apply a thin layer to clean, dry skin before bed and top with your preferred moisturizer for visibly refreshed skin by morning.
Vitamin C Benefit #3: Vitamin C Boosts Radiance
Over time and with age, your skin becomes drier, less elastic, and duller-looking, thanks to the gradual depletion of key nutrients related to the skin’s hydration and elasticity. One such nutrient is vitamin C. In addition to its antioxidant and wrinkle-fighting properties, studies show that vitamin C plays a role in maintaining the skin’s overall hydration.III Using skincare products containing vitamin C can help protect the skin against water loss, which helps reduce dullness and promotes more radiant-looking skin.
To promote a more radiant appearance, swap out your usual toner for Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water. This gentle yet effective toner with activated C and licorice root soothes and hydrates skin while helping to even the skin tone. With continued use, it helps diminish dullness and refines the skin for a healthy, glowing appearance.
We recommend pairing it with a brightening daily moisturizer, such as Clearly Corrective Brightening & Smoothing Moisture Treatment, for the best results. This face cream with activated C and glycolic acid moisturizes the skin with lasting, 24-hour hydration. It’s clinically-demonstrated to help correct skin discolorations and improve the feel of roughness for smoother skin with consistent use.**** The gentle moisturizer is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily for clearer, brighter-looking skin.
Vitamin C Benefit #4: It Can Help Address Eye Area Concerns
The skin around the eyes is among the thinnest and most delicate on the body, which makes the eye area uniquely susceptible to age-related concerns like wrinkles, lines, and discolorations. Unlike many of the more potent anti-aging ingredients, vitamin C is exceedingly gentle and can safely be used around the eyes to help address these visible concerns.
Adding a vitamin C eye cream into your daily skincare routine can help to keep your eye area youthful-looking. Try Powerful-Strength Dark Circle Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum, which contains 10% pure vitamin C and hydrating hyaluronic acid. The unique, lightweight formula instantly hydrates and smoothes the under-eye area to refresh the appearance of tired-looking eyes. With regular use, it helps decrease the appearance of a wide range of concerns, including dark circles, crow’s feet, and puffiness, for visibly fresher, brighter-looking eyes. Wear it on its own or layer it under a thicker eye cream for added hydration.
For men’s eye-area concerns, we recommend Age Defender Eye Repair. This daily eye cream instantly brightens the skin to minimize the severity of dark under-eye circles. Additionally, the formula with vitamin C and rye seed extract helps smooth and firm the eye area to diminish the appearance of crow’s feet and under-eye wrinkles. Use this multi-action anti-wrinkle cream morning and night for a brighter, more lifted appearance.
*Results from an eight-week clinical study.
**This product was tested on a multi-ethnic panel equally distributed: 25% African American, 25% Asian, 25% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic. Results based upon a clinical study of the upper layers of the skin.
***Results based upon expert grading in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.
****Results based upon a clinical study of the upper layers of the skin.
I.Fitzpatrick, Richard E, and Elizabeth F Rostan. “Double-blind, half-face study comparing topical vitamin C and vehicle for rejuvenation of photodamage.” Dermatologic surgery : official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.] vol. 28,3 (2002): 231-6. doi:10.1046/j.1524-4725.2002.01129.
II.Telang, Pumori Saokar. “Vitamin C in dermatology.” Indian dermatology online journal vol. 4,2 (2013): 143-6. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593
III.Pullar, Juliet M et al. “The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health.” Nutrients vol. 9,8 866. 12 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9080866