There are several fun pairings in life - peanut butter and jelly, high-waisted jeans and crop tops, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. But when it comes to skincare, there is probably nothing your skin loves more than Vitamin C.
Spend more than three minutes talking to a skincare enthusiast or a dermatologist and they will start raving about two things; the importance of sunscreen and the goodness of Vitamin C.
So, what is the hype all about? Does Vitamin C actually work for acne prone skin? If it does, can it treat humanity’s mutual enemy - acne scars? Let’s find out.
First Off, What is Vitamin C?
Where do we even begin! When it comes to Vitamins that give you the kind of glow celebrities try to achieve via Photoshop (no offense, Kardashians), the one named ‘C’ takes the crown.
Vitamin C, aka the gold standard of ingredients, is everywhere and whether you are just dabbing into skincare or are the friend everyone calls for advice, you most likely have heard of it. So, does Vitamin C serum really kick ass on pretty much every (skin) level possible? Find your answers below.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties with the regeneration process of your skin by repairing the damaged skin cells faster. Think of a fire extinguisher that puts out the damage caused by the flames. Vitamin C works the same way to treat the free radical damage in your skin.
If you do not know already, free radicals are formed by UV radiations, which as a result damages elastin, collagen, and the overall structure of your skin. The damage by UV radiation is an oxidative process, which is why you use antioxidants (like Vitamin C) to cure it.
Antioxidants will neutralize the production of highly reactive molecules, thus protecting acne prone skin from severe damage.
The best part, however, is that Vitamin C isn't just effective against UV radiation. By controlling skin elasticity, reducing acne scarring, and protecting the skin from precancerous changes, it can keep the skin looking youthful for a long time.
Vitamin C and Acne
Let’s start by discussing what causes acne in the first place.
Acne does not have a single cause. Many factors can lead to it. In general, it occurs when the pores in your skin become clogged with oils and dead skin cells.
Listed below is what else can cause acne or make it worse if you have an acne prone skin:
- Fluctuating hormones levels near a woman’s menstrual cycle
- Air pollution and humidity
- Greasy personal care products
- Increased cortisol levels caused by stress
- New medications
Is Vitamin C Effective in Treating Acne Scars?
Let’s face it, it isn’t the acne that is frustrating; it’s the scars that it leaves behind.
Scars are formed when acne penetrates to deeper layers of skin and damages them. When acne pores swell, collapse occurs within the pore wall.
In some cases, acne scars are shallow and heal rapidly. However, if blemishes leak into the surrounding tissue, it will cause deeper scarring.
Here, we would like to highlight that there is a difference between ‘acne marks’ and ‘acne scars’, regardless of the fact that these terms are used interchangeably.
Scars are usually permanent indentations or depressions in the skin. On the other hand, marks consist of smooth, dark, or red patches at the site of recent breakout.
Getting to know if your skin has acne scarring or acne marks can be challenging.
Here is a quick test you can do right now - close your eyes and run your fingers gently over your face.
When you notice changes in texture in the acne-affected area, they are acne scars.
Here is how Vitamin C Serum affects acne:
Improves the Appearance of Scars
Your skin responds to the above-stated chaos by producing new collagen fibers to restore the damaged areas. Collagen is a protein that is found in muscles, bones, blood vessels, the digestive system, and skin.
This process of collagen production can be extremely slow, and this is where Vitamin C comes to the rescue.
Vitamin C serum when applied to the skin, enhances the biosynthesis of collagen. The result? Increased recovery time and picture-perfect skin in a few weeks.
There is also no denying that physical manipulation of acne pimples and cysts has been shown to lead to permanent deep-seated scarring. This is why it is vital to avoid picking and squeezing acne pimples and cysts.
Yes, no matter how satisfying it is to you.
Vitamin C also addresses all skincare enthusiasts’ nightmare - hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is caused due to a number of reasons, including skin injuries, UV rays, and acne.
Vitamin C serum works its magic by reducing the effects of the tyrosine enzyme, which produces melanin. Melanin gives your skin its colour. Don’t worry, Vitamin C serums won’t change the colour of your skin. It will just reduce the dark spots, giving you an even skin tone.
Reduces Acne-Related Inflammation
Vitamin C also has inflammatory properties, which help reduce redness and swelling caused due to acne.
A study conducted in 2003 concluded that skin inflammation can cause acne-causing bacteria to grow. By using Vitamin C serum on your skin to treat inflammation can help you keep acne at bay for good.
In addition, these anti-inflammatory treatments would reduce acne's visible signs (redness and erythema) as well.
What is the Extent of Vitamin C's Benefit for Acne Scars?
According to a study conducted in 2005, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), which is the predecessor of Vitamin C is effective in treating acne because of its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
This study included 60 subjects who used 5% SAP lotion for more than 4 months. In comparison with a widely prescribed acne treatment of benzoyl peroxide, SAP rated better and excellent in terms of efficacy at 76.9%. In simple terms, the results concluded that Vitamin C is an effective acne treatment.
Another derivative of Vitamin C, sodium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate (APS) has also proved to be effective in treating acne issues. It works by decreasing inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions.
How to Tell if Vitamin C is Working?
You can tell that your Vitamin C serum is working effectively if you notice your scars getting lighter, and skin getting even after 3-4 weeks. As we mentioned earlier, it works by enhancing the collagen production in your skin which fades the scars faster.
At the same time, it will reduce post inflammatory hyperpigmentation around the spots.
Incorporating Vitamin C serum into your regular skincare regime (more on this in a moment) will work its magic during scar formation and ensure minimal scarring.
Vitamin C and Acne Scar Severity
The benefits of Vitamin C can vary, depending upon the severity of acne.
If you are experiencing highly inflammatory acne, then you are most likely to enjoy dramatic results. The anti-inflammatory properties of Vitamin C serum will reduce the overall severity of the acne while keeping the redness and scarring in control.
Another type of acne that is best treated with Vitamin C serum is comedonal acne which typically develops on the forehead and chin. Blackheads and whiteheads are the most common type of this of acne.
If your grandmother's DIY eggwhite hack is not making a difference for your blackheads and whiteheads, Vitamin C may. It can reduce comedonal acne by reducing sebum oxidation.
What to Look For in a Vitamin C Serum?
The first ingredient that you will find in almost all drugstore Vitamin C serums in the market is L-ascorbic acid. Watch out for the concentration of ascorbic acid in the product. Typically, it ranges from anywhere between 1% to 20%.
As a rule of thumb, you are likely to see better results the higher you go in concentration. However, beyond 20%, there seems to be a cap, meaning that a 30 percent increase won't add any more value than a 20 percent increase of ascorbic acid, so there's no point in spending the extra money.
Another skincare product that does wonders for your skin is Hyaluronic acid. Vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid complement each other and become even stronger when paired together. Look for a topical Vitamin C serum that also has Hyaluronic acid in it for best results!
Also, the best Vitamin C serums are made from all-natural ingredients. Bonus points if it is vegan and not tested on animals!
What is the Right Way to Use Vitamin C?
Serums are the most effective form of Vitamin C skincare products, leaving creams and toners behind.
However, the topical Vitamin C world can be confusing. Here is how you can incorporate Vitamin C in your skincare routine to deal with acne scars and enjoy its other benefits:
Apply it in the Morning
First thing first; you must use Vitamin C every morning to see the desired results.
We say every morning because the antioxidants present in it will help protect your sensitive skin from pollution and sunlight. It is best to give the serum a while to be completely absorbed in your skin before you head out.
Here is the skincare routine that we personally find the most effective and harmless:
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser. You need your skin to be completely clean.
- Apply toner if you like to keep your skin hydrated. However, this is an optional step.
- Apply a few drops of Vitamin C serum on your face. Pat the excess on the back of your hands and neck.
- Apply a moisturizer and then proceed with applying eye cream if needed.
- Wear sunscreen to protect your face from sun damage and let it set. Also, make sure to reapply every 2 hours!
- Proceed (aka go crazy) with makeup if you want!
And that’s about it. If you have a hard time remembering the order, keep the “thinnest to thickest” rule in mind. Start with the products with the thinnest consistency and work your way up to the thickest.
Avoid Mixing it With Certain Ingredients
Most skin types (including acne prone skin) can tolerate Vitamin C but if you have sensitive skin or are using it right after exfoliating, it might sting a bit.
Some ingredients you should steer clear of when using vitamin C are benzoyl peroxide and AHAs and BHAs, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acids. Mixing these products with a Vitamin C serum will make it less potent.
Moreover, if you use niacinamide, then make sure to apply Vitamin C and niacinamide at least 10 minutes apart. They can trigger breakouts if applied together.
Vitamin C tends to be sensitive to light and air, and exposure to them can reduce its overall stability and effectiveness. Make sure you close the lid of the container properly after each usage.
For storage, choose a cool, dark place. Bathrooms are not a good option in this regard.
Once your serum turns brown, discard it and order yourself a new one. A change in colour is a sign that the serum is no longer effective due to oxidation. In some cases, using oxidized Vitamin C serum can cause slight discoloration on your face.
Who Should Avoid Vitamin C?
Vitamin C has proven to be beneficial for all skin types. It is common for most people to experience a tingling sensation when they are just starting to use Vitamin C and it does not last long.
Nevertheless, wash your skin as soon as you realize that you have an allergic reaction or continuous burning. If this is the case, then you should ask your dermatologist to provide medical advice about switching to another serum that is suitable for sensitive skin.
Which Vitamin C Should You Obsess Over?
After reading all the incredible Vitamin C for acne scars above, if you are ready to get your hands on one of the best Vitamin C serums, welcome to the club. You are (almost) a pro now.
You deserve a picture-perfect skin, and we get that.
Our cruelty free Vitamin C serum is made from all natural ingredients. You get to enjoy the combines benefits of L-Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, and several other effective ingredients in a single bottle.
Dread applying 8 different ingredients every morning to achieve your desired results? A few drops of our Vitamin C serum will even do a better job. The best part? Our bomb-dot-com Vitamin C serum 100% vegan!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if my Vitamin C serum is still active?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it can oxidize. If you notice the colour of your Vitamin C serum getting dark, toss it out.
How long does vitamin C take to fade acne scars?
In acne-prone individuals, vitamin C has been shown to be effective for treating acne breakouts and preventing scarring. The use of topical vitamin C treatment can reduce acne-related inflammation and scarring in 4-8 weeks
Does vitamin C help scars heal?
Vitamin C serums boosts collagen production and minimizes the raised scar formation on the sites of acne breakout.