Your body needs a steady supply of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables to make healthy skin from the inside out. So does slathering more of the vitamin on top of your skin have additional benefits?
Vitamin C serum for the skin is a topical form of this essential vitamin that’s becoming increasingly popular with skin-conscious consumers. It’s often recommended by dermatologists because of its anti-aging benefits for the face and eyes.
You can apply vitamin C serum around your eyes to help reduce the signs of aging. Talk to your dermatologist before adding vitamin C serum to your beauty routine.
Vitamin C for Skin Health
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has many functions in the body, but it’s especially important for healthy skin. This water-soluble vitamin is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that gives structure to connective tissues and skin. Supplementing with vitamin C can promote faster wound healing, which is dependent on collagen formation. In addition, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin’s cells from UV sun damage that causes premature skin aging and, potentially, skin cancer.
Much of the body’s vitamin C is found in the skin. It’s possible to boost your skin’s level of vitamin C by taking a supplement, but only to a certain point. Once your blood level is saturated, your skin can’t absorb any more.
That’s where topical vitamin C can be beneficial. Vitamin C serums for the face are formulated to be easily absorbed into the skin.
Benefits of Vitamin C Serum
As you age, and with excess sun exposure, the skin’s vitamin C levels naturally decline. According to Dr. Firas Al-Niami, consultant dermatologist with London Skin Clinics, compared to younger skin, an older person’s skin has 70 percent less concentration of vitamin C. This leads to skin that’s less firm and thinner (especially around the eyes) and shows wrinkles and signs of sun damage. When serum vitamin C is used under the eyes and on the face, it may minimize and slow some of these signs.
Read more: The Benefits of Vitamin C on the Face
Researchers from New Zealand, reviewing studies of the roles of vitamin C in skin health, confirmed that applying vitamin C serum to the face minimizes signs of aging. This includes an increase in the amount of collagen and a reduction in wrinkles.
Because the skin under the eyes is thin and ages easily, using topical vitamin C can be especially helpful in reducing wrinkles — or "crow's feet" — in this area. In a 2015 research review published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, researchers determined that using vitamin C around and under the eyes results in a nearly 74 percent improvement in wrinkles and crow’s feet compared to a control formula.
Read more: Topical Vitamin C Benefits and Concerns
Applying Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C serum is usually a water- or oil-based liquid that’s applied with a dropper. Most often, just a few drops are needed. The serum is gently rubbed or patted onto all parts of the face, including under the eyes and around the crow’s feet.
If you’re using vitamin C under your eyes, gently pat it around your eyes with your finger, taking care not to get it into your eyes, and feel free to apply it in the morning and at night. It’s usually well tolerated, but side effects from using vitamin C serum for your face or under the eyes can include stinging or redness and occasionally yellow staining of the skin.
- Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C and Skin Health
- PRIME International Journal of Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Medicine: The Effects of Topical Vitamin C on the Skin
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- PRIME International Journal of Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Medicine: Feeding Your Skin With Vitamin C
- Nutrients: The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
- University of Michigan: Michigan Medicine: Wound Healing (Holistic)
- Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: The Tricky Tear Trough
Anne Danahy is a Boston-based RD/nutritionist who counsels individuals and groups, and writes about healthy eating for wellness and disease management. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master of Science in food and nutrition from Framingham State University in Massachusetts.