Vitamin C is taking the skincare world by storm for its anti-ageing prowess. We spoke to Geoffrey Heber from Ultraceuticals to find out more.

Vitamin C – the anti-ageing wonder ingredient - image - Women's Health & Fitness


What are the benefits of vitamin C as skincare and can it really reverse the ageing process?

Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, the protein that forms the main support structure of our skin. Vitamin C also stimulates increased collagen production. Vitamins C and E are the main antioxidant vitamins in our skin, which protect our skin against ageing. Vitamin C also inhibits the production of excess pigmentation in our skin, which leads to blotchy pigmentation. It also stimulates the production of ceramides, which are a major component of the lipid barrier, which keeps our skin moist.

Vitamin C as ascorbic acid will improve some of the main signs of skin ageing: blotchy pigmentation will improve as it inhibits excess pigment production; fine lines, texture and loss of firmness will improve due to increased collagen production and dryness will improve due to increased ceramide production.

What are the minimal levels of vitamin C required for a product to be effective?

There is a report of a three per cent cream providing some improvement. However, another report found it took about 20 per cent vitamin C daily to maintain maximal vitamin C levels in the skin.

What is oxidation and how does it affect vitamin C in skincare?

Oxidation occurs when a molecule loses an electron. This changes the chemical behaviour of the molecule concerned. As vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant, it is easily oxidized and very difficult to stabilise in skincare. Even water will cause it to oxidize. All multinational mass brands use more stable synthetic derivatives of vitamin C, which have different actions to true vitamin C but still label their products as containing vitamin C. Vitamin C is only one thing - ascorbic acid. The best water-containing vitamin C skincare products, which claim to have "stabilised" vitamin C, only retain 80 to 90 per cent of their vitamin C after 12 months. If after a vitamin C product has been manufactured it sits in the manufacturer's warehouse, sits in transport perhaps on a ship, sits in a distributor's warehouse and then sits on a retail shelf, there might not be much vitamin C left by the time the product has reached the consumer.

How can we tell if a product has been oxidized?

It will appear to be a darker colour than when it was fresh.

In your opinion what are the most effective forms of vitamin C?

By definition, vitamin C is only one compound: ascorbic acid. If consumers look at the ingredient lists of products labelled as containing vitamin C, they usually will not see ascorbic acid, but such ingredients as ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl glucoside or ascorbyl phosphate. Consumers should look for products which contain ascorbic acid.

Is vitamin C supplementation beneficial to skin health?

Yes. It will help topically applied vitamin C maintain high levels in the skin. Supplementation of vitamin C and E has been shown to increase protection to UV radiation.


EXPENSE: The higher the concentration, the greater the expense, but you get what you pay for.

BEST FOR: Minimising the process of ageing.

APPLICATION: Creme, serum or powder.

HOW DO I KNOW IF IT IS THE REAL DEAL? Look for ascorbic acid on the label.