Look around at anti-aging skin care products (drugstore brands and prestige products), and you will discover that most of them contain some form of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C has been touted as crucial part of diet for a long time – after all, Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissue in all parts of the body. And Vitamin C is well known as a potent antioxidant, meaning it blocks some of the damage done by free radicals.
What is a free radical?
Every cell within your body (just like all matter on earth) is composed of different types of molecules. Each molecule consists of one or more atoms or elements that are attached via chemical bonds.
Each atom is made up of a nucleus, protons, neutrons, and electrons. The electrons are the outermost part of the atom, and are the parts involved in a chemical reaction. Depending on the number of electrons an atom has, it can have several “rings” of electrons orbiting the nucleus – with each of those rings having a set number of electrons that will make it complete.
When the outermost “ring” of electrons is full, that atom won’t typically enter into a chemical reaction. However, when a chemical bond splits (because it is weakened), a molecule will be left with an unpaired electron – known as a free radical. This unpaired electron is unstable, and will quickly bond with another molecule, stealing an electron from that molecule to complete itself. That leaves the “attacked” molecule now with an unpaired electron, creating another free radical – and the process begins a chain reaction, which can ultimately cause disruption or damage of a living cell.
The body creates free radicals on its own – often to combat viruses and/or bacteria. But outside factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and pollution can also create free radicals.
And while the body has a built-in system for combating free radicals, that system declines with age.
How does an antioxidant work to prevent free-radical damage?
Antioxidants combat free radical damage by donating one of their own electrons to unstable molecules, thereby ending the chain reaction of molecules stealing electrons from other molecules. Antioxidant molecules are able to do this without becoming free radicals themselves, because they remain stable even after losing (donating) a electron. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, helping to prevent cell damage.
Vitamin C: super antioxidant
Vitamin C in its many forms provides potent antioxidant protection. And one of the wonderful things about it is that it’s effective when taken internally, and when used topically. And since a majority of the free radical-damage we face is due to environmental factors (sun damage, pollution, etc.), topical vitamin C can go a long way to keeping our skin healthier.
What are some benefits I can expect when using vitamin C in my skin care?
Vitamin C has long been used to reduce the appearance of brown spots and other types of skin hyper pigmentation. It also boosts the skin’s healing response, leading to a reduction in inflammation and irritation due to acne or other skin conditions. And vitamin C is essential for efficient collagen synthesis – so when used properly it can help rebuild your skin’s collagen, helping to maintain skin firmness.
What to look for when buying antioxidant skin care
Some brands promote Vitamin C when marketing their products, but it’s more important to look at the ingredients label. There are multiple forms of vitamin C use in topical skin care, the most common of which is ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid, on its own or formulated with additional antioxidants, fights sun damage while also helping to smooth and firm skin.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate are additional derivatives of vitamin C you’re likely to find in skin care. And they all offer protection from free-radical damage, especially when formulated with other proven antioxidants.
Bel Mondo uses both ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate in our Brightening Mask.