The Antioxidant Power of Vitamin C

If a trip down the skincare aisle is any indication, potent antioxidant vitamin C has some incredible skin benefits. The ingredient has become increasingly popular in recent years: but exactly how do antioxidants help skin — and how does vitamin C fit in?

For answers, we turned to Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), who also shares some of her top product picks.

A man with an orange slice representing the antioxidant power of vitamin C in skincare

3 minute read


What are antioxidants?

In a nutshell, antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from oxidative damage. Every day, our body is bombarded with molecules called free radicals — whether from the outside (like pollution and UV rays) or the inside (the waste products of normal metabolism).

Those free radicals cause DNA damage through a series of chemical reactions known as oxidation. Antioxidants interrupt that reactive process (technically speaking, they neutralize the free radical molecules) to protect your cells from damage.

Is vitamin C the best antioxidant?

Spoiler alert: vitamin C is considered by many to be the ultimate skincare antioxidant. But according to Dr. Lee, that really depends on your skincare needs and goals. Vitamin C excels at several very important tasks that help maintain skin health, including:

  • Protection from UV damage: the #1 cause of premature aging
  • Strengthening the skin barrier: prevents damage to skin cell structure
  • Supporting collagen production: both aging and oxidative stress slow it down
  • Preventing and treating hyperpigmentation: interrupts excess melanin production

What’s the best form of vitamin C?

Vitamin C is used in a wide variety of skincare products, from serums to masks to moisturizers. You’ll find it listed on the label in various forms, including the purest and the most well-researched version, L-ascorbic acid.

Pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is the most potent form, because it’s the most reactive. This is why in skincare, it’s often combined with other substances that help stabilize the antioxidant. 

Other common forms of vitamin C include sodium ascorbyl phosphate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl ascorbate, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.

Antioxidant All Bright Toner and Bright Future Vitamin C Serum by SLMD Skincare 

What skincare products contain vitamin C?

According to Dr. Lee, vitamin C works best when it has time to absorb into your skin, which makes it ideal in serums and moisturizers. Here are a few of her SLMD Skincare favorites:

  • All Bright: this toner features a balancing, strengthening and brightening blend of potent antioxidants niacinamide, vitamin C, alpha arbutin and resveratrol.
  • Bright Future: a powerful combination of stabilized ascorbic acid, niacinamide, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid, this serum brightens skin, fights free radical damage, and minimizes signs of premature aging.
  • Facial Moisturizer: featuring a nourishing blend of vitamin C, amino acids and provitamin B5, this lightweight lotion is formulated to moisturize and brighten.

Dr. Lee’s last word

You’ll find antioxidant vitamin C popping up in a lot of skincare products, and that’s because it’s been clinically shown to have several dermatological benefits. Among other things, it has a positive effect on collagen production, and it helps protect skin from environmental damage — which helps prevent premature aging.

—Dr. Sandra Lee


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