How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Can vitamin C really prevent wrinkles? The experts explain

All about vitamin C: how it works, the benefits, and if it prevents wrinkles.

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Curology Team
Nov 15, 2022 · 7 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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  3. > Can vitamin C really prevent wrinkles? The experts explain

When it comes to ingredients that are beneficial to your skin and body, vitamin C pretty much takes the cake. Found in many vegetables and pretty much all of your favorite fruits (we’re looking at you, clementines), vitamin C is packed with antioxidants that provide a wide range of health benefits. Unlike plants and some animals, the human body does not produce vitamin C naturally, which means we get all our vitamin C through diet, oral supplementation, and topical application. 

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, plays a critical role in collagen synthesis and helps form and maintain key structures in your body, such as blood vessels.¹ One study also found that vitamin C supplementation can even help speed up bone healing after a fracture.² Additionally, it boosts your immune system, which is why so many people drink OJ when they feel a cold coming on! It also protects your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that cause oxidative stress and can contribute to signs of aging. 

Vitamin C can help fade hyperpigmentation (dark spots), increase protection against the environment and the sun, and stimulate collagen production when applied topically.³ But does vitamin C prevent wrinkles? Here’s the inside scoop from our dermatology providers. Spoiler alert: Yes, it can certainly help protect the skin and improve signs of aging. 

Benefits of vitamin C serum 

While vitamin C is available in many forms for the skin, including lotions and creams, serums have become an increasingly popular choice for adding this ingredient to your routine. Want to boost sun protection, help fade dark spots, or smooth the appearance of fine lines? A vitamin C serum is an excellent way to achieve proven results for a broad range of skincare goals. 

Here are a few benefits: 

It helps protect the skin from the sun

Topical vitamin C (along with daily sunscreen) has been proven to protect the skin against sun damage. As the most abundant antioxidant in our skin, it can help prevent damage caused by oxidative stress due to UV rays.⁴ 

You can also try combining your serum with ingredients like vitamin E and ferulic acid, as directed by your dermatology provider.⁵ 

It helps fight the signs of aging

One of the most popular reasons why people use topical vitamin C is its anti-aging effect, and for a good reason—it works! A recent study of mild to moderately photo-damaged skin found that topical application of vitamin C for three months significantly improved fine lines, skin tone, and roughness.⁶ Additional clinical studies have shown improvement in fine lines and wrinkles with topical vitamin C as well, which may be because vitamin C boosts collagen production, which enhances the skin’s structure.⁷  

It improves skin tone, texture, and hyperpigmentation

This amazing vitamin has even more benefits beyond reducing signs of aging, too. If you’re wondering, “Does vitamin C lighten skin hyperpigmentation?”, you’re in luck: Vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, suppressing melanin production, which helps to fade hyperpigmentation⁸ like age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). 

It can minimize redness and may help with acne

According to one study, topical application of vitamin C decreased erythema (redness) and lessened the appearance of visible blood vessels on the skin (telangiectasias).⁹ Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties likely contributed to its efficacy in reducing acne lesions in another study.¹⁰ 

It hydrates and moisturizes

Last but certainly not least, vitamin C serums can hydrate and moisturize the skin. One study showed that using a topical vitamin C preparation for 12 weeks improved skin hydration.¹¹ What can’t it do? Given that skin is 64% water, vitamin C can be an excellent choice for thirsty skin.

woman looking concern at her wrinkles

Curology’s vitamin C serum recommendations

When choosing a vitamin C serum, our experts have a few suggestions. Our favorites are noncomedogenic (meaning they won’t clog your pores), easy to find, and generally affordable. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest drugstore to try one of these out:  

woman looking at her skin on a little mirror

Vitamin C side effects  

Vitamin C is widely considered safe for topical application, but, similarly to any skincare product, it can have some potential side effects. Vitamin C serum side effects can include the following: 

  • Itching

  • Tingling 

  • Redness

  • Irritation 

These side effects may be more likely to occur if you have sensitive skin. If you experience an allergic reaction or continued burning, immediately remove the serum and seek medical attention. 

How to reduce wrinkles

Vitamin C, as mentioned before, has a bevy of benefits—including its ability to reduce the signs of aging. At Curology, we believe that aging is a natural process to be embraced and celebrated. That said, we’re all about helping our users achieve their skin goals, which often include anti-aging. Along with using topical vitamin C, here are a few other tips for how to reduce wrinkles on the face and minimize the appearance of fine lines: 

  • Protect your skin from the sun: Properly shielding yourself from the sun is the number one way to prevent signs of aging and help keep your skin looking young. Wear sunscreen every single day, cover-up, and opt for self-tanner if you’re craving some color. 

  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize: Keep your skin as hydrated as possible to help minimize the appearance of fine lines. Try looking for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

  • Use a topical retinoid: A derivative of vitamin A and another effective anti-aging ingredient, topical retinoids increase your skin’s collagen production and boost your skin’s cell turnover rate,¹² which can help soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough beauty sleep isn’t a myth. Inadequate sleep adds up over the years and can do a number on your skin. Try to get your eight hours nightly. 

A skincare routine designed just for you

While we don’t offer a product with only vitamin C, Curology is an easy way to get prescription-strength skincare containing clinically proven ingredients like tretinoin, azelaic acid, and vitamin C to fight signs of aging, dark spots, and acne. Just take our skin care quiz and snap a few selfies to get matched with one of our in-house dermatology providers. They’ll prescribe you a custom cream with a mix of three ingredients for your unique skin’s needs.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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When you sign up for a free month of Curology, you can add on additional products recommended by our team, including the cleanser, the moisturizer, or the acne body wash, at no extra cost—pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the shipping and handling cost.*

FAQs

Benefits of vitamin C serum?

While vitamin C is available in many forms for the skin, including lotions and creams, serums have become an increasingly popular choice for adding this ingredient to your routine. Want to boost sun protection, help fade dark spots, or smooth the appearance of fine lines? A vitamin C serum is an excellent way to achieve proven results for a broad range of skincare goals.

Vitamin C side effects?

Vitamin C is widely considered safe for topical application, but, similarly to any skincare product, it can have some potential side effects. Vitamin C serum side effects can include the following: 

  • Itching

  • Tingling 

  • Redness

  • Irritation

How to reduce wrinkles?

Vitamin C, as mentioned before, has a bevy of benefits—including its ability to reduce the signs of aging. Along with using topical vitamin C, here are a few other tips for how to reduce wrinkles on the face and minimize the appearance of fine lines:  

  • Protect your skin from the sun: Properly shielding yourself from the sun is the number one way to prevent signs of aging and help keep your skin looking young.

  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize: Keep your skin as hydrated as possible to help minimize the appearance of fine lines.

  • Use a topical retinoid: A derivative of vitamin A and another effective anti-aging ingredient, topical retinoids increase your skin’s collagen production and boost your skin’s cell turnover rate, which can help soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough beauty sleep isn’t a myth. Inadequate sleep adds up over the years and can do a number on your skin. Try to get your eight hours nightly. 

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. May, James M., Harrison, Fiona E. Role of Vitamin C in the Function of the Vascular Endothelium.Antioxid Redox Signal. (2013 December 10).

  2. DePhillipo, Nicholas N., et al. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. (October 2018).

  3. Al-Niaimi, F., Chiang, NYZ., Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. Ibid.

  4. Al-Niaimi, Firas. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications.J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (July 2017).

  5. Murray, JC., et al. A topical antioxidant solution containing vitamins C and E stabilized by ferulic acid provides protection for human skin against damage caused by ultraviolet irradiation. J Am Acad Dermatol. (2008).

  6. Traikovich, SS., Use of topical ascorbic acid and its effects on photodamaged skin topography. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. (1999).

  7. Fitzpatrick, R., et al., Double-Blind, Half-Face Study Comparing Topical Vitamin C and Vehicle for Rejuvenation of Photodamage. Dermatologic Surgery. (2008).

  8. Al-Niaimi, F., Chiang, NYZ., Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2017).

  9. Jaros, Anna, et al. Evaluation of selected skin parameters following the application of 5% vitamin C concentrate. J Cosmet Dermatol. (February 2019).

  10. Woolery-Lloyd MD, H., et al, Sodium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate 5% lotion for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. (2010).

  11. Fitzpatrick, R., et al., Double-Blind, Half-Face Study Comparing Topical Vitamin C and Vehicle for Rejuvenation of Photodamage. Dermatologic Surgery. Ibid.

  12. Mukherjee, S. et al. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety.Clin Interv Aging. (2006).

Elise Griffin is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies from Nova Southeastern University in Jacksonville, FL.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days. Results may vary. 

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Elise Griffin, Physician Assistant Curology

Elise Griffin, PA-C

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