Vitamin C reduces wrinkles – but only when used topically. (Photo by √oхέƒx™)
Lately, I've been reading the Skin Aging Handbook by Nava Dayan in an attempt to educate myself on how skin aging happens and what can be done to prevent it.
A few months ago, I concluded my experiment with a product called SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic acid. As the name implies, it's a topical that contains vitamin C & E and ferulic acid. I was impressed by the studies behind the product, so I bought some sample bottles and applied it on my face for about half a year.
Unfortunately, I didn't see any visible results. I hypothesized that it might have been due to the ascorbic acid being oxidized, because in some bottles the liquid was a deep orange color instead of a light yellow. Since the product is quite expensive, I decided to move on to other things for the time being.
Reading the book, however, has re-sparked my interest. The evidence for the anti-aging benefits of topical vitamin C is much more positive than I had thought. Below is a compilation of the beneficial effects of ascorbic acid on the skin:
- Increases the transcription rate of DNA in vitro
- Increases fibroblast proliferation by a factor of four to six in vitro
- Doubles collagen synthesis of fibroblasts in vitro
- Has anti-inflammatory properties in vitro
- Enhances collagen production (type I and III) in vivo
- Protects from UV-induced photodamage and skin cancers in vivo
- Reduces uneven pigmentation in vivo
In other words, topical vitamin C is able to both prevent and reverse photoaging, including wrinkles. Here's a picture taken from the book showing results after a year of using vitamin C:
Vitamin E, too, has photoprotective properties. Unlike vitamin C, vitamin E works both topically and orally, but the form of vitamin E is important. For topical use, d-alpha-tocopherol seems like the best option.
The reason why vitamin C serums should have vitamin E (and preferably ferulic acid) as well is because they work synergistically to provide antioxidant protection. In other words, the combination works better than the single ingredients alone. It's also more stabile.
I'm currently looking for cheaper alternatives for the SkinCeuticals product, but the options seem pretty limited at the moment. One option is to buy the ingredients separately and make your own serum. In any case, I decided to take a risk and purchased another set of sample bottles to see if there's a difference the quality.
Indeed, that seems to be the case: the color of the liquid in the first bottle I opened is much lighter ('champagne' describes it well) than in the previous batch. Thus, most if not all of the bottles I had the last time had clearly oxidized, which means they were useless (and possibly even harmful, though I'm not sure of this). A waste of money, but at least I learned something.
I'm storing the current batch in the fridge just in case. The last time I applied the serum on my entire face and both hands. However, now that I have several more experiments related to skin going on, I'm applying it on my entire face, but only on the left side of the neck and my left hand.
For more information on skin and aging, see these posts:
Examining Possible Causes for Slower Wound Healing
Lutein for Skin Elasticity, Hydration and Photo-Protection – Experiment Begins
Coconut Oil Is Better than Olive Oil for Atopic Dermatitis
Bioactive Form of Silicon (BioSil) Improves Skin, Hair & Nails in Photoaged Women