In my previous post, I probably crushed lots of hopes and dreams by pointing out that the expensive collagen creams and supplements on the market aren’t actually causing any lasting changes in the amount of collagen your body makes.
So, to make up for that, today I’m going to tell you about one of the things you CAN slather onto your skin to promote real, lasting change on the collagen front.
Vitamin C – Your New Best Friend
Honestly, the more I read about vitamin C, the more I wonder about what it can’t do for me. I’ll make a separate post about all of the wonders of this ingredient later on, but today we’re just going to focus on how it helps boost collagen production.
You’ll often see vitamin C referred to as L-ascorbic acid, or just LAA (because we’re all lazy and that’s way too much to type). That’s just the scientific name for pure vitamin C.
You may also see names like these:
- Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP)
- Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP)
- Ascorbyl phosphate
- Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate OR Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (THDA)
What the heck, right? There are a few others that you might see on an ingredients label, but these guys are the main ones to look for. They all perform more or less the same function, so to keep it simple, this is as far as we go with that today.
PRO TIP: When checking out labels, look for “ascorbic” or “ascorbyl” in the name, and you’ll usually find your vitamin C derivative.
There have been quite a few clinical studies on both oral and topical use of vitamin C. This pretty comprehensive study from OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute covers both oral and topical studies regarding what vitamin C can do for your skin.
In addition, this study notes that topical application of vitamin C not only increases collagen in both young and “mature” skin, but it has a hydrating effect as well, which is a double win for aging skin since it tends to lose moisture more quickly.
Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to slog through those studies I linked. I’m going to summarize the important bits for you in the next section.
How Vitamin C Helps Build Collagen
Vitamin C actually allows you to tackle two anti-aging tasks at once.
1. Preventing Collagen Breakdown
The Supervillain of Aging is excessive UV exposure.
Unprotected exposure to UV light starts what’s basically a domino effect of processes that end with the early breakdown of collagen in the skin.
When you add this to the fact that your body is already slowing down its natural collagen production, it ends up aging the appearance of your skin much faster than normal.
Long-term topical use of a vitamin C serum will help prevent this collagen breakdown if you also remember to wear sunscreen. Vitamin C has a UV-protective effect that minimizes the amount of collagen breakdown, but it’s not able to completely protect you on its own.
The best vitamin C serums for this will also contain vitamin E. They’re like the Iron Man and Jarvis of vitamins – effective on their own, but way better together.
2. Promoting Collagen Production
Long-term use of topical vitamin C can also help your body create more new collagen molecules.
There are a few complicated-sounding processes that vitamin C affects, but the basic idea is that it’s able to give your body’s collagen-producing mechanisms a kick in the pants and get them going again.
It works by activating the collagen-creating process, and it helps to stabilize and speed up other parts of that same process so that it can happen more smoothly and with less hard work on the part of your cells.
A well-formulated, topical vitamin C can do a long list of things for your skin, and I’ll cover more of those in a later post. For now, we’re only focusing on how it helps collagen production.
So, let’s hit the highlights one more time:
- Like any good superhero, vitamin C has many identities (remember to look for “ascorbyl”).
- Vitamin C can protect your skin from the collagen-damaging effects of UV rays using its antioxidant powers.
- The best serums will contain vitamins C & E because they’re better as a team. Like Batman and Robin, except Robin is kind of lame and vitamin E isn’t.
- Consistent use can help your skin produce more new collagen than it would otherwise.
What do you think?
Do you have more questions about how vitamin C can help collagen production? Maybe you have stories about what vitamin C has done for your skin?
Leave a comment below so we can chat about it! I’d love to hear from you.