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Topical Vitamin C Serum Benefits & Concerns

author image Melissa McKee
Based in New York City, Melissa McKee has been writing lifestyle articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared on various women's lifestyle websites. McKee studied writing in The Len and Louise Riggio Honors Program at The New School.
Topical Vitamin C Serum Benefits & Concerns
Topical vitamin C serums can reduce dark spots under your eyes. Photo Credit: Zoonar RF/Zoonar/Getty Images

Reach for a vitamin C serum daily to help keep the wrinkles at bay. A topical vitamin C serum is an oil-and-water-based cosmetic product that delivers concentrated vitamin C. Vitamin C serums, whether from the drugstore or a high-end department store, offer two major advantages over moisturizers: rapid absorption and deep penetration. These two traits create a distinctive characteristic of serums -- their ability to produce results in less time than other products.

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Vitamin C serums are specialists designed to deliver a high concentration of vitamin C. Although the formula is oil-and-water-based, it is created to have an oil-free texture. In fact, serums are described as having a velvety finish. Although the formulas do not leave an oily finish, the intensive formula can irritate sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin should look for vitamin C serums that are specifically designed for their skin type.

Collagen Production

Collagen is naturally present in the body. It is responsible for the plumpness of our skin. With age, however, collagen production begins to slow. Topical vitamin C serums can stimulate collagen production. The added collagen might reduce and prevent the signs of aging, such as wrinkles. Choose vitamin C serums with either ascorbic or L-ascorbic acid as the active ingredient.

Sun Protection

According to Dr. Oz Mehmet, vitamin C serums offer some protection against UV rays. However, vitamin C is a weak sunscreen and should be used in conjunction with a traditional SPF. Vitamin C is also known to repair some signs of sun damage, such as discoloration and fine lines. It's the potent antioxidant properties of vitamin C serums that are responsible for reversing some signs of aging and reducing age spots.

Brighten Skin

Topical vitamin C serums can brighten age spots and hyper-pigmentation, or discoloration of the skin. The vitamin C serums act as a natural bleaching agent and lighten the skin, including age spots and dark circles under the eye. In addition to brightening skin, topical vitamin C serums can prevent mild redness associated with sun damage. According to Dr. Oz, topical vitamin C can even reduce the number of sunburned skin cells.


The biggest disadvantage of a vitamin C serum is its instability. Light and air can denature the active ingredients and render them useless. For this reason, Dr. Oz recommends using topical vitamin C serums that are packaged in opaque and airtight containers. Also, be aware that products labeled with vitamin C as an ingredient may not have active vitamin C. Check the ingredient label before you buy the product.

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