Vitamin C Serum for Wrinkles - Fact or Fiction?
Are vitamin C serums really any good at preventing or treating wrinkles? And, if they do work, how long does it take before you'll see your wrinkles radically reduced?
Before looking at the science around applying vitamin C to the skin and any effect this may have on wrinkles, it's helpful to understand just what a wrinkle is and what causes them. After all, if you understand the cause of something, it's much easier to find more effective ways to prevent or treat it. Understanding the cause of wrinkles will help you in deciding if Vitamin C serums are worth the fuss and expense.
What is a wrinkle?
Wrinkles are creases, folds or ridges in your skin that tend to first appear in areas where your skin folds naturally due to facial expressions (smile lines). They develop as your skin becomes thinner and less elastic with age.
What causes wrinkles?
Age related wrinkles occur when the middle layer of your skin, the dermis, becomes thinner as cells there divide more slowly. Your dermal layer of skin consists of a network of collagen and elastin fibres. Remember that word collagen, we'll come back to it very shortly. Collagen and elastin are proteins in your skin that work to give it texture, shape and strength, so you can see why it's a bad thing when their levels start to decrease.
Aging skin also produces less oil and is less able to retain moisture, becoming drier and prone to dehydration. Dry & dehydrated skin loses elasticity and surface wrinkles become more pronounced. This is why a good moisturiser can dramatically reduce the appearance of surface lines and make skin look more youthful (we LOVE squalane from olives for it's nearly magical ability to moisturise and hydrate skin). Aged skin is often less efficient at healing too.
Facial expressions (muscle contractions)
Smiling, laughing, frowning, squinting, scowling and other habitual facial expressions all contribute to the development of wrinkles, often referred to as 'character lines'. These are the wrinkles that give us character and help to define a life lived. Short of invasive procedures such as facelifts and botox, or, living your life with a perpetual poker face, there's not much to be done about these types of wrinkles. However, you do have a choice over whether you'll develop smile or scowl lines.
Smoking causes a marked reduction in the production of new collagen in your skin. Nicotine in cigarettes also reduces blood flow to your skin, reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells. The repetitive muscle contractions that occur when you puff on that cigarette, also lead to an increase of wrinkles around the mouth, especially above the top lip.
This one is HUGE for everyone who lives, works and plays in Australia. Sun damage is the number one cause of premature aging.
The premature aging caused by sun damage is termed photoaging. Photoaging happens when UV radiation causes a breakdown in collagen and abnormal elastin production. Over time and with repetitive sun damage the collagen in skin becomes damaged and disorganised. It's estimated that up to 90% of the visible signs of skin aging are due to photo damage!
Some people are blessed to be born with skin that is more resistant to the aging effects of the sun. This is probably due to genetic differences in the production of antioxidants in skin cells. There are numerous studies showing that plant based compounds and antioxidants can help to slow, prevent and even reverse photoaging. Sulforaphane produced from Broccoli Sprouts is especially exciting.
Antioxidant defences in your skin that help to protect against UV radiation induced aging require nutrient resources to be produced. A diet low in these resources will lead to a decline in skin antioxidants and is likely the reason that people who eat a diet high in vegetables and plants tend to age better. Conversely, a diet high in sugar, processed oils and artificial chemicals found in convenience foods not only provides less essential resource nutrients, but will also increase the production of free radicals in your body, burning up valuable antioxidants.
Sugar in particular can speed up the photoaging of your skin via a process called glycation. Glycation produces compounds that damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. These compounds are called Advanced Glycation End-products, or AGEs. The production of AGE's is accelerated by ultraviolet light.
What are the effects of applying vitamin C to your skin?
Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient for healthy aging. It has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the appearance of wrinkles when applied daily to the skin in a serum for at least 12 weeks.
Vitamin C is one of the most abundant antioxidants in your skin that helps to fight against photoaging and the suppression of your skins immune system caused by UV radiation.
Photoaging doesn't just accelerate wrinkle production. Other symptoms include:
- Pigmentation changes including age spots and freckles.
- Loss of skin tone due to decreased elasticity
- Rough and uneven texture
- Broken capillaries often referred to as spider veins, that usually first appear around the nose and top of the chest (décolletage)
- Redness and blotchiness
Vitamin C plays an essential role in collagen synthesis and the stabilizing of collagen fibres. While data is limited on how much effect topical vitamin C has upon collagen production, which occurs in the deeper layers of your skin, there are some [small] human studies that show that it may induce collagen synthesis compared to placebo when applied daily for at least 40-60 days.
There are also newer, oil soluble forms of vitamin C on the market that are able to penetrate past the water proof outer layer of your skin and into the deeper layers where collagen is produced. Water soluble vitamin C is not able to move through the epidermis and acts only upon the surface layers of skin.
In an ideal world, sufficient vitamin C would reach your skin cells, delivered by blood circulation. However, many factors can reduce the availability of vitamin C to your skin. Stress, infection, medications, diet and reduced circulation can all decrease the amount of vitamin C your skin cells have access to.
Prevention vs Cure
In such a sun blessed country, vitamin C serum should be used daily. Don't wait until you start seeing the signs of sun damage and wrinkles before investing in a vitamin C serum. The sun damage that you see starting to appear in your 40's was probably caused in your 20's, so you're never too young to start using vitamin C Serum for wrinkles and sun damage protection. On the other hand, you're also never too old to start using a good serum with vitamin C. And vitamin C isn't just for women, men have skin in the game too!
A quality vitamin C serum can be a valuable ally in delaying and minimising wrinkles, especially those caused by premature aging. Use as part of a comprehensive approach to beautiful skin that also takes into consideration:
- Diet & nutrition
- Medication, dietary and lifestyle factors that decrease vitamin C levels and increase free radicals in the body and skin
- Healthy stress management
A final note........
Healthy Aging vs Anti Aging
At Nubeean Noosa we are anti Anti-Aging. We believe that the term Anti-Aging fosters a toxic & pathological relationship with a normal human experience. We all age, it's programmed into our cells from the very moment of conception. We can't stop the clock but there are many things that we can do to help prevent premature aging and healthy skincare is only one small component of aging beautifully. Beauty is so much more than just a flawless wrinkle free complexion. Live your best life with your best skin. Beauty is a state of mind that we can all choose to wear every day.