Skin Benefits From Healthy Immune System
By Joan Kesman, Skin Care Plus, the best facials and natural skin care products in Chicago, Geneva, Batavia, St. Charles and beyond.
You probably have noticed that vitamin C gets a lot of attention as being nothing short of miraculous for your health. Can this powerful antioxidant really benefit your skin?
Almost 20 years ago, a Duke University scholar published a groundbreaking paper that showed how a form of vitamin C called L-ascorbic acid reduced UVB damage when applied to the backs of hairless pigs. This evidence suggested that photo-damage or “sun spots” could be repaired with topical use of vitamin C—and that was big news for anyone concerned with signs of aging. Research has since proven the benefits, stability issues, and usage requirements for vitamin C. Further research continued to show vitamin C’s positive effect on skin.
“Citrus fruits are a great source of Vitamin C, which the body needs to produce collagen,” says Joan Kesman, owner of Skin Care Plus. “Collagen is a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels and gives skin its firmness and strength. The body produces collagen to help nourish your skin and repair itself. Bioflavonoids, also from citrus fruit, protect the skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.”
Here’s what vitamin C can do for your skin:
- Protect skin cells and skin’s support structure from UV-related damage;
- Improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin;
- Strengthen skin’s barrier response;
- Reduce inflammation;
- Promote collagen production;
- Enhance effectiveness of peels and microdermabrasion;
- Lessen hyperpigmentation (at levels of 3 percent or greater); and
- Boost the efficacy of sunscreen.
To supplement your diet, topical vitamin C also can benefit your skin. However, as widely used as vitamin C is in cosmetics and lotions now, it can be confusing because there are many forms. Here’s what you need to know:
- The forms of vitamin C that are proven most stable and effective are: ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.
- Regardless of marketing hype – there is no one “best” form of topical vitamin C.
- A proven range for vitamin C efficacy is between 0.3 percent and 10 percent.
- All antioxidants, including vitamin C, are vulnerable to deterioration in the presence of air and light. If a product containing antioxidants does not come in airtight, opaque packaging, don’t buy it.
In addition to vitamin C, beta-carotene promotes cell turnover and the sweet potato is an excellent source of this nutrient. Cell turnover is when dead cells shed, making way for new cells. Beta-carotene also helps balance the skin’s pH levels. Finally, it prevents the skin from drying out and flaking by keeping it well oiled.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes; it’s the chemical responsible for its red color. Lycopene protects the skin from damage caused by direct exposure to sunlight. It’s suggested that to increase the absorption rate of lycopene, tomatoes should be eaten with olive oil.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale contain lutein, which helps protect the skin from developing inflammation or wrinkles caused by sun exposure. Wild salmon contains astaxanthin that may help stop free radicals from damaging the body’s cell membranes and DNA and fostering healthy skin.
“Ideally, we should eat the foods that naturally contain these compounds as opposed to taking supplements,” says Kesman.