What to Know About Vitamin C Serum for Acne

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 27, 2021
4 min read

The cosmetic industry is full of serums that promise to make your skin glow. 

Of the many serums available, vitamin C serum is proven. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that works to stimulate collagen production in your skin. It also fights fine lines, brightens your complexion, and provides a host of other benefits. Skincare experts also tout it as one of the best anti-aging ingredients you could ever use.

Although you get vitamin C from the foods you eat, it probably doesn't end up in your skin. Using vitamin C serum is the easiest and most direct way to deliver the nutrient to your skin. It's a highly effective product in the treatment of acne. This explains why most skincare products contain vitamin C. 

Acne is a skin condition characterized by inflamed and blocked pores. They lead to swelling, redness, and sometimes pustules or bumps with pus in them. Acne can also leave your skin with post-inflammatory scars, which damages the skin.

No research ties dietary vitamin C with reduced acne levels but it may help with general skin health. However, there is limited research to suggest that the application of vitamin C on the skin can improve this condition.

May reduce inflammation caused by acne. Some of the risk factors for acne are genetics, age, and hormones. In some other situations, skin bacterium may trigger the condition.

Vitamin C contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the redness and swelling that comes with acne. The results are more pronounced when you use the vitamin topically. It, therefore, helps improve the appearance of acne wounds.

It may help reduce hyperpigmentation. Acne causes your skin to develop darkened spots around the affected area. This is called hyperpigmentation. Other causes are UV rays and skin injuries. Vitamin C is known to reduce hyperpigmentation by reducing the effects of the tyrosine enzyme. The enzyme is responsible for the production of melanin that gives your skin its color. 

Vitamin C also functions as a brightening agent. It has properties that reduce dark spots without changing your skin color. Combining vitamin C serums with other brightening agents like iontophoresis can significantly enhance the results.

It improves the appearance of scars caused by acne. Your skin can take a while to heal after an acne breakout. If it doesn’t heal properly, it may develop acne scars. Acne scars have three categories depending on their type.

The first class is the atrophic acne scars that result in the loss of skin tissue and collagen. They present themselves as small indentations in the skin. The other classes are keloid and hypertrophic scars that both occur when there is overproduction of collagen. These appear as thick, raised scar tissue.

When you apply vitamin C serum to the affected area, it works by promoting the synthesis of collagen. This is the protein that builds your skin structure and promotes healthy skin. With increased collagen production, the healing of acne wounds is faster.

In addition to helping you deal with acne, vitamin C is also beneficial in:

  • Soothing sunburns by accelerating cell turnover. This helps replace the damaged cells with healthy ones.
  • Protecting you against sun damage and free radicals that cause skin cancer
  • Preventing your skin from sagging by boosting collagen production
  • Reducing the appearance of under-eye circles
  • Hydrating your skin

Most vitamin C serums are relatively safe to use. Irritation is unlikely. But it’s always ideal to do a patch test before a full application. This will show how your skin is likely to react to the serum. 

If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid products with L-ascorbic acid. The product can cause redness and make your skin dry out. Instead, go for those with magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. They’re less likely to irritate your skin. Besides that, your best bet would be to consult with a certified dermatologist.

For the best results in using vitamin C serum for acne, incorporate its application in your skincare regime. Using topical vitamin C in serum form is more effective than creams or toners. Look for products that contain L-ascorbic acid, which is the active form of the vitamin. 

Pure ascorbic acid is effective in penetrating the skin barrier. When combined with antioxidants like vitamin E, the results are fast and reliable. Together, they work to protect your skin against damage from free radicals.