does vitamin c exfoliates

Does Vitamin C Exfoliate? Is it the 1 Antioxidant You Need

Vitamin C, a big name in the skincare world, is well-known for its brightening, anti-ageing, and antioxidant properties. But does vitamin C exfoliate your skin?

The answer is a little bit complex. While vitamin C itself doesn’t directly scrub away dead cells like conventional exfoliants, it still plays an important role in promoting healthy skin cell turnover, leading to a smoother and radiant complexion that mimics the result of exfoliation.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll deeply look into the science behind Vitamin C and its role in exfoliation.

Does Vitamin C Exfoliate?

does vitamin c exfoliate

While vitamin C may not be the first thing that comes to mind for sloughing away dead cells, research shows this antioxidant provides gentle, natural exfoliating properties.

Understanding Exfoliation and Cellular Turnover

Before delving into the role of Vitamin C, it’s important to understand what exfoliation leads to.

Our skin is continuously going through a renewal process. New skin cells are produced deep within the layers, pushing older cells upwards. Ultimately, these older cells die and form the outermost layer, the stratum corneum.

Naturally, this dead cell layer sheds away, revealing the fresh, healthy cells underneath. However, factors like age, sun damage, and inappropriate cleansing can upset this process, leading to a buildup of dead skin cells. This can cause dullness, uneven texture, and also clogged pores.

Exfoliation comes to the rescue by removing this layer of dead cells. There are two main types of exfoliants:

Chemical Exfoliants (AHAs, BHAs): These use acids like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid to smoothly dissolve the bonds holding dead skin cells together. This as a result promotes dead cell removal.

Physical Exfoliants (Scrubs): These contain rough particles like sugar or nutshells that physically buff away dead skin cells.

Vitamin C and Cellular Renewal: A Gentle Boost

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is well-known for its antioxidant properties, which help guard the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental stressors such as UV radiation and pollution. Moreover, Vitamin C also plays an important role in collagen synthesis, promoting skin firmness and elasticity.

However, when it comes to exfoliation, Vitamin C operates in a different way from conventional exfoliating agents like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).

While Vitamin C does hold gentle exfoliating properties, it mainly functions as an antioxidant and skin brightener rather than a direct exfoliant.

How Vitamin C Works

Vitamin C supports exfoliation indirectly by speeding up the skin’s natural renewal process. It does so by stimulating collagen production, which helps to improve skin texture and lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Furthermore, Vitamin C helps to slow down the enzyme tyrosinase, which is involved in the production of melanin, thus helping in the fading of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C also helps to defuse free radicals that can contribute to cellular damage and premature aging. By protecting skin cells from oxidative stress, Vitamin C supports overall skin health and vitality, enhancing the skin’s natural exfoliation process.

Furthermore, we can breakdown the process by which new skin cells are generated into

Stimulates Collagen Production: 

Collagen is a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. Vitamin C helps the body to generate collagen, which plumps and strengthens the skin, creating a smoother and brighter appearance.

Antioxidant Powerhouse: 

Vitamin C fights against unstable molecules that damage skin cells and contribute to premature aging. This protection helps maintain healthy cell function and promotes the best possible cellular turnover.

Brightens Skin Tone: 

Vitamin C also helps reduce hyperpigmentation that results in uneven darkening of the skin. It does this by reducing the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color.

By promoting collagen production, fighting free radical damage, and evening skin tone, vitamin C indirectly contributes to a brighter, smoother complexion, mimicking the results of gentle exfoliation.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP): A Gentle Warrior in Your Vitamin C Skincare Arsenal

Within the vitamin C family exists unique Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP). MAP is a stable derivative of vitamin C, which means it’s less prone to getting ruined from light and air compared to pure L-ascorbic acid.

Therefore it results in longer shelf life for your skincare products and a reduced risk of irritation, making it a good choice for those with sensitive skin.

Integrating MAP into Your Routine: A Strategic Approach

MAP is a helpful addition to your skincare routine, but knowing how to use it successfully is the key. Here are a few tips to use it successfully

Concentration: MAP is normally used in concentrations between 2-10% in skincare products. Look for products with a proportion suitable for your skin type and concerns.

Frequency: Apply your MAP-containing product once or twice daily, depending on the product’s instructions and your skin’s sensitivity.

Layering: MAP can be layered with other skincare products. Apply it after cleansing and toning but before moisturizer and sunscreen.

Common Companions To Vitamin C In Skin Care Routine

Does Vitamin C Exfoliate

Vitamin C serums and creams are the most important medium to add vitamin C into your skincare routine.

However, these products often include other active ingredients together with vitamin C to boost its effectiveness and address additional skin concerns.

Here’s a breakdown of some regular companions to vitamin C in skincare:

Vitamin E:

Function: Vitamin E is another effective antioxidant that works synergistically with vitamin C. It helps even out vitamin C, preventing it from degrading in the presence of light and air, thus maximizing its shelf life and effectiveness.

Ferulic Acid:

Function: Similar to vitamin E, ferulic acid acts as an antioxidant stabilizer. It also facilitates lowering the pH level of vitamin C products, making them more readily absorbed by the skin.

Hyaluronic Acid:

Function: Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it attracts and locks in moisture to the skin. This is mainly helpful when using it along with vitamin C, as some formulations can be a little drying. Hyaluronic acid helps counteract this by keeping the skin hydrated and plump.

Other Antioxidants:

Function: Green tea extract, resveratrol, and other antioxidants can be included in vitamin C serums to provide extra free radical protection and improve the overall antioxidant benefits for the skin.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3):

Function: Niacinamide offers a large number of benefits, including diminishing pore appearance, regulating oil production, and calming inflammation. It can be a good partner for vitamin C, especially for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Choosing the Right Combination:

The ideal combination of active ingredients depends on your individual skin type and concerns. Here’s an all-purpose guide to choose the right combination

Dry Skin: Look for formulas with hyaluronic acid for added hydration.

Sensitive Skin: Go for gentle, well-formulated products containing MAP (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) as the vitamin C derivative.

Oily or Acne-Prone Skin: Consider formulas that incorporate niacinamide to help regulate oil production and minimize inflammation.

The Perfect Synergy: Combining Vitamin C with Exfoliation

While vitamin C offers its own set of benefits for achieving smoother and even skin, it truthfully shines when partnered with an appropriate exfoliation routine. Here’s why this combination is an appealing formula:

Enhanced Penetration: 

When dead skin cells gather on the surface of the skin, they form a barrier that delays the absorption of skincare products. Exfoliation removes this barrier, allowing vitamin C serums and creams to penetrate deeper layers of the skin, and make the most of their effectiveness.

Brighter Results: 

By combining exfoliation with vitamin C, you can accomplish a more radiant and even skin tone faster. Exfoliation removes the top layer of dull, discolored cells, while vitamin C works its magic on the newly revealed skin.

Here’s how to incorporate both practices into your skincare routine:


Depending on your skin type, exfoliate 1-2 times a week. For sensitive skin, go for gentle chemical exfoliants or soft physical scrubs. Patch test any new product on a small area before applying it to your entire face.

Vitamin C: 

Apply your vitamin C serum or cream after exfoliating on cleansed skin. This allows the vitamin C to penetrate deeply and therefore it ends up working wonders.

Remember: Always patch-test new products on a small area before applying them to your entire face.

Does Vitamin C Exfoliate?

Conclusion: Unveiling Radiant Skin With The Help Of Vit C

While vitamin C isn’t a direct exfoliant, its role in endorsing healthy cell turnover and collagen production is decisive for achieving a smoother, brighter, and even complexion.

When combined with an appropriate exfoliation routine, vitamin C becomes a powerful tool in your pursuit of radiant and youthful-looking skin.

Some Additional Tips

  • Consult a dermatologist to determine the best exfoliation method and vitamin C product for your exact skin type and concerns.
  • Always follow the instructions on your skincare products and be watchful of sun exposure, as vitamin C can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sun damage.
  • Maintain a constant skincare routine that includes cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection for optimal results.

By understanding the power of vitamin C and its synergy with exfoliation, you can enjoy a brighter, smoother, and even skin tone that for sure will turn some heads and boost your confidence.