5 Surprising Benefits Of Vitamin C Serum For Acne

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By Shatha Rawashdeh, M.D

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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5 surprising benefits of using vitamin c for acne

5 Surprising Benefits Of Vitamin C Serum For Acne

There are many ingredients out there that claim to help with acne-prone skin, from salicylic acid to benzoyl peroxide to glycolic acid. But what about using vitamin C serum if you have acne?

It might sound strange, but it’s worth exploring whether this serum can be added to your skincare routine if you have acne. This post will help you understand whether vitamin C serum can help if you suffer from these breakouts.


Vitamin C has become incredibly popular in skincare. It is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it’s fantastic for anti-aging. On top of that, it boosts collagen, helping diminish the appearance of fine lines and protecting your skin from UV rays and sun damage. 

It is also frequently paired with other skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid for even more benefits. Basically, Vitamin C is like a superhero for your skin, tackling various issues and keeping it healthy and radiant.

Furthermore, vitamin C is a highly researched ingredient in topical and oral forms. Many skincare companies attribute their success to serums containing this essential vitamin. 

I still remember when SkinCeuticals launched their signature vitamin C serum; it became one of their most popular skin care products and the best vitamin C serum on the market. What made it so special? Well, it was not only effective because it combined vitamin C with vitamin E and ferulic acid, but it also had solid scientific backing and extensive research.

The benefits of Vitamin C serum for acne are nothing short of remarkable. This skincare ingredient not only combats acne but also boasts potent anti-inflammatory properties, reducing redness and swelling associated with breakouts, making it a game changer in the quest for a radiant, blemish-free complexion.

In this post, you will learn about the various benefits of Vitamin C serum for acne and acne-prone skin, how it helps to treat acne, the proper way to use Vitamin C serum in your skincare routine, and its potential side effects that you should be aware of.

How does topical Vitamin C Serum Help with Acne?

acne skin

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, Typically characterized by the formation of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts, often occurring on the face, chest, back, or shoulders. It arises when hair follicles become clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells, leading to the proliferation of bacteria and inflammation. Acne can range from mild to severe, impacting both adolescents and adults, and its causes include hormonal fluctuations, genetics, and certain lifestyle factors.

Vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble and potent antioxidant crucial in maintaining healthy skin. When it comes to acne and pimples, Vitamin C serum offers many benefits to help with acne and promote a clearer complexion.

The benefits of Vitamin C serum for people with acne include:

1. The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C help to reduce redness and swelling associated with acne. By calming the skin, it discourages the growth of acne-causing bacteria.

2. Vitamin C boosts collagen production, aiding skin repair and regeneration. This mainly benefits individuals with acne-prone skin, accelerating the healing of existing blemishes and preventing new ones from forming.

3. Vitamin C is a powerful nutrient that can help prevent and treat acne scars. Acne can cause different forms of scars, including atrophic (indented scars), hypertrophic, and keloid (elevated scars). Vitamin C can aid in scar prevention due to its healing properties as a potent antioxidant and collagen booster, leading to a significant improvement in acne scar appearance.

4. Vitamin C can treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots caused by acne. This is because Vitamin C serum inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for the pigment melanin production. Vitamin C can help inhibit pigment formation and, thus, can be used to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, and uneven skin tone caused by acne.

5. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C neutralize free radicals, which can contribute to the development of acne. By protecting the skin from the damage caused by oxidative stress, Vitamin C serum acts as a protective barrier against environmental pollutants, preventing them from exacerbating acne symptoms.

Which form of vitamin C is best for the skin?

vitamin c serum skin care

Topical Vitamin C serums are available in various forms, each with unique characteristics and benefits. The three main forms of topical Vitamin C are:

1. L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA): 

LAA is the most biologically active and well-studied form of Vitamin C. It is water soluble and known for its potent antioxidant properties, helping to neutralize free radicals and protect the skin from oxidative stress. L-ascorbic acid also stimulates collagen synthesis, promoting skin firmness and elasticity. L-ascorbic acid may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.

However, although L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of Vitamin C, it is also the least stable and susceptible to oxidation, meaning it can lose its efficacy when exposed to light and air. Products containing this form of Vitamin C may need to be stored in dark, opaque containers, and it’s essential to check for signs of oxidation, such as a change in color.

2. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP):

MAP is a stable derivative of Vitamin C. It offers antioxidant benefits similar to L-ascorbic acid but with increased stability. This makes it less prone to oxidation and is suitable for individuals with sensitive skin who may experience irritation with other forms of Vitamin C. 

While it is more stable, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate may be less potent than L-ascorbic acid. It still provides significant benefits but might take longer to show noticeable effects.

3. Ascorbyl-6-Palmitate:

 Ascorbyl-6- palmitate is an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C. This form is often used in lipid-rich products. It is believed to penetrate the skin more effectively due to its fat-soluble nature. It also provides antioxidant protection and supports collagen synthesis. 

Ascorbyl palmitate may not be as potent as L-ascorbic acid, and its effectiveness can vary depending on the formulation. It is commonly found in moisturizers, creams, and other skincare products. It can be used for individuals with dry or sensitive skin.

Vitamin C Serum Side Effects

While Vitamin C serum is generally well-tolerated, it carries some potential side effects. These can include mild skin irritation, itchiness, redness, or dryness, especially for sensitive skin types. 

To minimize the risk of side effects, it’s recommended to gradually incorporate vitamin C into your skincare routine, starting with a lower concentration of 10%. Furthermore, do a patch test to check for allergic reactions before incorporating the vitamin C serum into your daily regimen.

Remember that consulting with a dermatologist is paramount for those with acne and establishing an effective skincare routine. Dermatologists have the expertise to identify acne’s specific type and severity and tailor treatment plans that address individual needs. Beyond acne management, they can guide individuals on the best skincare routine and vitamin C serum, considering their skin type, sensitivities, and underlying conditions. 

How to Use Vitamin C Serum?

Using Vitamin C serum correctly is crucial to ensure that you gain the maximum benefits for your skin. It is essential to know that Vitamin C can be used both in the morning and at night. Still, some people prefer to use it in the morning to take advantage of its antioxidant and sun-protective properties throughout the day. However, you can use it at any time that best suits your routine.

To apply the serum correctly, start with a clean face and apply it after cleansing and toning right before moisturizing. Distribute a few drops of serum evenly across your face and allow it to absorb before applying moisturizer and sunscreen.

It’s essential to gradually start using Vitamin C serum, especially if you have a sensitive skin type, by incorporating it once or twice a week. You can increase the frequency as your skin builds tolerance.

Proper storage is crucial to maintain the effectiveness of your Vitamin C serum. Many Vitamin C formulations are sensitive to light and air, so storing the product in a cool and dark place is important. Make sure to close the container after each use tightly.

Does Vitamin C Serum Cause Acne or Skin Purging?

applying vitamin c serum to skin

Contrary to a common misconception, Vitamin C serum does not cause acne. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it an excellent addition to a skincare routine for those prone to breakouts.

However, individuals with sensitive skin may experience a temporary increase in redness or irritation when first using Vitamin C serum, often called “purging.”

This phenomenon is often mistaken for an adverse reaction. It occurs as the serum accelerates the skin’s natural exfoliation process, bringing pre-existing acne to the surface. This is a sign that the serum is working to renew the skin, and the purging phase typically subsides after a few weeks.

If you experience a breakout or allergic reaction after starting your vitamin C serum, it’s important to check the other active ingredients in your product, as they might cause your symptoms. Additionally, if you’re using a high concentration of vitamin C, it’s recommended to work your way down to a lower concentration and switch between forms of vitamin C serums, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.

Related: 50 Positive Skincare Affirmations For Your Daily Routine


To sum up, the benefits of Vitamin C serum for acne are numerous. It can help reduce inflammation, redness, and swelling caused by acne, treat pigmentation issues, and boost collagen production, all of which contribute to achieving clearer and healthier skin. Vitamin C serum can make an excellent addition to anyone’s skincare routine, even those with acne or acne-prone skin.

It’s important to remember to patch-test your skincare product before use and start with a low concentration to avoid potential side effects.

Remember that treating acne requires more than just using a Vitamin C serum. However, incorporating a Vitamin C serum into your skincare routine can help in the battle against acne.

Do not hesitate to consult your dermatologist if your acne is not improving or your over-the-counter products are not controlling your symptoms. They can help you develop a proper skincare routine, provide effective medical treatment, and determine the underlying causes of your acne. 

Shatha Rawashdeh, M.D
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Shatha Rawashdeh, M.D founder of skinsimpletrue.com

I am a dermatologist with more than a decade of experience in aesthetic and anti-aging medicine. However, my real passion lies in providing patients with accurate and evidence-based information, which empowers them to make informed decisions on their beauty journey.

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