Vitamin C for Acne


Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that can do much more than boost your immune system during cold and flu season. Vitamin C can rejuvenate your skin and act as a barrier against blemish-causing toxins. If you’re considering adding vitamin C to your daily acne regimen, here’s what you need to know.

How Exactly Does Vitamin C Help Your Skin?

The science behind the effects of vitamin C for acne:

  • Breakouts: Free radicals (environmental toxins and bacteria) are one of the root sources of acne, but vitamin C can work to clear out these harmful toxins.

Free radicals break down the proteins and fatty acids that make up the skin, disturbing the normal pH of the skin and harming the sebaceous glands. This increases the production of sebum, leaving the skin open to breakout-causing bacteria. As an antioxidant, vitamin C breaks down these free radicals and reduces them to harmless compounds before they can damage the skin.

  • Inflammation and redness: One of the more noticeable effects of taking a vitamin C supplement is the clearing of redness caused by skin inflammation.

Your immune system releases inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes to destroy acne-causing bacteria, but the bacteria have a “decoy” system that sometimes causes the chemicals to redirect towards the skin and cause redness. In large doses, vitamin C works to calm the immune system rather than stimulate it, preventing it from destroying healthy skin rather than the bacteria in your pores.

  • Acne scars: Vitamin C helps rejuvenate the skin by promoting collagen and elastin production, essential proteins needed to generate new skin.

Collagen and elastin are the main proteins that makes up your skin; when not produced in sufficient amounts, the integrity of the skin is affected. Without vitamin C the proteins weaken, causing the skin to become more susceptible to acne scars as well as preventing existing scars from healing.

How can I use it?

Topical treatments may provide immediate relief, but many report that taking oral vitamin C has longer lasting benefits. If possible, your daily dosage should include both a topical and oral form of vitamin C.

However, vitamin C should be used as a supplement to your acne-fighting regimen rather than as a primary treatment; for best results we suggest first seeing a dermatologist, who will prescribe you proven medication.

There are several ways to incorporate vitamin C into your treatment plan:

  • As a supplement. The NIH states that the recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 75mg for adult women and 90mg for adult men. They also recommend to not take more then 2,000 mg/day.
  • In your diet. Whole foods are arguably the best way to get your daily intake of vitamin C, as they also contain other types of antioxidants that can alleviate acne-related issues. Vitamin C is most notably found in citrus fruits, but a few other foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, strawberries, kale, broccoli, and parsley. If you’re looking to get more vitamin C in your diet, here are some vitamin C options.
  • Apply it topically. Vitamin C is found in many facial creams and masks, and can also be purchased as a concentrated serum.

Watch out for:

  • Oxidization. Vitamin C oxidizes easily, rendering it ineffective and potentially damaging to your skin; replace any vitamin C product that has gained a yellow or brown tinge.
  • Over-dosage. Watch your vitamin C intake, too much can actually cause an acne flare up! Other symptoms of taking too much vitamin C are nausea, stomach cramps, and dizziness.

The bottom line.

Vitamin C can be a great addition to promoting clear skin, but using it as a primary treatment isn’t effective for most. For the occasional pimple, over-the-counter products may be sufficient, but the best treatment available will come from a dermatologist. If you’re not sure if you need a dermatologist consultation, check out our post on when and why to see a dermatologist. To move forward with getting a consultation, check out our online dermatology service.

About us: YoDerm is the only way to get a prescription medication safely and legally online. Each of our dermatologists are board-certified and will treat your acne within 24 hours. If you’re struggling to get clear, click here, and let us help.


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  1. “Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid).” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>.
  2. Chase, Brad. “Vitamin C and Acne.” Progressive Health., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>.
  3. “Should I Be Using Vitamin C On My Skin?” Skinacea, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>.


3 thoughts on “Vitamin C for Acne

  1. I purchased 100% vitamin c crystal powder at whole foods and use it as an at home chemical peel. Mix with warm water and apply – 5 minutes should be good. You will def feel the to tingling – I’ve left it on a little longer for stronger results and also shorter for a light refreshing of the skin – it’s amazing! You will peel – do not expect your skin to look perfect right away. I went strong my first round. Within a week after a serious peel session my skin was glowing and I started getting multiple compliments – that never happens! I have suffered from acne and more recently redness and freckling from excessive tanning over the years (don’t tan!!!! It will eventually age your skin and you will regret it…) I have spent thousands (7,000+) of dollars on lasers, peels, etc… And vitamin c has been my savior! After my initial peel i started doing the lighter masks 1-2x a week and I also mix a little powder w my face wash nightly. My freckling is going away, my skin has just about cleared completely including all those teeny tiny dirty pores – ugh – biore tried but it could never get them all! I am sure to use a strong face friendly SPF in the morning – highly recommend it! Protect your skin!!! I no longer need foundation or concealer – which I used to wear everywhere I went…. And I mean everywhere. Now just the sunscreen and a little blush :) so happy… Please, if you’ve tried everything like I have give vitamin c 2 weeks – you will glow… And then keep it as part of your regimen. It is my miracle.

  2. So, my skin is sensitive to vitamin A and Retinol, but I have seen a HUGE difference in my complexion and wrinkles since I started using a product with Vitamin A. People are telling me I look younger! Retinoids bind to corresponding receptors in the skin. This peels off the top layer, which evens skin tone, and thickens the layers below, which smoothes out wrinkles. Retinoids also boost collagen, a protein that keeps the skin firm and springy, by blocking the genes that cause it to break down and increasing other gene activity responsible for its production.

    Yes, it does make me sensitive. But its worth it. I have tried all the Vitamin A creams, and the only ones that work for my sensitive skin are the Made from Earth Firming Serum and the Lady Soma Renewal Serum. I just switch between the two. The Lady Soma is probobly my favorite.

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