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Vitamin C in Skin Care

By: Peter T. Pugliese, MD
Posted: June 2, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 8 of 11

Some treatments for scars were developed a few years ago using silicone tapes. What these treatments seemed to do was to hydrate the scar, partially dissolving the collagen and stimulating the formation of new collagen. This is surely a simple explanation for what is a very complex process. Although they improved the scar, the skin was never returned to its original state.

Following are some suggestions for acne scars, surgical scars and burn scars. Remember, the treatments will take many weeks to many months to help, depending on the size and age of the scar. Use a vitamin C preparation with an occlusive dressing, such as plastic wrap or petroleum jelly. You will need a 3–5% concentration of ascorbic acid. If you notice irritation, change from crystalline ascorbic acid to magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. As you gain experience, you can increase the concentration of ascorbic acid, although it should not exceed 10%. Always do a small area first to gain experience with the method.

Derive the maximum benefit

Vitamin C is one of the most effective and important ingredients available to the esthetician to treat a number of skin problems, including aging skin, acne and pigmentation disorders. It is essential to understand the basic chemistry and physiology of vitamin C in order to derive the maximum benefit from its use. With experience, you will find it to be applicable to many of your clients’ most troubling skin care problems. Always keep in mind that vitamin C is a powerful treatment agent and does require both knowledge and experience to use it effectively and safely.

In the next part of this article, two fat-soluble vitamins that are very exciting agents for effective treatments will be covered. Alpha tocopherol, or vitamin E, is not just an antioxidant; you will discover other uses in skin care for this essential compound because it is absolutely critical for healthy skin. A new fresh look at vitamin D, or calciferol, shall be taken since it is a vitamin that has been almost totally neglected in skin care. Although one of the main uses for vitamin D is in the regulation of calcium, you will find many others for this versatile vitamin as it is pulled out of the shadows of neglect into the light of discovery.


1. S Murad et al, Regulation of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid, Proc Nat Acad Sci, 78 2879–2892 (1981)