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Aging is unavoidable. Luckily, various skincare products are designed to nourish skin to minimize signs of aging.
Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are two beneficial anti-aging ingredients naturally tailored to reduce the appearance of fine lines and hydrate dry skin. On their own, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are highly effective skin protectants. When used together, they are a powerhouse against combating signs of aging.
How do vitamin C and hyaluronic acid benefit skin?
As we age, our collagen production and skin elasticity weaken, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, and dry skin. Age also brings on visible skin changes that impact our appearance including (Shanbhag, 2019):
- Thinning of the epidermis (top layer of skin)
- Hyperpigmentation (patches of darker skin)
- Dry, itchy skin
Both vitamin C and hyaluronic acid have anti-aging properties that help combat skin damage, resulting in smoother, brighter skin. Hyaluronic acid hydrates skin to prevent dryness and vitamin C improves tone and protects against sun damage (Ahmed, 2020).
Let’s take a look at each product more closely.
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant found in nature and consumed through diet. Examples of foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruit, cruciferous vegetables, bell peppers, strawberries, and many more.
Vitamin C is vital to tissue growth, development, and healing and is a favorite among dermatologists to treat skin afflictions including (Abdullah, 2022):
- Sun damage
- Premature skin aging
- Skin pigmentation or discoloration
- Burns and wounds
- Acne and rosacea
- Dark spots
Environmental toxins including pollution, cigarette smoke, ultraviolet rays, and radiation damage skin by creating free radicals and oxidative stress. This results in wrinkles, dark spots, and loose skin. A critical function of vitamin C as a vital skin protector is neutralizing and destroying harmful free radicals (Baek, 2016).
Data suggests that topical vitamin C may improve the appearance of wrinkles and skin changes due to sun damage (Pullar, 2017).
Using retinol and azelaic acid together
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the body and used in skin products. Dermatologists commonly use hyaluronic acid for:
- Wound healing
- Tissue regeneration
- Facial fillers
- Skin hydration
- Better skin elasticity
Because it is a humectant (meaning it keeps in moisture), hyaluronic acid is a popular cosmetic ingredient in skin moisturizers. It also reduces wrinkles and fine lines while improving skin’s appearance. One small study suggests that applying hyaluronic acid serum to the neck for 60 days improves skin wrinkles, elasticity, texture, and dryness (Boen, 2020).
Hyaluronic acid is also frequently used in dermal fillers to provide volume. Products come as topical creams, serums, and lotions, which create a protective skin barrier to keep moisture in.
Can you use vitamin C and hyaluronic acid together?
Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are a great combination to help reverse signs of aging and promote skin health. Many cosmetics and skincare products already include this combo to enhance the appearance of youthful skin.
The anti-aging properties of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid complement each other and help keep skin smooth and healthy. Adding in a retinol serum (vitamin A) or a vitamin E product may boost the effects of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.
Both these ingredients also strengthen collagen and enhance skin elasticity, resulting in fewer wrinkles and fine lines, and making skin look brighter. One study found that using a topical vitamin C serum containing hyaluronic acid reduced wrinkles by almost 12% after 29 days (Escobar, 2020).
Do I apply vitamin C or hyaluronic acid first?
Incorporating both vitamin C and hyaluronic acid into your skincare regimen is a great way to keep your skin healthy and looking radiant. In order to get the most out of these two ingredients, it’s important to apply them in the correct order.
Vitamin C is sensitive to air, water, and light, so you want to apply it to clean, dry skin before using hyaluronic acid. Let it completely dry before moving on to the next product.
After vitamin C, hyaluronic acid is applied to create a skin barrier that locks in moisture. Since hyaluronic acid brings in water from the environment, it can be used on damp or dry skin. To enhance hydration, try a facial toner or spritz to dampen skin beforehand.
To complete the regimen, layer on facial moisturizer and sunscreen to seal in all those anti-aging properties and protect skin from sun damage.
Can I use retinol and hyaluronic acid together?
Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are natural elements vital to skin health and are generally safe for all skin types. They are not associated with adverse side effects nor pose any health risks when used as directed.
However, if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to any skin care ingredients, check with a dermatologist or apply a tiny amount to your wrist to test for a reaction before using.
Protecting our skin from sun damage and the effects of aging is a critical part of our health. Luckily, there are plenty of quality products available to ensure our skin looks as youthful as we feel on the inside.
- Abdullah M., Jamil R. T., & Attia F. N. (2022). Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). StatPearls. Retrieved on May 24, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499877/
- Ahmed, I. A., Mikail, M. A., Zamakshshari, N., et al. (2020). Natural anti-aging skincare: role and potential. Biogerontology, 21(3), 293–310. doi:10.1007/s10522-020-09865-z. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32162126/
- Baek, J. & Lee, M. (2016). Oxidative stress and antioxidant strategies in dermatology, Redox Report, 21(4), 164-169. doi:10.1179/1351000215Y.0000000015. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26020527/
- Boen, M., Alhaddad, M., Wu, D. C., et al. (2020). A prospective double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of a novel combination of hyaluronic acid serum and antioxidant cream for rejuvenation of the aging neck. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 13(11), 13–18. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33282096/
- Escobar, S., Valois, A., Nielsen, B., et al. (2020). Effectiveness of a formulation containing peptides and vitamin C in treating signs of facial ageing: three clinical studies. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 43(2): 131-135. https://doi.org/10.1111/ics.12665. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ics.12665
- Jegasothy, S. M., Zabolotniaia, V., & Bielfeldt, S. (2014). Efficacy of a new topical nano-hyaluronic acid in humans. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 7(3), 27–29. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24688623/
- Juncan, A. M., Moisă, D. G., Santini, A., et al. (2021). Advantages of hyaluronic acid and its combination with other bioactive ingredients in cosmeceuticals. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(15), 4429. doi:10.3390/molecules26154429. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34361586/
- Murray, J. C., Burch, J. A., Streilein, R. D., et al. (2008). A topical antioxidant solution containing vitamins C and E stabilized by ferulic acid provides protection for human skin against damage caused by ultraviolet irradiation. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 59(3), 418–425. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2008.05.004. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18603326/
- Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28805671/
- Shanbhag, S., Nayak, A., Narayan, R., et al. (2019). Anti-aging and sunscreens: paradigm shift in cosmetics. Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 9(3), 348–359. doi:10.15171/apb.2019.042. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6773941/
Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.