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Few ingredients are as deserving of a place in your routine as vitamin C. While many of us are familiar with its benefits as part of a healthy diet, the antioxidant has also become a staple in skin care regimens, and for good reason. From cleansers to serums to moisturizers and face masks, formulas with vitamin C make the most of its “widespread properties and ability to regenerate the skin,” says Dr. Lily Talakoub, a board-certified dermatologist in McLean, Va.

Health and Skin Care Benefits of Vitamin C

When we think about a healthy diet, vitamin C almost certainly comes to mind. According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, vitamin C “boosts your immunity to prevent or treat a cold, helps wounds heal quicker and also may help reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Along with boasting some major health benefits, vitamin C is also good for your skin. “Vitamin C not only helps repair free radical damage, but it brightens the skin and helps fade dark spots,” says Dr. Jaliman, who notes it also “stimulates collagen production, improving the skin’s texture and quality.”

Using vitamin C regularly can help prevent the effects of sun damage and pollution from showing up on your skin, too. The antioxidant helps defend against hyperpigmentation by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is responsible for converting tyrosine into melanin in the skin, Dr. Jaliman explains.

The best part? Unlike some other buzzworthy skin care ingredients, vitamin C doesn’t come with a long list of precautions. “Vitamin C is generally safe, gentle and effective when used in skin care,” says Dr. Jaliman.

Hair Benefits of Vitamin C 

Vitamin C also has benefits for your hair. The ingredient is a “necessary component to create the protein known as collagen,” which promotes hair health, explains Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, NMD, a naturopathic medical doctor in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Vitamin C also helps your body absorb non-heme iron, a necessary mineral for hair growth,” she adds.

To see these benefits, Dr. Zenhausern recommends getting adequate levels of vitamin C through your diet, with antioxidant-rich foods and even supplements in some cases. “We often see the biggest benefit of supplementing vitamin C in patients with vitamin-C deficiency,” she explains. As for those without a deficiency, she recommends adding more parsley leaves, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi and citrus fruits to your diet, as they are some of the best ways to reap the benefits of vitamin C for hair.

Vitamin C Products to Try

Vitamin C might have made its way to every corner of skin care, but not every formula is created equal. “When used in products that penetrate and hydrate the skin, it works very well,” Dr. Jaliman confirms. If you’re on the hunt for an effective vitamin-C product, we’ve got you covered with these top picks.