Vitamin C can help skin heal, say scientists

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Vitamin C can help promote wound healing and DNA repair in the skin, according to scientists who investigated the substance’s effect in human fibroblasts.

The research, published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, used a full genome wide analysis to look at the effect of vitamin C derivative ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (AA2P) on the genes of human fibroblasts.

In total, nearly 300 hundred genes were affected by the addition of AA2P and the researchers then looked at their role in the body to further define the vitamin’s effect.

According to the study, the addition of the vitamin helps stimulate fibroblasts out of their dormant state so they can help the skin heal as well as affecting the cells’ ability to move to the wounded area.

Stimulating the ability of DNA self repair

In addition, the vitamin also stimulated the ability of the DNA to repair itself after damage, as well as having strong antioxidant properties.

The scientists conclude that although the activation of specific signaling pathways remains to be elucidated, the results show that vitamin C in skin cells is required for efficient wound healing and the repair of potentially mutagenic products of DNA oxidation.

Study co-author Marcus Cooke at the University of Leicester, UK, told CosmeticsDesign that the team would like to pursue the potential of such an ingredient in skin care products.

According to Cooke, up-regulating the endogenous repair mechanism using a compound like vitamin C could be more effective than current methods used in cosmetics that target DNA repair.

Cosmetics products influencing DNA repair?

“There are cosmetic products that are meant to influence DNA repair, invariably via incorporating a single repair enzyme in the formulation. While this is a good idea, it is likely to be more costly that being able to up-regulate endogenous repair mechanisms which could conceivably simultaneously up-regulate more than a single enzyme,”​ he said.

The team is actively looking to identify low molecular weight compounds which can have this effect, he added.

Regarding the application of the vitamin, Cooke said either topical or oral administration could be effective but suggested concentrations might have to be higher for the oral route.

In vivo​ human studies are being considered, although they can be expensive, he added.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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