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Orange Ya Glad You Didn't Buy That Vitamin C Mask?
Skip the skincare. Eat an orange.
Vanessa Hudgens is all smiles in a recent campaign photo for her skincare brand KNOW Beauty. She holds a $1.49 navel orange in one hand and her $45 Arctic Gold Vitamin C mask in the other.
Is Hudgens smiling like that because she’s successfully scammed customers out of $43.51? Maybe! As I’ve shared before: Antioxidant vitamin C does indeed stimulate collagen production and protect cells from pollution, but there is zero evidence that applying it directly to your face (with, for example, an overnight mask) is more effective than ingesting it (by, say, eating an orange).1 There is plenty of evidence that topical vitamin C skincare is more pricey, more stressful for your microbiome and moisture barrier, and less likely to reach the collagen-producing layer of your skin than the edible kind, though.2
Dr. James Hamblin writes in his book Clean: The New Science of Skin (which is not about “clean beauty” but rather, the history of “cleanliness” and the damage done by industrialized skincare):
“The definite way to get vitamin C into your body’s cells is the less trendy, time-tested option of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. These also contain other elements like fiber that benefit the microbiome. The stomach contains strong acids your skin lacks that are made to absorb nutrients like vitamin C … Unless a product has a low enough pH to make it through the skin’s acid mantle, your skin will basically carry the product on the outside.
There’s some evidence that topical vitamin C can change the skin3 …. but this approach has not proven any more effective than simply eating vitamin C, and the exact same compound, when mixed into skin products, can become exorbitantly expensive.”
A paperback copy of Clean is $17. Even if you buy that and an orange a day, you’ll still have a fatter wallet (and, probably, better-functioning skin) than the customers who purchase Vanessa Hudgens’ KNOW Beauty Vitamin C mask (or any other vitamin C skincare product).
Other vitamin C-rich foods include: kiwi, cauliflower, bell pepper, broccoli, strawberries, papaya, lemon, lychees, Kakadu plums, acerola cherries, cantaloupe, kale…
You can find more information about how eating your skincare is a more effective way to get essential nutrients to the lower layers of your skin here.