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Is Vitamin C an Exfoliant?

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No, vitamin C is not an exfoliant. It does not chemically or physically exfoliate the skin. However, it does promote healthy skin cells and helps to lock in hydration.

At the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, we understand the importance of proper skincare and vitamin C's role in achieving healthy skin. This powerful antioxidant has gained recognition for its ability to combat a range of skin concerns, from dark spots to UV damage.

While vitamin C offers many benefits for the skin, it's important to ensure that dead skin cells are removed to allow the vitamin to penetrate and work effectively. Some people have wondered whether vitamin C exfoliates the skin, and in this article, we'll explore the effects of vitamin C on the skin and how to maximize its benefits.

Recommended Daily Intake of Riboflavin

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of riboflavin varies depending on age, sex, and life stage. The following values are based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) established by the Institute of Medicine:
Infants (0-6 months): 0.3 mg/day (Adequate Intake)
Infants (7-12 months): 0.4 mg/day (Adequate Intake)
Children (1-3 years): 0.5 mg/day
Children (4-8 years): 0.6 mg/day
Children (9-13 years): 0.9 mg/day
Adolescents (14-18 years): 1.0 mg/day (females) and 1.3 mg/day (males)
Adults (19 years and older): 1.1 mg/day (females) and 1.3 mg/day (males)
Pregnant women: 1.4 mg/day
Lactating women: 1.6 mg/day

Vitamin C offers a wealth of benefits when applied topically, including the ability to penetrate the skin barrier and fight against free radical damage. It's also the only collagen stimulator, which helps to fight wrinkles and maintain plump, youthful skin. Additionally, vitamin C inhibits melanin production, helping lighten hyperpigmentation, brown spots, and even skin tone.

The TH Chan School of Public Health recognizes the importance of incorporating naturally derived vitamin C into skincare formulas. For example, our natural Vitamin C Serum features alpha lipoic acid (ALA) to fight free radical damage and eliminate dark spots, supporting brightening and improved skin texture and appearance.

While vitamin C does not chemically or physically exfoliate the skin like AHAs or face scrubs, it does promote healthy cellular turnover and the production of new skin cells, which is beneficial for proper exfoliation. Using a potent vitamin C product after exfoliation can boost its brightening and firming benefits and better lock in essential hydration.

In conclusion, vitamin C is a superhero ingredient for achieving healthy, radiant skin. Whether you're using it in the form of serums, scrubs, or moisturizers, incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine can take your skin to the next level. And don't forget to pair it with proper exfoliation for maximum benefits!

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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