Skincare trends come and go, but vitamin C is here to stay—as it’s been shown time and again to be effective. (Not to mention it’s one of the most researched skincare ingredients, period.) When in doubt, definitely check the ingredients list for this potent molecule!

Vitamin C possesses quite a variety of benefits, from evening out the appearance of overall skin tone to rejuvenating the look of collagen-depleted skin. Here’s your ultimate primer on this extraordinary skin-loving vitamin.

Vitamin C and Its Many Functions and Benefits for Skin

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a molecule that has been shown to keep your skin healthy and vibrant thanks to its antioxidant properties and role in stimulating collagen synthesis.[1]

The nutrient is naturally found in the skin’s epidermis (uppermost) and dermis (middle) layers. As many other substances like collagen and hyaluronic acid, vitamin C declines with age. Its quantity can also be more quickly depleted by pollution, sun exposure and lifestyle habits like cigarette smoking.[2][3]

Boasts Antioxidant Properties

Vitamin C is photoprotective, which means it helps reduce the signs of environmental damage It works primarily through its potent antioxidant activity that neutralizes free radical damage. (In short, free radicals are unstable atoms that damage cells in the body and cause premature aging.)

Helps boost collagen

Vitamin C stabilizes collagen, which increases synthesis of the protein. This promotes more youthful skin, slowing down telltale signs of extrinsic aging like fine lines, sagging and deep wrinkles.

Brightens complexion

Vitamin C can even out and brighten the appearance of overall skin tone. It works by reducing melanin and melanin oxidation in the skin.