Why is Vitamin C now touted as the next big thing for skin care?

Weren't we down this road already?
Oral Vitamin C megadoses have already been tried since the 70s
while some say it helps prevents colds, there's no evidence that it does anything noticeable to skin.

Unlike creams, oral vitamin C has high bioavailability.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I believe because Vitamin C is something that people generally have a good impression of so it makes it easy for marketers to tell a story that convinces customers that a product works extra special.

    The fact that this was tried in the 1970's and was shown to be bunk wasn't enough to sink it in the minds of a lot of people. People don't remember the debunking and after a little while, these ineffective treatments come back.  It's like trying to sink rubber duckies.

    It's also very difficult for consumers to know whether something noticeable is happening on their skin or not. It's especially true for an ingredient that is supposed to work over time. Who remembers what their skin actually looked like 2 weeks ago?

    The reality is that people want to believe things work, marketers want them to believe so tell reinforcing stories, and when consumers have spent a lot of money on a product they naturally would rather see themselves as satisfied customers instead of suckers.

    In my opinion, there are no anti aging creams that will provide a real noticeable benefit to consumers beyond what a standard moisturizer will do. Proven lab effects are not consumer noticeable and when consumers say they see a result, it's just confirmation bias.
  • @Perry, I agree with the most of what you said, with one exception. There are anti-aging creams that provide noticeable benefits - creams with tretinoin. Properly formulated retinol also has an effect on fine lines. Less than tretinoin though.
  • Tretinoin is a drug and cannot be used in cosmetic isn't it?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Yes, tretinoin is a drug.

    @ngarayeva001 - It's difficult to convey my meaning but my statement is based more on the ability of consumers to notice things rather than how well, or whether a particular product works. People are just terrible at seeing subtle differences. Sometimes people are not even good at noticing big differences. (see 

    And the most effective, anti-aging product in the world gives subtle differences at best.

  • I see your point. 
  • Oh the power of suggestion... stronger than any marketing campaign.

    I have products that are exactly the same, except for the color. Even distributors and manufacturers with years of experience will say "the red one is sweeter", "I'll take the blue, is stronger and fresh".

    You can convince people to rub shit on their face because "katy perry does it, and she looks great!". And it will work. Ask any cosmetologist.
  • SibechSibech Member, Professional Chemist
    @Perry I agree with your overall statement on vitamin C, but I think it might also be that trends tend to be cyclical when the trend is forgotten it will be revitalized by marketing people and the cycle starts over.

    As for anti-aging benefit, I think it might actually be a confirmation bias with added biased memory. Just like psychics use (to great effect).

    By the way, got the correct count and noticed the gorilla, in fairness I was expecting something odd to be there.

    @gunther Vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold from one week to seven days - totally worth it.
    Dabbling Formulator — Qualified Cosmetic Safety Assessor — experienced in claim substantiation & EU regulatory affairs.
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    Hey, Linus Pauling swore by the stuff, and he was Linus Pauling. Just sayin'
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @chemicalmatt - it was a shame to see him do that. He launched the careers of many quacks. 

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