Vitamin C for hair, also known as ascorbic acid and commonly found in food, is a widely used supplement to boost immunity and prevent illnesses. This powerful ingredient can be found in a variety of products, from toothpaste to cosmetics. In the beauty industry, Vitamin C for hair is an essential element of skincare routines because of its potential to promote a brighter and more even skin tone.
Given its potent antioxidant properties and ability to enhance natural collagen production, vitamin C appears to have potential benefits for both the skin and hair. While the scalp is often overlooked in skincare routines, it seems reasonable to seek out products that have been successful for the face to promote healthy scalp skin. To shed light on the topic, we sought the insights of dermatologists Brendan Camp, MD, and Marisa Garshick, MD, regarding the use of vitamin C for hair care.
- Brendan Camp, MD, FAAD, is a dermatologist with dual board certification, now practicing at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.
- Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a dermatologist certified by the board, affiliated with MDCS: Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers, and a clinical assistant instructor of dermatology at Cornell University.
Curious about whether vitamin C confers similar benefits to hair as it does to skin? Keep reading to discover the answer.
Benefits of Vitamin C for Hair
Vitamin C is a crucial supplement required for maintaining normal bodily functions.2 When it comes to skincare, vitamin C is a well-known ingredient renowned for its potential to brighten skin and enhance collagen production.3 This potent antioxidant is one of the most effective defenses against photoaging and can have anti-aging effects by stimulating collagen synthesis.4 Usually, vitamin C is topically applied to the skin in the form of serums or moisturizers.
Similarly, when applied to the scalp, vitamin C can offer a host of benefits. “Vitamin C serves as an antioxidant and can aid in neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals, thereby promoting scalp health,” explains Garshick. Camp echoes this sentiment, stating that vitamin C can counteract the detrimental impact of free oxygen radicals, which accumulate as a result of daily metabolism and UV exposure. “Free oxygen radicals can cause harm to cellular structures like DNA, lipids, and proteins,” clarifies Camp. In addition, vitamin C has the potential to boost collagen production in the scalp and hair, which can enhance hair health and fortify strands, according to Garshick.
- Neutralizes free radical damage: Garshick notes that vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals, which can contribute to maintaining scalp health. Notably, vitamin C’s antioxidant properties can be advantageous when applied topically or ingested orally.
- Strengthens the hair: As collagen is a crucial component for strong hair, vitamin C, which is a recognized collagen booster, can be beneficial. “Vitamin C has the potential to increase collagen production, thereby promoting stronger and healthier hair,” explains Garshick.
- Boosts shine: In addition to its other benefits, vitamin C can enhance hair’s shine and brightness, according to Garshick. Furthermore, vitamin C can foster a healthy scalp environment, which can positively impact the overall appearance of the hair.
- May prevent hair loss: Camp suggests that vitamin C might interact with DHT, a hormone that is linked to hair loss. “DHT can cause the hair follicle to shrink and miniaturize. Vitamin C can inhibit the formation of DHT.” Studies have revealed that vitamin C can suppress DHT, indicating that it could potentially serve as a preventative measure against hair loss.
- May help promote new hair growth: Garshick notes that “by enhancing collagen production, vitamin C can encourage hair regrowth.” Camp further explains that by inhibiting the creation of DHT, vitamin C can facilitate better hair growth.
Hair Type Considerations
According to our experts, vitamin C is generally safe for all hair types, although it may offer additional advantages for certain types. For instance, individuals with color-treated or damaged hair might benefit from vitamin C’s ability to boost collagen. “While it can be used on all hair types, it may be especially beneficial for those with lackluster or brittle hair,” explains Garshick. Camp notes that vitamin C is suitable for most hair types and textures, but individuals with dry hair may want to exercise more care as some hair products can strip away more oils from the hair shaft and exacerbate dryness.
According to Garshick, although vitamin C can be used by all hair types, it’s important to consult with a medical professional to identify the underlying cause of any hair concerns. Additionally, while an individual may not be allergic to vitamin C, other ingredients in a vitamin C product may potentially cause irritation. Camp recommends that those with allergies to any ingredient in a hair product should avoid using it, and those with sensitive skin should consider patch testing the product on the inside of their elbow for a few days before applying it to their scalp.
Related: Vitamin C Myths Busted: 7 Common Beliefs You Need to Rethink!
How to Use Vitamin C for Hair
Both oral intake and topical application of vitamin C offer numerous benefits. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for maintaining overall health. However, unlike most animals, humans lack the enzyme needed to synthesize vitamin C internally, making it necessary to obtain it through diet or supplements. Citrus fruits and vitamin C supplements are among the sources of this vital nutrient that can help meet our daily physiological needs.
To observe the benefits of vitamin C on the scalp and hair follicles, the most effective method is through topical application. Our experts recommend using pre-formulated products designed for hair and scalp use, as products intended for facial use may contain ingredients that are damaging or too heavy for the hair.
According to Camp, it is crucial to read the product instructions carefully and follow them precisely to avoid scalp or hair irritation from overuse or suboptimal application. Applying too much of the product can cause scalp irritation, while applying too little may not yield the desired results.
The Best Products With Vitamin C
- Peter Thomas Roth Mega-Rich Conditioner: According to Camp, this conditioner is a great option as it contains an array of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins B, C, and E. Vitamin E and vitamin C also work synergistically to provide optimal benefits for the hair.
- Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector: This hair treatment contains vitamin C to help protect hair from damage and promote healthy growth.
- Oribe Power Drops Color Preservation Booster with 2% Vitaminc C Complex 1 Ounce: Oribe’s Power Drops with vitamin C complex and quinoa protein act as a revitalizing potion for your hair. This potent serum shields your locks from UV radiation while providing nourishing care.
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