Topical Vitamin C for Black Skin: Top 7 Benefits

Topical Vitamin C for Black Skin: Top 7 Benefits 

If you’re looking for a must-have to reach your skin goals, don’t skimp on the vitamin C! Whether you want to age backwards like Angela Bassett, or go make-up free like Alicia Keys, adding vitamin C to your skincare will help get you there.

Today we’re going to share the top five benefits of topical vitamin C for black skin and how it can heal, protect, and enhance your natural complexion and skin tone.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a well-tested and researched ingredient used in skincare. It is known for its strong antioxidant benefits and can be found in serums, creams, and cleansers.

There are a several types of vitamin C used in skincare:

  • Ascorbyl Glucoside
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
  • Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
  • Ethyl Ascorbic Acid

Why so many? Vitamin C is notoriously unstable, so scientists have worked hard to find a variety of version that are still effective when absorbed into the skin, yet more stable. All the above vary in stability levels and accomplish the same benefits to varying degrees.

Is it better to take Vitamin C or use a serum?

A 2017 medical journal shares that “vitamin C is the most abundant antioxidant in the human skin.” However, we can’t create it on our own so we must get it from external sources. Studies have shown that even if you take high doses of oral vitamin C supplements, only a small fraction of that will be active in the skin.  So in addition to taking vitamin C for internal benefits, it’s best to apply vitamin C topically to help the skin!1

Top 7 Benefits of Vitamin C for Black Skin

  1. Treats Hyperpigmentation, Melasma and Dark Spots

Since vitamin C is such a strong antioxidant, it can reverse damage caused by free radicals and oxidation, aka sun damage. Sun damage is the leading cause of hyperpigmentation, melasma and dark spots in black skin. It also works by inhibiting the key enzyme that allows your skin to produce excess melanin.

An older study of patients with melasma found that using 10% vitamin C cream lightened the hyperpigmentation in 55% of participants.2

A 2013 study of 35 patients with hyperpigmentation found that daily use of vitamin C plus increased sun-protection behavior over 8 weeks resulted in 73% improvement in skin pigmentation.7

  1. Can Fade Scars

Vitamin C’s unique ability to brighten, heal wounds and encourage collagen synthesis can make it beneficial in treating scarring from acne or other skin trauma.

An older study of 80 patients used an undisclosed amount of topical vitamin C for 6 months and found significant improvement in the color and height of their scars.9

  1. Anti-Aging

Vitamin C has been shown to help encourage collagen production. You probably already know that collagen and elasticity are two huge components in skin aging. Both our collagen and elastin decrease as we age.

Collagen specifically is what gives our skin a plump and youthful appearance, so stimulating collagen production helps diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

A 2008 study had 10 participants apply 10% vitamin C daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, they showed significant improvement in wrinkles, new collagen formation as well as increased skin hydration levels.3

  1. Reduces Dark Eye Circles

It’s estimated that the skin around our eyes is up to 6 times thinner than the rest of our skin.5 This makes the eye area very susceptible to early signs of aging and dark circles. Dark eye circles, also known as periorbital hyperpigmentation, is much more common in darker skin tones.

Vitamin C can help tackle them in two ways: firstly, by reducing the amount of pigment around the eyes and secondly by increasing the collagen levels and thickness of the skin around the eyes. Both will make the eyes look less dark and more youthful.

  1. Promotes an Even, Glowing Complexion

Even if you don’t struggle with hyperpigmentation, melasma or dark spots, vitamin C’s brightening effects will give your overall complexion a boost! Vitamin C works to improve the overall tone and texture of your skin, giving it a more even appearance and the glowy, radiant look we’re all seeking!

  1. Enhances SPF Protection

You should be wearing a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 every day to avoid sun damage but layering it over vitamin C can give you even greater protection!

An older study found that using 10% topical vitamin C reduced UVB damage by 52 percent and apoptotic sunburn cell formation by 40 to 60 percent.1

  1. Can Improve Acne

Certain types of vitamin C, like Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP), have strong antimicrobial properties and have been found to kill the bacteria that causes acne!

A 2010 study of 50 participants applied 5% SAP lotion daily for 12 weeks and saw a significant improvement in the number of acne lesions as well as the severity!8

Another study from 2009 found that using 5% SAP over the course of 8 weeks reduced acne by nearly 50%. 6

How should you add Vitamin C to your skincare routine?

You should always test new skincare products and implement them slowly, especially if you’re known to have sensitive skin. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends testing a quarter-sized spot somewhere the product won’t be rubbed or washed way, like the bend of your elbow.

To err on the side of extreme caution, test the product for seven days. If you don’t have a reaction, it’s safe for you to use!

Vitamin C is best to be incorporated into your AM skincare routine. Since vitamin C can be a strong active and cause some sensitivity even if it passed the arm test, start by incorporating it every other day, then work your way up to every day.  

Can you use Vitamin C every day?

Yes! Once you have built up a tolerance, vitamin C is great for your daily skincare routine. If you want to use vitamin C daily, or if your skin has been sensitive to certain ingredients in the past, we recommend the Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate form of vitamin C. It’s generally well tolerated, has all the benefits of pure vitamin C, plus the added benefit of fighting acne!

What’s better retinol or Vitamin C?

Retinol, which is derived from Vitamin A, and vitamin C have some overlapping benefits. Both can help with aging, acne, and dark spots; however, retinol is notorious for having adverse side effects. Retinol can cause inflammation, dry skin, itching and flaking. If the inflammatory response persists for too long, it may worsen hyperpigmentation in black skin instead of improving it.

We believe vitamin C is the safer skincare choice for darker skin tones.

How to make vitamin C more tolerable for black and brown skin?

Vitamin C is a powerful active ingredient in skincare which is what makes it so effective, but it also causes some sensitivities for some skin—think redness and itchiness. If you have black and brown skin, it’s important to avoid any additional inflammation which may worsen skincare concerns like hyperpigmentation.

How can you have the best of both worlds?

  • Use a vitamin C with Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate instead of L-Ascorbic acid – L-Ascorbic acid is notoriously unstable (aka goes rancid sooner) and causes more irritation and adverse effects. Sodium Ascorbly Phosphate is more stable, less irritating and can also help prevent acne!
  • Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid + Vitamin E – Studies have shown that combining ferulic acid and vitamin E to vitamin C provides twice the amount of sun protection for your skin. Ferulic acid has also been found to stabilize vitamin C, making it last even longer, and lower its pH levels to make it easier for your skin to absorb. Since vitamin E has natural moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help protect your skin from any vitamin C irritation.4
  • Apply vitamin C to dry skin – A simple hack to improve your skin’s tolerability of vitamin C is to apply it to dry skin. Applying your skincare to dry skin slows down the rate of absorption which makes it gentler on your skin.

Not sure where to start when it comes to vitamin C? Check out our Vitamin C Ferulic Serum. Studies have shown that serums are highly absorbable, plus ferulic acid enhances all the natural benefits of vitamin C and makes it even more well-tolerated!


To boost the results, pair it with our exceptional Vitamin C Cleanser and elegant Vitamin C Facial Moisturizer, two of our fan favorites!

Vitamin C Cleanser - Vitamin C Moisturizer 


  1. Al-Niaimi, Firas, and Nicole Yi Zhen Chiang. “Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications.” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, Matrix Medical Communications, July 2017,
  2. Clinicalandlaboratorystudies Inhibitory Effect of Magnesium L-Ascorbyl ...
  3. Fitzpatrick MD, Richard. “Double‐Blind, Half‐Face Study Comparing ... - Wiley Online Library.” Wiley Online Library, 2008,
  4. Lin FH, Lin JY, Gupta RD, Tournas JA, Burch JA, Selim MA, Monteiro-Riviere NA, Grichnik JM, Zielinski J, Pinnell SR. Ferulic acid stabilizes a solution of vitamins C and E and doubles its photoprotection of skin. J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Oct;125(4):826-32. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2005.23768.x. PMID: 16185284.
  5. Pugliese, Peter T. “Ophthalmic Management of the Periocular Skin Leads to Better Patient Care.” com, 2001,,-The%20dermis%20is&text=Within%20it%20are%20nerves%2C%20lymphatics,less%20than%202%2Dmm%20thick.
  6. S;, Ruamrak C;Lourith N;Natakankitkul. “Comparison of Clinical Efficacies of Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Retinol and Their Combination in Acne Treatment.” International Journal of Cosmetic Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2009,,after%208%20weeks%20of%20application.
  7. Taylor MB, Yanaki JS, Draper DO, Shurtz JC, Coglianese M. Successful short-term and long-term treatment of melasma and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation using vitamin C with a full-face iontophoresis mask and a mandelic/malic acid skin care regimen. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology : JDD. 2013 Jan;12(1):45-50. PMID: 23377327.
  8. Woolery-Lloyd, Heather. “Sodium L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate 5% Lotion for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial.” Wiley Online Library, 2010,
  9. Yun, In Sik, et al. “Improved Scar Appearance with Combined Use of Silicone Gel and Vitamin C for Asian Patients: A Comparative Case Series - Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.” SpringerLink, Springer US, 3 Oct. 2013,


Any information provided on this website does not establish a patient-physician relationship.

The patient-physician relationship can only be established by a face to face visit where a full medical history and appropriate physical exam and testing are performed.

The content provided in this article is for information purposes only and does not establish a patient-physician relationship. A patient-physician relationship can only be established by a face to face visit where a medical history and physical examination are performed. You must seek out the counsel of a medical professional to know what care is needed for your individual concerns.