The Evolution of Vitamin C in Skincare: A Fascinating Fusion of Science and History

Skincare regimens have always been an integral part of human personal care, dating back centuries. Among the numerous compounds discovered and employed for skincare, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has emerged as an extraordinary ingredient due to its multifaceted benefits. Its journey from ancient skincare practices to modern scientific breakthroughs has made it a beauty staple. This captivating fusion of science and history has paved the way for vitamin C to become an essential component of skincare routines worldwide.

As an indispensable part of the human diet, fruits and vegetables have been a rich source of vitamin C since ancient times. Throughout history, various civilizations sought to harness the potential of these natural sources for external skincare practices. Notably, ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures placed great emphasis on skincare and employed vitamin C-rich plant extracts and oils to nourish and protect their skin.

Ancient Egyptian Use:

Ancient Egyptians, renowned for their beauty rituals, utilized various compounds that naturally contained vitamin C. They recognized the beneficial properties of fruits such as pomegranate and employed pomegranate seed oil, which is vitamin C-rich, as a nourishing and moisturizing agent. Recipes dating back to this era include treatments such as mixing pomegranate seed oil with honey and applying it as a face mask to enhance the skin’s radiance and elasticity.

Greek and Roman Influence:

Rosehip fruits on branch

The ancient Greek and Roman civilizations also recognized the significance of compounds rich in what we now identify as vitamin C for skincare. They utilized ingredients such as rosehips, a potent source of vitamin C, to treat various skin ailments and promote a youthful appearance. Rosehips were often incorporated into facial tonics and ointments, known for their ability to rejuvenate and brighten the skin. The use of these formulations spread throughout the Mediterranean region, leaving behind a legacy of glowing complexions allied with vitamin C-rich skincare practices.


Scientific Advances:

Scientific curiosity led to a deeper understanding of vitamin C in skincare, distinguishing it as a vital compound for skin health. In the early 20th century, the correlation between vitamin C deficiency and skin disorders, such as scurvy, prompted significant breakthroughs. Pioneering researchers such as Albert Szent-Györgyi and Linus Pauling explored the benefits of vitamin C in combating oxidative stress and its role in collagen synthesis, a critical component of skin structure and elasticity.

Topical Application of Vitamin C:

The recognition of vitamin C’s efficacy led to groundbreaking developments in skincare during the late 20th century. Scientists harnessed the stability of ascorbic acid, developing stable formulations suitable for topical application. The ability of vitamin C to neutralize free radicals, improve skin tone, reduce hyperpigmentation, and stimulate collagen synthesis revolutionized the skincare industry.

Modern Skincare Practices:

Today, vitamin C holds a prominent position in the skincare industry. It is commonly found in serums, creams, and masks, formulated to maximize its absorption into the skin. With various derivatives such as ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, the stability and efficacy of vitamin C remain a focus of ongoing scientific research.


The evolution of vitamin C in skincare illustrates the amalgamation of scientific exploration and historical wisdom. From ancient civilizations recognizing the nourishing properties of vitamin C-rich oils to modern advancements in stable formulations, the journey of vitamin C in skincare has revolutionized the way we care for our skin. By embracing the lessons of the past and continuing to innovate, we can harness the power of vitamin C to achieve healthier, radiant, and more resilient skin.