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What do vitamins C and E do for the skin?

Vitamins C and E are antioxidant vitamins, which help protect the skin from the damaging rays of the sun. They work as antioxidants both in the diet -- when you eat foods or take supplements rich in vitamins C and E -- and when you apply them to the skin.

Vitamin C also helps the skin make collagen, a protein that helps wounds heal. When applied to the skin -- as in some sunscreens -- vitamins C and E don't stop the sun’s UV rays from penetrating the skin, but they do help the skin repair damage caused by sun exposure.

You always need a high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen when you go out into the sun, but if it contains vitamins C and E, your skin might have some additional protection from the sun's damaging rays.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is important to the production of collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels and gives skin its firmness and strength, helps create scar tissue and ligaments, and aids in skin repair. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and slows the rate of free-radical damage to collagen that can contribute to dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects and repairs your skin and can help prevent premature aging of your skin and damage to your DNA. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported in February 2005 that people who take vitamins C and E in the long term reduced their sunburns from exposure to UVB radiation. Further, researchers saw a reduction of factors linked to DNA damage within skin cells.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.