Vitamin C Serum Benefits: Dermatologist’s Guide

Vitamin C Serum
Cosmeceuticals such as potent antioxidant serums play a crucial role in the skin exposome concept, which explains how the skin ages as a result of external environmental factors, as well as biological processes.

Ep 65: How Cosmeceuticals Affect the Aging Skin Exposome

This week’s podcast focuses on the aging skin exposome, a fairly recent concept in dermatology research which explains the physiological processes that result in skin aging. The skin exposome encompasses external environmental factors as well as internal, biological responses which also includes the use of cosmeceutical interventions. The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C serum represents the gold standard of an antioxidant vitamin C serum, formulated according to the Duke antioxidant patent, with specific parameters that make it an ideal formulation.

Hi guys and welcome to today’s episode of Dermatologist Talks: Science of Beauty. I’m Dr. Teo Wan Lin of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre. Today’s episode is brought to you by Skinceuticals, the brand behind everyone’s favorite Vitamin C Serum: C E ferulic.

Is Vitamin C serum necessary in your skincare routine?

We’re going to start with why a vitamin C serum is so critical in everybody’s skincare routine. We’ve all heard about photoaging. This refers to the development of signs of wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, irregular skin texture, hyperpigmentation, and large pores as one grows older. But have you ever wondered what actually goes on in your skin that leads to these signs?

First of all, photoaging, as its name suggests, is directly a result of sun exposure. What exactly causes an individual above the age of 25 to develop these signs? When conversely, a younger person actually doesn’t despite the same amount of sun? Well, the answer to this question is actually in two very important areas. Firstly, the concept of cumulative sun exposure, which essentially is the accumulation of sun damage in your skin, tends to show up only after the age of 25. The second is a very important reason and is key to our discussion today. It is the concept of free radical generation that leads to oxidative stress.

What damages the skin?


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Imagine this. Your skin exposes to harmful ultraviolet rays which are present in sunlight. As well as daily exposures to environmental pollution, particulate matter, and of course, chronological aging, which is a result of our biological clock. Your cells are subject to an attack that results in DNA damage. Essentially, this means that harmful free radicals generate near the surface of the skin. All of that presents as stress to the individual skin cells. This encourages a process known as cellular senescence, which is the key to cell aging.

Understanding skin aging

The understanding of skin aging now centers around a concept known as the skin exposome. This concept essentially states that it is the accumulated effects of inflammation that occur in your skin cells. As it is also with other cells in your entire body organ systems that results in cell damage. What part of the cell receives damage? Essentially, it is the DNA of cells that’s responsible for making sure all your cells function optimally. Over time, this becomes inefficient also resulting in a decrease in ability to repair DNA damage. This is worrying not just because of the role it plays in photoaging, but also because this means that your skin is more likely to develop early signs of skin cancer. It is hence equally important that when we are talking about some protection, that we also incorporate antioxidant skincare.

Vitamin C Serum Drops
Cosmeceutical interventions such as vitamin C serum can intervene in the cellular aging pathway by fighting off free radicals that lead to oxidative stress.

Protecting your skin from the sun with Vitamin C Serum

We’ve spoken about sunscreens in a previous episode. Specifically, how the gold standard sunscreen is essentially one which is not just broad spectrum, but labeled as SPF 30 to 50. We must also reapply sunscreen correctly, which is typically two to three hours in an outdoor setting. However, the emphasis today is also on the use of antioxidants serums which clearly have a photoprotective effect as well. We know the Vitamin C serum very well for its ability to fight oxidative stress, hence we generally describe it as an antioxidant. Antioxidants can also derive from botanicals. We also generally regard Vitamin C as one of the more potent ingredients available in skincare serums. There are many different types of vitamin C serum in the market, but not all of them are created equal.

Antioxidant skincare

At this point, I want to share a little bit about the background of SkinCeuticals. SkinCeuticals is actually grounded in the US physician skincare prescription market. The brand targets optimal skin health by preventing future signs of aging with state of the art antioxidants, important components of a skincare regimen such as sunscreens, as well as targeted corrective products including retinol. The core regimen is customisable for every unique skin’s needs. SkinCeuticals dedicates itself to the mission of improving skin health with a simple promise, providing advanced skincare backed by science. The brand uses active ingredients to enhance penetration for skincare efficacy. Formulations are subject to rigorous clinical studies to validate scientific claims.

The origin of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum

A little bit about our star product discussion today. In 1994, Dr. Pinnell led the breakthrough discovery which demonstrated the availability of L ascorbic acid, an active form of vitamin C to neutralize free radicals, which is what we had discussed earlier. Three years later. Serum 10 was launched in 1997, formulated according to the Duke Antioxidant patent. In 2005, the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum was launched.

The superiority of SkinCeuticals’ vitamin C serum is in the following key points. Firstly, Dr. Pinnell’s research highlights the key benefits of vitamin C that can effectively deliver to the skin as long as it meets three important parameters. We know this subsequently as the Duke Antioxidant patent. Firstly, it has to undergo formulation with pure vitamin C. SkinCeuticals uses L ascorbic acid which we consider to be the purest form of vitamin C. It has to have an acidic pH range of 2-3.5% and also have a high concentration between 10-20%. SkinCeuticals is currently the only brand to formulate antioxidants according to these patented parameters.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum
Photo: SkinCeuticals

Benefits of vitamin C serum

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum is a brilliant antioxidant serum with additional ferulic acid and vitamin E. This is critical because it provides an additional layer of environmental protection against these daily assaults that your skin is subject to. These assaults ultimately results in free radical damage that leads to oxidative stress, directly causing signs of photoaging. The key features of how these three ingredients work in this superstar serum are as follows. 15% l-ascorbic acid is a pure potent formula that helps to neutralize free radicals. This helps to protect against oxidative stress.

Furthermore, it also contains 1% α-Tocopherol which neutralizes free radicals and also replenishes the skin lipids. α-Tocopherol is a form of vitamin E. It is very important because it helps to maintain a healthy skin barrier and barrier function. Finally, 0.5% ferulic acid is a novel addition to this high potency triple antioxidant serum treatment. It neutralizes free radicals and enhances all the antioxidant benefits we had mentioned earlier.

Skin aging exposome

In this next part of today’s podcast, we’re going in depth on the emerging skin aging exposome concept. This is the key to understanding how anti-aging cosmeceutical interventions like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum exert a potent effect on aging skin. The term exposome is actually referring to the totality of exposures to which an individual is subject to. From the time they are born right up till death. This is a unique combination of internal factors relating to biological processes as well as external environmental factors.

What is also interesting is there is the human body’s unique response to each of these factors. We understand these responses to have genetic determination. The current research on the exposome actually aims to understand the effects of all these factors on specific organs. This has resulted in a huge body of research with regards to the topic of inflammaging. Also, how it leads to cellular senescence, which is ultimately responsible for the deterioration of the body organ functions.

Singapore Dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin
Healthy skin is the key to beauty. Your anti aging skincare regimen is an important part of your skincare routine to neutralize free radicals that can cause signs of photoaging, such as hyperpigmentation, irregular skin texture, and enlarged pores.

What exactly causes skin aging?

There was a systematic review publication in the Journal of Dermatological Science in 2016 with a comprehensive review of the impact of the exposome on skin biology¹ in particular. It helps to understand that the skin aging exposome is a fairly novel or has a fairly recent definition. The authors in this paper summarized it as such: it consists of external internal factors and their interactions affecting an individual from conception to death, as well as the response of the human body to factors that result in biological and clinical signs of skin aging. There were specific environmental factors reviewed by this group of scientists that were very relevant to skin aging and skin biology. It refers to the following: sun related rays, UV radiation, visible light, infrared radiation, air pollution, tobacco smoke, nutrition, miscellaneous factors and cosmetic products as well.

These exposome factors have been identified to lead to skin aging (Krutmann et al., 2017)

Harmful effects of UV exposure

In terms of UV radiation, we consider predominantly UVA and UVB to be harmful to the skin cells because of the changes that occur in the epidermis and the dermis. This subsequently results in reduction of skin elasticity, as well as surface changes such as hyperpigmentation, increased fine lines and wrinkles. Furthermore, also in terms of how it affects the way the second layer of the skin, the dermis, responds to these acute stresses. Our skin is usually able to respond to these external environmental factors by repairing the damage that occurs. But when you are subject to cumulative ultraviolet exposure, it can reduce your skin’s ability to repair and restore damaged cells.

Air pollution & cigarette smoke

It is key here for us to zoom in on the role of air pollution, as well as tobacco smoke. What we know clearly is that cigarette smoke can directly alter biological processes in your skin to promote skin aging. On top of that, air pollutants, in particular, directly correlates with pigment spot formation in women over the age of 50, with further supporting data in studies in a German as well as a Han Chinese population. Regular contact with ozone, another environmental pollutant, is also known to deplete the body’s natural reserve of antioxidants from the stratum corneum. In mouse studies, this also increases protein oxidation.

Why your diet matters for your skin

The nutritional aspects of the aging exposome concept are also noteworthy. It is well known that oral intake of antioxidants can actually help to retard the inflammation process. As opposed to antioxidant supplements, the best strategy is actually to achieve a proper antioxidant balanced diet by consumption of many fruits and vegetables, and supplementation only if there is an active deficiency. This is known by researchers as a balance between ROS (reactive oxygen species) and antioxidants. When there is an imbalance, that’s when the skin cells will undergo degeneration in the process known as cellular senescence as defined by the skin exposome concept. Apart from its psychological effects, sleep deprivation is also well established to reduce the epidermal permeability barrier function.

Singapore Dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin
An example of a potent antioxidant serum is the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C serum, which is formulated according to the Duke Antioxidant patent and is clinically evidenced to have the ability to neutralize free radicals, reducing skin damage.

Anti-aging cosmeceutical skincare

Finally, we want to emphasise the importance of using cosmeceutical skincare which directly neutralises free radicals caused by environmental damage. Cosmeceutical skincare has an excellent effect in terms of supplementing the skin’s natural antioxidant reserve. The good news is that you can now readily incorporate it into your skincare regimen using the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum as a single antioxidant serum that can target multiple pathways involved in the skin exposome concept of cell aging.

Well, that’s it for today’s episode of Dermatologist Talks: Science of Beauty. This episode is brought to you by SkinCeuticals, a world renowned cosmeceutical skincare brand that owns the patent to the C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum, one of the best formulated gold standard antioxidant serums available in the cosmeceutical skincare industry.

The C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum is available at This podcast episode is sponsored by SkinCeuticals Singapore as a joint collaboration to create scientific educational content relevant to skincare and dermatology. Images produced as part of editorial collaboration consistent with site policy.


Krutmann J, Bouloc A, Sore G, Bernard BA, Passeron T. The skin aging exposome. J Dermatol Sci. 2017;85(3):152-161. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2016.09.015