Is Vitamin C also a pro-oxidant?

Hi! I am seeing raves about topical vitamin C as an excellent antioxidant for skin. However, without being an expert, and if I am even making sense, what happens to vitamin C after it donates to a free radical/ros? I am definitely not a chemist, but after a few basic organic chemistry courses some of this research is making sense (I.e. the Fenton Reaction), but again I don’t have enough knowledge to know if this process is potentially harmful on the skin, and if I should continue use of topical Vit C or save my money from all of the marketing raves :)

I’ve heard Vitamin C's ability to readily donate electrons, and thus acting as an anti-oxidant; however does this also mean that it readily reacts with other molecules after that process? Does the cycle continue such as Vit C then scavenging a donor/nearby cells or molecules (redox)? In the presence of catalytic metals (possibly in makeup other skincare products), could vitamin C react with those metals causing a pro-oxidant effect? I thought vitamin C reacts with oxygen, then producing superoxide that subsequently dismutes to produce harmful by-products such as hydrogen peroxide...the rest gets over my head but I am not sure now if the cons outweigh the benefits.


  • No, Vitamin C is not pro-oxidant. Vit C (Ascorbic Acid) oxidizes to Dehydroascorbic Acid which is a stable molecule. It will not react further under normal circumstances.

    Of course, the reality is that most of the Vitamin C containing cosmetics actually contain mostly Dehydroascorbic Acid and you won't see much additional benefit in using them.
  • Wow this makes me feel so much better! Thanks Perry!!
  • edited June 20
    Vitamin C is antioxidant. It protects you from harmful damage of oxidation. Vitamin C is water soluble that means even if you take more quantity it will not be stored in your body. It will be flushed out.
  • Yeah the Vitamin C is an antioxidant that keep protects us form any harmful damage of oxidation ... Vitamin C is very good to if you have a low PB then it help you to make it stable...
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