Can Vitamin C Help Treat Acne?

Vitamin C is touted for so many benefits; anti-ageing, skin brightening, pigmentation, to name a few, but can it help fight acne?

Normally, Vitamin A is the go-to for acne. It has over 50 years of research behind it as an acne-fighting, anti-ageing ingredient. It is known to help acne patients because it promotes cell turnover and regulates natural oils.

There is only a little bit of research on whether Vitamin C can help treat acne, but it looks promising so far.


Acne is an inflammatory condition, and Vitamin C is a known anti-inflammatory. It can help calm the redness, inflammation and swelling associated with breakouts to help the skin heal.

Vitamin C’s role in synthesising collagen can help prevent atrophic acne scars, such as box scars and ice pick scars.

What about the acne lesions themselves? Here is what some of the research says.

One study of 50 people conducted at the University of Miami concluded that acne lesions were significantly reduced after 12 weeks of topical application of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C, in addition to being anti-inflammatory, appeared to help treat acne by preventing oxidisation of the sebum in study participants.


When you experience acne, sebum (your skin’s natural oil) tends to build up on the surface of the skin. When the sebum oxidises, it clogs the pores and stymies healing.

Another study of 30 people conducted by the School of Cosmetic Science in Thailand compared Vitamin C to Vitamin A, the usual go-to vitamin for acne.

They found that Vitamin C reduced acne by 49%, compared to Vitamin A which reduced it by 50%.

Vitamins A and C in combination reduced participants’ acne by 63% after 8 weeks.

Researchers involved with the study believed that Vitamin C and Vitamin A worked best in synergy. Vitamin A helps regulate sebum, and Vitamin C prevents sebum from oxidising.

Vitamin A is known to promote natural cell turnover in the skin, and this appeared to help Vitamin C absorb better.

Not to mention, they both have antioxidant properties that work well together.

Further research is required before we can claim that Vitamin C helps reduce acne lesions, but in the meantime, we know that it has many other benefits in skincare.

If you are struggling with acne, it can help to use an exfoliating cleanser, a leave-on exfoliating serum and a serum with Vitamins A, B and C.