Thank you to my lovely client who asked me to look into this topic for her, I think it is a great question and one that needs a thorough answer. With every skin care company raving how wonderful their Vitamin C product is, I wanted to find out what type of Vitamin C is best for the skin as well as which type of C penetrates most effectively into the skin. Totally unrelated to any skin care brand or product, lets find out the facts so we as the consumer can become more educated and make educated skin care decisions.  

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What are the different types of Vitamin C available in skin care today?

  • ascorbic acid - consists of D-Ascorbic Acid and L-Ascorbic Acid. Highly Volatile ingredient and renders useless very quickly with exposure to the air, light and heat.
  • L-ascorbic acid - commonly used in skin care, but is also volatile to heat, light and air.
  • ascorbyl palmitate - limited absorption into the skin
  • sodium ascorbyl phosphate : A stable, water-soluble form of vitamin C that functions as an antioxidant, also has anti-bacterial benefits for treating acne.
  • retinyl ascorbate - an ester derived from all-trans-retinyl chloride (RA) and l-ascorbic acid (AsA). Shows benefits for repairing UV damage. Shows better skin retention than ascorbyl palmitate.
  • tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate - (AKA Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate) Stable form of vitamin C that is considered an analogue of L-ascorbic acid. Unlike pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is lipid (fat) soluble giving it excellent penetration qualities
  • magnesium ascorbyl phosphate - is a more stable water soluble derivative of L-ascorbic acid, has the same potential as ascorbic acid

What are the benefits of Vitamin C and its derivatives in Skin Care Products?

  • Protect skin cells and skin's support structure from UV-related damage
  • Improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin
  • Strengthen skin's barrier response
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Promote collagen production
  • Enhance effectiveness of peels and microdermabrasion
  • Lessen hyperpigmentation (at levels of 3% or greater)
  • Boost the efficacy of sunscreen actives

Vitamin C in our skin We have Vitamin C in both our epidermis and dermis (top and 2nd layer of the skin). Ageing causes a decline in the Vitamin C content. Excessive exposures to UV light or pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke and ozone) may also lower vitamin C content, primarily in the epidermis. Topical and oral Vitamin C are optimal for reversing cell damage, collagen production and promoting protection from UV exposure. Should I look for a skin care product containing a high percentage of Vitamin C? More is best right? Maybe not in this case. From studies with a 30% vitamin C product, and a 20% vitamin C product, maximum absorption was received from the 20% Vitamin C solution. Further studies showed higher concentrations had a lower absorption into the skin. Studies show that the best % of vitamin C to look for is between .06% to 10%  

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What Type of Vitamin C is Best for Skin?

Top 2 Vitamin C ingredients to look for in order are:

1. tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate: It is also considered to be more potent than L-asorbic acid and other Vitamin C compounds, and has a higher rate of penetration (because it is oil soluble, like human skin) than other derivatives; it also has a higher rate of conversion to vitamin C within the dermis.

2.magnesium ascorbyl phosphate  - has the same potential as L-ascorbic acid but can be used in lower concentrations, making this ideal for sensitive skins. It is water soluble so does not abosrb/penetrate the skin as well as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. It is far more stable than L-Ascorbic Acid making it no. 2 on my list. Both 1. and 2. have the same benefits as Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) as listed above.

3. Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate - Unlike Ascorbic Acid this form of vitamin C will not over exfoliate or irritate the skin. It is a powerful oil soluble for of Vitamin C ester the tetraester of ascorbic acid and isopalmitic acid. With proven lightening and antioxidant properties this form of vitamin c will prevent collagen cross linking and oxidization of proteins. It has a much longer and more stable shelf life than ascorbic acid. This form is found in the Skin Matrix IQ Serum and the Skin Matrix Skin Perfection Serum.

While L-Ascorbic Acid does, for approximately a week, possess a high degree of bioavailability, it rapidly loses both its stability and its potency, quickly rendering it ineffective. Furthermore, over an extended period of time, L-Ascorbic Acid can cause the very aging that it is being used to treat. If not properly stabilized it can oxidize and cause inflammation, leading to the release of protease enzymes, which are one of the main causes of dermal aging.

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