Vitamin C in Cosmetic Formulations

Florence Barrett-Hill

Vitamin C is always a good choice for the Skin conditions of Collagen loss, Thin skin density (fragile), Diffused redness, Healing assist, Pigmentation, Skin aging and all forms of Environmental Defense, so let’s explore the different types used in cosmetic formulations.

Sensitive skin
Collagen loss

Fact: Types of Vit C found in cosmetic formulations:

  •  L Ascorbic Acid
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Ascorbyl di-palmitate 

Fact: Strongest Action of each Vitamin C:

  • Ascorbic Acid: Interacts with Vit E and other fat-soluble antioxidants, which are in the lipid rich areas of the cell. (Cell membrane) Together they bind to free radicals before they have a chance to damage the tissue.
  •  L Ascorbic Acid: is a lipid (oil) encased version of ascorbic acid. (Usually Vit E) Is a powerful free radical scavenger (anti-oxidant) especially when enhanced by bioflavonoids.
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate: Tyrosinase inhibitor. By inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, a direct effect is had on the formation of the pigment melanin. Therefore is an effective active within skin lightening formulations.
  •  Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Acts as a Collagen type 3 production booster. It appears to strengthen collagen strands, making them more resilient. This form of Vit C is more easily absorbed into the skin cell than ascorbic acid. This type of Vit C is converted by the metabolism into ascorbic acid plus the other important components such as magnesium and phosphorus. (Very important micro-nutrients).
  • Fact: Recently a number of Vit C chelates with magnesium and other groups have been successfully synthesized. The Vit C chelates or derivatives are relatively stable in aqueous solutions so are suitable for cosmetic formulation. After topical application these chelates are readily absorbed by the skin and release Vit C promptly. Different from free Vit C, the chelates of Vit C are not acidic and are very safe to skin.
  • Ascorbyl di-palmitate: The most effective form of Vit C available today. Because it is oil soluble, it is readily absorbed into the active layers of the skin, as a powerful antioxdant to protect the cell membranes and improve the skin’s resistance to the damaging effects of the sun. It has been formulated for the effective treatment of photoageing, pigmentation, problems and freckles and for the maintenance of a healthy skin.

Fact: Tests have shown that 5% is all that we can pack into a serum before it turns brown and crystallizes.

Fact: If you do buy a serum that does not change colour at all over the months, it probably has very little Vit C in it in the first place.

Fact: Despite claims of superior stabilization, all Vitamin C will lose strength after six months, (even if kept cool and away from direct sunlight).

Fact: Some companies surround these Cs with a calcium ion, rather like a protective fence, which further insures their life span.

Fact: Recommended Daily Dietary Allowances (RDA) FOR ADULTS IS 45 MG. (HIGHER DOSES RECOMMENDED DURING PREGNANCY AND LACTATION and persons on prescription medication for schizophrenia or mood disorders).

Fact: Vit C helps the absorption of iron.

Fact: Vit C is a water-soluble vitamin and we do not have large stores of Vit C in our body. We can not metabolize Vit C and are entirely dependent on dietary sources.

Fact: If Vit C is not in the daily diet, then within about six weeks we develop the signs of deficiency of Vit C, beginning with bruising, slowness to heal, bleeding gums and in its most serious form the skin condition called scurvy.

Fact: Vit C plays an essential part in the incorporation of the amino acid proline into collagen and is involved in the formation of elastin. Vit C is also necessary for the formation of cartilage, dentine in the teeth and bone, and it maintains the integrity of our capillaries, and prevents them from bruising.

Fact: Vit C converts inactivated Vit E back into an active antioxidant form of Vit E.

Fact: Vitamin C also protects Vit A against oxidation, improves the benefits of B12 and compensates for deficiencies of pantothenic acid, another B vitamin.

Fact: As we age, we show poor absorption and retention of many nutrients like Vit C and other water-soluble vitamins.

Fact: Ascorbic Acid is unsuitable for people with sensitive skins, because of its exfoliant activity. Use ascorbic acid on thicker skins.

Fact: Ascorbyl magnesium phosphate is more suitable for delicate skin with/and pigmentation problems.

Fact: Topical delivery of Vit C is much more efficient than massive doses or oral supplements. Experiments have proven that Vit C once absorbed into the skin, can not be rubbed, washed or perspired off for three days.

Fact: Vit C is destroyed by ULTRA VIOLET RADIATION. It is denatured in the skin by exposure to UVR and as with Vitamin A will probably develop a chronic deficiency of Vit C in all the areas of skin that are exposed to sunlight.

Fact: The Vit C concentration in sun exposed skin has been found to considerably lower than that in unexposed skin. Experiments also show that the skin gets considerably less damage if significant amounts of Vit C is applied topically before sun exposure.

What destroys Vitamin C?

  • Smoking: Smokers and older persons have a greater need for Vit C. (each cigarette destroys 25 mg) 2 cigarettes will destroy the daily RDA of 45 mg).
  • UVR: All forms of ultra violet radiation will destroy Vit C, but it is particularly susceptible to UVA (sunbeds)
  • Stress: We use up more Vit C when under physical and emotional stress.
  • Oxygen
  • Free radicals
  • Some Medications

To my mind, any type of Vit C is better than no Vit C and it is our best weapon as an environmental defense weapon. Vitamin C is critical for skin health.

Elastin loss
Elastin loss

Skin conditions Vit C is best for: 

  • All forms of Environmental Defense
  • Collagen loss
  • Thin skin density (fragile)
  • Diffused redness
  • Healing
  • Pigmentation
  • Skin aging

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