Vitamin C is well known for its glow-giving effect while leaving skin with an even texture, tone, and youthful vitality.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, technically known as L-ascorbic acid, is synonymous with skincare. L-ascorbic acid is the purest form of vitamin C and the most available antioxidant in human skin. However, humans cannot produce vitamin C on their own since they do not have the specific enzyme called L-glucone-gamma lactone oxidase-which is needed for its biosynthesis. Therefore, vitamin C is considered an essential dietary component.
The flip side of dietary or oral vitamin C intake is there is no way to guarantee those vitamin C goes directly to the skin. But recent research reveals skin receives the maximum benefits of vitamin C when applied topically. So, many believe using serums and other skincare products with vitamin C is the most effective way to reap its benefits when it comes to skincare.
Vitamin C & Its Derivatives
L-ascorbic acid is the most biologically active and science-backed form of vitamin C. Unfortunately, L-ascorbic acid is highly unstable and quickly loses its natural properties, including antioxidant activity, when exposed to heat light, and air. To improve the stability of the formulations, most skincare companies use different vitamin C derivatives. However, according to the white papers published, these vitamin C derivatives are not equally effective. Some vitamin C forms do not penetrate the deeper layer of the skin-dermis at an optimal level. And, some do not convert to the biologically active form of vitamin C in the skin. For example, the magnesium salt of vitamin C -Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP), the most stable derivative, penetrates the skin poorly. So, MAP is less effective than L-ascorbic acid. MAP is also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from UV-induced damage and promotes collagen production while hydrating the skin. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) also boosts collagen; in-vitro data shows that it works but is less potent than MAP. An oil-soluble form of vitamin C -Ascorbyl Palmitate has no data yet to show it converts to ascorbic acid in the skin. Other commonly available vitamin C derivatives include Ascorbyl Tetra-Isopalmitate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, and Ascorbyl 2-Phosphate 6-Palmitate.
Benefits of Vitamin C in Skincare
What experts say
Although Vitamin C alone can provide photoprotection, it works best in both vitamin C and E (Alpha-tocopherol) products because of synergistic antioxidant activity.
Pairing vitamin C with benzoyl peroxide products is not advised as they can counteract each other’s effects: The benzoyl peroxide can oxidize vitamin C.
Also, it is highly recommended to slather a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or above after applying vitamin C for greater UV protection.