There are countless skincare trends come and go, but one ingredient that consistently stands out as a true hero is Vitamin C. This evidence-based potent antioxidant has proven to be a game-changer in the world of skincare, offering a plethora of benefits for all skin types. It should be an essential part of your skincare routine
Understanding Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant naturally found in various fruits and vegetables. When used in skincare products, it offers remarkable benefits for the skin, making it a sought-after ingredient in the beauty industry. Although vitamin C exists in different forms it is the L ascorbic acid that is biologically active.
Types of Vitamin C in Skincare:
Healthy skin requires both water- and lipid-soluble nutrient components, including hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants. There are several types of Vitamin C used in skincare products, each with its unique properties and benefits. Some common types include:
- L-Ascorbic Acid: This is the purest form of Vitamin C and the most potent antioxidant. It helps brighten the skin, stimulate collagen production, and combat free radicals. L ascorbic acid is a water-soluble molecule that is highly unstable and does not effectivity penetrate the skin. However, studies have shown that formulating L-ascorbic acid at pH levels below 3.5 through various methods enhances both stability and penetration Formulating vitamin C with other antioxidants such as vitamin E increases the potency of vitamin C as well as influences its stability. In addition, Vitamin C can also aid in regenerating vitamin E which is lipophilic in nature. The combination of the two vitamins results in a synergistic effect thereby, protecting the hydrophilic and lipophilic compartments of the cell leading to synergic protection against UV damage. On the other hand, combining vitamin C and vitamin E with ferulic acid which is also a powerful antioxidant supercharges the formulation
- Virmain C deravatives
These include, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, ascorbyl-6-palmitate, and dehydroascorbic acid are also available and stable at neutral pH. However, did not increase skin levels of L-ascorbic acid. They are ideal for sensitive skin types, as it has a lower risk of irritation while still offering antioxidant benefits. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate also helps regulate sebum production, making it suitable for acne-prone individuals.
- Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD): It an oil-soluble and has better stability with the ability to penetrate the lipid outer layer of the skin.effective at higher PH so less likely to cause irritation and is converted to L ascorbic acid into the skin It is less likely to cause irritation. This form also offers powerful anti-aging benefits and decreases sun damage, wrinkle formation, and hyperpigmentation. It is also suitable for acne-prone and rosacea skin
So why is vitamin C important for skin health?
Normal skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C, with levels comparable to other body tissues where most is found in the epidermal layers.
Skin aging undergoes a number of changes which include wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and dryness. Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, play a vital role in the ageing process where ultraviolet light is a significant contributor to external ageing through the action of free radicles
Benefits of Vitamin C on the Skin:
Vitamin C’s numerous benefits include:
- Antioxidant Protection: Vitamin C shields the skin from free radicals and environmental aggressors, which can lead to premature aging and skin damage. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that serves to protect the skin against UV-induced free radical damage. Free radicals are toxic, unstable molecules that induce damage to nucleic acids, proteins, and cell membranes. Since radicles are atoms that are missing an electron in their outer shell, they function as scavengers, acquiring their much-needed electron from the skin and leading to subsequent damage. Vitamin C donates their electron to the free radicle thereby, sparing the skin from free radical damage
- Collagen Synthesis: Vitamin C is vital for collagen production, a protein that maintains skin elasticity and prevents fine lines and wrinkles
- Brightening and Even Skin Tone: Vitamin C helps reduce hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, resulting in a more even complexion. Vitamin C inhibits the action of the tyrosinase enzyme that is responsible for the conversion of tyrosine into melanin resulting in a decrease in melanin (Pigment skin cells) production
- Sun Damage Repair: It aids in repairing sun-induced skin damage and offers mild sun protection when used in conjunction with sunscreen. The combination of vitamin C with sunscreen creates a powerhouse of protection against UV radiation as sunscreens do not totally block free radicles produced by UV exposure.
- Vitamin E replenishment Vitamin C is instrumental in the replacement of vitamin E, a much-needed lipophilic antioxidant that serves to protect the cell membranes against oxidative stress whilst maintaining a balanced collagen infrastructure in the skin.
Suitability for Different Skin Types:
The beauty of Vitamin C lies in its versatility. It is suitable for all skin types:
- Dry Skin: Vitamin C’s hydrating properties help combat dryness and boost the skin’s moisture levels.
- Oily/Acne-Prone Skin: Non-comedogenic formulations with Vitamin C can help control excess oil production and minimize acne.
- Sensitive Skin: Sensitive skin types can opt for stable derivatives like sodium ascorbyl phosphate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which are less likely to cause irritation.
Factors Affecting Vitamin C Absorption in Skincare:
The effectiveness of Vitamin C in skincare can be influenced by various factors:
- pH Level: The pH of a product affects L ascorbic stability and absorption. Lower pH levels of less than 3.5 enhance its effectiveness. Penetration into the oil-soluble barrier of the skin is limited due to its water-soluble properties which are repelled by the stratum corneum. (Outer skin layer). Increasing the acidity of the formulation can overcome this limitation which may be at the expense of skin irritation
- Packaging and Storage: Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat. L ascorbic acid is a highly unstable molecule. The ideal packaging to preserve the integrity of vitamin C should be dark, opaque, and in an air-tight pump, or dispenser to deliver a fresh dose of vitamin C with each application and stored in a cool, dark place to retain their potency.
- Concentration: For vitamin C to be effective the concentration must be higher than 8%. Formulations of 20% and above have proved to be effective, nevertheless, they have their limitations as they may induce skin irritation. Higher concentrations of Vitamin C can deliver more potent results but may be better suited for experienced users or non-sensitive skin.
Best way to apply vitamin C:
Vitamin C should be the first thing that you apply on your clean dry skin in the morning to maximise its absorption into the skin. It is an ideal partner with your sunscreen
Vitamin C options to explore:
From a personal perspective, I love products that contain THD in their formulations as they deliver impressive results reducing the risk of irritation to the skin.
Medik8 C-Tetra Luxe is an Intense Serum, a nourishing formula that targets and corrects the visible signs of ageing. Enriched with a potent blend of Vitamin C THD, Red Ginseng, and Maracuja Oil, the antioxidant-rich serum helps to protect against free radical damage whilst brightening and balancing the skin tone. It works to replenish vital moisture deep below the surface, the light and silky formula soothes any irritation and helps to create a softer, more supple skin surface. Expect a hydrated, protected, and glowing complexion.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Serum is a rich, moisturising serum that unleashes the anti-ageing and brightening benefits of Vitamin C to help improve the look of wrinkles, uneven skin tone, firmness, and texture. Powered by THD Ascorbate (an ultra-stable scientific breakthrough ingredient 50 times more powerful than traditional Vitamin C), the serum also contains a 20% concentration of Vitamin C, amplified by the addition of two potent antioxidants. Fragrance-free and non-irritating, the age-defying serum is the answer to a radiant, youthful-looking complexion.
NOVA 15% VITAMIN C + TURMERIC BRIGHTENING SERUM is a potent brightening serum that combines the clinical strength of 15% THD vitamin C with super root turmeric to improve the look of skin gently but visibly. With a silky feel and ginger-like scent upon application, this serum belongs in your skincare routine. It’s also vegan-free, cruelty-free, and suitable for all skin types. This formula utilises the power of Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, a stable form of vitamin C that penetrates the skin at higher PH sparing the skin from irritation
BRIGHT IDEA VITAMIN C + TRI-PEPTIDE SERUM is a budget-friendly option that’s enriched with a high concentration of vitamin C plus tripeptides, this serum delivers your brightest, firmest skin yet. Say goodbye to dark spots and dull complexions with this spa-grade serum that visibly boosts the skin’s natural elasticity, without clogging your pores. It’s vegan and cruelty-free.
SKINHIT BRIGHTENING SERUM WITH VITAMIN C AND PEPTIDES is another super budget-friendly formula if you have not explored the world of vitamin C and wish to dip your toes in gently. This brightening serum helps to boost radiance, even out skin tone, and reduce the appearance of pigmentation. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that promotes collagen production, which helps to support healthy-looking skin, whilst a brightening peptide works to increase luminosity. It’s suitable for all skin types, vegan and cruelty-free.
The Glo Skin Beauty C-Shield Anti-Pollution Drops is an advanced, multi-tasking treatment to help protect skin from environmental aggressors. Powered by 15% vitamin C, the formula works to restore a healthy-looking glow. It helps to defend against damaging external stressors, such as pollutants and blue light, while reviving radiance. A true all-rounder, the anti-pollution serum also seeks to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, all while promoting a clearer, brighter complexion.
The Lumene Nordic-C [VALO] Glow, Boost Essence, combines refreshing hydration and an illuminating effect in one formula for a glass-like finish to the skin. The formula features an antioxidant-rich blend of vitamin C and arctic cloudberry to visibly brighten the skin and protect against environmental aggressors, while hyaluronic acid works in synergy with polyglutamic acid to moisturize dryness. It is also vegan-friendly.
ALLIES OF SKIN 20% VITAMIN C BRIGHTEN + FIRM SERUM has been created with a next-generation 2% citrus cell complex that intensely brightens and firms the skin. Suitable for all skin types, this radiance-boosting formula is a must-have for any skincare routine. Forming a protective shield over the skin against environmental aggressors and pollutants, this antioxidant-rich serum is the secret to your best skin yet. It is vegan, cruelty-free, and free from silicones, sulphates, drying alcohol, fragrances, and essential oils
So the take-home message:
Topical L ascorbic acid is a multitasking antioxidant that plays an integral role against photodamage, collagen production, wound healing, pigmentation, and many more to achieve skin health.
However, L ascorbic acid faces a number of challenges ranging from stability to penetration into the skin. Formulations to stabilise and aid penetration have been achieved, however, may have induced skin irritations at higher concentrations, lower acidity, or inadequate conversion to the active form once penetrated into the skin. Formulating with sophisticated ingredients such as THD can be more effective as these molecules penetrate the oil-soluble barrier of the skin. They do not need low PH to penetrate the skin therefore less irritation to the skin and are converted to the active form L acorbic acid in the skin to exert their beneficial effects. However this technology can be pricy to the consumer but in the long run, has better skin outcomes.
Vitamin C is a skincare gem that caters to all skin types, offering antioxidant protection, collagen synthesis, and a brighter complexion. By understanding the different types of Vitamin C, its actions, and the factors influencing absorption, you can choose the most suitable products to unlock the true radiance of your skin. Embrace the power of Vitamin C, and watch your skin transform into its most radiant and beautiful state