We all know Vitamin C is great for skin but you might not have known why? It works to repair damaged skin cells by cleaning up toxins known as oxygen “free radicals” which are formed when skin cells are exposed nasties from radiation from the sun or cigarette smoke. That’s why we call Vitamin C an “anti-oxidant”.
When applied directly to the skin, Vitamin C reduces pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, skin roughness and protects from UV radiation and also promotes collagen growth. The thing is it has to be the right form of Vitamin C and here’s where it gets complex.
When it comes to skincare, getting a decent Vitamin C product is without a doubt the hardest.
Strictly speaking, Vitamin C refers to Ascorbic Acid. However in the world of skincare, many other compounds (sometimes referred to as “Stabilised Vitamin C”), such as Ascorbyl Palmitate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Ascorbyl Phospate, Tetrahexadecyl Ascorbate are called “Vitamin C” too. Most dermatologists agree that the only effective form of topical Vitamin C is Ascorbic Acid and not the stabilised form.
Why manufacturers use these ineffective forms is pretty simple. Ascorbic Acid is unstable and oxidises in the presence of light, water and air. These other forms of Vitamin C mightn’t work, but they don’t go off and they’re usually much cheaper to manufacture.
Studies show that it’s not enough to have Ascorbic Acid; it needs to be in an acid environment with a pH somewhere around 3.5. Ascorbic acid also needs to be at around a 10% concentration.
It also needs to be “fresh” and not have oxidised. Look for either a clear or light yellow colour. If the product is orange or brown, do not use it! Off Vitamin C can potentially cause more damage to the skin. To keep Ascorbic Acid stable, it has to be in an oil base (not water based), and it has to be in an airless, opaque bottle.
So what should I look for in a vitamin C skincare product?
Here are the key things that to look out for when shopping for Vitamin C;
- Look for ASCORBIC ACID in the ingredient list
- It must be clear or pale yellow. If the first ingredient on the ingredient list is water, the product will not be stable and will go off.
- The first ingredient should be an oil.
- If the concentration of Ascorbic Acid is quoted as being greater than 10% and there is water in the ingredient list, it will need too much water to dissolve it. That means – you guessed it, it will go off.
- Look for an opaque, airless pump packs. Droppers let oxygen in and it will be off in weeks!
If you are looking for a new Vitamin C product to try, our Reverse C Serum is extremely popular!
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Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2004, Raschke et. al
Journal of drugs in Dermatology, 2012, Xu et. al
Journal of Dermatological Science, 2012, Aguilera et. al
 Skin Research and Technology, 2008, Campos PM, Gonçalves GM, Gaspar LR.
Journal of photochemistry and photobiology, 2012, Tsai FJ, Wang YD, Chen CC, Hsieh C, Cheng ZJ, Wu YJ.