Why is Vitamin C Recommended so Often by Most Dermatologists and Skin Experts?
Vitamin C is one of the most popular skincare ingredients, and for a good reason. This potent antioxidant offers a wide range of benefits for the skin, making it a go-to choice for most dermatologists and skin experts. In this blog, we'll explore the reasons why vitamin C is highly recommended and why you should consider incorporating it into your skincare routine.
First and foremost, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from environmental stressors such as pollution, UV radiation, and free radicals. These stressors can lead to oxidative damage, which causes premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and other skin issues. By neutralizing free radicals, vitamin C can help prevent or reduce these effects and promote healthier, more radiant skin.
Vitamin C is also known for its ability to brighten the skin and improve its texture. It inhibits the production of melanin, which can cause dark spots and uneven skin tone. By reducing melanin production, vitamin C can help even out the skin's tone and provide a brighter, more youthful appearance. Additionally, vitamin C has been shown to stimulate collagen production, which can improve skin texture and elasticity, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Another benefit of vitamin C is its ability to hydrate the skin. By improving the skin's moisture barrier, vitamin C can help prevent water loss, keeping the skin plump and hydrated. This makes it an ideal ingredient for those with dry or dehydrated skin.
What is the Most Popular Vitamin C Ingredient in Skincare?
Ascorbic acid is the most active and effective form of vitamin C. It's also almost always trending. And that's why it's used so much in skincare formulations, despite its problematic nature.
Ascorbic acid is unstable and has a low pH, which makes it difficult to formulate and use in skincare products. It can degrade quickly, losing its efficacy and turning brown, and its low pH can cause irritation and sensitization in some individuals.
Despite these issues, many skincare companies still choose to use ascorbic acid in their products because of its popularity. Dermatologists are always referencing the hundreds of studies done on the efficacy of the ingredient (many of which are in-vitro- a Petri dish, rather than human skin). Most of the studies are proving efficacy, but not paying too close attention to longterm ramifications with regard to sensitivity and irritation.
Manufacturers may use stabilizers or other ingredients to increase its stability and reduce irritation potential. This might solve the formulation problem, but that doesn't make it any more suitable for human skin. The more ingredients in the formula, the more susceptibility to irritation and increased toxic load.
But what about those with sensitive skin? While vitamin C is a powerful ingredient, its most active form, ascorbic acid, can be problematic for those with sensitive skin. It is unstable and has a low pH, which can cause irritation and sensitization. Fortunately, there are other forms of vitamin C that are better tolerated by sensitive skin. Let's discuss these alternative forms of vitamin C and their benefits.
What are the Best Vitamin C Ingredients for Sensitive Skin?
1. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)
MAP is a water-soluble form of vitamin C that is more stable than ascorbic acid. It is also less irritating and better tolerated by sensitive skin. Studies have shown that MAP is effective in reducing hyperpigmentation, improving skin elasticity, and increasing collagen synthesis (1). In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, MAP was found to be effective in reducing fine lines and wrinkles after 12 weeks of use (2). You can find this ingredient in one of our top favorite serums; Versine Gentle Actives Clarity Serum. Ideal for all skin types, including oily, problematic skin, as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women.
2. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD)
THD is an oil-soluble form of vitamin C that is more stable than ascorbic acid. It is also less irritating and better tolerated by sensitive skin. THD has been shown to improve skin tone and texture, reduce hyperpigmentation, and increase collagen production (3). In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, THD was found to be effective in reducing fine lines and wrinkles after 8 weeks of use (4). That's the active ingredient in Kari Gran Vitamin C Serum, which is ideal for dry skin types. And in Odacite Night Cream, ideal for all skin types.
3. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP)
SAP is a water-soluble form of vitamin C that is more stable than ascorbic acid. It is also less irritating and better tolerated by sensitive skin. SAP has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve the appearance of acne-prone skin (5). In a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, SAP was found to be effective in reducing the appearance of dark spots and improving skin radiance after 12 weeks of use (6). This ingredient can be found in the cult favorite Agent Nateur Holi (lift) Ageless Lifting and Firming Serum.
4. Ascorbyl Glucoside (AG)
AG is a water-soluble form of vitamin C that is more stable than ascorbic acid. It is also less irritating and better tolerated by sensitive skin. AG has been shown to have antioxidant properties and can improve skin tone and texture (7). In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, AG was found to be effective in reducing hyperpigmentation after 12 weeks of use (8).
5. Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (ATIP)
ATIP is an oil-soluble form of vitamin C that is more stable than ascorbic acid. It is also less irritating and better tolerated by sensitive skin. ATIP has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can improve skin tone and texture (9). In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, ATIP was found to be effective in reducing fine lines and wrinkles after 8 weeks of use (10).
6. Ascorbyl Palmitate
an oil-soluble form of vitamin C that hits at about 5 on the pH scale. While it is considered the least potent form of vitamin C in skincare, it tends to be much less irritating than ascorbic acid. This can be found in One Love Organics Botanical C Facial Serum.
7. Calcium Ascorbate
It has a pH of 7.4, which can have a hydrating effect on the skin and is generally non-irritating.
8. Sodium Ascorbate
It has a pH of over 7 (between 7.3 and 7.6), is pure ascorbic acid but is less irritating to the skin. It tends not to irritate sensitive skin.
All of these forms of vitamin C have the benefit of being less irritating than ascorbic acid. Therefore, they can be better for sensitive skin. However, it's essential to keep in mind that your body will convert all of these forms to ascorbic acid before your skin can use them.
Additionally, some studies suggest that these alternative forms of vitamin C can provide various benefits to the skin. For instance, sodium ascorbyl phosphate has shown in vitro and in vivo efficacy in the prevention and treatment of acne vulgaris (Klock et al., 2005). Meanwhile, a study has found that a sodium ascorbyl phosphate-containing facial cream can improve skin color and pigmentation (Lee & Lee, 2010).
Moreover, combining different forms of vitamin C with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E or ferulic acid, can improve the photoprotection of the skin (Lin et al., 2003; Lin et al., 2005; Telang, 2013). Additionally, niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, has been shown to reduce cutaneous pigmentation and suppress melanosome transfer (Hakozaki et al., 2002).
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for healthy skin. Ascorbic acid is the most commonly used form of vitamin C, but it has some drawbacks, including sensitivity, instability, and a low pH. Fortunately, there are other forms of vitamin C that are more stable and better tolerated by sensitive skin. MAP, THD, SAP, AG, and ATIP are all effective forms of vitamin C that can improve skin tone and texture, reduce hyperpigmentation, and increase collagen production. If you have sensitive skin or are looking for a more stable form of vitamin C, consider trying one of these alternative forms.
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Klock, J., Ikeno, H., Ohmori, K., Nishikawa, T., Vollhardt, J., & Schehlmann, V. (2005). Sodium ascorbyl phosphate shows in vitro and in vivo efficacy in the prevention and treatment of acne vulgaris. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 4(4), 250-257.
Campos, P. M., Gonçalves, G. M., Gaspar, L. R., & Martinez, M. B. (2008). Evaluation of the efficacy of cosmetic formulations containing vitamin C and its derivatives, by non-invasive methods: a study of skin pharmacology. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 7(2), 69-77.
Lin, J. Y., Selim, M. A., Shea, C. R., & Grichnik, J. M. (2003). UV photoprotection by combination topical antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 48(6), 866-874.
Fitzpatrick, R. E., & Rostan, E. F. (2002). Double-blind, half-face study comparing topical vitamin C and vehicle for rejuvenation of photodamage. Dermatologic surgery, 28(3), 231-236.
Telang, P. S. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian dermatology online journal, 4(2), 143.
Lee, W., & Lee, H. (2010). Effect of a sodium ascorbyl phosphate-containing facial cream on skin color and pigmentation. International journal of cosmetic science, 32(5), 370-377.
Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866.
Hakozaki, T., Minwalla, L., Zhuang, J., Chhoa, M., Matsubara, A., Miyamoto, K., ... & Bissett, D. L. (2002). The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. British Journal of Dermatology, 147(1), 20-31.
Lin, F. H., Lin, J. Y., Gupta, R. D., Tournas, J. A., Burch, J. A., Selim, M. A., ... & Grichnik, J. M. (2005). Ferulic acid stabilizes a solution of vitamins C and E and doubles its photoprotection of skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 125(4), 826-832.
Tatsuta, M., Itoh, Y., & Ezure, H. (2005). The effect of ascorbic acid and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross‐linking by cultured human fibroblasts. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 4(4), 238-244