Topical vitamin C treatments can definitely help make your skin look and feel better.
When used on a daily basis, it can help brighten dull skin, even out skin tone, hydrate skin, and protect it from pollution. Vitamin C is found at high levels in the epidermis (outer layer of skin) as well as the dermis (inner layer of skin). Its cancer-fighting (antioxidant) properties, and its role in collagen production help keep your skin healthy. This is why vitamin C is one of the key ingredients found in many antiaging skin care products.
Clinical Research suggests that vitamin provides a small amount of UV protection when applied topically, vitamin C and reduce sunburn caused by exposure to ultraviolet B radiation and prevent the consequences of long-term sun exposure, which can lead to skin cancer This doesn’t mean you can take vitamins or apply topical vitamin C and then bake safely in the sun, but you can help keep your skin healthy and supple by making sure you get enough of this antioxidant vitamin.
Applying a Vitamin C serum during daytime can give your sunscreen an extra boost. This is partly why many people recommend using vitamin C during the day instead of at night. It usually takes around 6 months of consistent vitamin C use to start seeing results.
Types of Vitamin C
Not all vitamin C is the same. There are different types of vitamin C actives and these include l-ascorbic acid, Sodium Asorbyl Phosphate, Eester C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), ascorbyl palmitate, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.
L-ascorbic acid is the most powerful one out of all of them, but it is also the one that destabilizes the easiest and needs to be formulated at a very low pH which can increase the sensitivity of your skin.
Some people, like my grandmother, think rubbing a lemon on your skin (or on dark knees or other pigmented spots) is a cheap way of getting vitamin C. However, vitamin C straight from a lemon probably isn’t as easily absorbed and utilized by your skin as well-formulated C actives. Besides, other ingredients and acids in a fresh lemon can really irritate your skin. If you are going to use a vitamin C product, it’s best to use one in a form your skin can use with the least amount of irritation.
Vitamin C Stability and Effectiveness
One of the bad things about Vitamin C is that it oxidizes very easily. When a C serum oxidizes, it turns yellow or orange and loses its effectiveness. Proper product formulation can extend the stability of a C serum and the packaging of the product is so important to keep the product safe that is why we use airless containers so reduce external contamination.
Our Vitamin C serum is lovely yellow colour because we add Calendula & Rosehip Co2 Extracts, both have strong yellow hues and gives our serum this wonderful colour.
Besides having good stability, a C serum will only be effective if it is at the proper concentration and pH. As mentioned previously, for L-Asorbic acid to be stable in a formulation, the ph level needs to be at around 3, which is very acidic as our skin’s own acid mantle is somewhere in the region of 5 – 6ph. Using a product at this low pH is fine for some skin types but if your skin is sensitive, then this low ph product will increase the sensitivity of skin and cause redness.
We use a skin friendly “Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate” which converts to vitamin C on the skin, and this is stable at a ph of around 6 to 6.5, which is just right for the skin.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate has been studied for human toxicity and found to be safe. Ascorbic acid and many of its derivatives at the 5% level were found to be:
• not carcinogenic
• able to be used on sensitive skin
• a non-irritant to our skin
• safe to use topically on our skin
What can Vitamin C do for my skin?
Upon topical application, it has been observed that SAP is converted to Vitamin C by chemicals within the skin.
Long-term topical use has been clinically shown to regenerate collagen and improve the appearance of wrinkles. Vitamin C is also known to lighten pigmentation and brighten over all skin tone with SAP (sodium Asorbly Phosphate) at >3%.
Vitamin C can help protect the skin from UV damage but does not work as a sunscreen and studies have shown it can repair the skin post UV exposure. It is also excellent in improving acne – several clinical studies have demonstrated that sodium ascorbyl phosphate is a potent antibacterial agent. In one clinical study testing topical application of sodium ascorbyl phosphate over twelve weeks earned a qualitative score of “excellent” in improvement of acne as reported by 76.9% of trial participants, outperforming a leading acne treatment by a wide margin
Another study demonstrated that 5% Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is efficacious for the treatment of acne. A lotion with 5% demonstrated statistically significant improvement in acne treatment. (We use 5% Sodium Asorbyl Phosphate in our Hydra Intense Vitamin C Serum)
Vitamin C works beautifully with other beneficial ingredients too, such as retinol (Vitamin A) which can be found in our Renewal Night Oil Complex and niacinamide (Vitamin B3) in our Vitamin B3 creams.
Side Effects and Precautions
Despite all the raves and glowing reviews, vitamin C products don’t work for everyone. For some people, vitamin C can cause redness and stinging upon application. Usually your skin gets used to the treatment and this kind of irritation will subside. However, sometimes you have to downgrade to a less potent C serum to make it more tolerable. Others even experience allergic reactions, such as itchy red bumps, and cannot use vitamin C at all. It all depends on your skin and how it handles the antioxidant.
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate(SAP), because it is converted to Vitamin C in the epidermis after topical application, delivers similar benefits as Vitamin C. Topical vitamin C is highly beneficial for our skin and has a wide range of skincare applications including:
• as a powerful antiaging agent in reducing wrinkles and fine lines
• in pigmentation reduction by preventing the formation of melanin
• in antioxidative photodamage repair, protects skin from free radicals
• in the synthesis and stabilization of skin collagen and elastin
• as a natural skin moisturizer
Nayama S, Takehana M, Kanke M, Itoh S, Ogata E, Kobayashi S. Protective effects of sodium-L-ascorbyl-2 phosphate on the development of UVB-induced damage in cultured mouse skin. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999;22(12):1301-1305. [PubMed]
Wang K, Jiang H, Li W, Qiang M, Dong T, Li H. Role of Vitamin C in Skin Diseases. Front Physiol. 2018;9:819. [PubMed]
Smaoui S, Ben H, Adel K. Application of l-Ascorbic Acid and its Derivatives (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) in Topical Cosmetic Formulations: Stability Studies 1. JChemSocPak. 2013;35(4):1096.
Woolery-Lloyd H, Baumann L, Ikeno H. Sodium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate 5% lotion for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2010;9(1):22-27. [PubMed]