The Power of Vitamin C
Posted on 2nd August 2022Back to news
The Power of Vitamin C
It’s no secret that good skincare is the trick to getting healthy, glowing, and youthful looking skin, but the question is how is this achieved? What should your skincare include? One answer is Vitamin C.
Unlike animals, humans do not naturally produce Vitamin C and primarily consume what we need through food. Diets that are in any way deficient in Vitamin C will impact on the skin so, it is vital to also include it in skincare products for a multitude of reasons. From helping skin cells to fight pollution to the creation of collagen, which is a protein that makes up more than 70% of the dry weight of your skin1.
As consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of Vitamin C, there is a clear trend to its growing popularity. A report by Vogue Beauty2 states “throughout the summer, searches in Vitamin C were at their highest, and this coincided with a reported 30% sales growth in Vitamin C Serums.” Although this study was conducted in 2020, its popularity shows no sign of abating, and phrases such as “how to include Vitamin C into your skincare routine”, “products with”, “serum” etc. are still some of the top searched phrases3 with regards to the ingredient.
The Benefits to Vitamin C Products
The benefits of Vitamin C are constantly being analysed, researched refined making it one of the most studied ingredients in skincare. With it being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory4 that also helps texture, hydration, and reduced sign of aging – it’s easy to see why it’s classed as one of the most powerful and sustainable antioxidants, and brightening ingredients. Below are some of the reasons why Vitamin C is so popular:
- Antioxidant – Vitamin C is a proven (and popular) antioxidant. Due to the fact that it neutralises the skin5 by reactive oxygen species generated on exposure to sunlight, it helps protect the skin from elements such as UV and pollution. As exposure to UV radiation is the main cause of extrinsic skin aging6, the fact that Vitamin C protects skin from stress caused by UV radiation means it is also a great anti-aging ingredient.
- Brightening –Vitamin C can help pigmentation7; not only this but it can smooth the skin’s surface to help reduce dullness and will give a more natural glow. It does this by impeding melanin production, the pigment that is responsible for skin colour. Products including Vitamin C have also been known to help fade dark spots.
- Increased Collagen Production – Collagen production8 has a dependency on Vitamin C; there have been several studies to prove this. Aging skin produces less collagen and therefore the natural elasticity decreases, so adding Vitamin C to skincare routines can help reduce the visible effect, keeping skin looking youthful for longer.
- Moisturising – Vitamin C has been proven to have a hydrating effect on the skin as it decreases transepidermal water loss, allowing it to retain moisture. According to a 2019 study, Vitamin C reduced water loss by 19%9. By improving the skin barrier function, Vitamin C allows skin to retrain the moisture therefore minimising the effects of dry skin and keeping it looking healthy for longer.
- Improves the Dark Undereye Area – Not only does it reduce hyperpigmentation, but it’s also known to improve overall redness and even out skin tone. Specifically, it can help balance out the discoloration10 for your under-eye circles.
Different Forms of Vitamin C
When researching Vitamin C products before use, it’s important to note that there are many forms of the vitamin with varying ranges of stability. Thorough research is essential before choosing the best delivery system for any given formula. Here are just a few different easy ways of incorporating Vitamin C:
- Ascorbic Acid – L-ascorbic acid is the most well-known form of Vitamin C. It is used as a supplement and as a skincare ingredient. Unfortunately, it oxidises quickly and therefore the activity decreases significantly.
- Ascorbyl Palmitate – An oil soluble Vitamin C derivative is made from ascorbic and palmitic acids which is more stable than L-ascorbic acid. Ascorbyl palmitate also provides a moisturising effect because of the palmitate portion of the material.
- Ascorbyl Glucoside11 – Another example of an often-used derivative of Vitamin C which is gentler than pure ascorbic acid. Even though it is less effective than L-Ascorbic Acid, it still delivers similar results to other Vitamin C derivatives.
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate12 – These two ingredients are examples of oil soluble Vitamin C forms. Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is causing confusion in the industry as it is usually mistaken with Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate due to these materials having the same CAS number, even though their structure differs: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate has a bent arm structure, whereas Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate has a straight arm structure. Both materials are more stable derivatives which are highly effective.
- Ethyl Ascorbic Acid13 – One of the most stable, water soluble Vitamin C derivative. It is also less irritating than Ascorbic Acid.
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate – A stable precursor14 of Vitamin C and has the ability to constantly deliver Vitamin C into skin. A drawback of this derivative is that it will discolour the formulation if pH16 falls under 615, which is very limiting.
Drawbacks of Vitamin C in Skincare Products
Whilst there are many benefits to include Vitamin C within a skincare routine, there are also drawbacks to consider. Here are just a handful to look out for:
- Itching & Sensitisation – Mild skin reactions (itching or redness) are usually caused by the dosage in the product being too high. Sensitive skin products may need to use a lower concentration16. However, it’s important to note that if you do use Vitamin C, you may find the effects decrease over time.
- Can Increase Oxidative Stress – Whilst Vitamin C is known to protect from UV and pollution stress because of its antioxidant property, it is worth noting that high doses can have the opposite effect. In a recent study17, it was found that low doses protect cells from oxidative stress but induces oxidative stress and cell death at high doses.
- Oxidises & Degrades Quickly – Vitamin C oxidises18 quickly when exposed to air. So, whilst it’s beneficial for the skin, it means that your product must be packaged in a dark bottle, preferably with an amber dropper. If the product has excessive exposure to sunlight, it may make it unstable therefore, when using products with this ingredient, it is important to use a sunscreen to create an extra barrier to protect your skin and allow you to receive the benefits of Vitamin C.
- Can Cause Skin Dryness – Whilst low dose products are moisturising, high concentration and overuse can trigger dryness20 and can be the cause of breakouts. It’s suggested pairing it with products such as Hyaluronic acid which will minimise this side effect by creating a moisture barrier.
Jarvis Cosmetic Developments & Vitamin C
Whilst there is no doubt that Vitamin C is a powerful tool that should be considered when developing skincare routine, informed and focused research is vital as part of the product brief. Whether it’s a product to gain bright, youthful, or glowing skin; it is necessary to understand what dosage and form is ideal for you. This will help maximise the benefits whilst minimising the chance of any side effects – particularly skin irritation. If you would like to discuss this topic further with our industry experts, please get in touch.