In the heat of summer, who doesn’t want to lie lazily by the pool and enjoy a glass of chilled orange juice? Apart from being tasty, orange juice also contains lots of Vitamin C. As we all know, Vitamin C is beneficial to our bodies in various ways – it strengthens the immune system to protect us from heart and eye diseases, and reduces the risk of cancer or a stroke. But did you know that by applying Vitamin C directly to the skin (normally in the form of serums), it can help reduce wrinkles, fight melanin, heal acne and lock in moisture?
Read on to learn more about this very common ingredient that can do magic for the skin. Beware: There’s a lot of chemistry knowledge involved so I hope you’re a fan of the TV series Breaking Bad!
1. Ascorbic acid – also known as L-ascorbic acid – is the most commonly used form of Vitamin C in skincare products mainly because it’s comparatively stable and penetrating among types of Vitamin C, including non-acid forms such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate and retinyl ascorbate. It’s also the most researched and proven derivative of Vitamin C.
2. Topical Vitamin C treatment improves skin condition in various ways: It reduces the appearance of brown age spots, fades post-acne red marks, boosts the production of collagen, reduces inflammation, and defends skin against UV radiation.
3. Like all antioxidants, ascorbic acid tends to destabilize when exposed to air and light. So when looking for these products with ascorbic acid, choose those in opaque, air-tight bottles or pump bottles, and remember to store them in the shade!
Vitamin C serum before (left) and after (right) oxidation
4. Ascorbic acid tends to oxidize in water. It would be wise to invest in a product in which water is not the main ingredient. Products with ascorbic acid are also less vulnerable to destabilizing with the help of a stabilizing agent, e.g., ferulic acid.
5. Serums may be more effective than creams and lotions. While lotions tend to add phosphate to the ascorbic acid, thereby lowering its pH to 7, serums are able to keep the pH at 3.5 or below, which is the most stable pH value for ascorbic acid in aqueous form.
6. Optimum skin absorption of ascorbic acid occurs at 20% concentration, according to a research from Linus Pauling Institute. TheBeautyBrains.com suggests a 10-15% concentration for normal skincare. A 20% solution can be saved for targeted treatment on specific areas since it may also irritate the skin. The concentration is normally marked by a number after the initial “C” e.g., “Vitamin C5 Serum.”
7. The stability of ascorbic acid is affected by temperature and humidity. You can store your product in the fridge to stabilize the temperature and humidity. This also prevents discoloration, although SkinCeuticals states that discoloration will not affect their product’s efficacy.
8. The power of ascorbic acid is enhanced by combining it with other antioxidants or cell-communicating ingredients such as green tea, retinol or nicotinamide.
9. Ascorbic acid may make your skin more photosensitive, so always wear sunscreen when you go out.
10. Serums using ascorbic acid can cause irritations such as a prickly sensation or redness due to its low pH. If it does, try switching to other derivatives of Vitamin C which may be less effective but gentler on your skin.