Are you getting enough vitamin C?
If you eat lots of fruits and vegetables, then yes, you’re probably getting enough vitamin C.
But your skin? Maybe not. And even if it is? Well, your skin will never be satisfied unless you top up every day with a well-formulated vitamin C serum or cream.
But here’s where it gets complicated. And it always gets complicated.
Once upon a time, back in the day, if you wanted to add vitamin C to your beauty routine, the only option was L-ascorbic Acid, and it was hard to find. Many skincare brands didn’t do it. And you? Well, you didn’t know about it anyway.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to vitamin C for the skin way back in 1985 when the French skincare brand, Ella Baché, launched L-ascorbic acid or pure vitamin C for the skin; each dose came in a glass ampoule to be used 30 minutes after cracking open the little vial. I’ve been hooked on vitamin C for my skin ever since.
Personally? I can’t imagine my life without a high performing vitamin C serum or cream in my beauty routine, but hey, that’s just me.
You see, vitamin C is like a heroic surf lifesaver wading into the depths of the ocean to rescue and resuscitate your skin.
Normal healthy skin contains high concentrations of Vitamin C, but it’s destroyed by daily exposure to light and air, leaving your skin depleted and vulnerable to damage and dysfunction.
You’ll know this as redness, irritation, dehydration, and it may even be a little flakey.
But it gets worse. Sorry. If your skin is left deficient in vitamin C for too long? Well, it’ll become vulnerable to damage at a deeper level, and it won’t look or feel healthy. You’ll begin to notice premature lines and wrinkles, and sagging skin caused by a breakdown of collagen and elastin.
The best source of vitamin C?
Fruits and vegetables? Of course, eating more fruits and vegetables is a very sensible idea. Except the trouble is, the top layer of your skin doesn’t have a natural blood supply. Nutrients like vitamin C coming from your diet take time to reach the surface of your skin, and although your skin does have delivery mechanisms to make it happen, it can be too slow and rarely enough when your skin is faced with the stress caused by the environment.
You can get around this complication if you add vitamin C directly to the surface of your skin. By doing this, you’re saturating your skin with vitamin C and helping to restore the protective barrier function of your skin.
Not only that, but vitamin C protects your skin from the heat of the sun, which activates pigment. Likewise, if your collagen has up and left the building, then a regular top-up of vitamin C with abit of prompting will find its way to where it’s needed in the dermis to rebirth your collagen.
So here we are in 2020, and even though you might be COVID confined and hardly seeing the light of the day, your skin is still going to need vitamin C. Every. Single. Day.
So now that you know how much your skin needs vitamin C, you’ll find if you go looking, it’s everywhere. Just type ‘vitamin C for the skin’ into Google, and you’ll find much to choose from. There’s no excuse. Right?
Except, with so much to choose, what’s best?
There are many types of vitamin C used in skincare.
Let’s start with L-ascorbic acid. It’s still one of the best options. It’s pure vitamin C, and it’s what the skin recognises. It’s a bit like when you eat a big juicy orange. Your body knows what to do with the vitamin C in that orange. It’ll deliver it to every part of your body, including your skin.
But as we’ve already discussed, there are no guarantees, and if the body needs a supply of vitamin C elsewhere in the body in a hurry, it’ll withhold your daily dose from the skin.
So to counteract this, make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C from the fruits and vegetables in your diet, but also be sure you get a daily application in the form of a serum or cream.
But wait. There’s a problem.
Yep, I told you it gets complicated. L-ascorbic acid is not stable; cut open that orange, and within 30 minutes, the vitamin C has sadly disappeared.
And, just like your orange, many L-ascorbic acid formulations are usually in water-based serums. Before long, the vitamin C oxidised, turning your serum brown, and the potency of vitamin C has all but vanished or worse; it’s oxidising on your skin and having the reverse effect and activating free radicals. You don’t want that! No, you don’t.
Your serum didn’t turn brown? I know, sometimes skincare brands add colour to hide the oxidisation. Sneaky. Just check the label for colourants.
So despite the problems, L-ascorbic acid is highly beneficial for the skin. But if you’re going to make an L-ascorbic acid serum or cream your choice, then do your research and find a water-free (anhydrous) serum or cream or a powdered vitamin C that you mix with other serums.
You don’t have time for that?
Sure, of course, you don’t. And you may ponder? With all these complications, why would the cosmetic industry let you down in your moment of need? Of course not. They wouldn’t. You now have options.
And yes, like a restaurant with a hugely extensive menu, you’ve got lots to choose from, but you’re also confused.
There’s L-ascorbic acid which we’ve already discussed, and then there’s Ascorbyl Palmitate which is oil-soluble, which helps with absorption, but it’s still not very stable. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is okay, but primarily there for its antioxidant support, which is okay, but you want more than that, don’t you? And then there’s Ascorbyl Tertaisoplamitate and its cheeky cousin Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate.
So wait, before you get overwhelmed and scurry away, like any savvy waiter, I’m going to make it easy for you and give you the special of the day.
Vitamin C de jour!
Ascorbyl Tetra Isopalmitate is a derivative of vitamin C and is an exciting development providing you with stable ascorbic acid in a lipid-soluble formula. Yay! Its molecular structure is sophisticated, making it easy to absorb, and the uptake and utilisation by the skin make it a highly desirable form of vitamin C for the skin.
Being lipid-soluble has a couple of benefits for you. Firstly, any vitamin C contained within the product will be stable; this is a significant point. No matter how good the reputation of a brand, if the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is not stable, then you’re not only putting something on your face that’s lost its punch, but it could also activate more free radicals. You don’t want that!
Secondly, a lipid-soluble vitamin C formula will provide better penetration into the lipid channels of your skin and will find its way into the deeper layers known as the dermis, where Vitamin C is essential for collagen production. You do want that! We all want that.
And lastly, Ascorbyl Tetra Isopalmitate (ATIP) will inhibit the enzyme that triggers hyper-pigmentation known as tyrosinase. And even if you don’t see the signs of hyperpigmentation now. Be prepared. Every time you venture out in the sunshine, you’re exposing yourself to the heat of the sun, which, even if you’re wearing sunscreen, can activate what’s lying just below the surface, waiting to appear. Get a head start and apply your vitamin C every day under your daily sunscreen.
It’s worth noting that currently, there is very little data to support its cousin Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. While it may have potential, there’s no proof to back it up at the moment. Of course, this could change in the future, but in the meantime, Ascorbyl Tetra Isopalmitate might be your best option.
Environ Focus Care Radiance+ Intense C Boost Mela Even Cream.
This vitamin C cream is part of Environ’s Mela System for hyper-pigmentation. But, you don’t need to go on the whole system to reap the rewards of Intense C-Boost. It’s a cream, but not to be mistaken for a moisturiser, or you’ll find yourself using too much when you don’t need to. Environ has opted for Ascorbyl Tetra Isopalmitate for all the reasons I’ve discussed in this article. It’s stable, potent, doesn’t irritate the skin as L-ascorbic acid can and because it’s lipid-soluble will push through the lipid channels to the deeper layers of your skin. Mix it with other serums, and you’ll find a little will go a very long way. Retail $103AUD
With this duo, you’ll need to mix your L-ascorbic acid with the brightening serum. The brightening serum contains AHA’s, which is perfectly fine and will probably help with the absorption of the L-ascorbic acid. Ella Bache recommends that you mix the ascorbic powder into the serum bottle and use it within 14 days, which may or may not lead to oxidization of the ascorbic acid. Retail $69AUD
Another serum harnessing the power of ascorbic acid is from Medik8. This time it’s ethylated ascorbic acid, which is said to be a stable form of ascorbic acid. Medik8 have also added other antioxidants such as curcumin and vitamin E. Most information I’ve found on the efficacy of ethylated ascorbic acid is from the manufacturers, so perhaps the proof will be in the vitamin C pudding. If you like this brand, it may be worth a try, but remember that it’s oxidised and no longer helpful if your vitamin C turns brown. Retail $89.00AUD
See you next time,