The truth about Vitamin C in skincare!

Just one more day and it's Friday! (I can't wait myself, I'm looking forward to a weekend of paperwork :-)

Let's talk about Vitamin C! It's one of the most popular additives in skincare products today. So let's get to the truth of it. First of all, we need this vitamin to be healthy overall. Ever heard of scurvy? Well, that's a disease caused by lack of vitamin C: you get spotty skin, bleeding gums, falling teeth, and that's just a few of the symptoms!

Vitamin C is known as L-ascorbate (ascorbic acid). Some other derivatives are ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbyl phosphates. Most derivatives are more stable than the pure form of L-ascorbate vitamin C, however, some derivatives are more potent, while others like ascorbyl palmitate are not nearly as potent. Nonetheless, each form has its pluses and minuses. We'll get into that in later posts!

Two clear effects of vitamin C on the skin:
1. Needed to make collagen. You're fibroblasts need vitamin C to produce collagen in normal/increased amounts.
2. Needed to protect your skin from free radical damage. Vitamin C is a great anti-oxidant.

So yes, vitamin C is great for skin cells. But don't start rubbing oranges on your face just yet, of course there's a catch!

The problem with vitamin C is two-fold.
1. It's not very stable in skincare products.
2. You need high concentrations of it to even have a chance to work by actually penetrating your skin.

Vitamin C and it's derivatives can become oxidized when exposed to air. Not only will this cause it to lose its efficacy, once it is oxidized it can do a backstabbing number on you. It may actually increase the amount of free radicals. Don't get too concerned with this, just make sure that you are using fresh products. Never use vitamin C containing products that are expired! And if a formula or cream changes color on you, this is NOT a good sign, throw it out ASAP, or, better yet, return it if you can.

So what can you do?
1. Make sure your product is fresh. Never used expired products (whether or not they contain vitamin C).
2. For the maximal benefits of Vitamin C, use a product with more than one type of Vitamin C in it.
3. I'd suggest using a product that contains tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate as one of the active forms of Vitamin C. It's a more potent form, less irritating, more stable, and better absorbed by the skin. The research on it, however, is limited. PLEASE NOTE: this ingredient is inexpensive. Don't get suckered into paying a lot of money for it. Case in point: The vitamin C product line of Dr. Perricone contains this form of vitamin C, but at rip-off prices.

More suggestions
And don't try to overload on Vitamin C pills, overloading will NOT increase the levels of vitamin C entering your skin cells and won't do any good. Research has already shown this!

Oh yeah . . . it's my duty as a doctor to tell you this too . . . If you smoke, please quit. It's been proven that the levels of vitamin C are diminished in the body overall. This means that smokers are preventing Vitamin C from having its maximal effect within the body at all times.

Dr. David M.D.


Anonymous said...

Hi doctor,

Interesting article about vitamin C. Which brand will you recommend.
I have been looking at Elizebeth Arden white sheer capsule. Would you recommend them..thanks


Rachael said...

Better info on your blog than what I have seen so far elsewhere. Thanks for sharing and... Keep up the good work. I know from experience it's not always easy! :-).

Eco Bags

Anonymous said...

I see this post was written some years back. I bought a product that contains ascorbic acid 10% which I believe is the highest you can without a doctor, ferulic acid .5% and Glutathione 1%. The cost was 69.00.
I don't really see a difference. Can you comment on this mix?
I have sold Avon for years and study ingredients. It used to be much eaiser but getting harder to understand what is what.