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Everything you always wanted to know about Vitamin C

Posted by Sweetsation Therapy on 18th Oct 2018

image of oranges and brown bottle

Vitamin C has been all the hype in the resent years claiming to do a lot for the skin beauty. Many companies compete for leadership by including higher content of Vitamin C in their products and then making it a prominent part in their marketing. This however creates more questions than answers. So what is Vitamin C and what does it do?

There are many kinds of Vitamin C on the market and with an ongoing research new derivatives of Vitamin C get discovered every day. They vary in Ph greatly (from 2 to 8) as well as not the easiest ingredient to work with. But let’s start from the basic.

Vitamin C. L-ascorbic acid. Ph2-3. Humans are one of the only mammals, together with monkeys and guinea pigs that cannot synthesize vitamin C on their own. It is therefore considered an essential nutrient that needs to be supplied through our diet. A lot of people can be Vitamin C deficient without even realizing it. Deficiency can be increased by mental and/or physical stress, smoking (each cigarette costs you around 25mg of vitamin C), antibiotics, and the regular taking of antidepressants, aspirin and oral contraceptives, as well as over consumption of alcohol and refined sugar.

Vitamin C can be obtained with a regular consumption of many fruits and vegetables naturally containing it. Examples of sources rich in vitamin C are: blackcurrants, red peppers, parsley, leafy greens like spinach, cabbages, broccoli and kale; as well as cauliflower; along with tomatoes, citrus fruits, pineapple, berries, kiwi fruit, and strawberries. Vitamin C comes bundled in lots of delicious foods which we could easily make part of our daily diet. However, bioavailability of Vitamin C in the skin is inadequate when it is administered through ingestion. The use of topical Vitamin C is therefore favored in the practice of dermatology.

Vitamin C and our skin

Vitamin C is not only an essential part of our nutrition; it is also a buildings block in our skin. It is a part of epidermis, the very top layer of our skin responsible for making the pigment melanin in our skin.

Vitamin C is present in the dermis, deeper layer of the skin just beneath of epidermis. This is where fibroblasts make collagen, which in return is responsible for the youthful appearance of our skin. Vitamin C is transported through the bloodstream into the depth of our skin.

So how Vitamin C works in high-performance skin care?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that can provide protection against oxidative stresses by scavenging free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. They can damage various vital molecules in the body such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA. They can occur through the skin’s exposure to toxins and pollutants but mostly occur through exposure to UV radiation (Sun rays). The internal production of free radicals increases with age, while the defense mechanisms that counter them decrease. This imbalance leads to the progressive damage of cellular structures, and results in accelerated ageing.

Vitamin C is an effective free radical scavenger. It provides electrons to neutralize free radicals. It also regenerates vitamin E levels which helps counteract the effects of free-radical damage in the skin.

Vitamin C is a powerful collagen booster. Collagen as well as elastin are proteins and building blocks of the dermis. They are responsible for strengthening and supporting our skin tissue. As we age, these structural components deteriorate which leads to wrinkling and other typical signs of skin ageing.

Vitamin C is a photo protector. It can limit the damage induced by UV light exposure due to its antioxidant function that helps protect the skin from the free radicals. However, Vitamin C cannot be treated as a sunscreen. It doesn’t work that way. Being a powerful antioxidant it still does not absorb light in the UVA and the UVB spectrum. As UV light lowers Vitamin C levels in tissue, topical Vitamin C is best used after exposure to UV light and not before. A combination of amino acids, zinc and Vitamin C has been shown to increase the bioavailability of Vitamin C 20-times compared to using just Vitamin C alone. Although Vitamin C alone can provide photo protection, it works best in conjunction with Vitamin E, which potentiates the action of Vitamin C four-fold.

Researchers claim that a combination of 0.5% ferulic acid (a potent antioxidant of plant origin) with 15% Vitamin C and 1% Vitamin E can increase the efficacy of Vitamin C eight-fold. This is exactly what we use in our BioSensiya Rejuvenating MultiVitamin Night Time Serum, with A.B.C.D.E Vitamins 

It was noted that this triple combination was very useful for the reduction of acute and chronic photo damage, and could be used for prevention of skin cancer in the future.

Vitamin C is a depigmenting agent. As we know, melanocytes in the epidermis make melanin that creates our original skin color and what makes our skin tan when exposed to the sun. As we grow older, our skin tends to get affected by hyperpigmentation, when uneven patches of skin become darker in color in comparison with the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin forms deposits in the skin after a cumulative exposure to the UV rays overtime. Topically-applied vitamin C is safe cosmetic treatment. Vitamin C interrupts the the key steps of melanogenesis (production of melanin). It interacts with copper ions at the tyrosinase-active site and inhibits action of the enzyme tyrosinase, thereby decreasing the melanin formation.

However, Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) is an unstable compound. It is therefore often combined with other depigmenting agents in skin care products. On exposure to light it gets oxidized to Dehydro Ascorbic Acid (DHAA), which imparts a yellow color. The stability of Vitamin C is controlled by maintaining a pH of less than 3.5. At this pH, the ionic charge on the molecule is removed and it is transported well across the stratum corneum. However, for skin care preparations Ph3.5 maybe too acidic and would disrupt skin’s healthy acid mantle.

There are many more stable but just as effective types of Vitamin C:

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) Ph7-8. is the most stable and preferred ascorbyl ester. It’s easily absorbed into the skin. MAP has a hydrating effect on the skin and decreases transepidermal water loss. It is also a free radical scavenger that is photo protective and increases collagen production. Present in Sun Si'belle Broad Spectrum Moisturizing SPF30 Sunscreen

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) – Ph6-8. Is specifically produced for use as a stabilized source of vitamin C in cosmetic products. SAP is the stabilized (phosphorylated) sodium salt of L-ascorbic acid that does not degrade in formulas containing water. Esterification of ascorbic acid protect vitamin C from destruction by oxidation. Light-stable and oxygen-stable. Can improve appearance of aged and fragile skin. Widely used as add-on ingredient in skin-lightening products to correct hyperpigmentation and age spots. Present in BioSensiya Rejuvenating MultiVitamin Night Time Serum, with A.B.C.D.E Vitamins

Ascorbyl Glucoside – Ph2-3. Is also an excellent ascorbic acid derivative. It is produced from Vitamin C and starch by using natural enzymes. Ascorbyl Glucoside has the same biological activity in the body as Vitamin C.It is hydrolyzed into Vitamin C and glucose, which naturallyexists in cell membranes in the body, including skin. It is non-reducible and very stable to oxidative conditions, it is also highly resistant to light and heat. This product is especially recommended for sunscreen, anti-freckling products, and skin-whitening applications.

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate – An oil-soluble stable form, claimed to penetrate skin better than ascorbic acid, ascorbyl glucoside, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. It is approved as a quasi-skin-lightening active in Japan at only 3 percent. Studies have shown it to stimulate collagen production as well as clarifying and brightening the skin by inhibiting melanogenesis (the production of pigment) thereby promoting a more even skin tone. Unlike ascorbic acid, it will not exfoliate or irritate skin.

3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid – Ph4-5.5. A novel vitamin C derivative. It contains the highest concentration of ascorbic acid of any vitamin C derivative (86.3 percent) and has probably the best skin penetration. It claims to be superior to SAP, MAP and ascorbyl glucoside, for skin lightening and requires no enzymatic conversion for skin activity.