For a long time, I have been a strong advocate for the use of a topical vitamin C as a morning serum. As I developed my skin care range, it was integral to select the best quality ingredients for superior results for any skin type. Naturally, when formulating the sk.in serums, this superhero ingredient was essential to get skin looking its best.
There are many reasons why I recommend vitamin C as a must-have ingredient in your morning routine:
- Stimulates collagen production which improves elasticity and plumps skin with long term use;
- Improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles;
- Helps to smooth textured or rough skin;
- Reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation and brown marks or blemishes on the skin;
- Reduces the inflammatory response of free radical damage from environmental damage and is a very effective antioxidant;
- Boosts our skin’s sun protection factor and increases the effect of our sunscreens;
Reduces the appearance of red marks produced by post acne blemishes.
Types of Vitamin C
Following from the above we can see why numerous skincare brands use vitamin C in their formulations. It's a daily vitamin for the skin that transforms and heals the skin barrier while adding a straight-from-the-gym glow that is almost supernatural. However, there are several variations of vitamin C and not all skincare brands that include this vitamin will use the same ingredient.
Topical forms of the vitamin C family include:
- L-Ascorbic Acid
- Ascorbyl Palmitate
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate
The most common type of vitamin C used today in skincare preparations is L-ascorbic acid. Having a long history of use in skin care, this has been a go-to for cosmeceutical brands that strive to target skin conditions and signs of ageing. Multiple studies have concluded the effectiveness of L-ascorbic acid, but it has some potential sensitising effects. The following are two negative factors that we need to consider when it comes to this type of vitamin C.
The first is that L-ascorbic acid is water soluble, which means that it flows through and is eliminated from the skin through water channels known as aquaporins. This is a fairly fast process that reduces its effectiveness since it can only work while within the skin.
Secondly, L-ascorbic acid in its natural state cannot penetrate the outer lipid-rich skin barrier. Formulators need to reduce its pH (make it more acidic) to allow penetration or absorption through the skin barrier. Unfortunately, it is this low pH that contributes to skin irritability, sensitivity, and pruritus or skin itchiness.
Two Reasons Why I Chose Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate
When choosing a vitamin C ingredient for the sk.in range, it was first essential to use an ingredient that minimised the chances of a skin reaction, and secondly to find an ingredient that was not affected by the water absorption channels (aquaporins) which would allow for a longer duration of effect within the skin.
Introducing ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate: an oil-soluble or lipid-soluble tetra ester derivative of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). What this means is that in its natural state, it is easily absorbed through the skin barrier and is not eliminated through the aquaporins.
In fact, some studies demonstrate that ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate will remain in the skin cells forty to eighty times longer than ascorbic acid and will have as much as four times the effect (1).
Other recent studies have shown that ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (2, 3):
- Allows for faster percutaneous absorption than other forms of vitamin C owing to its lipid solubility,
- Provides better stability,
- Lowers irritancy,
- Significantly improves facial hyperpigmentation,
- Reduces trans-epidermal water loss,
- Increases skin elasticity, and
- Visibly improves texture and wrinkles.
Considering all of the above and looking at our own studies using the 7th Generation VISIA skin analysis tool with ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (see before and after photos here), you can see why I am a firm believer that this will be the go-to vitamin C ingredient for numerous brands in the future.
From the Dr you trust
- Stabilised Oil-Soluble Vitamin C Derivative, BVOSC, Barnet.
- September 2018 Volume 79, Issue 3, Supplement 1, Page AB222. Pilot evaluation of safety, efficacy, and tolerability of a new topical formulation for facial hyperpigmentation, combining ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate and crosslinked resilient hyaluronic acid.
- Double Blind Half Face Study Comparing Topical Vitamin C and Vehicle for Rejuvenation of Photodamage. Dermatol Surgery March 2002. Fitzpatrick and Rostan.