I C You... Demystifying Vitamin C in Wellness and Skincare
You've probably heard of vitamin C, but ever wonder why it's used in skincare or how it supports wellness?
In 1747 by Scottish physician James Lind discovered that sailors suffering from scurvy , a condition now known to be caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, were provided citrus fruits or juice it led to a rapid improvement in their symptoms of dry, rough, scaly, skin, delayed wound healing, joint pain and swelling, fatigue, weakness, and anemia.
The exact chemical composition of vitamin C was discovered in the 1920s by Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi , who further investigated the amazing substance that could cure scurvy. He originally called it "hexouronic acid" but it was later called ascorbic acid or vitamin C.
Szent-Györgyi was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1937 for his finding, which led to a greater understanding of the role of Vitamin C in human health.
Vitamin C has several important functions in the body. One of the most important functions is its role in collagen synthesis, which is a protein that helps to keep our skin, bones, and blood vessels healthy. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant, which helps to protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Research has shown that Vitamin C can help to prevent photoaging, the premature aging of the skin caused by sun exposure and environmental stressors.
Vitamin C has also been shown to support the immune system and help reduce the risk of developing infections, particularly respiratory infections. It does this by enhancing the production of white blood cells and antibodies that fight off pathogens.
Vitamin C has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce redness and inflammation in the skin. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that topical Vitamin C significantly reduced inflammation in patients with atopic dermatitis.
Vitamin C is also known to brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for dark spots and hyperpigmentation. A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that a topical Vitamin C formulation significantly reduced hyperpigmentation and improved skin brightness after just 16 weeks of use.
Vitamin C has been shown to promote wound healing by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that topical Vitamin C significantly improved wound healing and reduced scar formation in patients undergoing dermatological procedure
While citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are often thought of as the best dietary sources of vitamin C, other foods like bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and spinach also contain high amounts of this nutrient. And humans don't synthesize vitamin C -- we rely on food (and vitamins) to supply it.
Overall, research findings demonstrate the effectiveness of consuming vitamin C for improving the health and appearance of the skin. Topical Vitamin C formulations are widely available in skincare products, and incorporating them into a skincare routine can help to promote a brighter, more even complexion, reduce the signs of aging, and protect the skin from damage.
But formulating with Vitamin C can be challenging. Being a potent antioxidant vitamin C can degrade rapidly in formulations unless it's stabilized. Let's look a bit deeper into vitamin C formulations.
Vitamin C is definitely fantastic for the skin both internally and topically but formulating with vitamin C has its challenges.
Ascorbic acid is a highly active form of vitamin C but it's also readily oxidized. If vitamin C is oxidized then it's no longer active in the formula. You may as well not add it.
To combat this formulators pair ascorbic acid with antioxidants or suspend a super fine powder in anhydrous systems.
Fortunately chemists have found ways to better stabilize vitamin C and create derivates that allow formulators to incorporate it in a stabilized form into their creations -- which means it retains its activity.
Stabilized forms include (but are not limited to): 3-Glyceryl Ascorbate, Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, as well as oil soluble Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate.
Each form has specific usage ranges, temperature, and pH requirements to maintain efficacy.
And what about so called "Vitamin C rich oils"? Vitamin C is a water soluble compound. And while there is evidence to suggest some carrier oils such as strawberry seed, rosehip, or sea buckthorn oils may contain small amounts of vitamin C the amount is typically unknown. So if a formulator suggested their vitamin C serum made with strawberry oil is a rich source of vitamin C, it begs the question -- is it really?
Without a certificate of analysis that actually measures the amount of vitamin c present in a compound how can one know?
When formulating with stabilized Vitamin C compounds it's important for a formulator to know the percent needed for results, pH requirements, as well as stability of the derivative chosen.
Vitamin C is certainly an impressive ingredient to include in formulations and an important part of a healthy diet. But when formulating with vitamin c it is imperative that you know your ingredient.
And what about claims? Skin care and hair care products are designed to approve the appearance of the skin and hair. As formulators we can't make claims about what might be going on inside the cell (such as collagen production or reduction of melanin production).
Vitamin C is certainly an excellent ingredient in skin care but must be properly stabilized with the appropriate pH, antioxidants, or any other specific formulation requirements, and is not present in high amounts in carrier oils, (and honestly I still don't understand how it might reportedly being showing up in carrier oils at all).
Vitamin C is used in skin care to brighten, tighten, condition, and act as an antioxidant for the skin. But formulating with Vitamin C requires knowledge and care.
Do you use skin care with Vitamin C? What are your thoughts?