Vitamin C is widely used in cosmetics now. It can get confusing which ones really work, which ones are useless. You get bombarded with many marketing hypes, each kind of vitamin C sounding different, formulated in varying amounts.
Vitamin C is of course L- ascorbic acid, and that is the form that works. The problem with L- ascorbic acid is that it is unstable for topical application. When exposed to heat, air, or light, it breaks down quickly, becomes ineffective and even potentially harmful to skin.
Scientists have developed stable vitamin C derivatives with comparable or superior skin benefits. A vitamin C derivative should be able to easily penetrate into skin cells and release L-ascorbic acid in amounts sufficient to boost collagen synthesis. Ideally, it should be less irritating than vitamin C. Three compounds have found their way into the broad skin care market: ascorbyl palmitate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and ethyl ascorbic acid.
|HYAL-C has ethyl ascorbic acid.|
Ascorbyl palmitate is the most widely used oil-soluble vitamin C derivative in skin care. It is nonirritating and more stable than vitamin C. Unfortunately, the concentrations of ascorbyl palmitate achievable in skin care formulas do not boost collagen synthesis.
Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C. It is nonirritating and has a conversion percentage to L-ascorbic acid of over 60%, enough to boost skin collagen synthesis. Overall, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate appears to be a good choice for people with sensitive skin.
Ethyl ascorbic acid is what maybe considered a next generation Vitamin C derivative. It is a highly stable, non-irritating, patented derivative. Ethyl ascorbic acid is the most effective among the three in boosting collagen synthesis and lightening skin, with over 80% metabolized to pure L-ascorbic acid.
Bottomline. When choosing your vitamin C serum, choose the one with ethyl ascorbic acid. Look for colorless or white formulation in an airless bottle. Freshness and proper storage are important. The container should allow you to spot advanced stages of oxidation of the active ingredient by the emergence of a yellowish to brownish tint. There will still be degradation when exposed to light and air, and you don’t want to end up with a useless product.
____________________________________________________________________________This column was published in the May 8, 2012 issue of the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at email@example.com.