Vitamin C and its derivatives

In 2020, vitamin C was one of the most googled skincare ingredients. It is easy to understand why – it is effective. L-Ascorbic acid is a well-researched ingredient with proven benefits for the skin. But what if your sensitive skin doesn’t tolerate it? What are some of the vitamin C derivatives? Which one should you include in your skincare routine?

What does vitamin C do in the body?

Vitamin C occurs naturally in the body and helps produce protein and repair the issue. Likewise, it is essential for our immune system. It is present in our skin (epidermis and dermis), but its levels deplete as we get older.

What does Vitamin C do for the skin?

When applied topically, vitamin C has numerous outstanding benefits for the skin.

  • Damage to collagen and DNA are two of the most significant factors that lead to photoaging. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin against UV light and pollution. It does so by neutralizing free radicals, which break down collagen. It protects against UV damage but also reverses the damage caused by previous exposure.
  • Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen. It boosts collagen production and the proliferation of fibroblasts. With regular use, it helps to keep the skin firm and prevent signs of aging.
  • Research suggests it can prevent acne-causing bacteria.
  • Vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which turns tyrosine into melanin. Why is this important? Because it targets the post-inflammatory response that is the cause of hyperpigmentation which occurs after skin trauma. Over time, it helps fade hyperpigmentation and evens out the skin tone.

The lowdown on L-Ascorbic acid

L-Ascorbic acid is an active and purest form of vitamin C. It means our bodies can readily accept it without having to convert it.

While it is a popular and well-researched ingredient, it is unstable and tricky to formulate because it requires a pH of 3.5 to prevent it from oxidising. If a vitamin C product with L-Ascorbic acid isn’t well formulated, it oxidises quickly in contact with air or water. When it oxidises, it loses its effectiveness. It can also cause skin irritation and, can in some cases, trigger breakouts or acne.

Vitamin C and its derivatives

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (also known as SAP) is a water-soluble form of vitamin C and a more stable option. It is also light- and oxygen-stable and requires a pH of 7 to be effective. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a gentler alternative for people whose skin cannot tolerate L-Ascorbic acid. Several of our products contain Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate.
Several studies have shown Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate can be effective against a bacteria that causes acne.

Like Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (also known as MAP) is a water-soluble form of vitamin C. It requires a pH of 7 to be effective.

Ascorbyl Teraisopalmitate (also known as Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate) is an oil-soluble derivative. It requires a pH of below 5 to be effective. It is light and oxygen stable and can penetrate both the epidermis and dermis.

Ascorbyl Glucoside is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C. It combines Ascorbic acid with a glucose molecule. As with other derivatives, it is less potent than Ascorbic acid. However, it still brightens the skin.

While higher concentrations of vitamin C (especially Ascorbic acid) will give you faster results quickly, don’t write off many of its derivatives. Lower concentrations can still give you the results you want, albeit at a slower pace. Continued use also has a cumulative effect on the skin.

Do you use a vitamin C product? What type of vitamin C is your favourite and gives you the best results? Have you explored vitamin C derivatives?

Read more about Ishtar’s products that contain vitamin C.

Learn more about which skincare ingredients go well with vitamin C.

Learn more about why you should include a vitamin C product in your summer routine.

Roberta Striga