I am sure you have heard about how essential Vitamin C is for your body, how it can enhance your immune system functions and can protect you from the common cold. It’s also the first supplement that comes to mind when you are about to get sick, isn’t it?
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) can be found in sources like citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and papaya and is one of the most powerful ingredients in nature; it regenerates tissues, protects against heart diseases, contributes to iron absorption and decreases the “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Did you know that it can still be active and have impressive effects when applied topically?
The different faces of Vitamin C
Vitamin C comes in forms of its various derivatives in the marketed products; you can easily recognize them when you see “-ascorb-” in the name of a chemical ingredient. Ascorbic acid comprises the two chemical forms of “D- ascorbic acid” and “L- ascorbic acid”; these two can easily interchange between one another due to their structural similarities but only the “L” form is biologically active. Together with Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, they get easily dissolved in the water but are very unstable when being in form of a solution or when exposed to heat, light and air.
Fat soluble derivatives tend to form more stable solutions. However, some of them are under investigation on if they can be effectively absorbed and released on the skin. Nonetheless, Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate are two effective and stable derivatives of Vitamin C, very commonly used in cosmetic preparations.
So how can Vitamin C help our skin?
1. Stimulates collagen production
Collagen –together with elastin- are the two most important proteins of our skin; they are the ones that are responsible for its natural elasticity and thus, its young appearance. Although when we are young our body produces an abundance of it, its production rates tend to fall as we age. The result? Those fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes, face and later on, all over your body. In multiple studies, Vitamin C was proven to increase collagen production in young as well as aged human skin. It acts by either stimulating its biosynthesis in the body or by stabilizing the collagen molecules after their formation. Consequently, topically applied Vitamin C can work miracles when it comes to firmness and elasticity, can visibly reduce the formation of wrinkles, rejuvenate your skin and let you age gracefully.
2. Protects and repairs skin cells
Skin is the first and outermost barrier that invaders have to pass in order to further harm our body. Skin cells, therefore, are very often subjected to environmental damage most often coming in the form of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, or else, free radicals are created by UV radiation, pollution, stress, cigarette smoke, etc. and are substances that react -and unfortunately destroy- almost everything that comes into their path. Their effect is significantly detrimental on many proteins of the body, with collagen and elastin being among them. Vitamin C is very well known for its antioxidant activity and acts as a free radical scavenger, effectively neutralizing those highly reactive species. This way it protects skin cells from their harmful effects. At the same time, Vitamin C is a very potent immune system booster aiding the natural immune mechanisms of the skin repair the damages that have already been done.
3. Reduces hyperpigmentation
Vitamin C has been also shown to be a fabulous depigmenting agent. It performs its action by interrupting some of the key steps in melanogenesis, decreasing this way melanin formation. Every time a summer comes to its end you may notice one or more brown spots on your face indicating firstly how many hours you enjoyed sunbathing and then some signs of skin damage and ageing. Topical use of Vitamin C can reduce pigmentation damage and dramatically brighten and even your skin tone.
I consider Vitamin C the queen of the Vitamins; Give it a try and you will always seek this “-ascorb-“ in your cosmetics!