Demand for non-invasive skin treatments to stop or reverse skin damage is at an all-time high. Baby boomers and younger professionals alike are looking for non-toxic ways to enhance their appearances. The market response is a sharp increase in anti-aging products. Following successful studies, one of the most popular ingredients in these products is vitamin C.
Unfortunately, many of the ascorbic acid products on the market lack efficacy. Some may even cause additional damage by containing an oxidized for of vitamin C. Continue reading for the science behind the topical use of ascorbic acid and a look at the qualities of topical applications for skin care.
A 2002 study appeared in the peer-reviewed Dermatologic Surgery. Researchers used the double-blind model to test an ascorbic acid preparation on half the face of participants. Their tests used biopsies for types of collagen, participant satisfaction, and clinical observation of changes. Results showed overall facial improvement and increased collagen for all participants.
The most important part of this study, after the astoundingly universal results, is the ascorbic acid preparation. You will not see the same results with lower quality preparations. Participants were given an anhydrous polysilicone gel base containing a fat-soluble, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate at 7 percent concentration and water-soluble ascorbic acid at 10 percent concentration. The importance of this preparation is made clear below.
Importance of Concentration
Every type of medicine requires a minimum dose for effective results. The 10 percent concentration used by researchers in the above study was maximally effective after 12 weeks of use. Lower concentrations may take longer or fail to show results at all. All skin products should first be assessed based on the concentration of the active ingredient.
Instability of Ascorbic Acid Preparations
Vitamin C works well on skin in large part due to its rapid rate of oxidation. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals. The more of these toxic compounds that are neutralized, the faster vitamin C loses its potency. At maximum oxidation, it is eliminated from the body.
This introduces a couple of problems. Vitamin C oxidizes so readily that mere exposure to air or moisture causes rapid decomposition. Expiration dates on ascorbic acid preparation are extremely important, but expiration occurs more rapidly with containment in oxygen-rich, humid, and warm environments. Refrigerator storage is generally a good idea, regardless of the base. Choice of base is also important. This substance may serve to prevent rapid oxidation, which allows time for the vitamin C to work on the skin.
The most reliable products have minimal ingredients and are understandably more expensive. Another thing to watch for is storage instructions. If a product lacks storage instructions as listed above, it is likely of low quality. Ascorbic acid also changes color at high degrees of oxidation, from its colorless state to a yellow. Some companies add a coloring agent, which serves to mask this change, and these products should be avoided.
Vitamin C is proven in studies to build collagen and reverse skin damage. you must take care in choosing products, however, with special attention to concentration, base, other ingredients, and storage instructions.