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What's the Best Form of Vitamin C for Your Skin?

What's the Best Form of Vitamin C for Your Skin?

If you've been using our popular Ultra-C Serum for years and have purchased a fresh bottle in the last few months, you'll have noticed a change in the color and viscosity of the product. We're always looking for ways to improve the efficacy of our formulas and, after a lot of research, decided to change the ratio of the two vitamin C extracts we use.

The result? A creamier product with a lovely pale orange hue that doesn't darken with time and brightens the skin even better than our original formula!

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C for Skin?

Vitamin C, like all vitamins, is something we have to get through our diet, or by applying it topically (to our skin, which can absorb it). Our bodies don't produce vitamins. Vitamin C is used throughout our bodies and is very well absorbed - and used locally- when we apply it directly to our skin, so it's very useful for receiving the many benefits right where we want it- like on darker spots and patches and skin that commonly gets sun damage, like our face, chest and the backs of our hands.

How Does Vitamin C Benefit Our Skin? There are four main ways:

1. Vitamin C protects our skin from environmental damage.

This probably isn’t news to you, but vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. It sops up free radicals in our skin (caused by UV light, pollution, chemical exposure, etc) that would otherwise damage our cells and cause further aging. Free radicals are molecules that have lost their charge and, as a very basic illustration, bounce around damaging our cell walls. Antioxidants are molecules that share an electron with a free radical, stabilizing it and keeping it from causing further damage. So, the more antioxidant rich foods we eat, and the more antioxidants we apply to our skin, the better protected it is from further damage. Fortunately, antioxidants are easily absorbed through the skin!

2. Vitamin C promotes healthy collagen production and helps prevent collagen breakdown.

As we age, our human growth hormones decline and one of their main functions is to build collagen. Collagen is one of the important components that gives our skin strength, thickness and "bounce". Vitamin C plays two roles here- first, it inhibits the enzymes that break down the collagen you already have and second, it's a cofactor for other enzymes that are required to build new collagen. That's a win-win!

3. Vitamin C helps brighten skin and even out skin tone.

We receive many benefits from vitamin C and the most well-known is it's ability to fade dark spots and patches.

4. It smooths rough skin

As we age, our production of new cells slows down and dead skin starts to build up, making our skin look rough and dull. Vitamin C is a very mild exfoliant, helping slough off dead skin cells. When we remove the layer of dead skin cells, a signal is sent deeper into the dermis, telling our skin to make fresh, new cells. Our skin begins to look smoother and literally gets younger! This is why exfoliating is one of my favorite ways to slow the aging process.

Doesn't vitamin C Cause Photo-sensitivity? Is the Best Form of Vitamin C in Skin Care?

L-ascorbic Acid is an active form of vitamin C and works beautifully to smooth rough skin texture and fade dark spots and patches. It also works very well to promote collagen synthesis. 

The problems with L-ascorbic acid and why it isn't in our Ultra-C Serum

Unstable and Prone to Oxidation:
The problem with L-ascorbic acid is that it only works effectively IF you’re able to get it into the skin, and therein lies the challenge. Pure ascorbic acid is incredibly unstable and since it’s an antioxidant, it wants to react with almost everything in its environment. This includes light, heat, oxygen, water, and metals. This means the ascorbic acid in your serum has a high chance of oxidizing before it gets a chance to make it into your skin. 

One way brands and formulators combat this oxidation is by adding other molecules such as vitamin E or ferulic acid to their vitamin C serums. Both are proven to help stabilize ascorbic acid and to make vitamin C more effective. Still, you have to use up any serums containing L-ascorbic acid pretty quickly, or they can go bad.

Irritation:
In addition to stability issues, L-ascorbic acid has a high potential for irritation. It has to be at quite a low pH to remain stable, so this can cause skin irritation (especially if you use products with ingredients such as retinol or exfoliating acids). This makes it a bad fit for sensitive skin types, and it also isn’t recommended if you struggle with acne.

Photo-sensitizing:
When we apply products with L-ascorbic acid, our skin is immediately hypersensitive to UV rays for several hours. This is fine if you're using a vitamin C product in the evening- by morning your skin won't be photosensitive anymore. Just be sure to never use a product with L-ascorbic acid during the day.

What We Use in the Ultra-C Serum

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

This vitamin C derivitive is considered inactive (it's converted to L-ascorbic acid in the skin.). and is more stable than L-ascorbic acid, especially when we encapsulate it in a blend of evening primrose and rosehip seed oils. It offers the same benefits as pure L-ascorbic acid, especially when it comes to skin brightening and collagen synthesis.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a water-soluble form of vitamin C, absorbing quickly into the skin and inhibiting tyrosinase activity, smoothing out the expression of melanin throughout the skin and lessening the appearance of dark / light spots and patches. It’s also gentler than L-asorbic acid on sensitive skin.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD)

Another inactive form of vitamin C, this is my personal favorite form and the superstar of the Ultra-C Serum. What makes THD so different from the other types of vitamin C is the fact that it’s an oil-soluble ester form of vitamin C. This makes it very stable in the bottle and the most stable of all the forms of vitamin C. It has a slower release time than the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, creating a time-release effect so the product works for several hours and slowly, so it's more well tolerated by sensitive skin. It also gives your skin a longer window of protection from free radicals and UV rays.

Since THD is solubilized by oil instead of water, it won’t start to react and convert into L-ascorbic acid until it comes into contact with the oils in your skin. This makes it the most stable of all the forms of vitamin C I’ve mentioned so far. Another benefit of oil solubility is that it has a slower release time than water-soluble molecules. This means a longer window of active vitamin C in your skin, and therefore a longer window of protection.

Why Don't More Brands Use THD?

Honestly, it's very expensive to make and, thus for us to formulate with. This is why our Ultra-C Serum isn't cheap! But it does work beautifully, and even better now than before.

Other Key Ingredients in our Ultra-C Serum:

herbalbright complex  Herbalbright Complex is our proprietary blend of botanicals. Packed with powerful antioxidants, these plants work synergistically to help improve the appearance of sun damaged skin. Natural resveratrol (present in Japanese Knotweed), licorice and lemon peel bioferment help brighten and even skin tone.

Ferulic Acid is a soothing antioxidant that can also help improve the stability and effectiveness of other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. It helps rejuvenate dry, stressed skin and improve the appearance of an uneven skin tone.

Kojic Acid is a gentle exfoliator. It can help brighten skin and improve uneven skin tone. The story goes that it was originally discovered when someone noticed that the hands of Japanese saki makers were beautifully bright and smooth, even though the rest of their skin was old and weathered. Kojic acid can be derived from koji, which is created during the sake brewing process from fermented rice. Ours is obtained from mushrooms.

Uva Ursi (bearberry)  Bearberry (Uva ursi) Fruit also known as kinnikinnick, is packed with powerful antioxidants. The leaves have a high concentration of hydroquinone, primarily in the form of arbutin (Arbutin is a distant relative of hydroquinone, but is totally natural and more gentle on the skin), thus giving bearberry extract its ability to brighten the skin. It can help rejuvenate skin and lessen the signs of aging. This sweet little plant carpets the forests in our Central Oregon mountains year-round. 

lemon peel bioferment  Lemon Peel Bioferment is a prebiotic, supporting healthy skin, brightening darker spots and patches and helping improve the appearance of dull, lack skin. Whole lemon fruits are macerated and incubated with Lactobacillus lacti (the same bacteria used to produce many fermented food products like cheese and sour cream). This ferment is then further processed to remove the potential allergens, citral and geraniol. The resulting ferment is said to have high antioxidant activity.

We're very interested to hear what you think of our new Ultra-C Serum formula and how it works with your skin!

Please take a few moments to write a review, send photos, make an Instagram reel -whatever works for you!

We love to hear your feedback, whether it's positive, constructive or both. It's the only way we know how to keep improving!

 Next, read Angelina's Top Tips for After Sun Skin Care

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