As longtime readers of the FutureDerm blog know, we love vitamin C here. Loooove it. But we’re particularly excited today because our Vitamin CE Caffeic Serum is almost here, and for the next week (until March 31) you can pre-order yours! Vitamin C is known for doing all kinds of wonderful things for your skin (particularly when combined with vitamin E!). It tightens and brightens skin, protects from UV-radiation, helps decrease the appearance of sun damage, and works as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger (Cosmetic Dermatology). Our vitamin C includes two kinds of vitamin C: L-ascorbic acid, which is the most commonly used and scientifically-tested form, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which has been found to be one of the best for cell penetration (Dermatologic Surgery). Here’s a look at some of the things it does:
It turns out, if you don't get enough vitamin C, you end up with a collagen deficiency and full-blown scurvy. (I actually know of someone who only ate Ramen noodles through college and ended up with scurvy, but that's another story). L-ascorbic acid — or vitamin C — is necessary for normal collagen formation because it is necessary for your cells to synthesize two components of collagen: hydroxyproline (which stabilizes the collagen triple helix) and hydroxylysine (which is needed to create the intermolecular crosslinks in collagen) (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). But Vitamin C might do even more. The aforementioned study found that, when L-ascorbic acid was applied to human cells in vitro, L-ascorbic acid increased collagen production eight-fold. Though this study was small, others have looked into why this phenomenon might take place. One study suggests L-ascorbic acid may upregulate collagen because it increases the transcription rate of procollagen’s coding genes and procollagen’s mRNA levels (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 10-female participants found that regular application of a solution with 5% L-ascorbic acid increased the mRNA in procollagen types I and II (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). It also increased the inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases, which are enzymes that degrade collagen. Essentially, by telling the genes to speed up the rate of collagen formation, as well as the quantity of messengers sent to do so, application of L-ascorbic acid may result in an increase in collagen.
Vitamin C brightens skin in two different ways. First, vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which is a part of melanin development, in a mechanism similar to hydroquinone (though more weakly). Vitamin C also decomposes pigment within skin itself, melanin (Cosmetic Dermatology, International Journal of Pharmaceutics). In a 1990's study done by Kameyama et al. cited in Dr. Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology, a derivative of vitamin C used on patients with melasma served as a skin lightening ingredient for 19 of 34 participants. Another study comparing L-ascorbic to hydroquinone found that L-ascorbic acid wasn’t as good as hydroquinone at skin lightening (93 percent good/excellent results), but it had fairly good results (62.5 percent good/excellent results) and fewer side effects (International Journal of Dermatology).
When you put concentrated L-ascorbic acid serum on and follow with sunscreen, you’re actually boosting your sunscreen’s power and doing even more to protect your skin. Topically applied vitamin C was found to increase the amount of vitamins in porcine skin, which, in turn, minimized the damage from UVA rays. Researchers found that sun exposure depleted the amount of vitamin C in the skin, suggesting both how it protects and also why topically applied vitamin C can be so beneficial (British Journal of Dermatology). And when it’s combined with vitamin E, it’s even better. Vitamin E works to protect against UVB radiation, while vitamin C is better for UVA (Acta Dermato-Venereologica). Combined, the two offer great broad-spectrum protection. Just remember to add some sunscreen overtop! (For the record, our FutureDerm CE Caffeic Serum contains 2% vitamin E. But, the point of this article is not to talk about ourselves. *cough*)
In addition to adding to sun protection, vitamin C might actually help smooth skin that’s already been damaged by UV rays. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study using five percent ascorbic acid found that it helped to improve the appearance of photo-damaged skin over time (Experimental Dermatology). The study’s researchers hypothesized that over time, application of vitamin C may even activate dermal synthesis of elastin fibers. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants applied a solution with ten percent ascorbic acid and seven percent tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate to one side of their face and a placebo to the other half. The side with the vitamin C had a statistically significant improvement in the signs of photodamage, including the smoothing of wrinkles (Dermatologic Surgery).
What would a look at vitamin C be without discussing it a free-radical scavenging antioxidant? Though vitamin C isn’t as potent as vitamin E or ubiquinone, it’s still a free-radical scavenging antioxidant (Cosmetic Dermatology). And when it’s combined with vitamin E, it creates a synergistic effect that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. That’s because when one antioxidant is depleted it can essentially “borrow” an electron from the other and vice versa, helping both antioxidants work better (Cosmetic Dermatology). Free radicals from sun exposure and environmental damage, as well as lifestyle choice, can accumulate in the body over time and cause aging (in fact, they’re one of the four main causes of aging.) Antioxidants stop the potential chain reaction from free-radicals and help to maintain the skin.
If you don’t have vitamin C in your skin care routine, you should definitely start incorporating it. You can benefit form using a vitamin C serum at virtually any age, whether you need to protect your skin from the causes of aging, or you need to smooth out some of the damage that’s already been done. Pre-order Vitamin CE Caffeic Serum today and be on your way to tighter, brighter, smoother, more protected skin soon!