Recently, a reader asked me to review 7-dehydrocholesterol skincare.
Think of it like a natural sunscreen. Your skin naturally contains its own supply of 7-dehydrocholesterol. When you go in the sun, the UV light hits the 7-dehydrocholesterol within your skin. In turn, it photolyses (splits) into a compound called previtamin D3. Your skin’s natural thermal energy changes previtamin D3 into vitamin D3, and voila! You get the anti-inflammatory effects and other benefits of vitamin D3.
Unfortunately, like many compounds naturally found within the skin, the production of 7-dehydrocholesterol decreases with age — another source of natural aging within the skin.
So the question is: How does this skincare compare to that of other skincare products designed to help prevent or alleviate the inflammation caused by UV damage?
The truth of the matter is, 7-dehydrocholesterol skincare hasn’t had the corporate interest (or the funding) Cellex-C had in the 1970’s, so there isn’t as much research backing for it as there is for L-ascorbic acid. If you go by literature alone, there are far more studies on L-ascorbic acid and skin (1635) than 7-dehydrocholesterol and the skin (237).
Of the studies that are available about 7-dehydrocholesterol, most come to the conclusion it is best to advocate for vitamin D supplementation.
That said, vitamins C and E are shown in numerous scientific studies to have beneficial effects for the skin when topically applied, in a manner similar to 7-dehydrocholesterol. They also are naturally found within the skin, but their quantities decrease with age, another similar quality. That said, whereas vitamin E works to protect against UVB-mediated inflammation, and vitamin C is better for UVA-mediated inflammation (Acta Dermato-Venereologica), I don’t know which (long-wavelength UVA or visible UVB) 7-dehydrocholesterol protects against.
I don’t see any reason why not to use 7-dehydrocholesterol, honestly. I think it’s especially poignant to use if you’re religiously using sunscreen and other UV protective methods and are still noticing visible signs of aging. My personal favorite product with the ingredient is Masque*ology Collagen Mask — I use a vitamin CE serum, then this mask, and I just don’t rinse it off in the winter, and I apply sunscreen afterwards.