What is ascorbic acid and how does it work in skin care?


Ascorbic acid (that’s vitamin C for most of us) is a common ingredient that, when we take a closer look, is often highlighted on product labels.

While we’re used to seeing it written on the container when we have our morning glass of OJ, you may have noticed recently that it is also making its way into our skincare routine.

Since we’re pretty sure most people don’t walk around worrying about scurvy these days, why the sudden increase in vitamin C use in everything? Let’s take a look at what exactly ascorbic acid is, why vitamin C is good for us, and when and how to use it.

What is ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C)?

In fact, vitamin C (often listed as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid) is much more important than people realize. We’ve all heard that it helps build the immune system to keep us healthy and prevent colds, but it’s so much more than that. According to Mayo Clinic staff, vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of body tissues such as cartilage, muscle, and collagen in our bones.

It also aids the body’s healing process and acts as an antioxidant, which means that it stabilizes oxygen molecules when they lose one of their electrons. More commonly known as free radicals, these occur naturally when the body produces energy. An excess of them, however, can damage other cells.

Vitamin C, in less acidic forms, is also commonly found in makeup, skin care and hair care products. If you check the ingredient labels, it may be listed as Calcium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate, or Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate.

Benefits of ascorbic acid

Many personal care products add weakly acidic forms of ascorbic acid as a preservative. However, more and more cosmetic brands are adding vitamin C as an active ingredient, due to the benefits of its antioxidants. These are said to have all kinds of anti-aging benefits and benefits for the appearance of the skin, which means that vitamin C has the potential to even out skin tone, improve skin texture. skin and reduce or prevent the signs of aging. Here are some of the specific benefits of vitamin C:

  • Prevents free radical damage: As an antioxidant, it prevents damage from free radicals that cause premature signs of aging. It can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Promotes the production of collagen: Vitamin C is an important factor in the production of collagen. According to Dr. Jennifer Herrmann, MD, dermatologist, “Collagen gives our skin support and structure, and as it breaks down with age, we start to notice fine lines and wrinkles.”
  • Reduces discoloration: Dark spots and discoloration are caused by the production of melanin. Vitamin C prevents the production of pigment.

Side effects of ascorbic acid

Depending on the sensitivity of your skin – as well as the concentration and acidity of the product – vitamin C (and its variations) can cause some irritation. If this happens, you can try using the product less frequently. If the irritation begins after the first use or is severe, you should stop using the product immediately. Talk to your dermatologist to find out how to take advantage of the benefits of vitamin C from a product that is less likely to irritate your skin.

When to use ascorbic acid … and when not

Vitamin C is generally considered safe to consume and apply to the skin on a daily basis.

It should be noted, however, that people with consistently sensitive or oily skin may have problems using products containing this ingredient; it’s an acid, so it can cause redness, pain, or other skin irritation. This may be made worse if you use products containing ascorbic acid with those containing other types of acids.

It is suggested that you consult your dermatologist to see which product they recommend for your skin type. Also, try not to use vitamin C products with benzoyl peroxide products or anything containing retinol.

How to use and apply ascorbic acid

As long as your skin is not too sensitive or oily to tolerate it, it is recommended that you use vitamin C every day or every other day. However, there is some disagreement about the best time of day to apply it. Dr Herrmann advises that in the morning or evening is fine, as long as you apply it consistently at the same time of day. Also, if you are using a serum, be sure to apply it after washing your face.

While doctors say serums are more effective than creams at reaping the benefits of vitamin C, Dr. Kristina Goldenberg clarifies this by saying that the form of the product is less important than the form of vitamin C contained in the product. She recommends using the purest form, i.e. ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid. As a final thought, it should be noted that ascorbic acid may also be more effective when combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E.


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