By Jessica Goniea
Vitamin C has a long standing reputation as one of the strongest antioxidants in skin care. Antioxidants protect the skin against external aggressors, namely UV exposure, but also environmental pollutants and harsh chemicals, or xenobiotics. We call this kind of attack on the skin “Oxidative Stress” (OS). “Extrinsic aging is driven to a large extent by oxidative stress caused by UV irradiation” (1). This blog will take a peak into Vitamin C products and how they work to improve skin appearance and function. While DNA, hydration, and lipids are all compromised by OS, I will be highlighting only the destruction of important proteins in the skin. I will discuss two different types of Vitamin C, l-Ascorbic acid and Tetrahexyldexcyl Ascorbate, and their powerful ability to keep the skin youthful.
The top layer of the skin, the epidermis, is equipped to deal with moderate exposure. It even contains its own Vitamin C! The second layer of skin (the Dermis), however, is more vulnerable to such stressors and the visible signs of aging. In the epidermis, it is the protein rich keratinocytes and corneocytes that are affected. Oxidative stress alters the “cornified envelope” (2) around cells, lessens its antioxidant capacity, and reduces the strength of its barrier function (1). In the dermis, it is the collagen and elastin that are negatively impacted by OS. These proteins provide strength, support, and flexibility to the skin but are disrupted by OS. Fine lines and wrinkles are the result.
Topical antioxidants, like Vitamin C, enhance the skins natural defenses (3) by providing sustained protection and reducing inflammation. The Eminence Organics Citrus & Kale Potent C + E Serum contains a 16% stabilized Vitamin C. 10% comes from l-Ascorbic Acid, 3% comes from Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and 3% is from leafy greens and citrus oils. l-Ascorbic acid is notoriously unstable so Ferulic Acid from Bran and Vitamin E from Avocado have been added. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is actually as salt that the skin converts to Vitamin C. Without adding Vitamin C to the skin, it has been shown that protein oxidation and detectable unfolding occurs after only 30 min of UV exposure” (1). According to Eminence Organics, this formulation will stay in the skin for 72 hours, boost sun protection, and strengthen the skin barrier. In third party studies, the Citrus & Kale Potent C + E Serum reduced oxidative stress by 47% in 3 hours. This water soluble solution is best for supporting OS in the epidermis.
For deeper reaching antioxidant support, Eminence makes a lovely neroli scented face oil called the Rosehip Triple C + E Firming Oil. The Vitamin C, Tetrahexyldexcyl Ascorbate, is made from organic corn. Because it is oil soluble, the Rosehip Triple C + E Firming Oil can make its way through the intercellular matrix to provide antioxidant support to the protein fibers in the dermis.
As with everything else in the body, the epidermis and dermis are intimately connected. Treating the skin’s surface indirectly impacts the health of the deeper layers. And nourishing the underlying layers strengthens the top. For best age corrective results, I recommend using the Citrus & Kale during the day under your moisturizer and sunscreen. At night, apply the Rosehip C + E on clean, dry skin under a night cream. Or for optimal barrier function strength try it under the Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm as recommended in my blog on Psychological Stress + Skin Barrier Function.
1. Rinnerthaler, M. et al, Oxidative Stress in Aging Human Skin, Biomolecules 2015
2. Elenor Candi, The Cornified Envelope: A Model of Cell Death in the Skin, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, April 2005
3. Karen E Burke, Protection From Environmental Skin Damage With Topical Antioxidants, Clin Pharmathe Ther 2019