All you need to know about Vitamin C

Posted by The Skin Alley on

Vitamin C is a nutrient found in some foods or supplements that cannot be produced by the human body but does amazing things for our body. It is an antioxidant that can help protect our cells from environmental stressors and damages caused from free radicals. Vitamin C is also needed for tissue growth, wound healing and iron absorption.

As far as your skin, Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient great for hyper-pigmentation, collagen formation and brightening of the skin. Now that doesn't mean go into your kitchen and slice up an orange or lemon. Typically used as a broad marketing term in skincare, Vitamin C actually comes in different forms and functions differently. So when you’re looking at the ingredient list, you wont actually see ‘Vitamin C’ but rather it’s derivatives.

L-ascorbic Acid is probably the most popular amongst the derivatives in skincare with a great amount of published research behind it. With that being said, it is not for all skin types. The higher the concentration or percentage will not determine its effectiveness for your skin. If your skin has minimal concerns and does tolerate actives well a concentration 5-10% is ideal.

L-ascorbic Acid (LAA) is the purest, most effective and most unstable form of Vitamin C. L-ascorbic Acid also has a short shelf life, usually lasting only for a few short months. LAA will oxidise or degrade when exposed to light or air. That is why they are most commonly stored in opaque glass jars or air tight squeeze pumps. If the product is not stored as above, do make the effort to store the product in a cool and dark place. Why is L-ascorbic Acid so unstable? This is because LAA is very pH dependent. LAA ability to penetrate the outer most layer of the skin requires a low pH usually of 3.0 - 3.5. In high concentration or percentage, L-ascorbic Acid can cause irritation to the skin and is not recommended for those with very sensitive or acne prone skin. L-ascorbic triggers collagen synthesis (increasing skin firmness), repairs and protects against sun damage, reduces hyper-pigmentation, fights free radicals and brightens skin tone. 

Other derivatives were created to improve factors of stability and irritation. These derivatives will ultimately convert back into ascorbic acid after being absorbed into the skin, the conversion process is what makes it different. 

Other derivatives:

  • Ascorbyl Palmitate: A very common derivative, less problematic, non irritating compared to the pure L-ascorbic Acid which is more suitable for sensitive skin.


  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD Ascorbate): Also a non irritating derivative. Goes hand in hand with Vitamin E to form a super-antioxidant formula to fight against hyper-pigmentation and stimulate collagen production. THD Ascorbate does also brighten skin complexion by inhibiting melanogenesis (production of pigment). A great alternative for those with sensitive, dry and mature skin.


  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Palmitate: Effective even in low concentration, great for first time users and those with sensitive skin. Magnesium Ascorbic Palmitate is great for boosting collagen production, reducing signs of ageing and brightening skin complexion. It will oxidise or degrade when exposed to light or air.


  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Less potent compared to L-ascorbic Acid. It neutralises skin damaging free radicals and evens out skin tone. According to study published in the journal Pharmaceutics, because of its antimicrobial benefits, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate can be used as an acne treatment.



If you’re just starting out with Vitamin C, like retinol, try it at a lower concentration or percentage and gradually work up your skin’s tolerance to avoid irritation. Do take care to wear sun protection especially when using Vitamin C based products. avoid mixing Vitamin C based products with:

  • Retinol (Vitamin A) A recipe for irritation, peeling and inflammation. When combined, it increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which makes your skin more susceptible to burn and UV damage. Rather alternate use.
  •  Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) + Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) Since Vitamin C is effectively an acid, layering it with AHA and BHA will destabilise the pH of the product, making it useless.



1. Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop - a cult favourite

Fresh and pure concentrated Vitamin C drops. A non-irritating and naturally effective solution to combat dull and uneven skin tone. Fitting for people with sensitive skin.


2. Jumiso All Day Vitamin Brightening & Balancing Facial Serum

A brightening serum packed full of nutrients. This non-water based high concentration serum is lightweight and non-sticky. improve skin elasticity, wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation and inflamed skin with a complex of vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K. Top that with hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica and chamomile extract to soothe, moisturise and reduce sebum production.


3. Isntree C-niacin Toning Cream

Toning cream with 10 vitamin complexes and sea buckthorn extract for whitening function, lustrous skin, vitamin supply and improved skin tone. Formulated with high concentrated sea buckthorn fruit extract instead of water to brighten dark and blotchy skin tone.


Personally, I love L-ascorbic Acid and use it religiously (I have dry skin and am very prone to hormonal acne). I’ve seen an improvement in my complexion and texture. My skin now has a healthy radiance and my hyper-pigmentation is not as pronounced as it was before. I hope you find a concentration or a derivative that complements your skin type. Remember, the is no magical ingredient that works overnight. Stay consistent!


With love,




antioxidant brightening collagen L-ascorbic acid pigmentation radiance vitamin c

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