Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin C
Chemical Name: Ascorbic Acid, L ascorbic acid, Vitamin C
Used For: Ascorbic acid is a water soluble antioxidant that prevents free radical damage. It helps protect your skin against sun damage, especially when combined with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid. Ascorbic acid used regularly will cause your skin to produce more collagen, which is how it repairs skin damage like wrinkles. It also evens out skin tone and can diminish and sometimes eliminate hyperpigmentation (dark spots).
Effective Concentrations: A 5% concentration is effective as an antioxidant and can also improve pigmentation issues. A 10% concentration will show stimulate some collagen production and is a good starting concentration. 15% – 20% will be the most effective, but is too irritating for most new users.
How to Use It: You can use Ascorbic acid in the daytime for sun protection and antioxidant activity, but it doesn’t replace sunscreen. It can be used in the day or evening for skin rebuilding, but night use is more effective. Ascorbic acid can stay in the skin for 48 – 72 hours, so some users apply it every other day. High concentrations can be irritating following a peel or needling treatment, but products containing 5% or less can enhance healing. Vitamin C works best as an antioxidant when combined with Vitamins A and E because the nutrients recycle each other. Vitamin C used with copper peptides may neutralize each other, becoming ineffective. Ascorbic acid oxidizes quickly, possibly creating free radicals. It needs to be stabilized with other ingredients, and be used within a certain time frame. Never use ascorbic acid products that are yellow or orange colored, as this is a sign of oxidation. Purchase a fresh product from reliable supplier, and use within the expiration date. Storing ascorbic acid products in the refrigerator slows oxidation. You can also make your own ascorbic acid serum in small batches to use within 10 days.
Side Effects: Ascorbic acid is quite acidic and often produces irritation in new users. The irritation is typically mild and includes dry skin, redness, and itching. The acidity can also produce a mild exfoliating effect. These are normal side effects. There is always a chance that you can be allergic or extra sensitive to an ingredient, check your product label for additional warnings.
Strength Building: Strength building is important with this active. Most skin types can start out using a 10% concentration daily. A cream or lotion as a starter product is ideal because of the moisturizing base. Sensitive skin may need to start at a lower concentration, like a 5% lotion. Products with an unlisted percentage are usually mild and safe for new users. Working up to a 15% or 20% concentration gradually will produce the best results.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Vitamin C
Chemical Name: Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, MAP, Vitamin C
Used For: Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) is a derivative of normal Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). It works in basically the same was as ascorbic acid because that is what is converted to inside the skin. The benefit of using MAP is that it is less irritating and needs a lower percentage to be effective. It is also more stable than ascorbic acid and will not oxidize as quickly, though you’ll still get the best results with a fresh product. Additionally, a few studies indicate that topical applications of ascorbic may be ineffective for some users, but they may respond to MAP. It is one of the only Vitamin C derivatives that boost collagen production. Many of the other forms of Vitamin C, including Vitamin C esters, only work as antioxidants.
Effective Concentrations: This form of Vitamin C needs a lower percentage than ascorbic acid. Typical formulations are 3% to 7%. Some recipes call for 10%, which may be based on formulations for ascorbic acid and possibly unnecessary. As long as there is no irritation however, the higher concentrations are safe to use.
How to Use It: Use a MAP serum or lotion as you would a regular Vitamin C product. Day use will give antioxidant protection from sun damage, but night use is typically better for collagen production. This ingredient is milder than ascorbic and can possibly be used sooner after peeling, but perform a patch test to be safe. MAP may work against copper peptides and should be used in separate sessions. Be sure to use a fresh product.
Side Effects: Although MAP is milder than ascorbic acid, you may still experience mild irritation like redness, itching, and dry skin in the beginning. These are normal side effects. There is always a chance that you can be allergic or extra sensitive to an ingredient, check your product label for additional warnings.
Strength Building: Use a mild to mid strength lotions or creams in the beginning for extra moisture before graduating to a serum. Many users experience no irritation and can strength build quickly. If you are making your own MAP products, start with the lower percentages and work you way up.