Considering the powerful benefits of vitamin C in the body, it’s natural to think that these positive effects would extend to the skin. Using this logic, Dr. Perricone began studying the effects of using vitamin C as a topical ointment on the skin.
Through his studies, he realized he needed to make a change in order to create a truly effective skin care ingredient. This ingredient is vitamin C ester, a compound that provides all of the positive benefits of vitamin C and adds more because of its unique structure.
This article will discuss:
- Dr. Perricone’s interest in vitamin C on skin
- Studies of vitamin C on the skin
- The switch to vitamin C ester
During Dr. Perricone’s pediatric training at Yale, scientists were researching the effects of vitamin C intake on asthma. Their hypothesis was that vitamin C had anti-inflammatory properties that would calm inflamed lung tissues which often lead to asthma attacks.
Just as they suspected, administering a high dosage of vitamin C decreased the number of acute asthma attacks that patients suffered.
How did Vitamin C reduce lung tissue inflammation?
Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory effects come from its ability to decrease the body’s production of arachidonic acid, a chemical that plays a role in causing:
- Micro-scarring that leads to wrinkles
Vitamin C is doubly useful in this sense because it also converts existing arachidonic acid into a harmless group of substances.
The first study Dr. Perricone performed was to test the effects of vitamin C on reducing sunburn and psoriasis. He asked patients to apply a solution of water and vitamin C to the affected areas. This solution seemed to reduce the redness and pain, but not as much as he thought it would.
The problem was that vitamin C is only water-soluble. It can gain entry to the inside of the cell, which is composed primarily of water, but not the outside of the cell. Because of this property, vitamin C in its natural state, l-ascorbic acid, can only protect against free radicals inside the cell but not in the cell membrane. The cell membrane is a critical defense mechanism of the cell and an effective skin care solution would have to target this area, too.
Why else didn’t the vitamin C solution work as well as Dr. Perricone hoped it would?
- L-ascorbic acid is very acidic, which can cause irritation to the skin.
- It breaks down rapidly and loses its effect within 24 hours.
- It causes a fenton reaction, which occurs when acid combines with iron.
Iron is abundant in the skin, so every time vitamin C is applied the fenton reaction occurs. This causes the production of a dangerous free radical, hydroxl. The fenton reaction is what Dr. Perricone thinks was responsible for the redness and irritation that occurred on the skin when vitamin C was used.
Overall, the use of vitamin C on the skin caused more harm than it did good. There had to be a better way to combine the beneficial effects of vitamin C without causing the pain and inflammation that came with its acidic nature.
Trying to find a solution to this problem led Dr. Perricone to find a new formation of vitamin C; with a few critical chemical changes to vitamin C, he created vitamin C ester.
Vitamin C ester’s chemical composition is what gives it the edge over vitamin C. Vitamin C ester, or ascorbyl palmitate, is composed of l-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and a fatty acid derived from palm oil called palmitic acid.
Why is it called an ester? Vitamin C contains many alcohol molecules, and the chemical bond between an alcohol and an acid is an ester bond.
What are the benefits of vitamin C ester over vitamin C?
- Fat soluble: it is more easily absorbed by the skin and can reside in the cell membrane, protecting it from free radical damage.
- More stable than vitamin C alone: it can be mixed into creams and lotions. It also keeps its potency for much longer and stays fresh for months and even years.
- Much higher absorption rate than vitamin C does: vitamin C ester is absorbed into the skin at levels as much as 10 times higher than vitamin C.
- Non-acidic: it doesn’t irritate the skin. It can even be put on an open cut without stinging. This is a major benefit because with regular vitamin C, the anti-inflammatory effects of the nutrient tended to be canceled out by the pro-inflammatory effects of the acid.
Repeating his previous studies on sunburn and psoriasis with vitamin C ester instead of vitamin C, Dr. Perricone found that this substance had a much better effect on healing damaged skin. These findings led to the development of skin care products that include vitamin C ester, such as the Vitamin C Ester Eye Serum.
Dr. Perricone is so confident in the abilities of Vitamin C ester that he includes it in many of his products as a powerful ingredient to heal damaged skin, firm skin, and reduce lines and wrinkles.