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Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, photoprotectant, depigmenting, collagen synthesis promotion, wound healing

Important Chemical Components:

Esterified forms of L-ascorbic acid, such as ascorbyl palmitate (ascorbic-6-palmitate) and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Its molecular formula is C6H8O6.

Origin Classification:

Most topical formulations contain synthetic laboratorymade ascorbic acid because of the inherent obstacles in properly formulating this ingredient. Ascorbic acid is naturally occurring and organic forms are available, but their efficacy is doubtful due to instability and difficulty penetrating into the skin.

Personal Care Category:

Antioxidant, antiaging

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:



Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is found in citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. It is produced in most plants and animals, but a mutated gene in humans has resulted in a deficiency of L-gulono-γ-lactone oxidase, the enzyme required for its production.1,2 Although ascorbic acid cannot be synthesized by the human body, dietary consumption renders it the most abundant antioxidant in human skin and blood, and vitamin C plays an important role in endogenous collagen production and the inhibition of collagen degradation (Table 55-1).2–6 This essential nutrient is also a cofactor necessary for the function of numerous hydroxylases and mono-oxygenases,7 and plays an important role in the glycosaminoglycan synthesis of proteoglycan.5,8,9 In addition, ascorbic acid is known to regenerate α-tocopherol (vitamin E) levels and is therefore thought to protect against diseases related to oxidative stress.10 Epidermal vitamin C can be depleted by sunlight and environmental pollution, such as ozone in urban pollution.11,12 This chapter will discuss the antiaging and antioxidant activity of vitamin C [see Chapter 40, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), for information on the depigmenting activities of ascorbic acid].

TABLE 55-1Pros and Cons of Ascorbic Acid


The discovery of ascorbic acid is inextricably linked to scurvy, a disease known for several hundred years now to result from protracted vitamin C deficiency. In fact, “ascorbic” literally means “against scurvy.”13 Scurvy (derived from the Latin scorbutus, French scorbut, and German skorbut) was rampant among the world’s navies and is believed to have afflicted as many as two million sailors by the mid-1700s.14 The condition was actually described in writings by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.5,15 Eating onions ...

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