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Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, photoprotectant, depigmenting

Important Chemical Components:

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

Origin Classification:

Ascorbic acid is natural and found throughout the plant kingdom. Organic forms are available. Numerous synthetic topical formulations contain ascorbic acid.

Personal Care Category:


Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:



Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be found in citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables. Although this essential nutrient cannot be synthesized by the human body, dietary consumption renders it the most abundant antioxidant in human skin and vitamin C plays an important role in endogenous collagen production.1,2 This chapter will discuss the use of vitamin C in skin pigmentation. Its antiaging and antioxidant properties are discussed in Chapter 55, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).


Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is an essential nutrient. It is necessary for the formation of bone and connective tissue. Scurvy, a disease caused by the lack of vitamin C, was first described in the 13th century. In the 18th century, it was discovered that citrus fruits cured scurvy. Vitamin C was first isolated by Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937 for this work. Ascorbic is derived from the Latin a-(without) and scorbuticus (scurvy). Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling championed the use of oral vitamin C in 1971 in his book Vitamin C and the Common Cold. The capacity of vitamin C to inhibit melanin formation was known as early as 1950.3,4 In the late 1980s, Dr. Sheldon Pinnell from Duke University began looking at vitamin C as a photoprotectant. In 1987, he published a paper in the Archives of Dermatology demonstrating that collagen synthesis could be induced by ascorbic acid.5 He filed a patent in 1989 on a way to stabilize vitamin C in a topical formulation that later became the basis for the company Skinceuticals. His diligence and adherence to evidence-based science made a great impact and now vitamin C is one of the ingredients most recognized by consumers in the antiaging skin care market. Vitamin C is less known as an ingredient to decrease skin pigmentation because the form of ascorbic acid (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate) that is the best inhibitor of tyrosinase does not easily penetrate into the skin.6


Ascorbic acid is necessary for the hydroxylation of lysine and proline in procollagen to form the structural protein known as collagen. It is the loss of this process that leads to scurvy in vitamin C deficiency because the loss of collagen results in blood vessel fragility and other symptoms of scurvy.

Ascorbic acid is very unstable and upon ...

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