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Published Articles - Vitamin-C - the Road MAP to younger looking skin

Vitamin-C – the Road MAP to younger looking skin

It seems that just about every beauty magazine has at least one article about Vitamin-C. After all, virtually every skin care line touts its Vitamin-C content and countless studies and articles have been written about the beneficial effects that Vitamin-C can have on the skin. What is not as widely known, however, is that not all Vitamin-C's are created equal. It is not enough just to have Vitamin-C in a product to produce the desired effects. In order for Vitamin-C to work effectively in skin care formulations it must have specific properties: it must both penetrate the cell and coat the outside of the cell wall in order to prevent cellular degradation, which occurs at both levels, and must be absorbed very quickly by the skin and remain in the skin for a prolonged period of time, thus allowing it to have its desired effect.

Long known to be a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin-C is a vital building block for collagen formation in the skin and, in proper formulations can also serve to increase the skin's elasticity; inhibit hyperpigmentation; diminish skin discoloration, and increase the skin's luminosity. Unfortunately, most skin care products use L-Ascorbic Acid as their primary form of Vitamin-C. While L-Ascorbic Acid does, for approximately a week, possess a high degree of bioavailability, it rapidly loses both its stability and its potency, quickly rendering it ineffective. In efforts to combat this rapid loss of effectiveness, L-Ascorbic Acid has been formulated with many different stabilizers and binders that, unfortunately, have been shown to further hamper its effectiveness by not allowing it to penetrate down to the lower layers of the skin. According to Nicholas Perricone M.D. in his book "The Wrinkle Cure":

The solubility of a vitamin – that is, whether it dissolves in water or in fat – determines which part of a cell that Vitamin can enter. With antioxidant vitamins, solubility also determines which part of a cell the Vitamin can protect from free radicals.

The natural form of Vitamin-C, L-Ascorbic Acid, is water-soluble. That means that it can gain admission only to the inside of a cell, which is mostly water. So although L-Ascorbic Acid concentrates in the interior of the cell, it cannot prevent free-radical damage on the outside of a cell. What's more, L-ascorbic acid is very acidic, which makes it quite irritating to the skin. It also breaks down rapidly, losing its potency within 24 hours.

Furthermore, over an extended period of time, L-Ascorbic Acid can cause the very aging that it is being used to treat. If not properly stabilized it can oxidize and cause inflammation, leading to the release of protease enzymes, which are one of the main causes of dermal aging. Moreover, if L-Ascorbic Acid is at a pH of approximately 3.0 or lower (it requires a pH of ~3.0 or lower for effective penetration); is formulated in a high concentration (above 10%); or is otherwise irritating to the skin; it can also produce protease enzymes, once again leading to premature aging of the skin. Also, due to its exfoliant activity, L-Ascorbic Acid is unsuitable for people with sensitive skin.

Therein lies the basic problem faced by skin care formulae that use Vitamin-C: While L-Ascorbic acid is generally accepted as the only form of Vitamin-C that possesses suitable bioavailability, its instability combined with its inability to simultaneously both coat and penetrate the cell wall render it virtually ineffective in most topical skin care preparations for more than a few days after they are opened. The challenge then, is to come up with a form of Vitamin-C that possesses a high degree of bioavailability combined with properties that allow it to both stay resident on the cell's surface, while simultaneously penetrating the cell wall. Moreover, the formulation must be inherently stable and have a long-shelf life. Luckily, there is one form of Vitamin-C that does all of the above – Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, or MAP as it is often called.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is deeply absorbed into the skin and stays in the skin's cellular layers for up to 48 hours, provided that it is properly formulated with specific liposomes and oligomers. This sustained continuous-action complex bathes both the exterior wall and the interior of the cell with active Vitamin-C. In fact, studies have shown that, when properly formulated with specific oligomers, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is the only form of Vitamin-C that simultaneously penetrates the cell wall and coats the exterior of the cell, while remaining both stable and bioavailable for a prolonged period of time. With effective penetration occurring at a relatively neutral pH of approximately 5, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is gentle on the skin and does not cause any inflammation or associated skin aging.

Although rarely used in high concentrations (it is most effective when used in concentrations of up to 10%, depending on the skin's sensitivity) due to its prohibitive cost (it costs over 100 times more than L-Ascorbic Acid) Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate has, because to the qualities mentioned above, been shown to be the best form of Vitamin-C for skin care products. Furthermore, in their study: "Inhibitory Effects of Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate on Melanogenesis" published in 1993, Tagawa Masato et al confirmed the findings of the American Academy of Dermatology with respect to the stability and longevity of MAP in skin care preparations, while showing that MAP also had a skin lightening effect on more than three quarters of the patients tested.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is, in fact, the only truly stable form of Vitamin-C that has been shown to have the all of the qualities required in genuinely effective skin care preparations. In spite of all the research that shows that Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is far superior to L-Ascorbic Acid in topical skin care products, the price differential alone dictates that L-Ascorbic Acid remains the most common form of Vitamin-C used in the skin care industry today.


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