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August 17, 2021
Vitamin C, as we have discussed previously, has a vast range of skin benefits, including fighting free radicals, stimulating collagen synthesis to prevent wrinkles and skin sagging, fading pigmentation, and brightening skin, etc. However, certain forms of vitamin C, like L’Ascorbic Acid, which is found in most vitamin C skincare products on the market, can be extremely irritating, leading to dryness, peeling, redness, and even acne.
On the other hand, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP), a form of vitamin C, provides just as many skin benefits for the skin if not more, but is much gentler and stabler than its counterparts, and is suitable for even the most sensitive skin.
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L’Ascorbic Acid is the purest and most potent form of Vitamin C out there, yet it is known to be extremely unstable. Light, oxygen, and water can all cause it to oxidize and lose its potency very quickly. This process of oxidization is evident when the color of the product starts turning, which can range from orange to brown. Even wonder why your Vitamin C product is often yellow in color? This is how brands do to mask the fact that product is oxidizing, losing its potency, and can potentially do harm to your skin.
Now, you can simply bin an oxidized product, but you cannot deal with other problems L’Ascorbic Acid has as easily. First of all, it does not only oxidize in the bottle, but actually also on the skin, leading to more blackheads. This is not it, however. L’Asocrbic Acid eventually oxidises to erythrulose, the same ingredient in fake tans which reacts with proteins in the dead stratum corneum to produce brown compounds called melanoidins that do not come off until the dead cells shred naturally. This is called a Maillard reaction, like the caramelizing reaction that happens when baked goods turn brown with heat. In other words, instead of brightening the skin, you may very well be tanning your skin. And worse this Malliard reaction actually generates free radicals and could accelerate sun and DNA damages, which is what you want to avoid by using Vitamin C products in the first place!
Secondly and most importantly, for L’Ascorbic Acid to stay stable in the bottle, it needs to stay below a pH of 3.5. On top of that, because it is not easily absorbed through the skin’s lipid barrier, a concentration of 15-20% is usually needed for a product to be effective enough to make a difference. Exposing the skin to this level of acidity every day and night can destroy the skin’s lipid barrier and cause major irritations, leading to redness, sensitivity, dryness, peeling, and acne.
It is also worthy to note that most L’Ascorbic Acid is derived from GMO corn starch, corn sugar or rich starch, which can potentially have a negative impact on the skin.
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Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) is a form of light-, oxygen-, and water-stable Vitamin C that has a salt molecule attached to it. It provides the same skin benefits as L’Ascorbic Acid, and although in a less potent way, it is more bioavailable as it is readily absorbed and utilized by the skin without causing any irritation, making it the perfect go-to Vitamin C form for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin, as well as pregnant/breastfeeding ladies. What’s better, it has an added benefit of being an amazing acne fighter!
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UV radiation, pollution, dust, pesticides, alcohol, cigarette smoke, food, excessive exercises, and inflammation create free radicals. Free radicals damage the skin by triggering chronic inflammations, breaking down the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, and causing damages to all components of a cell, including DNA, proteins, lipids and its membrane, whilst setting off a chain reaction of cellular disruption. This gradually slows down our skin’s natural rejuvenation process, and appears on the skin in the form of dryness, dullness, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, pigmentation, redness, itchiness, and even chronic conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. As a potent antioxidant, SAP scavenges these free radicals and neutralize them before they cause damages to the cells.
It has also been reported in scientific studies that SAP could protect skin from UVA- and UVB-induced damages in terms of the number of sunburn cells and degree of DNA fragmentation.
All these properties help reduce photoaging and slow down the overall aging process.
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Our skin naturally produces less collage and elastin as we age, while collagen and elastin breakdown can be accelerated by numerous factors such as UV rays, free radicals, and inflammations. The two factors combined can result in fine lines and wrinkles, skin sagging, enlarged pores, and premature aging.
SAP has been shown to stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis and angiogenesis, stabilize collagen fibers, and decrease collagen degradation in dermal fibroblasts, increase dermis thickness, decrease scar depth, encourage skin cells and tissue regeneration and accelerate wound healing.
The result is smoother, firmer, plumper skin with less fine lines and wrinkles.
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Ever wondered how spots or hyperpigmentation form? When there is inflammation in the skin, which can be caused by UV damage, acne, picking and irritating the skin, free radicals, harsh cleansers, and hormonal fluctuations (from pregnancy or taking contraceptive pills, for example), a signal is sent to the melanocytes as part of an immune response. The melanocytes then through tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible in synthesizing melanin through melanogenesis, overproduce the brown melanin pigment, resulting in visible hyperpigmentation on the skin.
In other words, by inhibiting tyrosinase and melanin activities, breaking down melanin and thus downregulating melanin production, you can speed up the fading of existing hyperpigmentation whilst preventing future spots from forming. SAP has been clinically shown to disrupt the melanin cycle by reducing tyrosinase activity by 35%, and melanin production by 80%.
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The two major cause of acne is propionibacterium acne, an acne bacteria. and lipid peroxidation, which can lead to clogged pores, blackheads, inflammatory acne, and possibly wrinkling. It has been shown that at a mere 1% concentration, SAP provides strong antimicrobial effects against propionibacterium acnes for 8 hours, meaning less acne, while reducing sebum oxidation by up to 40%, thus reducing blackheads and clogged pores.
In a 12-week clinical trial, application of 5% SAP has produced excellent results in 76.9% of patients, which is considerably higher than other prescribed acne treatments. Other clinical trials have shown SAP has better efficacy and more effective than 5% benzoyl peroxide (which in itself is problematic as by nature it increases the skin's oxidative stress and dries the skin, which leads to even worse inflammation, scarring, as well as premature aging). The best part? SAP does not cause dryness and irritations like other acne treatments do.
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Remember, while SAP is less potent than L’Ascorbic Acid, the benefits of its non-irritating properties by far outweigh the skin damaging risks L’Ascorbic Acid can have on the skin. Thus as long as it is used consistently, you will be able to enjoy all the skin benefits Vitamin C provides without any risk of irritation.
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