The Lowdown on Vitamin C in Skincare: Exploring the Most Common Vitamin C Product Ingredients

  • 6 min read

If you're reading this, you're likely someone who takes your skincare routine seriously and are always on the lookout for top-notch products with high-quality ingredients, then you've likely noticed one ingredient that has been gaining a lot of attention lately, vitamin C. Known for its powerful antioxidant properties and ability to brighten and even out skin tone, vitamin C is a must-have in any skincare regimen. But did you know that not all forms of vitamin C are created equal? In this blog post, we'll delve into the different types of vitamin C used in skincare products - L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and a couple less commonly heard of forms - and explore their pros and cons.

L-Ascorbic Acid: The Gold Standard

When it comes to vitamin C in skincare, L-ascorbic acid reigns supreme. This form of vitamin C is the most potent and well-researched, making it a popular choice among skincare aficionados. L-ascorbic acid is highly effective at brightening the skin, stimulating collagen production, and protecting against free radicals. It works by penetrating the skin's surface and neutralizing harmful molecules that contribute to aging and environmental damage.


  • Potent and effective
  • Proven track record of delivering results
  • Stimulates collagen production
  • Protects against free radicals


  • Can be unstable and prone to oxidation
  • May cause irritation for those with sensitive skin
  • Requires proper storage and packaging (think dark glass bottles)

Ascorbyl Palmitate: A Stable Alternative

If you have sensitive skin or struggle with the stability issues associated with L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate might be the vitamin C derivative for you. This lipid-soluble form of vitamin C is more stable and less likely to cause irritation compared to L-ascorbic acid. While it may not have the same level of potency as L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate still offers antioxidant benefits and can help improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin.


  • More stable and less prone to oxidation
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Offers antioxidant benefits
  • Improves the appearance of sun-damaged skin


  • Less potent than L-ascorbic acid
  • Requires higher concentrations to achieve similar results
  • May not deliver the same collagen-stimulating effects

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate: The Oil-Soluble Wonder

Last but not least, we have tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate - a newer and promising form of vitamin C. This oil-soluble derivative penetrates the skin's lipid barrier more easily, making it an excellent choice for those with dry or mature skin. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate not only helps brighten and even out skin tone but also provides moisturizing benefits. It has been shown to stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


  • Oil-soluble and easily absorbed
  • Suitable for dry or mature skin
  • Brightens and evens out skin tone
  • Provides moisturizing benefits
  • Stimulates collagen production


  • Limited research compared to L-ascorbic acid
  • May require higher concentrations for optimal results

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: The Acne-Fighting Alternative

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) is another derivative of Vitamin C that is particularly beneficial for those with acne-prone skin. It is a water-soluble form of Vitamin C, and its pH balance makes it less irritating than other forms. SAP has an antimicrobial effect that can reduce acne-causing bacteria and has been shown to decrease sebum production.


  • Less irritating due to its pH balance
  • Anti-acne properties
  • Decreases sebum production


  • Not as potent as L-ascorbic acid
  • Requires higher concentrations for optimal results

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: The Gentle Option

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) is another stable derivative of Vitamin C that is ideal for those with sensitive skin. It is less irritating and has a higher pH level than L-ascorbic acid. MAP has antioxidative properties and is known for its skin-brightening effects. It also helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Less irritating with a higher pH level
  • Antioxidative properties
  • Skin brightening effects


  • Less potent than L-ascorbic acid
  • Limited research compared to other forms.


While each form of Vitamin C offers unique benefits, L-ascorbic acid is widely considered the most effective for skin. It is the purest form of Vitamin C and has been extensively studied. It has potent antioxidant properties and is known for its ability to neutralize free radicals, stimulate collagen production, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, L-ascorbic acid has a high bioavailability, meaning it is easily absorbed by the skin, allowing for maximum effectiveness. However, it's important to note that due to its high potency, L-ascorbic acid may be too strong for sensitive or acne-prone skin. In such cases, derivatives like Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate might be more suitable as they provide similar benefits with a lower risk of irritation.

Vitamin C's effectiveness can be enhanced when it's combined with other potent skincare ingredients. Notable amongst them are:

  • Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant in its own right, Vitamin E works synergistically with Vitamin C to further strengthen the skin's defense against harmful free radicals.
  • Ferulic Acid: This plant-based antioxidant not only boosts the stability and efficacy of Vitamin C and E, but also doubles their photo-protection capacity.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Known for its hydrating properties, Hyaluronic Acid can help retain skin moisture, improving the absorption of Vitamin C.

Remember to consult with a dermatologist or a skincare expert before incorporating these combinations into your routine, as they may not be suitable for all skin types.

When is the Best Time to Apply Vitamin C - in the Morning or Evening?

Research indicates that the optimal time to apply Vitamin C can vary. Some studies suggest that applying Vitamin C in the morning can provide a defense against the free radicals produced by exposure to UV light and pollution throughout the day. On the other hand, some dermatologists recommend applying it in the evening as it gives the skin a chance to heal and regenerate overnight.

However, a point to note is that Vitamin C can help enhance the effectiveness of your sunscreen. Therefore, if you're using Vitamin C for its photoprotective properties, morning application would be beneficial.

Ultimately, the best time to apply Vitamin C may depend on individual skin type, the specific concerns you're aiming to address, and the other products in your skincare routine. As always, consulting with a skincare professional can provide personalized advice tailored to your specific needs.

Is it Safe to Apply Vitamin C Products Both Morningand Evening?

The application of Vitamin C both in the morning and evening largely depends on the skin's tolerance and the other skincare products being used. There's no hard and fast rule against using Vitamin C twice a day. However, it should be noted that Vitamin C is a potent active ingredient, and excessive use could lead to skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin. Therefore, if you decide to apply Vitamin C both in the morning and evening, it is important to monitor your skin for signs of sensitivity or irritation. Always consult with a skincare professional for personalized advice about incorporating Vitamin C into your skincare regimen.

Is it Safe to Use Vitamin C with Retinoids?

When it comes to combining Vitamin C with retinoids in a skincare routine, caution is advised. Retinoids are potent and effective skincare ingredients known for their ability to reduce signs of aging and improve skin texture. However, they can also cause skin irritation, especially when first introduced.

Combining retinoids with another potent active ingredient like Vitamin C could potentially increase the risk of skin irritation. That said, some dermatologists say that using these two together can complement each other's effects - the antioxidant properties of Vitamin C can help mitigate the irritation caused by retinoids.

It's important to introduce these ingredients gradually and monitor your skin’s response. Using them on alternate days or at different times of the day (Vitamin C in the morning, retinoids at night) can be a safer approach. As always, a skincare professional can provide personalized advice based on your specific skin type and concerns.

Landing the vitamin C plane...

In the world of skincare, knowledge is power, and understanding the different types of vitamin C used in skincare products is key to making informed choices. L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate all have their unique advantages and considerations. Focusing in on the three most commonly used forms of vitamin C in skincare; If you're looking for maximum potency and proven efficacy, L-ascorbic acid is the way to go. However, if you're looking for stability and/or have sensitive skin, ascorbyl palmitate might be your best bet. And for those with dry or mature skin, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate offers both brightening and moisturizing benefits as well as high stability and lower risk of irritation.

Remember, always consult with a skincare professional or dermatologist to determine which form of vitamin C is most suitable for your specific needs. Cheers to your healthy, radiant skin!