The Importance Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C, important for our health including our skin. It is quite a potent antioxidant that naturally occurs in nature. Plants and animals are able to synthesize it from glucose but humans are not so we have to get Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. You might think if you have a good diet you should be getting enough Vitamin C to keep your skin healthy. Unfortunately that isn't true. We all know we need Vitamin C to prevent Scurvy and help fight off a cold and flu. But Vitamin C also plays a significant role in the health of our skin and the Vitamin C we consume may not be sufficient for the needs of our skin. To understand why, we need to know a little more about skin physiology.
Our skin is made up of 3 main layers: epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The primary purpose of our epidermis, the outer layer of skin is to provide a barrier preventing unwanted substances from the environment getting in our bodies and also to prevent water loss from our skin. The epidermis consists of several layers with the stratum corneum being the outermost layer. Keratinocytes, the most predominant cells of the epidermis are found throughout all the layers of the epidermis. However they go through many changes as they divide and move up through the different layers. Once they reach the stratum corneum they are basically “dead” cells. The cellular fluid has dried up and the dead cells are held together with a fatty(lipid)/ protein substance helping to create a barrier that is impermeable to water.
The dermis gives our skin its elasticity and strength. Among other things it’s made up of blood and lymph vessels, nerve endings, collagen fibers and fibroblasts (the cells that make collagen).
Because the dermis has blood vessels it can receive nutrients from the food we eat. The epidermis does not contain blood vessels so any nutrients are obtained via diffusion from the dermis. However, the stratum corneum has very little fluid movement because of the fatty/protein structure that makes up the skin barrier. Fluid is necessary for diffusion so as a result the stratum corneum receives minimal dietary nutrients therefore nutrient delivery to the stratum corneum needs to be provided topically. Now that we understand why dietary nutrients aren’t enough for a healthy stratum corneum, lets dive into why we need Vitamin C for our skin.
How Vitamin C Helps Our Skin
Collagen is a protein that provides structural support to our skin. It also is responsible for skin elasticity. By the age of 30, Collagen production begins to slow. Vitamin C is vital in stabilizing collagen molecules as well as stimulating production of collagen. Using Vitamin C topically has been shown to increase collagen production in younger skin as well as aging skin.
When the skin is exposed to UV light, free radicals are generated and oxidative stress occurs causing cell damage and death due to Inflammation and DNA damage to keratinocytes. UVA causes skin aging by destroying collagen and UVB causes sunburn, skin cancer and free radical formation. UV light also depletes vitamin C content in the epidermis. Topical application of vitamin C, along with vitamin E, has been shown to decrease injury from UV irradiation due to a protective effect that neutralizes free radicals. It is effective against both UVA and UVB and research has shown that topical Vitamin C showed a reduction of UVB-induced skin redness and sunburn cell formation.
Our skin becomes more dry as we age. It is currently thought that this occurs due to changes in the keratinocyte cell process and lipid/fat content of the stratum corneum. Cell culture studies have shown that the addition of Vitamin C enhances the production of barrier lipids and assists with the process of keratinocyte differentiation. It also helps to prevent overproduction of melanin which can lead to hyperpigmentation. The conclusion is that Vitamin C may be influential in the skin's ability to prevent water loss and help with age related skin dryness.
Wound healing is where Vitamin C really shines due to its participation in collagen synthesis. Topical use of Vitamin C has been proven to reduce permanent scar production and accelerate wound and burn healing.
As you can see, Vitamin C plays a big role in the health of our skin both internally and topically. The most common form of Vitamin C in skin care is L-ascorbic acid. This is the form we find in food and supplements. It is water loving or hydrophilic so it is difficult for it to penetrate the lipid/fat layer of the stratum corner. In addition it is unstable so it oxidizes quickly in the presence of UV exposure and requires a ph of <3.5 to be properly stabilized which is quite low compared to most skin care products which have a ph of 5-5.5.
At Rozetree Botanicals we use a lipophilic or fat loving derivative of ascorbic acid called Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate. It is very stable and converts into free Vitamin C in the skin. It also has superior absorption capability because its lipophilic and studies have shown it to be three times better at penetrating the skin than L-ascorbic acid. Also, because it doesn't require a low ph, it is less likely to cause irritation, peeling and dryness. Although it has a long science-y name rest assured that Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is a safe and effective form of Vitamin C that can greatly enhance the health of your skin. You will find it in our Ageless Fruit Serum.
Be well friends,