Ethyl Ascorbic Acid – One Of The Most Stable & Potent Derivative Of Vitamin C

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For decades L-ascorbic acid has remained the most potent vitamin C  for brightening the skin, promoting collagen production and offering antioxidant benefits to the skin, not until Ethyl Ascorbic Acid came into existence. 


It’s no doubt that L-ascorbic acid is the most potent and effective of all vitamin C derivatives. It’s also the most scientifically studied, which gives people the confidence to use it, but the downside is discouraging, not only is it very unstable which makes it oxidizes (goes bad) quickly on exposure to air and heat, but also acidic in nature, which could cause inflammatory-irritation, especially for people with sensitive to super-sensitive skin as they can experience inflammatory-irritation while using L-ascorbic acid vitamin C, such as redness, burning or itchy sensation. 

And why’s that? It’s simply because L-ascorbic acid is acidic in nature and also possesses skin exfoliating potentials, which can cause skin sensitivity if not properly used. By “If not properly used“, we mean, using a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid (%15 – %20) when you have a sensitive skin or using L-ascorbic acid in combination with other acidic or skin exfoliating ingredients such as retinoids, AHAs and BHA

Considering all these downsides of L-ascorbic acid, led scientists to get to work, to make some chemistry formulation in the lab, which led to the birth of ethyl ascorbic acid – which is seen as the most stable and potent vitamin C derivative.

Therefore, if you’re new to this vitamin C derivative, (which of course you should be) and want to absorb all possible information about it, then you’re definitely on the right page. This article will put you through on all you need to know about ethyl ascorbic acid vitamin C. 

What Is Ethyl Ascorbic Acid?

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, also known as 3-O-Ethyl-L-ascorbic Acid, Is the most recent derivative of vitamin C, where L-ascorbic acid is combined with an Ethyl group molecule, bound to the third carbon position. This makes vitamin C gentle on the skin, very stable and soluble in both water and oil. Thus making ethyl ascorbic acid vitamin C suitable for every skin type. 

The ethyl group makes vitamin C soluble in both oil and in water, and this makes it more stable to offer continuous vitamin C benefits. 

When ethyl ascorbic acid gets deep into the skin, the ethyl group molecule detaches from L-ascorbic acid, thereby allowing L-ascorbic acid do its job from the deeper layer of the skin by brightening skin, offering antioxidant benefits and stimulating collagen production without causing inflammatory-irritation such as redness, stinging, burning or itchy sensation. All thanks to the lipophilic (lipid-loving) attributes of ethyl ascorbic acid, which makes it have more permeability than L-ascorbic acid and other water-loving vitamin C derivatives. To keep it short and sweet, ethyl ascorbic acid reaches the deeper layer of the skin. 

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid Vs L-ascorbic Acid.

The two chemicals may be different, but they sure deliver the same benefits to the skin, just that one is acidic in nature and highly unstable while the other isn’t, but soluble in water and in oil. 

Due to the attachment of ethyl group molecule to L-ascorbic acid, made it very much stable, and soluble in water and in oil, while pure L-ascorbic acid on the other hand lacks these features as it’s very much unstable and isn’t soluble in oil, but in water. 

Asides these differences, the two chemicals surely deliver the same skin benefits to the skin. 

Just as aforementioned, ethyl ascorbic acid possesses the same skin benefits as L-ascorbic acid but more stable and soluble in both water and in oil which makes it easy to work with in both water and oil-based formulations. Having said that, let’s know the skin benefits of ethyl ascorbic acid. 

Skin Benefits Of Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. 

Fights Against Free Radicals.

Just like L-ascorbic acid, ethyl ascorbic acid also  works to fight the effects of UV damages by repelling the free radicals that cause DNA changes and lead to signs of photo-aging. 

Exposure to sun and pollution creates free radicals in the skin, which ultimately can cause things such as spots, wrinkles, and saggy skin. But that doesn’t mean it should replace your sunscreen, always wear your sunscreen before exploring your outdoor activities. [1]

Stimulates Collagen Production.

Collagen gives your skin its firm structure and texture, when collagen production level depletes, it becomes a problem — which gives room to skin aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines and saggy skin.

Ethyl ascorbic acid helps promotes collagen production by enhancing fibroblast (the cell that creates collagen) to produce more collagen which in turn promotes skin elasticity and firmness. [2, 3, 4]

Fades Hyperpigmentation.

Ethyl ascorbic acid not only enhances your skin’s appearance by brightening your complexion but also extends its potentials to targeting and fading-off hyperpigmentation such as brown spots, dark spots, sun spots and even acne scars by blocking the pathway of pigment synthesis. 

However, using vitamin C alone to tackle hyperpigmentation may not yield a satisfactory result,  therefore it’s best advised to pair ethyl ascorbic acid with other hyperpigmentation-inhibiting ingredients like, tranexamic acid, alpha arbutinkojic acid and liquorice for an enhanced skin depigmenting effect. [5, 6]

Offers Anti-Inflammatory Potentials

Ethyl ascorbic acid exhibits anti-inflammatory attributes as research has it — it has anti-inflammatory potentials and can be used in conditions like acne vulgaris and rosacea. It can promote wound healing and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. [7]

Helps Potentiate Sunscreen. 

Vitamin C has been praised for its anti-aging and brightening benefits, but studies have shown that it also works as a sun-damage protectant. 

Sunscreen can certainly protect the skin from the sun’s UV rays. However, adding vitamin C into your skincare can protect you even further. Therefore using sunscreen after applying vitamin C provides a more protective barrier. It’s recommended to apply vitamin C in the morning (AM) while you apply your sunscreen above it, before exploring your outdoor activities. [8]. You can read how to properly apply your sunscreen

Does Ethyl Ascorbic Acid Works Well With Skincare Ingredients.  

Due to its non-acidic and non-exfoliating nature, ethyl ascorbic acid is synergistic with most skincare ingredients, what really matters is how to properly use them together. However it’s always advised to do a patch test prior to introducing any skincare product to your skin. 

How To Use Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.

Ethyl ascorbic acid comes in both oil and water-based skincare formulations and can be found in over-the-counter products such as serums, toners, sunscreens and moisturizers. But to get the most of your vitamin C, it’s recommended you get the serum. 

It can be applied both morning (AM) and evening/night (PM), on a well cleansed skin. Ensure to do a patch test prior to product application. 

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid Side Effects.

Ethyl ascorbic acid has no adverse effects on the skin. As it’s non-acidic, non-exfoliating and mild on the skin. However, as it’s a skincare Ingredient, It can still irritate the skin, especially people with sensitive skin. Therefore, endeavor to perform a patch test on your skin before applying it to the whole face. 

Best Products With Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.

1. The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15% Solution.

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid for skin

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A direct acting vitamin C formula. Infused with 15% ethyl ascorbic acid in propanediol as a base, to promote skin brightening, collagen production and antioxidant benefits. This formula is the most budget-friendly ethyl ascorbic acid as with regards to The Ordinary’s reputable – quality and budget-friendly skincare products. 

2. Face Theory Regena C20 Vitamin C Serum. 

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid for skin

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A vitamin C serum, yet from a reputable brand. Cocktails 20% ethyl ascorbic acid with amino acids making it a double-up, while vitamin C helps illuminate the skin, fight free radicals and induce collagen production, amino acids help promote hydration and strengthen skin barrier function. And oh, it also contains ferulic acid, a powerful antioxidant that helps stabilize actives and prevents damages caused by free radicals. Read the full review here.

Face Theory brand also has a 30% formula of ethyl ascorbic acid – Regena C30 Pro Vitamin C Serum.

3. NIOD Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network.

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid for skin

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From The Ordinary’s sister brand – NIOD. 

This may be one of the most highly concentrated ethyl ascorbic acid vitamin C serums you may find on the shelves. A highly concentrated vitamin C serum, infused with a whooping 30% ethyl ascorbic acid in an antioxidant network of superoxide dismutase, selenium and zinc to support a strong fight. 

4. Hylamide C25 Booster.

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid for skin

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From another of The Ordinary’s sister brands – Hylamide, which pairs ethyl ascorbic acid with resorcinol complex – which offers an evenly bright-looking skin tone while acting as a powerful antioxidant with an outstanding safety profile. The combination of these two skin brightening antioxidants (ethyl ascorbic acid and resorcinol) encourages an even, smooth and glowing skin appearance. 

5. OleHenriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum.

Ethyl Ascorbic Acid for skin

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This potent vitamin C serum doesn’t only contain a 15% ethyl ascorbic acid, but also in combination with 5% PHAs – Polyhydroxy acids, which hydrate skin and boost skin cell regeneration, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In combination with hyaluronic acid, (which hydrates skin), vitamin E (another powerful antioxidant) and banana powder-Inspired pigments (to illuminate and color correct), making a whole bottle of not only a skin brightener, but hyperpigmentation treatment. 

UP NEXT: Bakuchiol – A Naturally-Derived Retinol-Alternative.
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