L-Ascorbic Acid For Skin – Everything You Need To Know

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When it comes to skincare in general, vitamin C is legendary, infact, some people say it’s an all-in-one ingredient and a holy-grail in their skincare routine


Vitamin C offers numerous skincare benefits to the skin, by fending-off external free radicals, minimizing skin aging-signs by improving skin texture, boosting skin luminosity thereby brightening hyperpigmentation and prevent sun damage to the skin. What else does one need to have a beautiful skin if vitamin C can offers all these potentials to the skin?. 

It’s good to let you know that vitamin C comes in many forms, but L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C is the purest of them all, and that’s what we’re going to be discussing in this article. 

What Is L-ascorbic Acid?

L-ascorbic acid also known as ascorbic acid is a water-soluble and the purest form of vitamin C which is used in skincare formulations to offer antioxidant protection, anti-aging and skin brightening benefits to the skin. 

L-ascorbic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound with antioxidant, anti-aging and skin brightening properties. It’s found in plants and food, including citrus fruits, tomatoes and green vegetables. 

One downside of ascorbic acid is the fact that it isn’t stable (easily oxidizes) and also acidic in nature which can potentially increase skin sensitivity and can lead to inflammatory irritation if not properly used. This led to the invention of vitamin C derivatives such-like, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl glucosidemagnesium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, as they are more stable and non-exfoliating to the skin which makes them suitable for every skin type, especially people with senstive skin. 

Skin Benefits Of L-Ascorbic Acid. 

Fights Against Free Radicals.

As per its antioxidants potentials L-ascorbic acid works to fight the effects of UV damage by repelling the free radicals that cause DNA changes and lead to signs of photoaging. 

Exposure to sun and pollution creates free radicals in the skin, which ultimately can cause things such as spots, wrinkles, and sagging. 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.

L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C 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, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

Brightens Hyperpigmentation.

L-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 [11, 12, 13].

However, for the fact that L-ascorbic acid is unstable, it is paired with other hyperpigmentation-inhibiting ingredients like, soy and liquorice for an enhanced skin de-pigmenting effect [14].

Offers Anti-Inflammatory Potentials. 

L-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 [15, 16].

Helps Potentiates 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. However, adding vitamin C into your skin care regimen can protect you even further. Therefore using sunscreen after applying vitamin C provide a more protective barrier. It’s recommend to apply vitamin C in the morning (AM) while you apply your sunscreen above it before exploring your outdoor activities [17].

Does L-ascorbic Acid Works Well With Other Ingredients? 

L-ascorbic acid works well with most skincare ingredients, but not all. Ingredients like vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, ferulic, stem, peptides, helps vitamin C offers a better and more effective results. 

Most L-ascorbic acid vitamin C products contains vitamin E and ferulic acid, because vitamin E stabilizes vitamin C for maximum skin protection. Ferulic acid helps lower the pH level of vitamin C to below 3.5 percent so your skin can easily slurp up the cocktail. Another antioxidant called glutathione also is a good pal to vitamin C.

Can L-ascorbic Acid Vitamin C And Niacinamide Be Used Together?

There have been fear that L-ascorbic acid vitamin C and niacinamide can’t be used together as they can cancel each other out and render each other useless. Well, that research study was done 40 years ago, that means more research has been performed since then. 

A research done in the 1960s showed a negative interaction and that the two could potentially react to produce nicotinic acid, which can cause redness and itching in the skin. Yes, but that’s pretty outdated and does no longer translate to a real world scenario. 

Research now has it that L-ascorbic acid (and other forms of vitamin C) and niacinamide can be used together. 

It’s important to remember that niacinamide is actually an incredibly tough ingredient—heat and other environmental factors don’t have as much of an impact on it as they would on more delicate ingredients. Which makes it synergetic with acidic form of vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid). 

Additionally, studies on niacinamide’s conversion to nicotinic acid show that it only converts under extreme heat for extended periods of time, and only small amounts of the product actually change over. This conversion can easily be reduced by keeping your product with niacinamide out of direct sunlight and in a cooler, more stable environment.

Plus Joshua Zeichner director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, also suggests that it’s completely fine to “layer your niacinamide-containing product along with your vitamin C serum since the ingredients complement each other by improving skin radiance and evening skin tone and texture“.

Therefore, If you have heard or read otherwise, then it’s based on outdated research. 

What Ingredients Can’t Be Used Together With L-ascorbic Acid Vitamin C?

There are some ingredients, that isn’t advised to be paired with L-ascorbic acid vitamin C, as it can cause increased skin sensitivity which can lead to skin inflammatory-irritation or sunburn. Ingredients like retinoidsAHAs and BHA or any acidic ingredient shouldn’t be paired with L-ascorbic acid. Rather they should be used in separate times or alternated. Example: L-ascorbic acid in the morning, acids at night. Or vitamin C serum at night, acids the next night. 

How To Use L-Ascorbic Acid.

L-ascorbic acid comes in water-based skincare formulations and can be found in over-the-counter products such as serums, tonerssunscreens 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 (PM). Ensure to do a patch test prior to product application. 

L-Ascorbic Acid Side Effects.

L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C is safe to use, however, due to its acidic and skin-exfoliating nature can lead to skin sensitization which may not be suitable for all skin types, especially people with senstive skin. 

If you’re starting out new with L-ascorbic acid, we strongly advice you should go for lower concentration-based products such as 10%, you can move up to a higher concentration as skin builds tolerance. But higher concentration does not mean better results, it can incur irritations. So, if your skin is ok with 10% concentration, stick with it. 

Also L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C is very unstable and can breakdown (oxidize) when exposed to heat or sunlight, which can also lead to skin irritation or orange-tone when applied on the skin. Therefore endeavor to store your vitamin C serum in a cool dry place (you can also store in the refrigerator), avoid keeping your vitamin C serum near the window or where it’s exposed to sunlight or heat to avoid oxidization.

If your skin can’t deal with L-ascorbic acid vitamin C, or you want a more stable form of vitamin C, you can try-out vitamin C derivatives. Although they are less potent as compared to L-ascorbic acid, but still establishes same vitamin C potentials to the skin.  

Best Products With L-ascorbic Acid. 

1. SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic.

Basic skincare routine

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As meantioned above, vitamin E stabilizes vitamin C for maximum skin protection, while ferlulic acid helps lower the pH level of vitamin C to below 3.5 percent so your skin can easily slurp up the cocktail, SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic which contains 15% L-acorbic form of vitamin C possesses all the potentials one can ever want in a vitamin C serum, as it features a synergistic antioxidant combination of pure vitamin C, ferulic acid and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and brightens your complexion.

2. Obagi Professional Vitamin C Serum.

Vitamin C benefits for the skin

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Another brand with reputability and trustability. Obagi Vitamin C serum is infused with 20% L-acorbic acid which penetrates deep into the skin to offers its antioxidant protection from UV damages, brightens away hyperpigmentation and encourages the growth of collagen and elastin fibers. It also contains hyaluronic acid which draws and retains moisture into the skin.

3. is Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus.

Vitamin C benefits for skin

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Contains 15% L-acorbic vitamin C in combination with Kojic acid and a low concentration of retinol to target all kinds of hyperpigmentation and tackle all kinds of skin aging signs towards achieving that firm, glowing and radiant skin you’ve always craved for. However, this product may note be suitable for extra-sensitive skin.

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum. 

Timeless Vs SkinCeuticles Vitamin C Serum

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Just like SkinCeuticles, Timeless vitamin C serum contains similar ingredients which are; 20% vitamin C, to counteract external and internal free radicals, brighten skin tone, thereby addressing pigmentations, boost collagen production which in turn minimizes skin aging-signs.

It also contains 1% vitamin E, a powerful vitamin and antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals, replenishes skin lipids, help nourish and protect your skin from damages caused by free radicals, and 0.5% ferulic acid which not only offer anti-aging benefits to your skin but also helps enhances the potentials and stability of other antioxidants for more efficacy and better results.

It also contains hyaluronic acid which helps hydrate the skin by attracting moisture from the outmosphere into the skin to keep the skin hydrated, plump and supple. You can read a comparable review between Timeless and SkinCeuticles vitamin C serum

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.


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If you want a higher strength of L-ascorbic acid vitamin C formula, at a very affordable price point, then you can go for this pick. 

Contains whopping 23% L-ascorbic acid, in combination with dehydrated spheres of hyaluronic acid (HA) to offer visible surface smoothing and hydration. And oh, this formula has enhanced stability due to the absence of water. 

Possible Questions & Answers.

Q:  How do I know that my vitamin C serum has oxidized?

A: You can simply tell when a vitamin C serum has oxidized by paying careful attention at the color.

Vitamin C serums containing L-ascorbic acid are clear, which begins to change to a yellow or brown color roughly 3 months after opening. Therefore if your vitamin C serum suddenly turns yellow or brown, trash it. It has oxidized. 

Q: Does concentration matters in vitamin C?

A: 10% vitamin C serum should be the minimum while 20% should be the maximum as going below 10% may not render adequate results, and going higher than 20% could lead to irritation, it doesn’t increase its benefits. Dermatologists recommend choosing vitamin C serums with the percentage between 10 to 20. 

When choosing vitamin C serum we recommend these percentages below:

  • 10% (minimum).
  • 15% (Average).
  • 20% (maximum).
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