Vitamin C: Ascorbyl Palmitate Is Ascorbyl Palmitate Worth It? - The Dermatology Review

Vitamin C: Ascorbyl Palmitate Is Ascorbyl Palmitate Worth It?

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03.30.21 AD DISCLOSURE

What Is Ascorbyl Palmitate?

Ascorbyl palmitate is a stable, lipid-soluble form of vitamin C that is used in skincare products for its ability to protect the skin from free radicals, stimulate collagen production, and reduce hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is synthesized by most plants and animals from glucose. 

Humans lack the enzyme, L-glucono-gamma lactone oxidase, required to produce vitamin C, which means it must be acquired from dietary sources. 

Vitamin C is necessary for normal growth, development, and repair of damaged tissues in the body, as well as the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is also important for immune system function.

Vitamin C is the most abundant antioxidant in human skin. After oral intake of vitamin C, however, the absorption in the gut is limited by an active transport mechanism. This means that no matter how much vitamin C you ingest only a finite amount can be absorbed. Further, the bioavailability of vitamin C in the skin is inadequate when it is administered orally. Therefore, we rely entirely on external supplementation, such as topical application in the case of cosmetics.

Vitamin C is available in a number of active forms. One is ascorbyl palmitate, an ester formed from ascorbic acid or pure vitamin C and palmitic acid, a saturated fatty acid. The result is a lipid or fat soluble form of vitamin C. 

The functions of ascorbyl palmitate will be discussed below. The most biologically active form of vitamin C, however, is L-ascorbic acid. While L-ascorbic acid can be used in topical products, its use its limited because it is highly unstable and causes the most skin irritation out of all the forms of vitamin C.

Ascorbyl Palmitate

the good: Acorbyl palmitate is stable and less irritating form of vitamin C which may help to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, minimise the signs of aging and support collagen production.

the not so good: Studies have indicated that ascorbyl palmiate as well as many other forms of vitamin C are not as potent or well used by the skin as L-ascorbic acid.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients

Keep an eye on: Keep an eye out for which vitamin C ingredient is used in your product.

What Are The Benefits of Ascorbyl Palmitate?

In cosmetics and personal care products, ascorbyl palmitate functions as an antioxidant that can protect the skin from free radicals, stimulate collagen production, and reduce hyperpigmentation.

 

Ascorbyl Palmitate 

Ascorbyl palmitate has vitamin C activity approximately equal to that of L-ascorbic acid. However, since ascorbyl palmitate is lipid-soluble, it can penetrate the skin better than L-ascorbic acid and other water-soluble forms of vitamin C. 

Unlike L-ascorbic acid, it does not readily degrade in formulas containing water. The optimal pH of formulations containing ascorbyl palmitate is 5.5, which is around the skin’s natural pH. This makes in a less irritating alternative to other vitamin C serums.

 

Antioxidant

Ascorbyl palmitate functions as an antioxidant, which means it is capable of protecting the skin from free radicals. 

Free radicals are generated from external factors such as UV light, smoking, diet and pollution. Vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals imbalance by a process of electron transfer or donation. This is important because the harmful effects of free radicals can damage the DNA in your cells, the cell membrane, and cellular proteins, including collagen. 

When collagen within the skin is damaged, signs of premature aging can appear, such as wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin. Therefore, the ability of ascorbyl palmitate to protect collagen makes it an ideal ingredient to include in anti-aging skincare products.

 

Hyperpigmentation

Ascorbyl palmitate is also used to support the treatment of hyperpigmentation, the appearance of dark spots on the skin. 

Ascorbyl palmitate, in the form of L-ascorbic acid, interacts with copper ions at tyrosinase-active sites and inhibits the action of the enzyme tyrosinase, the main enzyme responsible for the conversion of tyrosine into melanin, thereby decreasing melanin formation. In simpler terms, It reduces the uneven distribution of melanin pigment or the molecule responsible for creating color in the skin. By decreasing the synthesis of melanin, the appearance of dark spots is reduced.

However, it is important to always remember to wear a sunscreen when treating hyperpigmentation. This is important for two main reasons. The first is that the sun can worsen hyperpigmentation. The second is that products that support the treatment of hyperpigmentation can often increase the sensitivity of the skin to UV damage. This includes products such as retinol and retinoids. 

 

Collagen

Ascorbyl palmitate also improves the elasticity of the skin and reduces wrinkles by supporting collagen synthesis. Suzan Obagi, assistant professor in dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh, explains to Scientific American, ‘After the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile with age.’ Therefore, by increasing the production of collagen, ascorbyl palmitate may help to keep the skin strong, firm, and less susceptible to wrinkle formation.

Vitamin C acts as a cofactor or a helper molecule in the body’s natural collagen forming process. Studies have looked at  L-ascorbic acid’s ability to crosslink and stabilize collagen fibers.

 Vitamin C has also been investigated for its involvement in the production of a molecule called procollagen mRNA. This molecule signals the production of collagen and is responsible for signaling to the cell that collagen is needed. While several studies support vitamin C’s involvement in the processes that produce collagen, research is ongoing as to whether skincare products containing vitamin C have significant effects in improving visible firmness and elasticity of the skin.  

Does Ascorbyl Palmitate Work As Well As Other Vitamin C Ingredients?

The type of vitamin C often varies  between formulations. As a vitamin C source, L-ascorbic acid is the most well-researched source and the source that has shown the most benefits to the body. 

Other forms of synthetic vitamin C used in skincare, such as ascorbyl palmitate, mineral ascorbates, calcium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate,or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate can have a significant effect on the efficacy of the product.

Studies have shown that most vitamin C products that don’t use L-ascorbic acid tend to be less potent and less well aborbed into the skin. 

Studies have indicated that tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate might equal L-ascorbic acid in terms of effectiveness. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is an oil-soluble form of vitamin C that works alongside other products such as retinol. In a review conducted by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, evidence indicated that tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is more stable in solution, less irritating and able to penetrate deeper into the skin, making it a promising vitamin C treatment. 

Is Ascorbyl Palmitate Vegan?

Ascorbyl palmitate is a vegan ingredient. It is derived from ascorbic acid and palmitatic acid. For the most part palmitic acid is derived from plant-based sources as it is the most inexpensive form of manufacturing. 

However, it can also be made from animal-based products. For this reason it is always best to check with the brand that you intend on purchasing if their source is vegan.

Is Ascorbyl Palmitate Safe?

The safety of ascorbyl palmitate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for the independent evaluation of the safety and efficacfy of skincare and cosmetic ingredients. 

In their review, the Expert Panel looked at the available data on ascorbyl palmitate and determined that is causes no dermal irritation or sensitization. The Expert Panel reviewed the scientific data and concluded that this ingredient was safe for use in cosmetic and skincare products.

References:
CIR, 1999. ‘Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Dipalmitate, Ascorbyl Stearate, Erythorbic Acid, and sodium Erythorbate’, International Journal of Toxicology. 
Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.

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