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Vitamin C in skin care, does it lighten/brighten skin? Seeking theoretical explanation.

vit c vitamin c skin lightening skin bleaching

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#1 Reincarnatian

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 10:34 PM


Hi all!
I use a "kids" zinc sunscreen with vitamin c (unknown percentage, however i dont expect to be high):
http://www.allterrai...reen-spray.html

As i use it 1-2 times a day, I'm quite anxious about if its going to lighten/brighten my skin permanently. I'm african/white mix, and i dont want to be lighter.
I see vitamin c as an active ingredient in soooo many "lightening products"!

Does anyone have a theoretical explanation on how vitamin C alone effects skin applied topically?
Does anyone have experience in using vit C in skin lightening, if yes, what is your personal opinion (regardless of studies)?

#2 mustardseed41

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 11:17 PM

The amount of C in that sunscreen will be far too low to have any real effect on your skin. For a bunch, and I mean a BUNCH of info on vitamin C and skin lightening, go to skincaretalk.com. As far as topical vitamin C in general, I've made my own for the last 5 years.



Vitamin C is naturally found in skin and gets depleted in daylight. If you don't use topical C you will have less than optimal amounts in your skin. Oral supplementation can only increase skins C to a certain limit. Topical C can increase the amount 20-fold. Vitamin C has been chosen by evolution as the main protector of the watery portions of your body. It's the only antioxidant that directly can stimulate fibroblasts to synthesize new collagen and it brightens skin by moderating epidermal melanin. Pairing it with vitamin E equals greater protection (SPF 4). Adding ferulic acid can double that to an SPF 8

Edited by mustardseed41, 09 September 2013 - 11:23 PM.

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#3 Heyman

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:57 PM

Where have you heard that you can permanently brighten your skin? I'm pretty white skinned already, would not want it to become brighter permanently..

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#4 Logic

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 08:57 PM

I add a lot of ascorbic acid and other supps to my cream.
I cant say I have noticed a lightening of my skin.

#5 Heyman

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 09:13 PM

I mean I can think that maybe as its an acid it might make the skin peel of somewhat, making you lose your tan faster... Or it also prevents UV damage thereby decreasing the amount of tan you will get. But other then that?

#6 JohnD60

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:16 PM

Does anyone have a theoretical explanation on how vitamin C alone effects skin applied topically?

My seat of the pants theory would be that it is acidic and provides mild exfoliation. And that stimulates collagen production.

#7 Luminosity

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 06:20 AM

I've used vitamin C topically and I don't think it will lighten your skin tone. This doesn't mean you should make some insane concentration in a homemade cream. That might be irritating. I wouldn't worry about waking up looking like a late stage Michael Jackson.

#8 JohnD60

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 03:00 PM

This doesn't mean you should make some insane concentration in a homemade cream.

I use it at night, while I sleep, maybe three times a months. I mix pure vit c power which I buy at a vitamin store, with just enough water and glycerol so it dissolves. So it is basicly 100% concentration. I assumed most people used it at roughly 100% concentration. I doubt it does much of anything at 10%

Edited by JohnD60, 11 September 2013 - 03:01 PM.


#9 niner

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 01:28 AM

JohnD, you should look at Skinceuticals CE ferulic serum. You can find recipes on the net to create your own knockoff. I'm pretty sure it's not anywhere near the concentration you are using, but they get very good results with it.

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#10 Luminosity

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 04:18 AM

You seem to be using too high a concentration. I used to make my own liquid C in water for topical use. It was a much lower concentration, but it could get kind of irritating even then. I am assuming you are using ascorbic acid crystals. I'm not sure what the usual concentration is. When you use a product that is much more acidic or alkaline than your skin, you risk irritation. There is only so much that topical vitamin C can do for you. More isn't necessarily better.

I would look at the concentrations out there in commercial products. A link to one of them is below. Theirs is much weaker than yours. I would also look at the Ph compared to the Ph of skin. The closer you get to that, the better. Ascorbic acid crystals, which is what it sounds like you are using, are water soluble so you can make a water-based liquid in a brown glass eye dropper jar and keep it in the frig. Make everything really clean. Boil the water, to kill micro-organisms, then let it cool. Then add the C. I would aim for the Ph of skin. You may be able to get something to test Ph from somewhere, or go by feeling. Using green tea instead of water may be nice. If you do that, you should probably add Nutribiotic GSE (grapefruit extract) as a preservative.

http://www.swansonvi...-oz-59-ml-cream

Edited by Luminosity, 12 September 2013 - 05:03 AM.


#11 JohnD60

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 03:40 PM

You seem to be using too high a concentration. I used to make my own liquid C in water for topical use. It was a much lower concentration, but it could get kind of irritating even then. I am assuming you are using ascorbic acid crystals. I'm not sure what the usual concentration is. When you use a product that is much more acidic or alkaline than your skin, you risk irritation. There is only so much that topical vitamin C can do for you. More isn't necessarily better.

I would look at the concentrations out there in commercial products. A link to one of them is below. Theirs is much weaker than yours. I would also look at the Ph compared to the Ph of skin. The closer you get to that, the better. Ascorbic acid crystals, which is what it sounds like you are using, are water soluble so you can make a water-based liquid in a brown glass eye dropper jar and keep it in the frig. Make everything really clean. Boil the water, to kill micro-organisms, then let it cool. Then add the C. I would aim for the Ph of skin. You may be able to get something to test Ph from somewhere, or go by feeling. Using green tea instead of water may be nice. If you do that, you should probably add Nutribiotic GSE (grapefruit extract) as a preservative.

http://www.swansonvi...-oz-59-ml-cream

Yes it is Vitamin C cyrstals that I use. It has not irritated my skin, or else I would not use it. It is my understanding that Vit C oxides when mixed with liquid, and that over the course of a day becomes greatly reduced in effectiveness.

#12 Heyman

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 05:32 PM

This doesn't mean you should make some insane concentration in a homemade cream.

I use it at night, while I sleep, maybe three times a months. I mix pure vit c power which I buy at a vitamin store, with just enough water and glycerol so it dissolves. So it is basicly 100% concentration. I assumed most people used it at roughly 100% concentration. I doubt it does much of anything at 10%

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is probably one of the best proven ones out there, and they use 15%...

#13 JohnD60

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 06:25 PM

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is probably one of the best proven ones out there, and they use 15%...

Thanks for the link. Since Skinceuticals sells their C E Ferulic for something like 20x what it costs to make, they certainly have the financial motivation to finance such studies. Since Ascorbic Acid is a super cheap commodity chemical, there is not much motivation for anyone to conduct similar studies to support it's use straight. That does not make the Skinceuticals studies invalid, but it is instructive to me in weighing the parameters used and results obtained in the studies. The skinceuticals studies are engineered around a daily use regime, that is best for their bottom line, but I doubt it is best for an individual's skin. One of the studies on their website shows that daily use of 20% VitC is actually better than daily use of 30% VitC, perhaps not all too surprising if used on a daily use basis 30% could very well be too aggresive. I prerfer my once every ten days approach. It seems to me that intermitent use would allow for higher concentrations, of course I have nothing to support that opinion, other than my own personal experience.

Edited by JohnD60, 13 September 2013 - 06:33 PM.


#14 Heyman

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:27 PM

Well, the problem is that C degrades very fast... The ferulic and E stabilize it, and that is proven pretty much. I doubt very much that only using Vit C will be stable enough for e.g. a week. I think I read Eva say somewhere that even C E Ferulic is more like 6 hours or so once applied... Not entirely sure.

Edited by Heyman, 13 September 2013 - 08:28 PM.


#15 mustardseed41

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:45 PM

From Skinceuticals web site..... "Once absorbed, this serum can’t be washed or rubbed off. It remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours, making it an excellent addition to sunscreen."

http://www.lotioncra...c-acid-kit.html

I'm on my 3rd batch of this stuff. LOVE IT!!!!

Been using a C serum 6 days a week for about 5 years.

Edited by mustardseed41, 13 September 2013 - 08:55 PM.

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#16 Luminosity

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 03:50 AM

What is ferulic acid? Which one do you buy? What concentration do you use?

When I used topical C in water, I didn't feel it was oxidizing. I wasn't using it as a peel, just a topical vitamin and stimulant for my skin. I'm guessing it was in the neighborhood of 10 or 15%. I could feel it absorbing and being effective. My skin felt brighter and more alive. This preparation would not last forever in the frig.

Now I just use C internally to simplify my life. I take special C's I think are better, two of them. Eventually nutrients will mostly make their way out to your skin in used internally, especially if you use good ones in the right combinations at the right times. You can get a boost from some topical vitamins. The cost of commercial topical C products are mostly ridiculous. The typical lab-made ascorbic acid crystals, made from corn, are not expensive at all, and they don't use that much of it. They are water soluble, so go ahead and make your own liquid or buy a cheap generic C cream like Swansons, or try the others.

I made my C serums from Ester C powder when you could buy that, and I also made a cold water extract of Camu Camu berries, which are very high in C. I didn't use ascorbic acid crystals myself but I have nothing against them.

#17 Heyman

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 08:17 AM

http://stores.skines...t--E/Detail.bok

I bought mine here, its easy to do it yourself.
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#18 Matt

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 12:19 PM

I've been looking after my skin since I was about 15-16 years old and I've never found anything better than the Skinceuticals CE+Ferulic. I've been using it since 2009 and definitely won't be changing. It lasts me about 7 months, so the cost of it is not really an issue for me.

#19 Luminosity

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 06:04 AM

What a wonderful resource, Heyman. Here's an online store, Skin Essential Actives, that gives us the tools and knowledge to make our own grooming products. Where have you been all my life?

"[ascorbic acid] has proven to be effective at percentages as low as 5% up to 15%. Over 15% there is minimal measurable benefit to the epidermis. LAA is best absorbed by the dermis at pH 2.8 - 3.2.

L ascorbic acid is unstable. When in solution at room temperature the half life is 15.5 hours. To increase the shelf life of an LAA serum, it is best stored refrigerated, in an airless bottle and away from light. In combination with vitamin E and ferulic acid it is said to remain stable for up to 45 days.

Vitamin C has become a popular addition to after sun products because it has been shown to interfere with the UV-induced generation of ROS by reacting with the superoxide anion. Topical application of Vitamin C was studied by Humbert et al. who evaluated the effects of topical vitamin C in healthy photoaged female volunteers in a double-blind, randomized trial. A 5% vitamin C cream was applied over a 6-month period, comparing the action of the vitamin C cream versus excipient on photoaged skin."


http://stores.skines...rbic/Detail.bok

Edited by Luminosity, 15 September 2013 - 06:15 AM.


#20 mustardseed41

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 11:34 AM

I've bought many items from skinessentialsactives. Great prices also. They do ship from the far East and can take some time. Plus you have to sign for delivery. This is a popular C powder for topical use. http://www.lotioncra...-ultrafine.html
Whatever brand you use, be sure it is very fine powder. Most sold is not.

#21 JohnD60

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 06:20 PM

Well, the problem is that C degrades very fast... The ferulic and E stabilize it, and that is proven pretty much. I doubt very much that only using Vit C will be stable enough for e.g. a week. I think I read Eva say somewhere that even C E Ferulic is more like 6 hours or so once applied... Not entirely sure.

Which is why I mix the Vit c crystals immediatelly before use with the water/glycerin solution. I do not store it. Sorry it I did not make that clear

#22 JohnD60

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 06:28 PM

Whatever brand you use, be sure it is very fine powder. Most sold is not.

Why? What does it matter how fine the powder is, it dissolves almost immediatelly.

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#23 mustardseed41

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 07:22 PM

Whatever brand you use, be sure it is very fine powder. Most sold is not.

Why? What does it matter how fine the powder is, it dissolves almost immediatelly.


I get a crystal like texture in my serum unless I use very fine powder. Many other people only use very fine for theirs such as the C recipes on essentialdayspa and skincaretalk.
There is also a reason most people don't use it like you are using it. Your missing out on the E and Ferulic Acid. It's also very questionable how much of your C is actually getting to deeper levels of the skin where all the real benefits occur. That's why really good ones like Skinceuticals CE Ferulic use penetration enhancers.

#24 ta5

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 07:52 PM

Which is why I mix the Vit c crystals immediatelly before use with the water/glycerin solution. I do not store it. Sorry it I did not make that clear


I'm curious, what does the glycerin do for you?

I premix a powder of 4 parts Vitamin C + 1 part MAP + 1 part Allantoin + 1 part Ferulic Acid by volume from bulkactives.com. Every other night I mix about 2ml of water with 1/8 tsp of the powder and apply it. I think it works out to 12% Vitamin C. The other nights I use a mix of Retin-A + Niacinamide + Azelaic Acid. Every night I add N-Acetyl-Carnosine, which I'm not sure does much, but a study shows some absorption.

#25 limited

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 01:32 PM

Doesnt really lighten skin just gives a glow
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#26 JohnD60

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 07:38 PM

Which is why I mix the Vit c crystals immediatelly before use with the water/glycerin solution. I do not store it. Sorry it I did not make that clear


I'm curious, what does the glycerin do for you?

My mix is just copying a product called "Perfect C" that I used and liked, but is no longer made. They used glycerol in their mix, so that is how I make it. I don't have an actual answer. My guess is that the glycerol increases the moisture content of the skin, and the increased moisture content permits a higher concentration of Vit C to be used without peeling.

#27 Next

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:27 PM

From Skinceuticals web site..... "Once absorbed, this serum can’t be washed or rubbed off. It remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours, making it an excellent addition to sunscreen."

http://www.lotioncra...c-acid-kit.html

I'm on my 3rd batch of this stuff. LOVE IT!!!!

Been using a C serum 6 days a week for about 5 years.


I just bought one of the sample packs of ferulic/c from ebay and want to maximize my efficiency with it. Since it's supposed to be effective for 72 hours does that mean I only need to apply it every 3 days?

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#28 mustardseed41

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 02:49 PM

From Skinceuticals web site..... "Once absorbed, this serum can’t be washed or rubbed off. It remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours, making it an excellent addition to sunscreen."

http://www.lotioncra...c-acid-kit.html

I'm on my 3rd batch of this stuff. LOVE IT!!!!

Been using a C serum 6 days a week for about 5 years.


I just bought one of the sample packs of ferulic/c from ebay and want to maximize my efficiency with it. Since it's supposed to be effective for 72 hours does that mean I only need to apply it every 3 days?


You could go that route. Your skin would not be as "topped up" as it would if you used it daily and maybe you would receive slightly less benefits/or not.





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