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Ingredient Spotlight: Vitamin C Ester

Ingredient Spotlight: Vitamin C Ester
Writer and expert2 years ago
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Vitamin C is a notoriously tricky skincare ingredient. While it boasts a myriad skincare benefits, such as brightening, diminishing discolouration and protecting against free radical damage, traditional vitamin C can also be irritating and unstable. As a matter of fact, the average shelf life of a vitamin C skincare product, once opened, is less than six months. Enter Perricone MD’s Vitamin C Ester. This proprietary ingredient was developed by Dr. Nicholas Perricone to deliver all of the benefits of vitamin C—without the drawbacks. 

Understanding the Benefits of Vitamin C 

When it comes to skincare development, Dr. Nicholas Perricone is heralded for identifying inflammation’s role in the ageing of skin. He also noted the benefits of vitamin C, including creating a stable, easy-to-tolerate version. Dr. Perricone shared his initial a-ha moment about using vitamin C as a skin treatment in his NY Times best-seller, The Perricone Prescription: 

“One bright, sunny August morning, I had taken a particularly long run. By late afternoon, my face had turned bright red from painful sunburn. It occurred to me that since vitamin C was a powerful antioxidant, perhaps it would also act as an anti-inflammatory to help resolve the burn more rapidly. That night, I made a vitamin C solution by mixing crushed vitamin C tablets in water and patted it on my face. At first it stung, but the discomfort soon subsided and I was able to sleep. In the morning, the burn was definitely better. The swelling and redness had greatly diminished, although they had not disappeared entirely. Yet my shoulders, on which I hadn’t applied the vitamin C, were still quite red and tender. My vitamin C solution showed potential, but there was still work to be done.” 

And work (years of it!) is exactly what Dr. Perricone devoted to researching the potential of vitamin C as a skincare ingredient. Initially what he uncovered was promising—and frustrating. While the vitamin C molecule (known as L-ascorbic acid in its natural state), boasts significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it also has a penetration problem. L-ascorbic acid is water-soluble—and the skin repels water-soluble substances. So, getting L-ascorbic acid to penetrate the skin’s surface and impart its many benefits was extremely challenging. 

In addition, Dr. Perricone learned that L-ascorbic acid was aptly named because its acidic quality made it quite irritating to the skin. So, while vitamin C has inherent, anti-inflammatory benefits, the irritating nature of L-ascorbic acid could cancel them out. Finally, Dr. Perricone determined that L-ascorbic acid is an unstable molecule and quickly breaks down. When he began experimenting with L-ascorbic acid in skincare formulations, Dr. Perricone learned it could break down and lose its potency in as little as 24 hours. 

Despite these issues, Dr. Perricone was not deterred. He resolved instead to create a new and improved vitamin C molecule that offered all the benefits of L-ascorbic acid (e.g. anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, firming, brightening skin discolouration, etc.) minus the water-solubility and the potential for irritation and instability. 

The Next Frontier: Discovering Vitamin C Ester 

Vitamin C Ester is L-ascorbic acid plus palmitic acid, a fatty acid derived from palm oil. This addition makes the new molecule fat- (rather than water-) soluble so it can easily penetrate the skin’s surface. In independent studies, Vitamin C Ester has been shown to absorb more readily and achieve up to seven times higher levels in the skin than L-ascorbic acid alone. 

Introducing Vitamin C Ester into Your Skincare Regimen 

Today, the revolutionary Vitamin C Ester molecule can be found in several of Perricone MD’s best-selling products. 

Vitamin C Ester Citrus Brightening Cleanser 

This thorough but gentle gel cleanser removes makeup and impurities without stripping the skin of natural oils while visibly improving skin clarity, texture and tone. 

∙Vitamin C Ester Brightening Serum 

Revive dull, discoloured skin with this introductory brightening serum to help visibly improve minor discolourations and uneven tone. Specially formulated for all skin types, it brightens, hydrates and illuminates skin, while also diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Vitamin C Ester Brightening Amine Face Lift 

This lightweight, firming and tightening serum helps minimize the appearance of skin discolouration and dark spots over time. In addition to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of Vitamin C Ester, this formula marries gentle micro-exfoliation with nourishing ingredients to help reveal a more even-looking complexion. 

Vitamin C Ester CCC + Ferulic Brightening Complex 20% 

This supercharged serum is Perricone MD’s most potent vitamin C serum available because it’s formulated with Vitamin C Ester and two additional forms of vitamin C to provide the highest concentration (20%). It’s a targeted treatment and recommended for those with more dramatic signs of discoloration and dark spots. The new complex also contains vitamin E and ferulic acid which complement Vitamin C Ester’s ability to brighten and smooth. In a clinical study of 42 women over 8 weeks, this potent serum received statistically significant results in the improvement of skin texture, radiance and firmness. 

Vitamin C Ester Photo-Brightening Moisturiser Broad Spectrum SPF 30 

This oil-free moisturiser is the ultimate in daytime sun protection. It visibly brightens, softens fine lines and wrinkles and hydrates skin. In addition, SPF shields skin from UV rays and other environmental aggressors, while Alpha-lipoic acid boosts antioxidant protection and helps diminish fine lines and wrinkles. 

If brightening and improving skin’s tone and texture is the name of the game, then there’s no question the star player is Vitamin C Ester. Not only does the breakthrough ingredient easily penetrate the skin, but it has the ability to deliver higher concentrations of vitamin C to ensure the skin's surface is brighter and smoother, while diminishing the look of dark spots and discolourations. 


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