does it really matter what kind of vitamin C I use?

The answer is most certainly yes.  L-ascorbic acid is the only type that is truly bioavailable vitamin C and provides all of vitamin C’s purported topical benefits.  Topically applied L-ascorbic acid functions as a primary, secondary and co-antioxidant that quenches reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the water environment of the skin. Because vitamin C is easily oxidized, products must be stablized by one of three methods. If the product has an aqueous base, it should have a pH of 3.5 or lower. Encapsulation technology and anhydrous product bases are impressive and effective ways to stabilize the ascorbic acid molecule. Esterfication is another method of stabilization; however, ester versions of vitamin C, such as ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, have been shown in clinical studies to provide only the antioxidant capabilities of vitamin C and not the collagen synthesis, anti-inflammatory and photoprotective benefits. This is due to the fact that the skin’s environment does not have the ability to break the bonds within the esters to release usable ascorbic acid. These esters are beneficial when taken orally, as the stomach’s acidic conditions make the release of ascorbic acid feasible.

Stable and effective L-ascorbic acid can be found in the following PCA SKIN products: C-Stregnth 15% with 5% Vitamin EC-Stregnth 20% with 5% Vitamin E, C-Quench Antioxidant Serum and A&C Synergy Serum.

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