top of page

Understanding Vitamin C in Skincare: A Guide to Different Forms and Their Benefits

Applying drops of vitamin c liquid to back of hand

Vitamin C is a powerhouse ingredient in skincare, celebrated for its brightening, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties. However, its instability in formulations has led to the creation of various derivatives to harness its benefits while mitigating its drawbacks. Here, we'll explore the different forms of vitamin C, their benefits, and disadvantages, tailored for beauty brands looking to incorporate this vital ingredient into their products.

Water-Soluble Vitamin C

L-Ascorbic Acid (AA): The most potent and well-researched form of vitamin C, L-Ascorbic Acid is highly effective in brightening the skin, reducing hyperpigmentation, and stimulating collagen production.



Immediate results.

Proven efficacy in numerous clinical studies.

Highly unstable, prone to oxidation when exposed to light, air, and heat.

Can cause irritation, especially at higher concentrations.

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP): A stable, water-soluble derivative of vitamin C, SAP is less potent than L-Ascorbic Acid but offers excellent stability and is gentler on the skin.



Highly stable and less likely to oxidize.

Suitable for sensitive skin.

Effective in reducing acne and brightening the skin.

Slower results compared to L-Ascorbic Acid.

Lower potency may require higher concentrations for similar effects.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP): Another stable, water-soluble derivative, MAP is known for its gentle nature and effectiveness in brightening and collagen synthesis.



Very stable and less irritating.

Suitable for all skin types.

Helps with collagen production and skin brightening.

Less potent than L-Ascorbic Acid.

Can be more expensive due to its formulation requirements.

Oil-Soluble Vitamin C

Oil Soluble Vitamin C

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (ATIP): This oil-soluble form of vitamin C is more stable than L-Ascorbic Acid and can penetrate the skin barrier more effectively due to its lipid compatibility.



Greater stability and longer shelf life.

Less irritating, suitable for sensitive skin.

Enhances the skin's lipid barrier.

Generally more expensive.

May not provide results as quickly as water-soluble forms.

Liposome-Based Vitamin C

Why Vitamin C is Hard to Stabilize

Vitamin C's efficacy is closely tied to its stability. L-Ascorbic Acid, the most effective form, is notoriously unstable, degrading quickly when exposed to light, air, and water. This instability can render the product ineffective, which is why stabilizing vitamin C in formulations is challenging.

Why There Are So Many Derivatives

To overcome these stability issues, scientists have developed various derivatives of vitamin C. Each derivative aims to provide the benefits of vitamin C while enhancing stability and reducing irritation. These derivatives, such as Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, offer different solubility profiles (oil vs. water) and delivery mechanisms (liposomal), catering to various skin types and formulation needs.

Collaborating with Formulators for Success

For brands looking to incorporate vitamin C into their products, understanding the different forms of vitamin C and their respective benefits and disadvantages is crucial. However, the choice of the best vitamin C derivative for your specific formula requires expert guidance. It's essential for brands to collaborate closely with formulators and their research and development teams. This collaboration ensures that the chosen vitamin C derivative aligns with the product's intended benefits, stability requirements, and target market. By doing so, brands can create effective, stable, and innovative skincare products that meet consumer demands and stand out in the market.


bottom of page