I was musing this morning that even though blogs in general (and my blog in particular) are not always that well written and have no kind of quality control and are generally a bit rough round the edges nonetheless they are quite compelling things to read. I think the reason for this is that they can be very immediate. You just fire up your laptop and away you go. The result can be online really quickly. In fact, I thought, I think I can probably get one up in an hour. So on a whim I posted an offer on Twitter to do a blog post on any topic in an hour.
I am really grateful to Miss London who came up with a really great question, and so here it is a blog post on using the combination of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to combat ageing.
This combination is in principle a great idea. Vitamin C is an organic acid that the body uses as an antioxidant, so it really is a natural anti ageing ingredient by any way you look at it. On top of this it has a specific anti-melanogenesis effect. In plain english it reverses the creation of pigment in the skin. This is the origin of the folk remedy of using lemon juice to cure freckles. And given that the older you get the more uneven your pigmentation gets, vitamin C is definitely something that counteracts this.
Another thing about older skin is it is drier. As we age we lose some of the barrier properties of our skin and the amount of water it can hold goes down. The answer to this problem is to apply molecules known as humectants to the skin. These hold the moisture in more effectively keeping the skin in a younger state than it would be without them. There are a whole set of these humectants around – but hyaluronic acid is a particularly good one. It was first identified in cockscombs, and these were for a long time the chief source for the cosmetic industry. This was a very expensive way of getting it. Luckily for cosmetic chemists, vegetarians and I suppose cocks, there are now synthetic ways of making it. It is still pricey, but no longer outrageously so.
Combining two different anti ageing approaches in the same product is a good idea. There is a good chance that the two working together will be more effective than one on its own. So that is all good.
There is of course a problem. The issue is the stability of the vitamin C. When we say that it is an anti-oxidant what this really means is that it reacts strongly with oxygen. You put the vitamin C molecule into your skin and when oxygen comes along it reacts with the vitamin C rather than damaging the collagen. The trouble is that oxygen is everywhere and so vitamin C doesn’t last long. It certainly doesn’t last long in a normal skin cream. You can come up with formulations with very little water which helps a little – but you then have the problem that the vitamin C is in a form that makes it difficult to get into the skin. Another approach is to react the vitamin C with another molecule which will release the vitamin C once it is in the skin. A popular version is ascorbyl palmitate. The chemical name of vitamin C is ascorbic acid, and ascorbyl palmitate is made by linking it to a fatty molecule.
This approach is okay, but it only stabilises the vitamin C to a certain extent, and the stabilisation inevitably stops it from working so well anyway. There is no way round this. The vitamin C works by being broken down. Slow the breaking down and you reduce the efficacy.
There is no such problem with the hyaluronic acid. But there is one thing to bear in mind. There are plenty of humectants to chose from and there is no particular data to indicate that hyaluronic acid is much better than any of the others. Given a choice of creams, you can’t say that the one with the hyaluronic acid is the best one for you. Humectants are about increasing the water bearing capacity of your skin. But they can only do so much. Once you have reached a certain amount, they won’t give you any more benefit. The trick is to find one that matches the state of your skin – and the chances are that the older you get the more humectant will do for you. If your skin is in pretty good condition humectants won’t improve it much.
So to conclude, these are definitely two good ingredients and ought to work well together. But they both need to be formulated with some skill, and you need to make sure that your skin actually needs them. They are also anti ageing in the sense that they can to some extent mitigate the effects of ageing on the skin. They will only have a very minor effect to protect your skin from ageing in the future.
That was fun. I managed to keep in the hour I promised. I dare say there are more grammatical, spelling and style errors than usual but I hope not enough to spoil the post too much. Thanks to London Girl for the very interesting question.
I have written about vitamin C and hyaluronic acid before,
And I have done a video on humectants though it could do with the sound being improved a bit.