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I’m quite passionate about consistent antioxidant use, as previously posted in my skincare regimen. I’ve used Skinceuticals CE Ferulic for years and PCA SKIN’s C-Strength cream has also been in regular rotation. Both products use l-ascorbic acid, the purest form of vitamin C. Unfortunately, l-ascorbic isn’t the most user friendly of antioxidants and has some serious stability issues. Heat, light, and air – all relatively difficult to avoid – are the kryptonite of l-ascorbic. Further, the requisite low pH renders it a potential skin irritant; thus, many tend to avoid use of highly concentrated formulations. This is most unfortunate as ascorbic acid (AA) in skincare has been widely studied and found to be a powerful antioxidant against reactive oxygen species (ROS), which damage skin’s very DNA. Darrell Owens, the founder of Your Best Face (YBF), and fellow lover of antioxidants, pondered upon the many issues of AA. His recent response to the vitamin C dilemma is the answer to many antioxidant prayers: a gentle formulation of effective C derivatives in a moisturizing cream base.
Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop) has, as Marta noted, no less than three forms of vitamin C, accumulating to a total of 8.7 percent. Each form of C was specifically chosen based on several factors, including stability, effectiveness, and skin friendliness. While the percentages of each form of C used are proprietary, rest assured that the proportions exceed baseline amounts recommended for effectiveness – hence it is it is an “Advanced” CE formulation.
Unlike many skin-irritating C formulations, gentleness was not traded off for potency. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (aka ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate), generously formulated into CE Concentrate, is an extremely gentle C derivative. Moreover, it is stable and is indeed effective at penetrating the epidermis. According to a 2012 study (Stability, Transdermal Penetration, and Cutaneous effects of Ascorbic Acid and its Derivatives), ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate exhibited the physiological effects of AA and was shown to penetrate and efficiently convert to AA on reconstructed skin models. It was also found to suppress the elevation of intracellular peroxide after UVB irradiation and provide enhanced cellular tolerance against UVB and ROS.
A second form of C, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate/(MAP) is also known to be gentle on skin and studies show it is more stable than AA. Moreover, while MAP is similar to AA in that it is water soluble, it does seem to better quench the deeper layers of skin than AA. The previously cited 2012 study on AA and its derivatives also found that MAP repressed mortality of UVB irradiated mouse keratinocytes in vitro more markedly than AA. When not accosted by UVB, keratinocytes are known to actively uptake vitamin C and efficiently maintain high intracellular levels.
The third C derivative, aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate/AAP (aka ascorbyl 3-aminopropyl phosphate) is also water soluble. The clever addition of the phosphor ester group renders this sythesized compound extremeley stable. The phosphate group is more readily suitable for the skin membrane than the carboxylic acid group (AA is a carboxylic acid). AAP is particularly effective at inhibiting melanogenesis, the process whereby melanin (or pigment) producing cells are stimuated. When the compound is topically applied, enzymes in skin (phosphatases) generate AA and 3-aminophosphate, which precipitates cell renewal. Thus, AAP has both the dual effect of cell proliferation and de- pigmentation.
There is also the network antioxidant (enhances efficacy of other antioxidants) vitamin E and while this may not be a novel inclusion, the particular type of vitamin E used is. It is a special form of E succinate (also found in the YBF Private Reserve series) that is currently being studied in use with lung cancer patients. For topical skin use, it has been found to do a superior job of smoothing and toning skin.
Lastly, I’ve previously pointed out the benefits of alpha bisabolol. Though it may be the last ingredient on the list, it plays a key role in Advanced CE Concentrate. Alpha bisabolol is a very potent anti-inflammatory and works to keep skin calm, countering the effects of high-powered vitamin Cs. Further, is also being studied in the medical community as a potential weapon in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
It’s also important to note that it’s not just about what’s in the formulation, but also what’s not in it that is just as essential. In keeping with a desire to make a gentle C cream, certain types of ingredients were purposely excluded. Hence the lack of ferulic acid, as some are sensitive to the ingredient despite its network antioxidant properties. Overall, there aren't many ingredients in Advanced CE Concentrate. However, the proprietary combination of carefully selected oil and water soluble vitamin C derivatives is what makes this a simple yet effective formulation. I have been using Advanced CE Concentrate for close to two months and it’s clear to me why this cream was also named TIA’s Best new product launch of 2012.