citrus-520794_640There are different types of Vitamin C’s available in serums. The majority of serums utilize a L-ascorbic formula although ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate are becoming quite popular. Differences in the vitamin c derivatives include the pH level required in order to remain stable. Here’s a review of all the most popular formulations available on the market today

MAP (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate)

This solution is formed with the addition of magnesium phosphate through esterifiction. MAP solutions tend to be more gentle on skin and are stable at neutral PH levels. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is L-ascorbic acid in a water-soluble form and more stable compared to L-ascorbic acid. MAP is stable at pH 7 and converts to ascorbic acid.

Ascorbyl Palmitate

This form of Vitamin C is fat soluble instead of water soluble which may make it more difficult to penetrate deep into the skin. Studies have shown ascorbyl palmitate to be more stable compared to l-Ascorbic acid. The only drawback is that concentration levels are generally not listed on the bottle for products containing ascorbyl palmitate.  Ascorbyl palmitate requires low pH levels in order to remain stable .

Ascorbyl Treta-isopalmitate

A fat soluble solution that significantly gentler than ascorbic acid but not as effective at penetrating the skin deeply. Studies have show that it works well with vitamin A & E and may have reduce the signs of aging.

L-Ascorbic Acid

This water soluble form of Vit C is the most researched and powerful version of L-ascorbic acid. The only drawback is that it is sensitive to light, oxygen and oxidation which results in a darker colored serum and no longer effective. One easy solution to bypass this problem is to decant the product into smaller vials and use one at a time while storing the rest in the refrigerator. It is the most popular form of vitamin C serum and available in some of the most popular serums.

L-ascorbic concentrations vary from 15%-20%. The optimum concentration for potency is 20%; those with sensitive skin may want to start off using a lower concentration at the beginning in order to develop a tolerance.

This is the same form used by the body to generate skin cells and heal itself. The right PH levels are imperative when it comes to the potency of ascorbic acid. According to one study conducted, women with photo-aged skin who used a l-Ascorbic serum reported improvements in fine lines, surface roughness and decreased discoloration. Optimum pH levels for maximum absorption is at 2.5 – 3.0. Serums with L-Ascorbic acid include Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF.


Research shows that l-Ascorbic acid is the most effective ingredient in an anti-aging product. However, simply containing l-Ascorbic acid does not make on product the best. Other factors to consider include packaging, pH levels, concentration and other ingredients utilized. For example, solutions that contain both vitamin C & E tend to be more effective since these two ingredients work in synergy in order to enhance absorption. Hyaluronic acid is another ingredient that has been proven to enhance absorption of vitamin C into the skin.