The holidays are here, and I am overwhelmed. As usual. Having said that, I have found that the best strategy to deal with the epic onslaught of gifts to both give and request is to clarify and prioritize!
Because I am neither organized nor disciplined, this is at times painful. Rather than turn to wine, a tried-and-true method of coping, I suggest knowledge. If you were to buy or ask for one skin care product that would have the greatest effect on your skin, what would it be?
Enter Vitamin C.
The most searched for skin care question on the internet is the necessity and type of vitamin C serum. There are a lot to choose from. In my research, I’ve found highly touted serums for $25, and even more highly touted ones for $350. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We will deal with the inflated $350-serum in a bit, but for now let’s look at what vitamin C is, does, and how to read an ingredient deck to see if the right type and quantity is in the product to give you the results you want.
The technical name for vitamin C is ascorbic acid. Originally used to treat scurvy, it is now used to treat ageing which has, interestingly enough, the same symptoms including thinning skin, bone loss, poor wound healing, wrinkles, age spots, etc.
It is the quintessential skin ingredient; there is no more valuable and important ingredient to both apply to skin and take internally to benefit skin.
Having said that, ascorbic acid doesn’t naturally soak into the skin and breaks down quickly once it hits the air or water. In order to transmute nutrients into the skin, you need a fat-soluble molecule to piggyback in order to aid in penetration.
The most common fatty acid to add to skin care products to achieve this is palmitic acid. When these two ingredients are compounded together, they are called, and this is the most important piece of knowledge in this article, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate.
Premium ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is expensive and therefore many skincare companies don’t use it. They use a cheaper version called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate or l-ascorbic acid. Often, these ingredients are sold as being the same thing, but they are vastly different in their efficacy.
The former remains in the skin cells 40 to 80 times longer than l-ascorbic acid, and has four times the effect. It also has 10 times the concentration, suppresses UVB-induced skin pigmentation, reduces trans-epidermal water loss, and improves elasticity and skin texture.
Huge difference. Therefore, when shopping for an excellent vitamin C serum, you want to look for the extra-long and hard to pronounce, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate.
Never go to the grocery store with me, I am the height of irritating. Mainly because I read all the labels, look up ingredients, and crack jokes at how the word sugar has 56 different varieties used by food companies to hide the fact that their product is basically cheap and unhealthy.
Skin care is very similar. Most serums contain 25-50 ingredients and only the top three to five listed on the ingredient deck have any influence on your skin’s actual health. Which leads us to the $350 serum I mentioned at the beginning.
To spend $350 on something that might last you two months (tops) you would expect to have your face turn into the skin of a 12-year-old girl. Well, that would be my expectation anyway. In truth, the ingredient deck on the product (which shall remain unnamed) has 35 ingredients, and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is #10!
All the ingredients listed before it are used to make it feel nice, go on smoothly, and make you love it. They just aren’t actually doing anything. To make this sink in deeper, the advertising around this product is of famous ladies saying how it’s their favorite product and how it transformed their skin. Yikes.
The moral of the story here is to check the label. If the label is long and the key ingredient appears further down than number five, then maybe you need to reconsider its effectiveness. Having said that, any vitamin C serum that provides a noticeable change in your skin will cost you.
You simply cannot buy a cheap serum and improve your skin. The serum I use, Transdermal C Serum, is spendy at $199, yet it contains 80% vitamin C (the right type) and has only 11 ingredients. To budget for this, I spend less on everything else, as, bang for buck, I get the most results from the serum.
As the holidays draw near, and your shopping days close in on you, remember to do your homework on ingredients. I’m always of the mindset that one perfect gift is better than 10 not so perfect gifts. My mom, however, might disagree. Don’t tell her I wrote this.
Have you considered a vitamin C serum for your skin regime? Do you have the habit of reading the ingredient list of any skin care or makeup product? Have you considered using skin care product as stocking stuffers? What would you like to get in your Christmas stocking?