Another question from the Australian Science Festival which got me thinking was: “Can I take Vitamin C tablets, crush them and put them onto my face?”  Sounds like the basis for a plan but would it do any good?

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Ascorbic Acid is a natural Alpha Hydroxy Acid – a type of ingredient used for exfoliating the skin, boosting collagen levels and giving the skin a strength boost.

The Vitamin C tablets that we buy are usually a powdered or capsule form of Ascorbic Acid. This type of Vitamin C is water soluble and tends to be pretty unstable, quickly oxidizing into dehydroascorbic acid which is not biologically active.  To get the Vitamin C to work on the skin it needs to be put into an acidic base (around pH 2.5-3.5).  A blend of around 20% Ascorbic Acid is most likely to penetrate the skin – too little and the concentration gradient isn’t high enough.

Ascorbic Acid creams are available and are used to improve the condition of acne affected and ageing skin by increasing the skins collagen production and increasing skin strength.

So, can you make your own Vitamin C cream from crushed up tablets?  I would advice against it due to a few reasons.

1) The tablets can’t just be ground up and washed into your skin, the vitamin C has to be formulated into an appropriate base.

2) Vitamin C works at a low pH. Formulating at acid pH requires some skill and special equipment and while not impossible to do at home could end up in tears and worse still, burned skin.

3) Ascorbic Acid breaks down quickly if not formulated under the correct conditions so the resulting formulation could end up being a complete waste of money.

4) Ascorbic Acid reacts with a number of other chemicals which can be found in trace quantities in surfactants and other anti ageing actives such as peptides.

If you want to try Vitamin C out for yourself the following brands may be a good place to start  (We have not tried any of these yet so can’t give you a personal recommendation):

Ultraceuticals

Complex C

Skin Ceuticals

For more information on Vitamin C and other anti-ageing vitamins read our article Toxin Busting OR have a look at our piece from January 2010 looking at the Dr Sebagh vitamin C powder vials.