By Wendy Ouriel
OUMERE doesn’t make a vitamin C serum because I have found through my own research and observation, that vitamin C serums are destructive to the skin. Vitamin C serums are commonplace in skin care, yet they are a product whose foundation is based upon scientific illiteracy and marketing gimmick.
I believe that only those who do not understand biology, and who do not have the ability to read and understand scientific literature, but want to hop on the fad product bandwagon would put a vitamin C product in their skin care, or promote it in any way.
So why are they so popular in skin care if they have no benefit? How did this product become so popular?
In brief, the assumption is that, because dietary vitamin C is involved in collagen biosynthesis during development and aging, then applying topical vitamin C will boost collagen in the skin.
Anyone who has taken an introduction to biology course should know this is not how the body works for the following reasons:
1. Once your body is saturated with a water-soluble vitamin (such as vitamin C), then any excess is going to be removed. Your body isn’t a Porsche. If you’re approaching maximum velocity, you can’t just turn on Sports Mode and go even faster. If your body has enough vitamin C, adding more isn’t going turbo boost collagen in your body. Nothing can "turbo boost" collagen in the body. Your body only makes so much collagen at one time and it cannot make more than what it is programmed to make or make more than what your body deems to be enough at a given time.
And your body cannot store vitamin C for later.
So that means if you are not vitamin C deficient, adding more vitamin C does nothing beneficial. And unless you are a 17th century pirate, you probably aren't deficient, or deficient enough in vitamin C to have any supplementation have an effect on the collagen synthesis in your body. However, lets say you are vitamin C deficient, this still will not cause an uptick in collagen when topically applying vitamin C because:
2. To make collagen, vitamin C needs to interact with specific enzymes. Those enzymes are located in the dermis, which is far below where the serum sits on the skin.
Non-pharmaceutical serums (anything you can get without a prescription for the most part) do not penetrate the epidermis, which is a good thing. You do not want a non-pharmaceutical agent soaking into the deep layers of your skin because this can make you sick. If there is any sort of contamination in the product (which there will be because skin care is not sterile) then those contaminants are going into your bloodstream. This is why your skin care should not contain any ingredients that break apart the skin’s upper protective layer. DMSO, essential oils (or the terpenes they contain), alcohol or any other dermal penetration enhancers should be avoided in skin care. These sorts of agents, also beyond introducing impurities into your organs and bloodstream, also require the breaking of elastin, collagen and skin cells to achieve dermal penetration. Which negates the whole purpose of using a supposed “collagen-boosting” serum.
3. Vitamin C is a water-soluble compound, and water-soluble compounds do not efficiently penetrate past the upper layers of the stratum corneum. Lipophilic compounds penetrate deep into the skin/bloodstream, which is why (fat soluble) vitamin A (a.k.a retinoid acid) elicits such a strong reaction to the skin and can have an effect on the liver and other organs.
For vitamin C to have an effect it would need to reach the dermis, because this is where the enzymes are located that make procollagen (the pre-cursor to collagen). And as previously stated, with vitamin C on its own or in a serum, this is not possible, or not possible in a way that won’t harm your skin (by breaking it apart to get to those deeper layers, which destroys collagen to do so). This is why dietary vitamin C works and topical vitamin C does not: because the nutrients in your bloodstream can reach the dermis.
This is also the reason why any legitimate studies that showed that vitamin C has an effect on skin cell collagen secretion did so in a petri dish, because there was no barrier for the vitamin to overcome and the vitamin reacted with the skin cells in an isolated environment that does not mimic the reality of human skin. And therefore has no relevance or evidentiary value in these circumstances.
Furthermore, even if a fat-soluble form of vitamin c were to be used, it still would not elicit a collagen synthesis reaction when used topically for reasons mentioned in item 1 and it could lead to health consequences as described in item 2 above. It should also be noted that any of the long-standing scientific research cited for promoting topical C has been done on the water-soluble form
Vitamin C Serums and the Destruction of Skin
What vitamin C serums cannot do is upregulate or promote collagen synthesis, however they can oxidize your skin, desensitize your body’s ability to make collagen naturally, disrupt your bacterial biome that keeps your skin healthy, and cause inflammation.
And, we know this not just from the understanding of biology, but from the reports of Bioluminescence readers and OUMERE customers.
The 10 Ways Vitamin C Serums Destroyed Your Skin, as Reported by You
I have compiled a list of the top 10 complaints from vitamin C users, which they reported ceased or improved after they stopped using the vitamin C serum and started a healthy skin care regimen.
- Redness/red patches
- Spots on skin/ uneven skin tone/ hyper pigmentation
- Loss of firmness in skin
- Increased fine lines/ wrinkling
- Contact dermatitis
- Skin burns/ chemical burn
- Loss of hydration
- Oily T-zone
- Worsening of rosacea
All of the above can be blamed on the following:
1. Vitamin C causing skin oxidation
2. Vitamin C eliciting an inflammatory response
3. Vitamin C disrupting the balance of your skin by changing your bacterial biome.
4. Vitamin C destroying collagen and elastin in the skin
5. Vitamin C breaking down healthy skin cells
The best way is the biological way and the biological way to make more collagen is to have your skin cells secrete it on their own. This is done through exfoliation with an AHA/PHA/BHA exfoliant. Any other means is going to either have no effect, or a destructive effect. And with your skin it is best to do things the way your body prefers, rather than via skin care fads devoid of any scientific value.
Effect of solubility and molecular size on skin penetration. <
Koide, T., & Nagata, K. (2005). Collagen Biosynthesis. Collagen, 85–114. doi:10.1007/b103820
Levin, J., & Momin, S. B. (2010). How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 3(2), 22.