As an Aesthetician in a physician’s office, I see patients on a daily basis with a variety of skin care concerns. One of the main concerns that patients have is pigmentation. UV rays stimulate your pigment cells called Melanocytes to produce pigment called Melanin (melanin is responsible for your tan but also for your uneven pigmentation, sunspots, and other unwanted skin reactions).
There are many different pigment disorders and they are often difficult to treat. Sun Screen is without a doubt the most important step in a person’s skin care regimen (not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also for your health). Sun doesn’t only cause changes in pigment, but in collagen and elastin, and is the leading cause in premature aging.
Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant in not only preventing pigmentation, but lightening existing pigment. This doesn’t mean by placing orange juice on your face, you’re helping your pigment issues. On a molecular level, Vitamin C can be quite unstable. Vitamin C, in the form of Ascorbic Acid, is most stable within powder form. Within this form, it’s very beneficial when added to DIY skin care formulas.
Many over the counter skin care products will have Vitamin C in their “brightening” products, but there are many other factors to take into consideration such as preservation, concentration, oxidation, and additives. A tip I always follow is if a Vitamin C brightening product is in a clear glass container, don’t buy it. Vitamin C oxidizes when in sunlight, and will then be ineffective, it’s also very important to take into consideration the preservation of the product, as there needs to be something in it that allows the Ascorbic Acid to stay potent.
There are many contributing factors in the production of melanocytes. Sun exposure, hormonal imbalance, medications and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation all increase the production of melanin. If you are prone to pigmentation issues, or want to prevent them from reoccurring, you want to be on a Tyrosinase inhibitor (Tyrosinase is an oxidase that is the rate-limiting enzyme for controlling the production of melanin.) Vitamin C inhibits the enzyme Tyrosinase, and by doing so, less melanin pigments are produced. Not only does Vitamin C help with pigment issues, but it also neutralizes free radicals that break down cells and cause intrinsic and extrinsic aging.
I purchased my Ascorbic Acid from Whole Foods. I purchased their 356 brand, powdered Vitamin C (on the back on the ingredients list, it states “Vitamin C in the form of Ascorbic Acid”). While Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in its dry form is stable, as soon as it gets wet, begins to become ineffective. This is why making this mask and applying it to your skin as soon as you mix it, is very important.
Disclaimer: This mask may sting a bit depending on your sensitivity. Some redness is normal but do not use if you have any inflammation disorders, are hypersensitive, or are allergic to Vitamin C in any form.
DIY Brightening Mask
1/2 tsp powdered Ascorbic Acid
1 tsp oat powder (blend organic oatmeal in food processor or high powered blender)
1 tsp filtered water
1. Double cleanse your skin, making sure dirt, oil, and debris are removed
2. In small bowl, mix all ingredients and stir with the back of your brush, or with a form, breaking up any clumps
3. Apply mask to your face, letting it sit for 10 minutes
4. Rinse off mask with cool water
5. Tone skin
6. Apply your serum, eye cream and moisture, and boom!
Note 1: Again, stinging is completely normal and to be expected. Generally, the sting is the worst in the first 30 seconds. If you want to start off with less ascorbic acid, you may do so and work your way up weekly.
Note 2: Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun and you need to be sure to ALWAYS wear Broad Spectrum SPF and reapply every two hours.