Summertime and the liven’ is C-sy: Part 2
Photo-protection, treating photo-damage, and co-factor in collagen synthesis:
All of these issues are naturally linked together. Vitamin C naturally lives in certain concentrations in the epidermis and dermis. It declines as we mature like most other compounds. When we are are exposed to UV radiation, that radiation begins a process of breaking down collagen. When sufficient vitamin C is present, it stops the chain of events that break down our existing collagen in response to sun exposure. Of course, the perfect level of prevention that occurs without supplementation is pretty much done after our teenage years – so supplementing vitamin C both topically and orally is certainly a good idea to maximize protection against UV related aging in the epidermis and dermis.
When collagen begins to break down, it either has to be fixed, we have to produce new collagen fibroblasts, or we simply live with the visible damage. When vitamin C is present in sufficient saturation, it serves as the molecule that brings together the necessary proteins to form what looks a little bit like three-strand helical braid; or collagen. To make fresh collagen fibroblasts, you have vitamin C. To fix broken down collagen fibroblasts, you have to have vitamin C.
All of what is happening when UV radiation breaks down collagen is what we refer to as oxidative stress. UV radiation breaks down substances in and on our skin that become free radicals and chew up collagen. When vitamin C is present, it stops that from happening. It is even more effective when combined with other antioxidants (specifically zinc and vitamin E amongst others).
Preventing dryness and transepidermal water loss:
When discussing skin condition, we know that “dryness” refers to oil and water balance and “dehydration” refers specifically to a lack of water. Where we tend to get a little bit confused is that adequate essential fatty acids (that link together to create proteins and fats) help to prevent us from losing water. Adequate dermal density (the thickness of the skin) also prevents the loss of water.
So, when we’re speaking about vitamin C, not only do we need the special fats to help it get to the area where it does its work, but we also need those fats and the collagen vitamin C actively works to produce to minimize transepidermal water loss. Directly, vitamin C keeps our skin dense enough to hold water. Indirectly, the fats coupled with vitamin C in a formulated delivery system block water from exiting the skin too quickly.
Lightening and brightening skin coloration:
Vitamin C is a gentle and global lightener. Some lightening agents (particularly chemical agents) kill the melanocyte completely. I don’t usually like to make judgments on the modality of attacking a skin concern – but this is plain bad. The reason is that melanin plays an important role in protecting our skin from UV radiation, and killing of melanocytes indiscriminately leaves us pretty susceptible to much scarier damage. Vitamin C isn’t killing any of our cells, but rather acts on an enzyme that produces melanin signaling it to turn it down a notch. The result is a visibly more even skin tone.
For a more aggressive treatment of defined dark spots, a vitamin C formula should be combined with a lightening formula like Pigment Lightener Gel.
This gets super technical – but cutting to the chase, vitamin C turns off a specific pathway that is responsible for a histological reaction releasing a whole combination of different cytokines. This is where vitamin C becomes valuable in the cases of acne and rosacea. What the esthetician needs to know is that this is the property responsible for reducing visible redness, swelling, and immunological role played in irritating clogged sebaceous glands.
So when do I use a vitamin C product?
Using a gentle epidermal vitamin C like Vital C Serum is great on a daily basis in the morning before anticipated sun exposure. After a period of sun exposure, the vitamin C levels in the epidermis are depleted from doing their job as UV protectants, so it’s also a great idea to apply Vital C Serum to clean, toned skin immediately after a period of time spent in the sun. Vital C Serum is also a great substitute for the evening use of a retinolic formula in sensitive or inflamed skin as it also has gentle exfoliating properties.
Cell-Tex Vitamin C Moisturizing Cream is a beast of burden. It packs a great big punch in a small package. It’s great as a mask or a peel accelerant. It’s also great to wear overnight massaged into the skin 1-3x/per week. For spot treatment, it can be used daily on scars or stretch marks, but if irritation occurs, discontinue use for a couple of days and cut back to every-other day. Let’s not forget that vitamin C usually arrives in the form of an acid – there is going to be some chemical exfoliation that happens. Gentle exfoliation yields moisture, brightness, tightened pores and a glowy firmness; over exfoliation yields sensitivity, irritation, redness and vulnerability. Use your judgment and let your client know what to pay attention to.
As a peel, Vitamin C Peel 30% is very, very gentle. It’s great to get a client started on a peel regimen to see very visible results with the least amount of discomfort or adjustment. For the client that has reached the place where they are conditioned enough to handle a strong peel or power peel – the Vitamin C Peel 30% can be used as a mask in the treatment room, or layered on top of any combination of Skin Fitness Therapy enzyme or natural acid peels to stimulate collagen and even skin tone. My personal favorite for fine lines and wrinkles in a power peel is: tone with lactic acid peel prep, apply a fine layer of Cherry Wine Face Smoothie, apply Vitamin C Peel 30%, and layer over with Noni Peel 35% with Copper Peptides and DMAE, then perform 7-Step Micro Sculpting Massage.
Don’t forget vitamin C for summer. It is your best friend in the sunshine!
Hope this is illuminating info!