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Why Do Some Vitamin C Products Turn Orange on the Skin?

Article Excerpts from Dermatology Times

Many state-of- the-art skin products contain vitamin C, a potent antioxidant which is important to skin health. Vitamin C is actually a secondary antioxidant in the skin, able to donate an electron to vitamin E, which is the primary antioxidant. As part of the electron donation process, the vitamin C itself becomes oxidized. This process can be observed on a daily basis when cut fruit is left out. Freshly cut peaches have a vivid orange/yellow color due to their high vitamin C content. However, left on the table for several hours at room temperature, the peaches will turn brown. This browning is due to oxidation of the vitamin C, and the color change is due to a chemical reaction occurring as the electron is lost. Once the electron is lost, the vitamin C is no longer an active vitamin, meaning the vitamin C content/benefit of a fresh cut peach is much higher than the vitamin C content/benefit of a browned peach.

Now consider vitamin C serums for facial anti-aging purposes.  When in the vitamin C is in high concentration, the serum will have a yellowish color; but as it oxidizes, it will turn brown/orange.  Cosmetic vitamin C preparations that have discolored should be discarded as they have already oxidized and cannot provide skin benefits.  Vitamin C preparations can also discolor on the skin surface as they contact oxygen in the environment.  This accounts for the orange color that may emerge on the skin in the morning after wearing a vitamin C preparation overnight. For this reason, vitamin C serums should be stored in dark packaging that does not allow light or oxygen to reach the product.  It is also important that you not leave packaging open to the air for an extended period of time.

Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center recommends these vitamin C products for daytime anti-aging and anti-oxidant protection:

Serum: IS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum for Face & C Eye Serum for the eye area

Lotion: Revision Skincare Vitamin C Lotion 30%

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