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Ascorbyl Palmitate

Also-called-like-this: Form of Vitamin C
What-it-does: antioxidant
Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 2


A form of skincare superstar, vitamin C. Even though we are massive vitamin C fans,  Ascorbyl Palmitate  (AP) is our least favorite. (Btw, if you do not know what the big deal with vitamin C is then you are missing out. You must go and read our geeky details about it.) 

So, AP is one of the attempts by the cosmetics industry to solve the stability issues with vitamin C while preserving its benefits,  but it seems to fall short on several things.

What's the problem?

Firstly, it's stability is only similar to that of pure ascorbic acid (AA), which means it is not really stable. A great study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared a bunch of vitamin C derivatives and this derivative was the only one where the study said in terms of stability that it's "similar to AA". Not really that good.

Second, a study that examined the skin absorption of vitamin C found that ascorbyl palmitate did not increase the skin levels of AA. This does not mean that ascorbyl palmitate cannot penetrate the skin (because it can, it's oil soluble and the skin likes to absorb oil soluble things) but this means that it's questionable if ascorbyl palmitate can be converted into pure Vit C in the skin. Even if it can be converted, the palmitate part of the molecule is more than the half of it, so the efficacy will not be good and we have never seen a serum that contains a decent (and proudly disclosed) amount of AP.  We are highly skeptical what effect a tiny amount of AP has in a formula.

Third, another study that wanted to examine the antioxidant properties of AP was surprised to find that even though AP does have nice antioxidant properties; following UVB radiation (the same one that comes from the sun) it also promotes lipid peroxidation and cytotoxicity. It was only an in-vitro study meaning that it was done on cell cultures and not on real people, but still, this also does not support the use of AP too much. 

The only good thing we can write about Ascorbyl Palmitate is that there is an in-vitro (made in the lab, not on real people) study showing that it might be able to boost collagen production.

Regarding the skin-brightening properties of pure vitamin C, this is another magic property AP does not have, or at least there is no data, not even in-vitro, about it.

Overall, Ascorbyl Palmitate is our least favorite vitamin C derivative. It is there in lots of products in tiny amounts (honestly, we do not really understand why), however, we do not know about any vitamin C serum featuring AP in high amounts. That is probably no coincidence. If you are into vitamin C, you can take a look at more promising derivatives here

Show me some proof

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Volume 11 (4) – Dec 1, 2012, Stability, transdermal penetration, and cutaneous effects of ascorbic acid and its derivatives
  • Dermatologic surgery, 2001 Feb;27(2):137-42., Topical L-ascorbic acid: percutaneous absorption studies.
  • Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2002 Nov, Volume 119, Issue 5, Vitamin C Derivative Ascorbyl Palmitate Promotes Ultraviolet-B-Induced Lipid Peroxidation and Cytotoxicity in Keratinocytes
  • Colin Sanders, A Guide To Cosmetic Ingredients For The Perplexed, Ascorbyl Palmitate

Products with Ascorbyl Palmitate

Perricone MD Thio:Plex Intensive 2-Step Brightening System [Step 2: Brightening Activator] Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Intensive Brightening Regimen 15% Dr Dennis Gross Sheer Mineral Sun Spray Broad Spectrum Spf 50+ Glysomed Eczema Control JAN MARINI C-Esta Face Serum Ikarov Shea Butter Intraceuticals Booster Vitamin C+3 REPLENIX Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream Spf Derma E Firming Dmae Toner Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% And Kojic Acid 1% Serum Colbert MD Illumino Anti-Aging Brightening Mask Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Repair Crème Korres Black Pine 3D Sculpting, Firming & Lifting Face Serum Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion Pm Rohto Mentholatum Melano Cc Intensive Anti Spot Essence Soleil Toujours Organic Set + Protect Micro Mist Spf 30 Trader Joe's Nourish Enriched Intensive Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer Christian Breton Liftox Anti-Wrinkle Eye Serum Derma E Radiance Brightening Serum Dr Dennis Gross Triple C Firming Peptide Oil ELLE & EVE Vitamin C Youth Serum Erno Laszlo White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C Peel Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser Tarte Colored Clay Cc Undereye Corrector Yes to Carrots Vitamin-Enriched Kale Diy Powder-To-Clay Mask Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector Derma E Ester C Cleanser Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1% Dermaceutic Active Retinol 0.5 Nanowhite Intensive Brightening Serum Omorovicza Mineral Touch African Botanics Baobab Clay Oxygenating Cleanser Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Glow EltaMD Uv Pure Broad-Sprectrum Sunscreen Spf 47 Mary Kay Timewise Night Solution Topix Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 15% Topix Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 20% e.l.f. Beauty Shield Recharging Magnetic Mask it Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder it Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer Derma E Firming DMAE Serum Derma E Hydrating Day Cream Derma E Hydrating Eye Crème With Hyaluronic Acid And Pycnogenol EltaMD Uv Elements Broad-Spectrum Spf 44 NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat Liquid Foundation No7 Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder Spf 45 Tarte Creaseless Concealer oskia Renaissance Brightlight Serum Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Daily Vitamin C Defense Serum