Four Forms of Vitamin C Found in Skincare

Photography: Getty Images

While vitamin C products are commonly found in spas nationwide, not all vitamin C products are created equal, which is why Janel Luu, founder and CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics and PurErb, recommends carefully checking ingredient lists. “Some fight free radicals, some fade dark spots,” she says. “Some irritate the skin, others don’t.”

Here, she explains the differences between some of the most common forms of vitamin C found in skincare today: 

  • AAP (aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate) is a stable form of vitamin C known for reducing melanin production, which can minimize age and sun spots and hyperpigmentation. 
  • Look for MAP (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), which is stable with less of a risk of irritation when compared to other forms of vitamin C. Also, MAP is more effective at lower concentrations than other forms and is known to not only combat free radicals but to also help prevent signs of damage from UV rays and environmental pollutants. 
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (BV-OSC) is an oil-soluble form of vitamin C, which helps it to be absorbed more effectively, and it pairs well with other ingredients, including retinol. Like the other forms of vitamin C, BV-OSC brightens and evens out skintone, prevents UV damage, improves collagen synthesis, and reduces melanin production.
  • Traditionally, l-ascorbic acid is used as the form of vitamin C in skincare products, but the main challenge faced by formulators is stability, because l-ascorbic acid oxidizes when exposed to air. This is evident when a dark brownish color appears. Plus, unstable vitamin C may promote free radical formation, causing oxidative damage.


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