As the ageing population continues to grow and this demographic is also more active and living longer, many are seeking strategies for achieving and maintaining a youthful appearance. Using topical products that protect against ultraviolet (UV) induced damage while also encourageing the strengthening and building of skin structure, and a healthy, youthful appearance is within reach. The new C&E Strength and C&E Strength Max from PCA SKIN® have revolutionised what can be expected from an anti-ageing topical.

An all-important part of the skin’s structure is the extracellular matrix (ECM). This collection of biomolecules creates a complex scaffolding system within the dermis that supports the skin, keeps it flexible and provides the facial volume that is critical to youthful skin. Chronological ageing does play a role in the breakdown of the ECM, but it has been proven that more than 85–90% of this degradation is due to external offenders and is largely avoidable1.

This matrix degradation presents itself as sagging, laxity, fine lines and wrinkles. Effective regimens are usually designed to protect the existing matrix with sunscreens and antioxidants, while triggering new matrix component production with collagen-building ingredients like vitamin C.

The human body has its own internal free radical-quenching systems, yet the daily application of topical antioxidants provides significantly heightened protection against matrix breakdown and the visible signs of facial ageing2,3. Antioxidants function in three ways: primary antioxidants or electron donors; secondary antioxidants, which chelate metal ions; and co-antioxidants, which facilitate other antioxidants. Many offer multiple protective benefits. Two critically important antioxidants for the skin are vitamins C and E.

Vitamin C

The Synergy of vitamins C and E

The Synergy of vitamins C and E

Unlike vitamin C esters, such as ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, L-ascorbic acid is the only form of vitamin C that is able to provide all of the vitamin’s benefits, including collagen synthesis, anti-inflammatory action and photo-protection4.

Topically applied L-ascorbic acid serves as a primary, secondary, and co-antioxidant that effectively quenches reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the aqueous environment of the skin. Because vitamin C is easily oxidised, it must be stabilised to retain its activity for an acceptable shelf life period. Its inherent reactivity is a challenge for formulators wanting to create a product that can be stable on the shelf, yet unleash the activity and benefit of vitamin C once it reaches the skin. Products with an aqueous base must have a pH of 3.5 or lower to ensure efficacy. Esterfication may be used to stabilise the molecule, yet, as mentioned, the ester versions of vitamin C provide only the antioxidant capabilities of vitamin C and not the other important anti-ageing benefits of L-ascorbic acid. Therefore, esterfication is not the preferred method of stabilisation for vitamin C to be used on the skin.

An impressively stable and effective method of protecting the L-ascorbic acid molecule is to encapsulate it within an anhydrous product base. C&E Strength and C&E Strength Max use this method as a delivery system and for maintaining the full efficacy of the ingredients until they are introduced into the skin to impart their benefits. Interestingly, the inherent instability of L-ascorbic acid is one of its best traits. In order to neutralise a free radical, an antioxidant must be oxidised. As long as this molecule can be kept stable for the time in which it sits on the shelf, instability and reactivity is exactly what makes L-ascorbic acid such an effective antioxidant. These novel products are formulated using a silicone wrap that not only keeps the L-ascorbic acid molecules intact, but also acts as a ‘dermal patch’ to deliver the L-ascorbic acid into the pores where it interacts with water to become active in the skin. The molecules are then released transdermally over a long period of time, providing full saturation and long-lasting interaction with the skin.

Vitamin E

PCA SKIN C&E Strength Before and After Photos

PCA SKIN C&E Strength Before and After Photos

Using pure tocopherol in a skincare product can be a challenge, as this beneficial vitamin is inherently oily and can make the texture of a finished product unpleasant. PCA SKIN was able to formulate with the optimal 5% pure tocopherol yet retain the luxurious, velvety texture that makes these products cosmetically elegant. Tocopherol is more efficient and predictable than tocopheryl acetate. The efficacy of tocopheryl acetate as an antioxidant and in its ability to work synergistically with L-ascorbic acid is based on its conversion to tocopherol in the skin. The conversion of tocopheryl acetate to tocopherol is still a topic of study and is not fully understood. So, by using 5% pure tocopherol, the physiologically active molecule, more efficient, predictable, and reliable results can be delivered.