Ascorbic Acid

What Is It?

Ascorbic Acid is commonly known as Vitamin C. Salts of Ascorbic Acid, such as Calcium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate may also be used in cosmetics and personal care products. These ingredients are used in a variety of cosmetics and personal care products including makeup, as well as skin and hair care products.

Why Is It Used?

Ascorbic Acid and its salts are used in the formulation of cosmetics and personal care products as antioxidants to slow deterioration caused by exposure to the air and also to control the pH of the finished product.

Scientific Facts

Ascorbic Acid is an essential nutrient required for collagen production, tissue repair, and for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. It also acts as an antioxidant, plays a role in resistance to infections, and is used for the treatment and prevention of scurvy. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Ascorbic Acid is 75 mg/kg/day for women and 90 mg/kg/day for men. Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime), tomatoes and potatoes are rich dietary sources of Ascorbic Acid.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Ascorbate and Sodium Ascorbate on its list of substances considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) as preservatives. Ascorbic Acid is also on the list of GRAS nutrients. The safety of Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel reveiwed the sceintific data and concluded that Ascorbic Acid and its salts were safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products.

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel noted that Ascorbic Acid was not genotoxic in most of the assay systems, but did yield a positive response in a few assay systems. When acting as an antioxidant, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that Ascorbic Acid was not genotoxic. Ascorbic acid was not carcinogenic in studies conducted by the National Toxicology Program. Because of the possibility that certain metal ions that could combine with Ascorbic Acid and related ingredients producing pro-oxidative activity, the CIR Expert Panel cautioned formulators to be certain that these ingredients are acting as antioxidants in cosmetic formulations. The CIR Expert Panel also considered clinical experience and data from a study using 5% Ascorbic Acid, coupled with an absence of reports in the clinical literature of sensitization, as strong support for the safety of Ascorbic Acid and related ingredients.

FDA: Link to the Code of Federal Regulations for Ascorbic Acid and its Calcium and Sodium Salts

Ascorbic Acid and the salts of Ascorbic Acid may be used in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has established an Acceptable Daily Intake of 0-15 mg/kg body weight for Ascorbic Acid and its Potassium and Sodium salts.

More Scientific Information

Ascorbic Acid functions as an antioxidant and pH adjuster. Antioxidants are ingredients employed in cosmetics to prevent or retard product spoilage from rancidity (or deterioration from reaction with oxygen). Antioxidants play a vital role in maintaining the quality, integrity, and safety of cosmetic products. Typical cosmetic antioxidants include reducing agents and free radical scavengers.