Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Better than L-Ascorbic?

alishaAugust 24, 2020

*** This post was originally published on my old blog on April 22nd, 2016. Any updates will be on a separate post. ***

Vitamin C is a total game changer in skincare. It promises to build collagen, diminish dark spots, brighten the skin, enhance sun protection, and protect against free radicals!

It’s safe to say that every skin tone and skin type can benefit from this product. I must have spent countless hours sitting in front of my computer from 2004 – 2015, researching to find my HG’s within the Holy Trinity of Skincare and Anti-Aging: a retinoid, a vitamin C, and a sunscreen (1/3, then the 1 got discontinued). I discovered Silk Naturals in 2012 and ordered my first bottle of Super Serum in November 2012, purely because it was the cheapest Vitamin C product I could afford on my college student in a work-study program that granted 7 hours a week. To my surprise, the Super Serum greatly diminished PIH marks I had and the results were easy to see because I didn’t have much acne due to being on birth control. Their website has information on MAP but I needed to know what the main differences were and why L-AA was so heavily used in the cosmetic industry when there is another option.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at how MAP stacks up against L-AA or Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic Acid: Unstable, water soluble type of Vitamin C. It is potent enough at 10% for beginners, 15-20% for more seasoned active users. It needs to be at a pH below 3.5 for maximum efficacy and absorption. Ferulic acid and vitamin E are the most common antioxidants and stabilizers for L-AA (source). You will find this combination in several brands. Listed below are some of the most popular L-AA based Vitamin C serums that are stabilized and at the correct pH, from order from most expensive to least.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: This type of Vitamin C is also water soluble, just like L-AA. It is also more gentle, effective at a neutral pH, less likely to irritate and penetrates to stay stable on the skin for up to 48 hours. On the skin, it produces the same results as LAA while calming down acne (source)! It also mixes well with niacinamide! WAIT.

So why isn’t MAP used more?

Because it is significantly more expensive than LAA. Run a quick search and Amazon to see the difference between a 6oz jar of LAA powder and 1oz of MAP. Check it out:

Holy shit!

SkinCeuticals uses 15% Ascorbic Acid and charges $163 for its C E Ferulic mix serum. I don’t even want to imagine what a product with a high concentration of MAP would cost if L’Oreal were to start riding its wave.

Here’s my tried and true MAP based Vitamin C favorites from Silk Naturals

• Super Serum: Combines 3% MAP with niacinamide, green tea extract, MSM (great for acne), and pumpkin seed extract. You’re getting the potency of about 10% LAA along with the brightening niacinamide, you have a powerhouse of a serum already. Then you get thermos thermopiles ferment aka “Venuceane”, a fermented deep sea algae that works as an antioxidant while  on the skin. You won’t miss the vitamin E in the other typical Vitamin C’s. The texture is that of a slightly sticky liquid, and you feel kind of tacky after applying it. Even if you are oily, you need to moisturize after. You may notice flushing or reddening of the skin because of possible conversion to niacin, but that will be because you used an AHA or BHA product beforehand. I used Biologique Recherché P50 as my toner before using Super Serum definitely noticed a redder face, but it dissipated. Those who are more sensitive to the conversion should separate the use of acids from their routine when it includes this serum.

• Mama’s Helper: 5% MAP with fermented wasabi, licorice root extract, pumpkin seed extract and fermented deep sea algae. You won’t miss the niacinamide here because it’s got the licorice root extract to brighten. You get the added antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and soothing benefits from the fermented wasabi extract, making this a great option for acne-prone skin. The texture of this serum is a gel compared to the liquid semi-sticky Super Serum, making it very easy to spread though once it dries, you need a moisturizer on top immediately otherwise you’ll feel like you have a tight layer on your face.

A word of caution: Do not keep these in a hot environment. I took Mama’s Helper with me to Bangladesh a few years ago. I immediately noticed a foul, fishy smell after a few days of using it. Was it the wasabi? The algae? No idea. I’m sure the extreme heat during my stay in Dubai and Bangladesh caused the product to ‘cook’ then give off a noticeable stench.

Results: These serums provide no moisture at all. You will feel tight after applying these and will definitely need a moisturizer. No problem for me cos I love layering the crap out of my skincare! I noticed a brighter complexion, a significant reduction in PIH as well as faster recovery from acne. During this time, I was also on birth control which regulated my acne-prone skin and was a devoted user of Biologique Recherché P50.

Conclusion & Recommendations: I still used my AB/Asian favorites such as Kose Softymo Deep Oil Cleanser and Biore sunscreens, but I had no idea about fermented yeasts, snails, or anything. Now that I have gotten into AB more, I realize that the Silk Naturaks serums I was using were way ahead of their time in the Western world. Licorice root extract and niacinamide are in MANY of my brightening sheet masks and fermented skincare is HUGE in Asia right now (Whamisa, Goodal, etc). I will forever be recommending their Vitamin C serums!

However, I do have some AB/Asian Beauty recommendations for both AA & MAP based serums!

  • OST Vitamin C20 Serum ( Yet to review, but it is one of the best AA/L-AA serums! There is already a very informational and thorough review by Kerry of Skin and Tonics that everyone should check out!
  • DHC Vitamin C Essence ( I haven’t tried this, but it is next on my list! DHC is a Japanese company with a wildly popular beauty subsidiary. The are most well known for their trusted  Deep Cleansing Oil, which has been around well before the Asian Beauty craze. I would love it someone could point me in the direction of a review of DHC’s Vitamin C Essence in English because it boasts 8% MAP!

Have you tried any of these? Please share in the comments!

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