ascorbyl palmitate

Ascorbyl Palmitate at a Glance

  • Made by combining ascorbic acid with palmitic acid
  • Not considered as effective as pure vitamin C
  • Has a powerful synergy with vitamin E (tocopherol and derivatives)
  • Often used to help stabilise air-sensitive skin care ingredients
  • Also used as a food additive to improve stability of oils

Ascorbyl Palmitate Description

Ascorbyl palmitate is a stable, oil-soluble form of vitamin C that is made by combining ascorbic acid with a fatty acid known as palmitic acid. It’s also known as ascorbyl-6 palmitate, and it is effective up to a pH of 6. Pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) requires a pH of 3.5 or lower to work, making ascorbyl palmitate easier to formulate with.

Although ascorbyl palmitate has antioxidant benefit for skin, research has shown it doesn’t penetrate as well as pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and that its conversion to vitamin C isn’t as efficient as other forms (such as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate). This helps explain why ascorbyl palmitate isn’t the leading form of vitamin C in products meant to address lack of firmness, wrinkles, and discolourations. Research has shown that a modified form of this ingredient, known as trisodium ascorbyl-6 palmitate 2-phosphate overcomes this conversion issue.

The palmitate portion of this ingredient lends it hydrating properties many other forms of vitamin C do not have.

Interestingly, although ascorbyl palmitate is considered a stable form of vitamin C, research has shown other forms possess greater stability and skin can more freely convert those forms to ascorbic acid. However, a comparative study showed that ascorbyl palmitate maintains adequate stability in different types of emulsions when it is encapsulated.

Ascorbyl palmitate is often used in skin care at amounts between 0.1–1% where its antioxidant ability helps stabilise more delicate ingredients, including pure vitamin C; however, it’s not impervious to breaking down with ongoing exposure to heat and oxygen, as data from multiple ingredient suppliers attests.

It’s considered safe in the amounts commonly used in skin care and makeup products.

Ascorbyl Palmitate References
Pharmazie, October 2005, pages 751–755
European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, July 2003, pages 59–66
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, July 2017, pages 14–17
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, December 2008, pages 453–458
Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, March 1997, pages 795–801
Drug Research, January 2017, pages 52–58
Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica, September 2016, pages 1,339–1,349
Nutrients, July 2017, ePublication

See tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate magnesium ascorbyl phosphate palmitic acid vitamin C

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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!