The Effectiveness of L-Ascorbic acid and Retinol in the treatment of skin

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This report shows a trail of Retinol and L-Ascorbic Acid on the skin of 63 participants. It gives a comprehensive description of how the two chemical would to participants. The objectives that were determined in the clinical trial included the impact of the chemicals on the skin texture and consistency, the effects on pigmentation, the effects on fine lines, the effects on skin moisture content and the effects in skin surface texture (pores, roughness etc.). It was also noted down as to whether each chemical has some side effects such as stinging on initial application and Erythema. The method that was used in the trial was the application Retinol and L-Ascorbic separate sides of the face was applied both am and pm. The results showed that L-Ascorbic acid had a slight improvement on the skin pigmentation while Retinol showed no effect on skin pigmentation but yielded positive results in the texture and more comfortable. The L-Ascorbic acid was discovered that the participants experienced acne lesions and skin dryness. The conclusions that the participants are more enjoy use Retinol rather than L-Ascorbic Acid.


L-Ascorbic Acid is a type of chemical compound that is found in Vitamin C. Due to its association with Vitamin C, the compound has similar oxidizing properties as Vitamin C. L-Ascorbic Acid also exist in isomerism with other compounds that make up the Vitamin. The only difference between the L-Ascorbic Acid and other chemical compounds that make up Vitamin C is the interchange of different chemical elements that make up the compound (Baumann 2009, p. 25). This variation  in molecular structure results to difference in the reaction/chemical properties of the distinct forms of Vitamin C. Vitamin C being an active oxidizing agent, it is very important in the application of compounds used in skin pigmentation. However, different forms of the Vitamin have distinct penetration levels of the dermis layer of the skin. This implies that different constituents of Vitamin C have distinct properties on the skin pigmentation attributes. Over the years, scientists have been working on finding the most stable form of vitamin C that will be suitable in the colourization of the skin. It has been found out that L-Ascorbic Acid is the only form of Vitamin C that has the ability to produce profound skin decolourization. According to Counsell and Hornig (2011), the correct amount of application of L-Ascorbic Acid on the skin can produce the correct pigment that is desired thus giving it an important purpose in the medical industry.

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On the other hand, Retinol also known as Vitamin A is a chemical compound that mostly used in anti-aging products. Retinol reacts to the skin by shedding off the dead skins cells on the upper epidermal layer. Consequently, the cells beneath are encouraged to grow and multiply. This phenomenon creates a new layer of fresh cells that give the skin a striking pigmentation and a smooth texture. Vitamin A is widely applied in the medical field particularly in Dermatology for this unique property. It is predominantly used in anti-aging skin care products applied during facial treatments (Farris 2014, p. 67).

In this experiment, two chemical products namely L-Ascorbic Acid and Retinol were applied to the skin of participants and the results were collected for analysis. L-Ascorbic Acid was applied on right side of the participant’s face while Retinol was spread on the left side. The effects of the reaction of the two chemicals were the recorded and data analyzed as to which of the two chemical compounds was suitable in the providing the skin with the best-intended pigmentation, fine line, moisture content and surface texture.


There are 63 participants (Non-randomised group, all female students/one male studying Unit 2.4 Cosmeceutical Science) aged 18 to 50 years old. The participants will be provided two topical antioxidants applied to facial skin in a split-face fashion for a six-week period. Application of Retinol on the left and L-Ascorbic Acid on the right side of the face both am and pm. Prior to application, ensure skin has been cleansed thoroughly. The participants should not use other products with active ingredients during the six-week trial period. Their mixture would interfere with the results that would be produced. 


From the trial, the following data was recorded;

Results For L-Ascorbic Acid

Perception Criteria


Product texture and consistency (How does it feel on your skin?)

5% Too heavy

52% Comfortable

43% Too light

Effects of pigmentation

32% No change

63% Slight improvement

5% Significant improvement

Effects on fine lines

67% No change

32% Slight improvement

1% Significant improvement

Effects on skin moisture content

35% No change

62% Slight improvement

3% Significant improvement

Effects in skin surface texture (pores, roughness etc.)

25% No change

62% Slight improvement

13% Significant improvement

Side effects: stinging with initial application

57% None

38% Mild

5% Uncomfortable

Side effects: erythema

89% None

6% Mild

3% Uncomfortable

Other side effects:

        3 participants reported an increase in acne lesions

        3 yellowing of fingers

        1 participant reported mild erythema

        1congestion

        3 participants reported an increase in skin dryness

        1 oxidation, blocked pores


Product consistency is very light, individuals with dry skin may need to use a heavy moisturiser to compensate.

        6 too light, dry skin

        5 skin texture improved, softened

        4 inappropriate for oily skin type

        4 unpleasant sticky, applies unevenly

        3 improvement in PIHP

        4 unpleasant odour

Results For Retinol

Perception Criteria


Product texture and consistency (How does it feel on your skin?)

6% Too heavy

79% Comfortable

15% Too light

Effects of pigmentation

76% No change

24% Slight improvement

0% Significant improvement

Effects on fine lines

74% No change

27% Slight improvement

5% Significant improvement

Effects on skin moisture content

63% No change

19% Slight improvement

18% Significant improvement

Effects in skin surface texture (pores, roughness etc.)

19% No change

63% Slight improvement

18% Significant improvement

Side effects: stinging with initial application

83% None

17% Mild

0% Uncomfortable

Side effects: erythema

73% None

16% Mild

11% Uncomfortable

Other side effects:

        2 participants reported dryness and irritation

        1 participants noted that skin was red and felt warm

        Stopped Rx because of pimples


        3 not sufficient hydration

        1 reduced acne lesions

        3 strange texture, smell

        5 significant congestion, comedones and pustules

        7 enjoyed product, well hydrated

        5 improved lines

        1 too oily

        2 too sticky

        1 stopped treatment due to reaction



Based on the findings above, it is clear that the two chemicals have distinct effects on the participants during the trial. For the product texture and consistency, Retinol is more comfortable than L-Ascorbic acid which were 79% and 52% respectively. The result showed that L-Ascorbic acid was more effectively on pigmentation with 63% slight improvement while there was no apparent change in the pigmentation since Retinol has no oxidizing properties. L-Ascorbic acid contains the Oxygen element that reacts with Hydrogen from the reacting material which is the skin. The L-Ascorbic acid takes the Hydrogen from the skin and combines it with the Oxygen to form water while the skin becomes discolored (pale or depigmented) (Oesterhelt, Schreckenbach and Walckhoff, 2011).

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The results showed that Retinol had a small number of significant improvements compare with L-Ascorbic acid. Retinol has an effect of removing the dead cells from the skin encouraging the growth of new cells accounting for the smooth skin. However the L-Ascorbic acid does not remove the dead cells from the skin. As a result, new cells are not formed on the epidermal layer thus the lines of the skins are non-changed (Bouvier et al, 2010).

There are a slight improvement effects on skin moisture content for L-Ascorbic acid. The results showed that L-Ascorbic acid more moisture was 42% more than Retinol. the moisture content of the skin improved due to the oxidizing property of L-Ascorbic acid. After the oxidization process, water is formed and retained on top of the epidermal layer which is apparently observed as the skin moisture (Bouvier et al, 2010).

The participants that used Retinol showed 5% more number of the participants experienced a significant improvement on skin surface texture than the used L-Ascorbic acid. As Fox (2015) assert, Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) has no effect of restructuring the skin molecules thus the skin texture is retained.

For the side effect of stinging with initial, there are 5% the number of participants with uncomfortable after using L-Ascorbic acid while Retinol had zero. Also, for the side effect of erythema, the L-Ascorbic acid has fewer side effects compare with Retinol. From the participant’s comments, L-Ascorbic acid was too light and dry skin, inappropriate for oily skin type, unpleasant sticky and odour. However, it was improve in PIHP. A great number of participants enjoyed used Retinol. There are a significant improvement of congestion, comedones and pustules. It is also improves lines, but it is not sufficient hydration.

In conclusion, the participants enjoyed Retinol compared to L-Ascorbic Acid. Retinol is more comfortable than L-Ascorbic Acid and a better component of cosmeceutical products due to its natural attribute bring new layers of cells that appear more attractive. 


  • Baumann, L. (2009). Cosmetic dermatology. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
  • Counsell, J. and Hornig, D. (2011). Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). London: Applied Science Publishers.
  • Bouvier, D., Sapin, V., Bonnard-Gougeon, M. and Marceau, G. (2010). Retinol potentiates the inhibitory effect of ascorbic acid on uric acid assay. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 48(5).
  • Farris, P. K. (2014). Cosmeceuticals and cosmetic practice.
  • Fox, P. F. (2015). Advanced dairy chemistry. Volume 3, Volume 3. Dordrecht, Springer Science+Business Media.
  • Oesterhelt, D., Schreckenbach, T. and Walckhoff, B. (2011). Properties of the retinal binding site in bacteriorhodopsin ; use of retinol and retinyl moieties as fluorescent probes. Luxembourg: Commission of the European Communities.


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