What is sodium ascorbyl phosphate, you may ask? Simply put, it’s a form of vitamin C commonly used in skincare products. You may have spotted it on a product label and wondered exactly what its purpose is. Well, we’re going to give you all the deets on what it is, the benefits of sodium ascorbyl phosphate in skincare, and how to use it. Keep reading to learn all about this unsung hero of the vitamin C family.
IN A NUTSHELL
Ingredient Category: Antioxidant
Main Benefit: This stable, water-soluble form of vitamin C is a powerful protector that excels at evening and brightening skin tone while softening the appearance of fine lines.
What Is Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate?
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) is a derivative of vitamin C, an essential nutrient found in foods like citrus fruits, guavas, broccoli, bell peppers, and more. It's important for a healthy immune system, functions as an antioxidant, and is powerfully nutritive when applied topically.
There are several forms of vitamin C that all work similarly, with L-ascorbic acid being the first one to be synthesized in a lab. You might know this version as the most common— however, it is the most aggravating. L-ascorbic acid is finicky and unstable, prone to degrading quickly and irritating skin when the pH isn't just right.
Other forms of vitamin C include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, and ascorbyl palmitate. These variants each have unique characteristics and are more suited to certain tasks, like functioning as a food additive or serving as a very mild addition to some cosmetics.
Thankfully, of the other types of vitamin C, there is one that packs a punch without actually pummeling your skin or being too weak. Called sodium ascorbyl phosphate, this version is light without sacrificing potency and highly stable.
Although less powerful than its unpredictable sibling, L-ascorbic acid, SAP’s stability allows it to remain viable in cosmetics, making it more effective in the long run. Once it hits your skin, it changes into ascorbic acid to deliver its bounty of benefits without being nearly as irritating.
Benefits of Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate for Skin
What are those benefits, you ask? First and foremost, sodium ascorbyl phosphate is a mighty antioxidant that protects the skin from external aggressors. That gives it impressive anti-aging advantages, thanks to its penchant for protecting skin from elements that cause spots, wrinkles, and sagging.
This battle for your youthful appearance includes keeping forces that attack the skin’s elasticity at bay, helping complexions stay firm and tight. Antioxidant power is also crucial for rejuvenating and calming skin by fortifying it and boosting its natural defenses.
Another radiant result from this flurry of antioxidant activity is a more even skin tone. This helps fade the appearance of discoloration while bringing back a glorious glow.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate also has cleansing properties that help remove buildup and excess sebum — which is great news for oily skin types! And because it's gentler than other forms of vitamin C, it's an excellent option for sensitive skin types, too.
Yet another thing that makes SAP so compelling is the fact that it penetrates the skin more efficiently than L-ascorbic acid. You need less of it to do the same job.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate can also promote skin hydration. It plays well with ultra-hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, making it the perfect addition to serums and moisturizers. For this reason, our vitamin C serum, Nectar of the C, features both hyaluronic acid and sodium ascorbyl phosphate. Don't be surprised if you start to notice an improvement in skin texture, as well as a softer look, after continuous use.
Finally, let's talk about stability. Some of the more intense forms of vitamin C are notoriously fickle, oxidizing when coming into contact with light and air and becoming inactive. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, on the other hand, is light, and oxygen and water-stable. Not only is it easier to store and longer-lasting, it works well in tons of product formulations.
How to Use Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate for Skin
So, how do you use this gentle skincare warrior to its fullest potential? One of the best things you can do is grab a sodium ascorbyl phosphate-enhanced serum, since they tend to boast a higher concentration than many moisturizers and creams. For supercharged effects, shoot for one that has at least 10%, like our Nectar of the C vitamin C serum.
The best time to apply a skincare product containing sodium ascorbyl phosphate is in the morning after using a gentle cleanser and before you move on to your lotions. That way, you benefit from its antioxidant protection as you go about your day, where you might interact with pollution, dirt, and UV rays. To really level up, try to pair it with other antioxidants like vitamin E and niacinamide (vitamin B3).
You can also find this friendly form of vitamin C in moisturizers. When applying a face cream with sodium ascorbyl phosphate, such as our Crème de la Cream brightening moisturizer, after a vitamin C serum, it adds another layer of protection and seals in the brightening properties that are at work in your skin.
Don't forget to cap things off with a good sunscreen to ensure you get the most out of sodium ascorbyl phosphate's protective powers. And remember, even though this form of vitamin C is generally mild, everyone’s skin is different. Whenever trying a new product, do a patch test to make sure it agrees with your skin before applying it all over your face.
Our Favorite C-Lebrity
Vitamin C has a lot to offer the skincare world, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate is one way it puts its best face forward. It strikes an ideal balance between strong and gentle, plays nicely with lots of other ingredients, and delivers all the benefits vitamin C is adored for.