The Effects of Retinol and Ascorbic Acid on the Facial Skin

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・8 Sources

The primary purpose of this report is to investigate the effects of using cosmeceuticals (Retinol and ascorbic acid) in the facial skin. Cosmeceuticals can be defined as products for skin care that are advanced combining cosmetics with pharmaceuticals. They are known to not only improve skin surface appearance as the cosmetics do, but they do improve biological function for deeper levels in skin by utilizing the ingredients that are active. This study was concerned with effects of cosmeceuticals.

  • Background

This study involved using two skin care ingredients which are Retinol and L-Ascorbic Acid by applying them to the facial skin and dividing the face into two and applying each to one of the part and the other one on the remaining part consistently for six weeks.

  • Objective

The core aim of this study was to investigate the effects of L-Ascorbic Acid and Retinol on the facial skin.

  • Methods

The study was conducted for six weeks and involved sixty-three participants. The participants applied ascorbic acid on one side of their face and applied retinol on the other side of the face daily for those six weeks. Questionnaires were used where they filled the effect they had by using the cosmeceuticals.

  • Results

The results show that that Retinol significantly improves the texture of the skin and has minimal side effects. Ascorbic acid is seen to be safe for daily use and mainly for a long duration.

  • Conclusion

Both ascorbic acid and retinol have minimal side effects and improves the skin and thus should be encouraged for use.


Cosmeceuticals usage across the globe has been increasing consistently for skin care. This is because most people believe they significantly improve the skin and have a large number of essential substances to the skin (Thomas & Kim, 2013). It is of great importance to critically test cosmeceuticals and doing detailed investigations concerning them to make sure that they do work correctly instead of superficially masking the conditions (Sarkar, Arora & Garg, 2013).

Studies done show that Retinol and L-Ascorbic Acid have the capability of penetrating skin where they help in repairing and rebuilding the skin. It is very crucial to examine the effects of cosmeceuticals to the skin to show the structure, actual condition, youthfulness, density together with the damage that can be caused towards the skin.

Retinol can be described as a precursor of an acid called retinoic which is the kind of Vitamin A in animals and it stands for a complete state of a molecule f Vitamin A. Various synthetic and natural Retinoid have been investigated in treating aging with a good number of them showing improvements both in clinical and histological (Higgins & Wesley, 2015). However, most of such investigations had been carried out on patients with photo aging condition which involve premature skin aging caused mainly by ultraviolet radiation exposure that is cumulative. This show that retinoid give much hope in skin aging treatment but their acceptance from the patients have been limited by irritant reactions like dermatitis, scaling and burning. Nanoparticles are utilized in minimizing such side effects in Retinol which significantly improve their efficacy, tolerability, and stability. Retinol is used in the production of cosmetics such as creams, serums, lotions, eye treatments, lip treatments, treatments of hands, and treatment of acne among others. There is the need for further research, investigations and clinical studies that are more elaborated concerning merits associated with retinol.

According to Jelica and Månsson, (2016), ascorbic acid is another name for Vitamin C and is a potent antioxidant which can be utilized in dermatology in treating and preventing changes related to photo aging together with hyperpigmentation. Its antioxidant properties jointly with the roles it plays in synthesizing collagen, it is very crucial for the health of the skin. Ascorbic acid act like an agent of depigmenting by reducing melanin formation and has the potential of anti-inflammatory activity which is of significant advantage in conditions such as rosacea and vulgaris promoting healing of wounds together with preventing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (Ramos et al. 2013). Studies show that ascorbic acid can be of very significant advantage in treating and preventing photo damage induced by ultraviolet rays but there lack sufficient evidence concerning its impact on the skin (Telang, 2014). Vitamin C has been confirmed to be unstable and for that reason hard to be delivered to the dermis with the best dosage and research continue to be done to look for compounds within it which are stable together with new models that can be utilized in delivering it to the dermis (Thomas & Kim, 2013). A human can obtain it from sources commonly found naturally such as green vegetables, broccoli, papaya, strawberries and citrus fruits.

This clinical report will be concerned with the effects of applying cosmeceuticals to the facial skin and in depth look at the effects of ascorbic acid and retinol.


The investigation took six weeks. A total of sixty-three participants participated in this research. The participants were willing past on-campus scholars who were undertaking a unit known as Cosmeceutical Science with the unit code 2.4. The participants were not picked randomly, and they had to give their consent due to ethical considerations. All the participants were female students except one male who was also undertaking the unit. The age limits for the participants was eighteen (18) years old to fifty (50) years old.

Each participant applied Retinol (CosMedix Serum 16 with 16% microencapsulated retinol) on the Left side of the face during day and night for six weeks. Every member was also required to apply L-Ascorbic Acid (Cosmetic Skin Solution with 20% stabilized vitamin C) on the right side of his or her face during the day and night. Before any application of the two products, the skin needed to be thoroughly cleaned. During the period of the six weeks, while applying the products, the participants were required to minimize variables that were confounding substantially, and such included not using any other product having ingredients that are active. The participants were required to answer the questions presented in the questionnaire which was concerned with the texture, effect on pigmentation, fine lines, the content of skin moisture. Such were classified into three: No change, slight improvement, and significant improvement. Side effects were classified with none, mild and moderate. Also included were other effects and any other comment concerning both the products. The questionnaire needed to be filled accurately to have results that were accurate. After the trial, all the results from all the participants taking part in the study were taken, and the researcher made the final results which were recorded and named in one table as "Collated Results for the Consumer Perception Trial." It is with the results that the researcher wrote this clinical report.


After completion of the investigation concerning ascorbic acid concerning its texture and consistency 5% of the participants considered it to be too heavy, the majority who were 52 % found it to be comfortable and 43% found it to be too light. Among the other side effects related to L-Ascorbic Acid are that 5% of the participants reported an increase in acne lesions with 5% of the participants reporting yellowing of fingers.2% of the participant reported mild erythema with 2% of the participant reporting congestion.

5% of the participants reported an increase in skin dryness and 2% of the participant reported oxidation and blocked pores.From the L-Ascorbic Acid, it was also noted that the product consistency is very light. The people having dry skin would require using a thick moisturizer to compensate since 10% of the participants reported it being too light, dry skin.
6% of the participants reported skin texture improved, softened and 5% of the participants reported inappropriate for oily skin type. 6% of the participants reported unpleasant sticky, applies unevenly.5% of the participant reported improvement in PIHP and 6% of the participants reported unpleasant odor.

The results of Retinol showed among other side effects with 3% of the participants reporting dryness, and irritation.2% of the participant noted that skin was red and felt warm and there was Stopping of Rx because of pimples. 5% of the participants did not have sufficient hydration. 2% of the participants had reduced acne lesions. 3% percent of the participants had strange texture and smell. 8% of the participants had significant congestion, comedones, and pustules with 11% of the participants enjoying the product, as they were well hydrated. 8% of the participants had improved lines with 2% of the participants terming it to be too oily and 3% of the participants describing it as being too sticky. 2% of the participants stopped treatment due to reaction (details of response not noted).


The results of this investigation can be termed to be an accurate reflection of the impacts caused by the two cosmeceuticals given that the results confirmed all that we had discussed in theory. From this study, we can deduce that Retinol significantly improves the texture of the skin which includes the roughness, pores among others. Its consistency and texture is optimum and thus attract a large number of consumers. There are rare side effects associated with it and thus can be used by wide range of users with no adverse effects. Topical Ascorbic acid is safe for daily use and mainly for long durations and can be utilized together with other anti-aging agents like tretinoin, sunscreens, hydroxy acids like glycolic, among other antioxidants. However as seen from the study, Vitamin C has minor adverse reactions including yellow skin discoloration, stinging, dryness, erythema, clothes staining together with hair that is hypo pigmented as a result of changes in its oxidation. Such can be treated by the use of a moisturizer. In accordance to Alison, et al. (2015), it should be noted that one needs to take a lot of care while applying Vitamin C at a position close to the eyes.

The study can be conducted to a larger number of participants to verify the result given by the small proportion of the participants. The higher the number of participants the greater the validity of the results. The investigation can also be performed for a large period of six months to have credible effects. It is good to note that both products should not be mixed as seen by irritation they cause and for that one need to use them at different times. One can use one at night and the other during the day time to have optimum performance. Studies of this nature are of great advantage and should be encouraged to get in depth knowledge of all the effects that are related with cosmeceuticals to ensure people are fully safe by using them.


Farris, P. K. (2014). Cosmeceutical vitamins: vitamin C. Cosmeceuticals E-Book: Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology Series, 37.

Higgins, S., & Wesley, N. O. (2015). Topical retinoid and cosmeceuticals: Where is the scientific evidence to recommend products to patients? Current Dermatology Reports, 4(2), 56-62.

Jelica, A., & Månsson, J. (2016). Quantification of total antioxidant potential and its penetration through skin regarding cosmetic relevant formulation: An electrochemical assay.

Ng, A., Evans, K., North, R. V., Jones, L., & Purslow, C. (2016). Impact of eye cosmetics on the eye, adnexa, and ocular surface. Eye & contact lens, 42(4), 211-220.

Ramos-e-Silva, M., Celem, L. R., Ramos-e-Silva, S., & Fucci-da-Costa, A. P. (2013). Anti-aging cosmetics: Facts and controversies. Clinics in dermatology, 31(6), 750-758.

Sarkar, R., Arora, P., & Garg, K. V. (2013). Cosmeceuticals for hyperpigmentation: What is available? Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 6(1), 4.

Telang, P. S. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian dermatology online journal, 4(2), 143.

Thomas, N. V., & Kim, S. K. (2013). Beneficial effects of marine algal compounds in cosmeceuticals. Marine Drugs, 11(1), 146-164.

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