Chemistry Lesson |

Chemistry Lesson: Learn All About Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF 40 Serum

We sat down with our head of product development to hear all about the (super-complex!) science behind our latest formula. 

Pencils up! Chemistry class is now in session, and who better to ask about the ins and outs of our latest SPF, Daily Dose (one of our more complex formulas to date!), than our resident lab expert and head of product development, Sofia Gracia. We talked with her about what inspired this particular kind of sunscreen and, more specifically, about vitamin C and SPF. As it turns out, there was quite a lot for us to understand about vitamin C’s chemistry on its own, so read on to learn more!  

Sofia! We’re so happy to sit down with you to talk about Daily Dose. First, let’s take a step back and have you tell us more about what inspired the creation of this product in particular—a sunscreen serum, if you will!  
Of course. Well, it’s no surprise that vitamin C is a very buzzworthy skincare ingredient these days—and rightfully so. It helps brighten the skin and fade dark spots and pigmentation (two extremely noteworthy benefits), amongst a host of other things. And one thing we found out when learning more about vitamin C in the lab is that it literally “photoincinerates,” or burns off by the sun, when you wear it without SPF. Which was completely mind-blowing for us to hear, especially with all of our “Protect Your Investment” talk! 

So, this product came about because we really wanted to find a way to bottle the amazing benefits of Vitamin C with SPF, to teach people that these two things are absolutely essential together and to eliminate another step (applying SPF) with your vitamin C.

A-ha. Can you explain more about how vitamin C helps fade pigmentation, since that’s something that it kind of has in common with SPF?
Yep. Let me first tell you what actually causes hyperpigmentation from the sun … Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can trigger the production of free radicals, or molecules of unpaired electrons, which can lead to skin damage. One of the mechanisms that our skin uses on its own to defend itself from free radical damage is melanin production, which is where hyperpigmentation comes into play. Overproduction of melanin can result in these dark spots on your skin, and they are oftentimes uneven, too. Definitely not the best combination! 

But here’s where vitamin C comes in to save the day. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals, and therefore helps reduce the damage that triggers melanin production. 

Wow, super cool. So why do you even need SPF in the first place!? 
Well, antioxidants are not powerful enough on their own to withstand constant attacks from the sun … or other things like pollution and infrared radiation and blue light that also damage your skin. So you also have to have SPF. It takes a total team effort to stop this level of skin damage, and vitamin C and SPF are kind of like Batman and Robin … it takes both of them to save the day!

I also like to compare this scenario to the framework of a house. Your skin is like the frame, antioxidants are like the insulation and then SPF is like the roof. SPF (the roof!) is the strongest layer of protection against the sun’s UV rays, and it also helps vitamin C (the insulation) do its job even better. 

Oh that analogy REALLY helps us understand all of that—so great. You were just mentioning other things that damage your skin along with UV rays, and blue light really stuck out to us … There’s a lot of talk about it these days, with everyone sitting in front of their screens. Can you tell us whether or not Daily Dose helps protect your skin from it, and if so, how? 
Ah yes, blue light is a biggie when it comes to something that can wreak havoc on your skin—and it can actually be worse than UV-induced damage when it comes to hyperpigmentation. (Studies also show that blue light-induced pigmentation can be more noticeable on deeper-colored skin tones.) But I don’t want to get us too sidetracked—the answer is YES, Daily Dose does help protect your skin from blue light, and it’s all thanks to this marine extract ingredient we found called Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract. 

Whoa, that sounds super cool. So going back to vitamin C, please tell us a little bit more about the type that’s in Daily Dose. 
Absolutely—and this is where some of the complicated chemistry comes into play since vitamin C is an extremely temperamental ingredient to work with that’s also notorious for not mixing well with SPF actives. 

The type of vitamin C we picked is 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. We decided to use it because it likes our SPF, it’s very stable and because you can still get a lot of benefits from it without using a high concentration of it. In fact, clinicals show you can get great results using just 3% of it, and we’re using it at 10% to maximize its effectiveness. 

Speaking of 10%, is there anything else that’s in this formula that contributes to those luminous, vitamin C-esque benefits?
Yes! Daily Dose has what we’re calling a “14% Vitamin C Brightening Complex” that’s obviously 10% 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, and also 2% Kakadu Plum Extract (which helps improve skin’s radiance) and 2% Niacinamide (which helps to even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of pores). 

Is this percentage, 14%, a really good “amount” of skin-brightening agents? 
It is, especially for this specific formula with this specific type of vitamin C. Different types of vitamin C, like L-Ascorbic Acid, for example, require higher concentrations (of around 20%) for them to be effective and give visible results. At such a high concentration, they can be irritating to some people’s skin. Luckily, the form of vitamin C in our formula packs a punch and is efficacious at a lower concentration with less negative side effects. 

Tell us about the SPF we use in this formula. 
The SPF that we use in Daily Dose is clean chemical SPF 40. 

Gotcha. Why not mineral SPF, since it’s been having such a moment right now? 
Well, vitamin C typically requires a slightly acidic pH environment in order for it to be effective, and unfortunately mineral SPF, unlike chemical SPF, prefers a slightly alkaline pH environment. So that meant we just couldn’t use mineral actives for this. 

That makes sense. We also heard that Daily Dose has been clinically tested—what does that mean exactly? 
Great question. First, let me start by saying that here at Supergoop!, we always put our products through an SPF efficacy test to ensure that the SPF we use actually works. (By the way, a lot of SPF brands out there don’t do this!) But now for Daily Dose, we wanted to do something additional, because of the vitamin C. AND because of our philosophy of no compromises and no cutting corners! 

So, we decided to conduct a clinical test to prove the brightening vitamin C benefits were up to snuff. (A clinical test is an independent third-party study where a group of people try a product over a period of time, while staying on the lookout for certain qualities of the product and how it affects their skin.) Our test group tried Daily Dose for eight weeks, while looking for all sorts of vitamin C goodies, and the results were quite staggering!  

Oh wow, that’s awesome! What were they??
9 out of 10 women said their skin appears brighter, looks healthier and felt more hydrated after using Daily Dose! 

Hooray! Well, Sofia, all of this has been SO helpful in understanding vitamin C, SPF and how the two work together in Daily Dose. Before we adjourn class, we thought we would end today’s lesson with a more fun question because we just have to know more about the name “Daily Dose,” especially since it sounds a little science-y to us! What’s the backstory?  
Ha! I can’t necessarily take credit for the name, but it reinforces the fact that great skin doesn’t happen overnight. It’s really those small, easy, sustainable steps you repeat over and over on a daily basis that lead to better, healthier skin over time. So “Daily Dose” is just a nod to that. 

Do you have a question for Sofia (or for us!) about the chemistry behind Daily Dose? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you.