3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid: A Stable, Vitamin C-Derived Agent for Skin Whitening
There is no question that a flawless complexion is an attractive quality in many cultures. The fascination with whiter skin has developed considerably, particularly in Asia, moving from beauty to a sign of social status and reflecting elegance, purity, femininity, and higher social stature.
To achieve this lightening effect, product developers leverage active ingredients such as vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, which is not only an inhibitor of septicemia, but also an effective reduction agent that can temporarily retard the pathway of melanin-biosynthesis in the skin.
Vitamin C is also known to protect the skin from ultraviolet B (UVB) damage and improve the synthesis of collagen, which is why it is widely used as a whitening ingredient in cosmetics, particularly in Asia. Nonetheless, due to its toxicity, it has produced many derivatives for cosmetic use, such as ethyl ascorbic acid, magnesium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate, L-ascorbic acid2-glucoside and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
3-O-Ethyl-L-ascorbic Acid (86404–04–8) , shown above, is a derivative consisting of vitamin C with an ethyl groupa bound to the third carbon position.
This structure, with its reduced capacity, helps to increase the compound’s stability when used in cosmetic products. This article investigates the role and efficacy of this product to establish its mechanism of action against melanin biosynthesis and its potential for application.
Biosynthesis of Melanin
Reviewing the cycle of melanin biosynthesis is helpful to understand the possible mechanisms of skin lightening. In short, melanin is formed by melanocytes via melanogensis after exposure to sunlight, a biological process that helps protect human DNA against harmful UV rays.
The amount of melanin produced by melanocytes embedded in the epidermis basal layer defines the color of the skin, but it is interesting to note that all people from different countries and climates tend to have the same number of melanocytes.
Thus, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid retains the benefits of Vitamin C, such as antioxidant activity. Furthermore, it is even more potent in reducing skin darkening after UV exposure. It even has some additional effects, not observed in pure Ascorbic Acid, such as promoting nerve cell growth or reducing chemotherapy damage.