Ascorbyl Palmitate

Ascorbyl palmitate is a more stable analog of vitamin C that retains its antioxidant activity and has the potential to moisturize the skin as well as reduce wrinkles.


Grade Level of Evidence
A Multiple double-blind, controlled clinical trials.
B 1 double-blind, controlled clinical trial.
C At least 1 controlled or comparative clinical trial.
D Uncontrolled, observational, animal or in-vitro studies only.
Grade Effect Size of Effect Comments


Increased skin hydration


More effective than vitamin E or calcium ascorbate. May inhibit the degradation of hyaluronic acid, which has an enormous capacity to bind water in the skin.




Helps regenerate vitamin E in the skin. Also scavenges other free radicals and inhibits membrane lipid peroxidation.


Wrinkle treatment


Increased collagen synthesis more quickly and to a greater extent than ascorbic acid in in vitro studies on human skin and muscle cells.

Looking to buy skin care products containing Ascorbyl Palmitate?

Buy from

Scientific Research

Caution: Please read's medical disclaimer.

Table of contents:

1. Sources

Because ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is inherently unstable,[1] it is commonly chemically modified by esterification of the hydroxyl group with long-chain acids to produce more stable molecules.[2] One such ester is ascorbyl palmitate, which is usually formed from ascorbic acid and palmitic acid in a chemical- or enzyme-catalyzed reaction.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Still, ascorbyl palmitate is less stable than other derivatives of ascorbic acid including magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and sodium ascorbyl phospate, as esterification at the 6 position does not prevent hydrolysis of the molecule.[1][11] In an accelerated aging test, 1% ascorbyl palmitate solution had a significant concentration loss after 60 days of storage (77% recovery when stored at room temperature and 47% recovery when stored at 42°C). This was better than ascorbic acid (37% recovery when stored at room temperature and none when stored at 42°C) but worse than magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (95% recovery when stored at room temperature and 83% recovery when stored at 42°C). Ascorbyl palmitate is also less stable than magnesium ascorbyl phosphate in cosmetic products. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate in a cosmetic emulsion kept its stability by up to 95% even after 60 days of storage in the dark at 42°C, but ascorbyl palmitate showed great instability (27% recovery) under the same conditions.[1]

Several methods can be employed to improve the stability of ascorbyl palmitate. The structural properties of the formulation matters; a cream-gel vehicle seems to be a more suitable vehicle than oil-in-water emulsions.[1] Incorporating ascorbyl palmitate into colloidal carrier systems such as microemulsions, liposomes and solid lipid nanoparticles also helps, especially in systems where the hydrophilic part of ascorbyl palmitate is exposed to a less polar environment. In an analysis of chemical stability, ascorbyl palmitate was found to be most resistant to oxidation in non-hydrogenated soybean lecithin liposomes, followed by solid lipid nanoparticles, microemulsions, and hydrogenated soybean lecithin liposomes.[12] Adding the co-antioxidant 4-(tridecyloxy)benzaldehyde oxime (TDBO) to oil-in-water microemulsions of ascorbyl palmitate increases its stability as well.[13]

Storage temperature is also important; ascorbyl palmitate kept at 4°C is more stable than at room temperature or at 40°C.[14] Exposure to light also accelerates the degradation of ascorbyl palmitate, whereas a high concentration of ascorbyl palmitate reduces the extent of its degradation.[15]

2. Bioavailability

Ascorbyl palmitate has lipophilic properties due to its hydrophobic palmitate side chain that may allow it to penetrate the stratum corneum.[2] When applied topically to the skin of guinea pigs, ascorbyl palmitate penetrated the skin barrier, increasing the ascorbic acid content of the skin, liver and blood by 8-fold, 7-fold and 4-fold respectively.[16] It has also been shown to penetrate to the epidermis and dermis of human skin,[17][18] and has even been used as a skin permeation enhancer.[19]

The combined use of a negative lipogel with electrical assistance can enhance the skin delivery of ascorbyl palmitate.[20] Ascorbyl palmitate can also be encapsulated into lamellar liquid crystalline systems,[21] nanoparticles,[22][23][24] nanostructured lipid carriers,[25][26] nanosuspensions[27] and nanoemulsions[28] for dermal delivery. Nanocarriers fabricated from a curcumin-grated polyvinyl polymer have been shown to be trapped in the shunts of hair follicles and to delay the degradation of ascorbyl palmitate, indicating that they can create a reservoir, slowly supplying the skin with undegraded ascorbyl palmitate.[29]

It is important to note that the formulation appears to play an important role in the bioavailability of ascorbyl palmitate, as a commercial product containing 10% ascorbyl palmitate (Jan Marini C-Esta Serum) failed to increase skin levels of ascorbic acid in an experiment on white Yorkshire pigs.[30]

3. Effects on the skin

3.1 Antioxidant effect

Ascorbyl palmitate can function as an antioxidant in cosmetic formulations, particularly those containing vegetable oils with high concentrations of unsaturated fatty acids.[16] It was a more potent antioxidant than ascorbic acid in an artificial membrane,[31] but has been found to be less potent than ascorbic acid on the human stratum corneum.[32]

Ascorbyl palmitate regenerates α-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E), a classical lipophilic antioxidant, by reducing α-tocopheroxyl radicals more effectively than many natural phenolic compounds such as epicatechin and gallic acid, and as effectively as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the major polyphenol found in green tea extract.[33] It is also capable of scavenging hydroxyl radicals[34] and the semiquinone radicals generated by hydroquinone.[35] In a a common antioxidant assay, its radical scavenging activity was found to be slightly lower than those of ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol.[36]

Ascorbyl palmitate also prevents membrane lipid peroxidation and can protect cells from the cytotoxic effects of linoleic acid hydroperoxide, one of the main products of lipid peroxidation.[37][38] These properties enable ascorbyl palmitate to block the oxidation of tocopherol in erythrocytes and platelets. [39][40][41]

As an antioxidant, ascorbyl palmitate synergises well with rosemary extract[42] and with the flavanol troxerutin.[17]

3.2 Increased hydration

Ascorbyl palmitate has considerable moisturizing activity in conventional topical formulations; a 5% ascorbyl palmitate cream was more effective than 5% calcium ascorbate and as effective as a commercial topical preparation containing vitamin E.[43] It also works well when incorporated in solid lipid nanoparticles, nanostructured lipid carriers or nanoemulsions, due to the occlusive effect of these carriers that improves its skin moisturizing potential.[44]

Moreover, ascorbyl palmitate is a strong inhibitor of hyaluronidases, enzymes that degrade hyaluronic acid.[45][46] This is significant as hyaluronic acid is an important component of the extracellular matrix and is the key molecule involved in skin moisture[47] due to its unique capacity to bind and retain water molecules.[48]

3.3 Photoprotection

Unlike ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate is not a particularly good photoprotectant. Although it decreased the UV-induced formation of free radicals[49] and inhibited lipid peroxidation[50] in experiments on pig skin, it was not as effective as ascorbic acid in protecting against UV-induced chronic skin damage in hairless mice[51] and only poorly inihibited UV-induced skin erythema in humans compared to vitamin E and vitamin E acetate.[52] One study even found that ascorbyl palmitate strongly promoted UV-induced lipid peroxidation and cytotoxicity in keratinocytes, indicating that it may intensify skin damage following physiologic doses of UV radiation despite its antioxidant properties.[53]

3.4 Collagen synthesis

Ascorbyl palmitate may be able to ameliorate wrinkles, as it has been demonstrated to markedly stimulate collagen synthesis. In human intestinal smooth muscle cells, both ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate raised collagen synthesis by 2.7-fold at a concentration of 20 µM, but ascorbyl palmitate increased collagen synthesis by 2-fold at 2.5 and 5 µM concentrations, whereas 4-5 times the concentration of ascorbic acid was required to induce the same response.[54] Similarly, human fibroblasts treated with 10 µM ascorbyl palmitate for 36 hours exhibited collagen production that was 3-fold greater than that in the presence of 10 µM ascorbic acid, though by 48 hours there were no significant differences.[55]

4. Side Effects

Ascorbyl palmitate is generally considered a safe cosmetic ingredient.[16][56] In guinea pigs, the median lethal dose was > 3 g/kg.[16] An aqueous 10% ascorbyl palmitate solution did not cause irritation or sensitization to the skin or the eyes of rabbits in clinical studies. Similarly, an eye cream containing 0.2% ascorbyl palmitate did not cause dermal sensitization in a human maximization test. Ascorbyl palmitate was also not sensitizing to humans at concentrations of 1-5%.[16]

Although one study indicated that ascorbyl palmitate may be potentially carcinogenic,[57] many other studies have shown that it is not mutagenic,[58] inhibits tumour promotion on mouse skin[59][60] and exerts cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.[61][62][63]

Scientific References

  1. Austria R, Semenzato A, Bettero A. Stability of vitamin C derivatives in solution and topical formulations. J Pharm Biomed Anal. (1997)
  2. Pinnell SR. Ascorbyl-6-palmitate is not ascorbic acid. J Invest Dermatol. (2002)
  3. Humeau C, et. al. Synthesis of 6-O-palmitoyl L-ascorbic acid catalyzed by Candida antartica lipase. Biotechnology Letters. (1995)
  4. Tang LH, Zhang H. Studies on lipase-catalyzed synthesis of L-ascorbyl palmitate in non-aqueous phase. Sheng Wu Gong Cheng Xue Bao. (2000)
  5. Tang L, et. al. A kinetic study of the synthesis of ascorbate fatty acid esters catalysed by immobilized lipase in organic media. Biotechnol Appl Biochem. (2000)
  6. Xu FJ, Tan TW. Biological synthesis of L-ascorbyl palmitate. Sheng Wu Gong Cheng Xue Bao. (2005)
  7. Hsieh HJ, Nair GR, Wu WT. Production of ascorbyl palmitate by surfactant-coated lipase in organic media. J Agric Food Chem. (2006)
  8. Wen B, et. al. Ultrasound accelerated esterification of palmitic acid with vitamin C. Ultrason Sonochem. (2007)
  9. Lerin LA, et. al. Enzymatic synthesis of ascorbyl palmitate in ultrasound-assisted system: process optimization and kinetic evaluation. Ultrason Sonochem. (2011)
  10. Karmee SK. Biocatalytic synthesis of ascorbyl esters and their biotechnological applications. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. (2009)
  11. Segall AI, Moyano MA. Stability of vitamin C derivatives in topical formulations containing lipoic acid, vitamins A and E. Int J Cosmet Sci. (2008)
  12. Kristl J, et. al. Effect of colloidal carriers on ascorbyl palmitate stability. Eur J Pharm Sci. (2003)
  13. Gosenca M, et. al. A new approach for increasing ascorbyl palmitate stability by addition of non-irritant co-antioxidant. AAPS PharmSciTech. (2010)
  14. Uner M, et. al. Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) and nanostructured lipid carriers (NLC) for application of ascorbyl palmitate. Pharmazie. (2005)
  15. Spiclin P, Gasperlin M, Kmetec V. Stability of ascorbyl palmitate in topical microemulsions. Int J Pharm. (2001)
  16. Andersen FA. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Dipalmitate, Ascorbyl Stearate, Erythorbic Acid, and Sodium Erythorbate. Int J Toxicol. (1999)
  17. Kessler M, et. al. Free radical scavenging and skin penetration of troxerutin and vitamin derivatives. J Dermatolog Treat. (2002)
  18. Abdulmajed K, Heard CM. Topical delivery of retinyl ascorbate co-drug. 1. Synthesis, penetration into and permeation across human skin. Int J Pharm. (2004)
  19. Gopinath D, et. al. Ascorbyl palmitate vesicles (Aspasomes): formation, characterization and applications. Int J Pharm. (2004)
  20. Lee S, Lee J, Choi YW. Skin permeation enhancement of ascorbyl palmitate by liposomal hydrogel (lipogel) formulation and electrical assistance. Biol Pharm Bull. (2007)
  21. Gosenca M, et. al. Lecithin based lamellar liquid crystals as a physiologically acceptable dermal delivery system for ascorbyl palmitate. Eur J Pharm Sci. (2013)
  22. Moribe K, et. al. Drug nanoparticle formulation using ascorbic acid derivatives. J Drug Deliv. (2011)
  23. Yoksan R, Jirawutthiwongchai J, Arpo K. Encapsulation of ascorbyl palmitate in chitosan nanoparticles by oil-in-water emulsion and ionic gelation processes. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. (2010)
  24. Wittayasuporn M, et. al. Chitosan derivative nanocarrier: safety evaluation,antibacterial property and ascorbyl palmitate encapsulation. J Microencapsul. (2010)
  25. Teeranachaideekul V, et. al. Physicochemical characterization and in vitro release studies of ascorbyl palmitate-loaded semi-solid nanostructured lipid carriers (NLC gels). J Microencapsul. (2008)
  26. Teeranachaideekul V, Müller RH, Junyaprasert VB. Encapsulation of ascorbyl palmitate in nanostructured lipid carriers (NLC)--effects of formulation parameters on physicochemical stability. Int J Pharm. (2007)
  27. Teeranachaideekul V, et. al. Development of ascorbyl palmitate nanocrystals applying the nanosuspension technology. Int J Pharm. (2008)
  28. Fratter A, Semenzato A. New association of surfactants for the production of food and cosmetic nanoemulsions: preliminary development and characterization. Int J Cosmet Sci. (2011)
  29. Janesirisakule S, Sinthusake T, Wanichwecharungruang S. Nanocarrier with self-antioxidative property for stabilizing and delivering ascorbyl palmitate into skin. J Pharm Sci. (2013)
  30. Pinnell SR, et. al. Topical L-ascorbic acid: percutaneous absorption studies. Dermatol Surg. (2001)
  31. Liu XY, et. al. Remarkable enhancement of antioxidant activity of vitamin C in an artificial bilayer by making it lipo-soluble. Chem Phys Lipids. (1996)
  32. Tsai FJ, et. al. Evaluation of the antioxidative capability of commonly used antioxidants in dermocosmetics by in vivo detection of protein carbonylation in human stratum corneum. J Photochem Photobiol B. (2012)
  33. Pazos M, et. al. Efficiency of natural phenolic compounds regenerating alpha-tocopherol from alpha-tocopheroxyl radical. J Agric Food Chem. (2007)
  34. Perricone N, et. al. The hydroxyl free radical reactions of ascorbyl palmitate as measured in various in vitro models. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. (1999)
  35. Satoh K, et. al. Interaction between hydroquinone and ascorbic acid derivatives: quenching effect of organic solvents. Anticancer Res. (2000)
  36. Fujinami Y, Tai A, Yamamoto I. Radical scavenging activity against 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl of ascorbic acid 2-glucoside (AA-2G) and 6-acyl-AA-2G. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). (2001)
  37. Thomas CE, et. al. Ascorbate and phenolic antioxidant interactions in prevention of liposomal oxidation. Lipids. (1992)
  38. Kaneko T, Kaji K, Matsuo M. Protective effect of lipophilic derivatives of ascorbic acid on lipid peroxide-induced endothelial injury. Arch Biochem Biophys. (1993)
  39. Ross D, et. al. Ascorbate 6-palmitate protects human erythrocytes from oxidative damage. Free Radic Biol Med. (1999)
  40. May JM, Qu ZC, Cobb CE. Accessibility and reactivity of ascorbate 6-palmitate bound to erythrocyte membranes. Free Radic Biol Med. (1996)
  41. Vatassery GT, Smith WE, Quach HT. Ascorbic acid, glutathione and synthetic antioxidants prevent the oxidation of vitamin E in platelets. Lipids. (1989)
  42. Hraš AR, et. al. Comparison of antioxidative and synergistic effects of rosemary extract with α-tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate and citric acid in sunflower oil. Food Chem. (2000)
  43. Gönüllü U, et. al. Moisturizing potentials of ascorbyl palmitate and calcium ascorbate in various topical formulations. Int J Cosmet Sci. (2004)
  44. Uner M, et. al. Skin moisturizing effect and skin penetration of ascorbyl palmitate entrapped in solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) and nanostructured lipid carriers (NLC) incorporated into hydrogel. Pharmazie. (2005)
  45. Botzki A, et. al. L-Ascorbic acid 6-hexadecanoate, a potent hyaluronidase inhibitor. X-ray structure and molecular modeling of enzyme-inhibitor complexes. J Biol Chem. (2004)
  46. Olgen S, et. al. New potent indole derivatives as hyaluronidase inhibitors. Chem Biol Drug Des. (2007)
  47. Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. (2012)
  48. Baumann L. Skin ageing and its treatment. J Pathol. (2007)
  49. Jurkovic P, et. al. Skin protection against ultraviolet induced free radicals with ascorbyl palmitate in microemulsions. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. (2003)
  50. Carlotti ME, et. al. Specific effects of single antioxidants in the lipid peroxidation caused by nano-titania used in sunscreen lotions. J Photochem Photobiol B. (2009)
  51. Bissett DL, Chatterjee R, Hannon DP. Photoprotective effect of superoxide-scavenging antioxidants against ultraviolet radiation-induced chronic skin damage in the hairless mouse. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. (1990)
  52. Montenegro L, et. al. Protective effect evaluation of free radical scavengers on UVB induced human cutaneous erythema by skin reflectance spectrophotometry. Int J Cosmet Sci. (1995)
  53. Meves A, et. al. Vitamin C derivative ascorbyl palmitate promotes ultraviolet-B-induced lipid peroxidation and cytotoxicity in keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. (2002)
  54. Rosenblat G, et. al. Palmitoyl ascorbate: selective augmentation of procollagen mRNA expression compared with L-ascorbate in human intestinal smooth muscle cells. J Cell Biochem. (1999)
  55. Rosenblat G, et. al. Acylated ascorbate stimulates collagen synthesis in cultured human foreskin fibroblasts at lower doses than does ascorbic acid. Connect Tissue Res. (1998)
  56. Elmore AR. Final report of the safety assessment of L-Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate, and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate as used in cosmetics. Int J Toxicol. (2005)
  57. Lee KM, et. al. Ascorbic acid 6-palmitate suppresses gap-junctional intercellular communication through phosphorylation of connexin 43 via activation of the MEK-ERK pathway. Mutat Res. (2009)
  58. Prival MJ, Simmon VF, Mortelmans KE. Bacterial mutagenicity testing of 49 food ingredients gives very few positive results. Mutat Res. (1991)
  59. Smart RC, Crawford CL. Effect of ascorbic acid and its synthetic lipophilic derivative ascorbyl palmitate on phorbol ester-induced skin-tumor promotion in mice. Am J Clin Nutr. (1991)
  60. Smart RC, et. al. Inhibition of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate induction of ornithine decarboxylase activity, DNA synthesis, and tumor promotion in mouse skin by ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate. Cancer Res. (1987)
  61. Miwa N, et. al. Altered production of the active oxygen species is involved in enhanced cytotoxic action of acylated derivatives of ascorbate to tumor cells. Biochim Biophys Acta. (1988)
  62. D'Souza GG, et. al. Surface modification of pharmaceutical nanocarriers with ascorbate residues improves their tumor-cell association and killing and the cytotoxic action of encapsulated paclitaxel in vitro. Pharm Res. (2008)
  63. Sawant RR, et. al. Palmitoyl ascorbate-loaded polymeric micelles: cancer cell targeting and cytotoxicity. Pharm Res. (2011)