Split-Face Vitamin C Consumer Preference Study

October 2014 | Volume 13 | Issue 10 | Original Article | 1208 | Copyright © October 2014

Leslie Baumann MD,a Deysi K. Duque MS,a and Michael J. Schirripa PhDb

aBaumann Cosmetic & Research Institute, Miami, FL
bPrivate Consultant, Miami, FL

BACKGROUND: Vitamin C is commonly used to treat aged skin. It has shown regenerative effects on skin wrinkles, texture, strength, and evenness of tone through its roles as an antioxidant, tyrosinase inhibitor, and inducer of collagen synthesis. Available vitamin C formulations on the anti-aging skin care market vary by their pH, packaging, and vehicle, which may decrease absorption, and therefore, the efficacy of the product.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the subjective efficacy, wearability, tolerance and overall preference of two professional vitamin C topical serums and sunscreens in Caucasian females using a split face method.
METHODS: A virtual split-face study of 39 Caucasian women compared two popular vitamin C and SPF product combinations – C-ESTA® Face Serum and Marini Physical Protectant SPF 45 (Jan Marini Skin, San Jose, CA; Products A) and CE Ferulic® and Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 (Products B; SkinCeuticals Inc, Garland, TX). The products were assigned to each subject’s left or right side of the face, and subjects rated and compared products through 5 online surveys at baseline, 24 hours, days 3, 7, and 14.
RESULTS: Over 86% of the 35 subjects who completed the study preferred the smell and 83% preferred the feel and application of vitamin C Serum A over Serum B. Seventy-one percent of subjects preferred the feel and application of Sunscreen A over Sunscreen B. Results also showed a significant skin texture improvement and skin tone with Products A vs Product B. Products A trended higher for multiple additional categories.
CONCLUSIONS: Products A exhibited superior anti-aging benefits than Products B. Subjects preferred the smell, feel, and application of Products A and experienced significantly less irritation than Products B. Overall, Products A were preferred over Products B with subjects willing to pay more for Products A over Products B.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2014;13(10):1208-1213.


Photo-aging is characterized by sagging and thinning of the skin, discoloration, fine lines, and skin fragility. It is mainly induced by sun exposure, including UVA and UVB rays. Clinical signs of photo-aging are caused by loss of elastin, hyaluronic acid (HA), and collagen. Loss of elastin tissues leads to skin sagging resulting in nasolabial fold (NL) wrinkles, sagging of the jaw line, and crow’s feet wrinkles. Loss of collagen in skin leads to fine lines, thinness, fragility, and textural change. Loss of hyaluronic acid in skin results in decreased skin plumpness and fine lines.
Protection against UV exposure helps prevent or minimize many of the visible signs of aging. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. While many consumers recognize the need for sunscreen, many are challenged by the smell or feel of sunscreens, resulting in non-compliance and loss of sun protection. Hence, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with high user appeal is critical to any anti-aging solution.
Collagen levels can be increased by using topical alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, and vitamin C.1 Vitamin C has the added benefit of improving skin tone and color and providing antioxidant benefits in addition to its ability to increase collagen production. As humans are unable to synthesize vitamin C, thus the intake of dietary supplements or application of topical formulations of vitamin C is necessary to delay the process of aging or diseases related to vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is commonly used to treat aged skin because of its regenerative effects on skin texture, color, and inflammation through its roles as an antioxidant, tyrosinase inhibitor, and inducer of collagen synthesis.
Hyaluronic acid is composed of repeated units of sugars (saccharides). The size of the HA molecule determines the ability of topically applied HA to penetrate into the skin.1 Hyaluronic acid that is applied to the surface of the skin is a humectant; therefore, it draws water into itself, which can increase skin hydration in a humid environment. Hyaluronic acid applied topically is typically used in the smaller molecular size form of sodium hyaluronate, a sodium salt of hyaluronic acid.
Vitamin C is one of the most recognized antioxidants in consumer surveys and has had a surge in popularity over the last 10 years with many topical products entering the market making it difficult for the products to differentiate themselves to consumers. This study investigates two commercially available topical vitamin C and sunscreen products.