Beauty Brands Falsely Market Ascorbic Acid as Vitamin C, New Research Suggests

UPDATE February 2024: Biologi founder Ross Macdougald had a court ruling placed against his brand’s claims in October 2023. Read more on that here.

Research conducted by The Bioverse Group, under which salon-stocked Australian skincare brand Biologi is a part of, concludes that synthetic ascorbic acid is distinguishable in composition and effectiveness from naturally derived vitamin C. 

The study, which took over 12 months to complete, observed the extraction process of each ingredient. Natural vitamin C is from trees and fruits such as kakadu plum versus synthetic ascorbic acid that is instead derived from grasses that do not produce Vitamin C. Researches therefore concluded that marketing ascorbic acid as a ‘natural vitamin C’ by beauty brands is incorrect.

Biologi products are used in salons across Australia

Humans require the nutrients plants produce, of which stabilised vitamin C is just one. Biologi founder Ross Macdougald considered this knowledge in developing an extraction method that mimics the internal mechanism of a plant. “What is extracted is not only the nutrients but also the liquid matrix within the plant that keeps the nutrients stable along with the activator that delivers the nutrients directly into the cell,” he says. “The result of this is your skin finally gets nutrients that it needs without any synthetic manipulation which works effectively and efficiently.”

Ross says brands have typically referred to ascorbic acid in place of natural vitamin C for their formulations due to a lack of technology available to complete the correct extraction and stabilisation processes. “To produce synthetic ascorbic acid, modern industry uses a natural precursor – a starch, a glucose polymer, produced from corn. It is then subjected to two stage microbial fermentation process with specially constructed microbes (called Reichstein-Grüssner process for those interested in detail), and some chemical processes using various chemical interfaces – including the use of acetone (aka nail polish remover) – to finally create the synthetic L-Ascorbic Acid. This still carries the carbon isotopic signature of its precursor – corn. This synthetic L-Ascorbic Acid is then sometimes marketed as ‘natural Vitamin C’ – which we can now prove is wrong.”

Biologi boasts a product line-up containing ‘clean’ actives

In light of these findings, Ross hopes the beauty industry at-large will reconsider the manner in which ingredients are made and marketed to consumers which, in a round-about way, will need to begin with consumers demanding this change: “I think some regulations need to be changed when it comes to skincare labeling because customers deserve to know what they are putting on their skin, or customers will ask the brand: ‘can you prove where your vitamin C comes from, plants or synthetic manipulation?'”

Biologi is a clean cosmeceutical company with a focus on purely plant-derived formulations. “I created Biologi because I knew the true power of plant extracts and I didn’t want to synthetically manipulate or change these powerful ingredients,” Ross says. “What you find in Biologi serums is just two ingredients – one natural and undiluted plant extract and 0.2% of a preservative. Our technology has been able to extract natural Vitamin C, which is why we’re the first company to be able to offer it in skincare.”

For a copy of the full report, reach out to Biologi on 02 6686 3455.

And for more news on Biologi’s unique formulations, read our guide to Serum Cleansers here.

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