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

Amy R Elmore
International Journal of Toxicology 2005, 24 Suppl 2: 51-111
L-Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate, and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate function in cosmetic formulations primarily as antioxidants. Ascorbic Acid is commonly called Vitamin C. Ascorbic Acid is used as an antioxidant and pH adjuster in a large variety of cosmetic formulations, over 3/4 of which were hair dyes and colors at concentrations between 0.3% and 0.6%. For other uses, the reported concentrations were either very low (<0.01%) or in the 5% to 10% range. Calcium Ascorbate and Magnesium Ascorbate are described as antioxidants and skin conditioning agents--miscellaneous for use in cosmetics, but are not currently used. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate functions as an antioxidant in cosmetic products and is used at concentrations ranging from 0.01% to 3%. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate functions as an antioxidant in cosmetics and was reported being used at concentrations from 0.001% to 3%. Sodium Ascorbate also functions as an antioxidant in cosmetics at concentrations from 0.0003% to 0.3%. Related ingredients (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Dipalmitate, Ascorbyl Stearate, Erythorbic Acid, and Sodium Erythorbate) have been previously reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel and found "to be safe for use as cosmetic ingredients in the present practices of good use." Ascorbic Acid is a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) substance for use as a chemical preservative in foods and as a nutrient and/or dietary supplement. Calcium Ascorbate and Sodium Ascorbate are listed as GRAS substances for use as chemical preservatives. L-Ascorbic Acid is readily and reversibly oxidized to L-dehydroascorbic acid and both forms exist in equilibrium in the body. Permeation rates of Ascorbic Acid through whole and stripped mouse skin were 3.43 +/- 0.74 microg/cm(2)/h and 33.2 +/- 5.2 microg/cm(2)/h. Acute oral and parenteral studies in mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats demonstrated little toxicity. Ascorbic Acid and Sodium Ascorbate acted as a nitrosation inhibitor in several food and cosmetic product studies. No compound-related clinical signs or gross or microscopic pathological effects were observed in either mice, rats, or guinea pigs in short-term studies. Male guinea pigs fed a control basal diet and given up to 250 mg Ascorbic Acid orally for 20 weeks had similar hemoglobin, blood glucose, serum iron, liver iron, and liver glycogen levels compared to control values. Male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F(1) mice were fed diets containing up to 100,000 ppm Ascorbic Acid for 13 weeks with little toxicity. Chronic Ascorbic Acid feeding studies showed toxic effects at dosages above 25 mg/kg body weight (bw) in rats and guinea pigs. Groups of male and female rats given daily doses up to 2000 mg/kg bw Ascorbic Acid for 2 years had no macro- or microscopically detectable toxic lesions. Mice given Ascorbic Acid subcutaneous and intravenous daily doses (500 to 1000 mg/kg bw) for 7 days had no changes in appetite, weight gain, and general behavior; and histological examination of various organs showed no changes. Ascorbic Acid was a photoprotectant when applied to mice and pig skin before exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The inhibition of UV-induced suppression of contact hypersensitivity was also noted. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate administration immediately after exposure in hairless mice significantly delayed skin tumor formation and hyperplasia induced by chronic exposure to UV radiation. Pregnant mice and rats were given daily oral doses of Ascorbic Acid up to 1000 mg/kg bw with no indications of adult-toxic, teratogenic, or fetotoxic effects. Ascorbic Acid and Sodium Ascorbate were not genotoxic in several bacterial and mammalian test systems, consistent with the antioxidant properties of these chemicals. In the presence of certain enzyme systems or metal ions, evidence of genotoxicity was seen. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted a 2-year oral carcinogenesis bioassay of Ascorbic Acid (25,000 and 50,000 ppm) in F344/N rats and B6C3F(1) mice. Ascorbic Acid was not carcinogenic in either sex of both rats and mice. Inhibition of carcinogenesis and tumor growth related to Ascorbic Acid's antioxidant properties has been reported. Sodium Ascorbate has been shown to promote the development of urinary carcinomas in two-stage carcinogenesis studies. Dermal application of Ascorbic Acid to patients with radiation dermatitis and burn victims had no adverse effects. Ascorbic Acid was a photoprotectant in clinical human UV studies at doses well above the minimal erythema dose (MED). An opaque cream containing 5% Ascorbic Acid did not induce dermal sensitization in 103 human subjects. A product containing 10% Ascorbic Acid was nonirritant in a 4-day minicumulative patch assay on human skin and a facial treatment containing 10% Ascorbic Acid was not a contact sensitizer in a maximization assay on 26 humans. Because of the structural and functional similarities of these ingredients, the Panel believes that the data on one ingredient can be extrapolated to all of them. The Expert Panel attributed the finding that Ascorbic Acid was genotoxic in these few assay systems due to the presence of other chemicals, e.g., metals, or certain enzyme systems, which effectively convert Ascorbic Acid's antioxidant action to that of a pro-oxidant. When Ascorbic Acid acts as an antioxidant, the Panel concluded that Ascorbic Acid is not genotoxic. Supporting this view were the carcinogenicity studies conducted by the NTP, which demonstrated no evidence of carcinogenicity. Ascorbic Acid was found to effectively inhibit nitrosamine yield in several test systems. The Panel did review studies in which Sodium Ascorbate acted as a tumor promoter in animals. These results were considered to be related to the concentration of sodium ions and the pH of urine in the test animals. Similar effects were seen with sodium bicarbonate. Because of the concern that certain metal ions may combine with these ingredients to produce pro-oxidant activity, the Panel cautioned formulators to be certain that these ingredients are acting as antioxidants in cosmetic formulations. The Panel believed that the clinical experience in which Ascorbic Acid was used on damaged skin with no adverse effects and the repeat-insult patch test (RIPT) using 5% Ascorbic Acid with negative results supports the finding that this group of ingredients does not present a risk of skin sensitization. These data coupled with an absence of reports in the clinical literature of Ascorbic Acid sensitization strongly support the safety of these ingredients.

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