SKINCARMA APPROVED : ANTIOXIDANT VITAMIN C SERUMS
I don’t mince words when it comes to antioxidants in a skincare routine. I talk about them day and night. I regularly call out the antioxidants in a formula when writing product reviews — whether they’re in the form of botanical extracts or vitamins, they’re great for skin. When people ask me what my “secret” is for a more youthful, healthy-looking complexion, I always answer that antioxidant vitamins and sunscreen are indispensable. As I said in last week’s blog article, “if you aren’t incorporating a selection of antioxidant vitamins in your skincare routine, you’re missing one of the most effective methods for attaining your healthiest skin possible.”
Yes, I quoted myself.
Look, your focus should be on your skin’s health — not spent on chasing the next big thing in product launches at Sephora, Cult Beauty or Olive Young. Not on seemingly miraculous ingredients like snail mucin. Skin care isn’t sexy. But it is about love — loving your skin enough to treat it properly, to feed it like you do the rest of you. Maybe it’s the Italian in me. Everyone’s gotta eat!
That brings me to perhaps one of the least sexy ingredients of all time — Vitamin C. It’s as exciting as Glycerin or Panthenol (Vitamin B5). What do these three skincare snoozers have in common besides the fact that they’ve been used in skincare formulas since the dawn of time?
Well, they’re great for your skin health!
Vitamin C is old news. I get it. But, fortunately for all of us, it’s made a real resurgence lately as marketers and consumers alike have begun to focus on tried-and-true ingredients rather than sexy product launches powered by massive marketing campaigns. People are starting to realize that a $5 jar of Vitamin C powder like The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is more of a game changer than La Mer’s $370 The Concentrate. There’s a reason that one of them was the 2018 Skincarma Product of the Year — and one of them wasn’t.
Words of wisdom from my skincare muse Paula Begoun…
“Vitamin C is one of the most well-researched and beneficial vitamins you can apply topically. Ongoing use has been shown to improve the look of multiple signs of aging, brighten an uneven skin tone, as well as provide skin-restoring and soothing benefits.”
A Vitamin C serum is a must! But I know there are 87,000 Vitamin C products on the market and an infinite number of complex moisturizers that contain Vitamin C in them. Here’s the thing, Vitamin C is a loner. It doesn’t like being around a lot of other ingredients. The substance is notoriously unstable and quickly loses potency in any packaging that doesn’t preserve it properly. Jars are just plain stupid forms of delivering any type of skincare product — except a basic moisturizer. Antioxidants don’t survive exposure to air for long and Vitamin C won’t either. If you’re using a product in a jar that exposes the formula to air, be sure to use it up within 30 days. If you’ve used a Vitamin C serum, you’re likely familiar with the burnt orange hue after a few months; it’s an indication that it’s begun to lose its oomph. To take advantage of Vitamin C’s unparalleled potency, get into the habit of using a separate Vitamin C product — either a dedicated serum or powder. I’ve made it easy for you with four near-perfect formulas to choose from. (Products, like the people who make them, are never perfect!)
Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%
I love anything that’s freshly activated. I live above a pizzeria. Five minutes out of the oven and the pizza is at my door. Now that’s fresh! Freshness is particularly important with an ingredient like Vitamin C due to its remarkable instability, particularly when it comes in contact with water, air and a multitude of other ingredients used in skin care. That’s precisely the wisdom behind using a separate Vitamin C serum in your skincare routine, rather than relying on the efficacy, potency and stability of the Vitamin C found in your daily moisturizer. So, I’m naturally intrigued by the Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%. It’s been on the market for about a year now. I’ve played around with it in the AM — and the great thing about it is it’s just a week-long commitment. You get four to a pack — a one-month supply. How smart is Clinique for this? You activate each vial by pressing one end to burst an inner sac, which I presume mixes a liquid activator with a Vitamin C powder. How do I know it’s potent? Because it tingles like hell on application. And Ascorbic Acid — the most potent form of Vitamin C — is the second ingredient. As an added benefit, it’s also fortified with several non-fragrant plant oils to nourish, soothe and replenish skin. You get extra antioxidant benefits from plant extracts and even a few replenishing peptides and Sodium Hyaluronate — the salt form of Hyaluronic Acid that’s actually most compatible with skin. Bravo, Clinique!
Sweet Chef Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot
The Sweet Chef Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot is a really well-formulated Vitamin C serum. Full stop! The formula’s particular form of Vitamin C is, as with the Clinique Fresh Pressed, Ascorbic Acid. Ascorbic Acid is well-researched, with proven abilities to brighten the complexion, even out skin tone and, of course, perform the vital function of antioxidant protection. In addition, the Ginger + Vitamin C Serum contains a range of potent antioxidant botanical extracts including Ginger Root Extract and Turmeric Root Extract, both of which are included here at a high level. Sweet Chef says that its ginger extract contains “40 different kinds of antioxidant properties to even out your skin tone for clear, healthy, youthful skin.” Wow.
This herbaceous serum is quite lightweight and super easy to layer as one of the first steps in your regimen — right before or after Hyaluronic Acid, depending on the viscosity of that particular serum. As always, feel welcome to DM me on my Skincarma IG page with questions about product application.
Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum
Next up is this terrific Vitamin C serum from probiotic skincare brand Amperna. I’ve reviewed the brand previously and you can read the full review here. The Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum contains Amperna's signature probiotic complex powered by Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, which the brand says “acts as a protective layer on the skin [that] helps boost healthy looking skin and helps calm and soothe skin.” The light, milky serum delivers the good bacteria to skin that helps to rebalance the skin’s surface. When the balance between good and bad bacteria on the surface of the skin is out of whack, irritation, redness, rosacea, sensitivity and even acne become an issue. In fact, I recently wrote an article about a whole new wave of probiotic-based acne treatments that you can read here.
Amperna infused this incredibly well-formulated treatment with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), and a multitude of skin-replenishing ceramides. While it’s super hydrating and soothing, the star ingredient is, of course, complexion perfecter Vitamin C in the form of Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. It’s a stable, water-soluble variation with multiple benefits, including potent antioxidant protection, brightening, and treating uneven skin tone. According to Paula Begoun, research has also shown that this particular form of Vitamin C may have an effect on acne breakouts. If you have a concern for acne, the Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C serum is the one for you!
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The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F
Of the four Vitamin C serums I’m recommending here, the one that I’ve used in my skincare regimen the longest is The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F. And because I’ve used it for so long, I hardly ever talk about it unless asked. Let’s call it the unsung hero of Vitamin C serums!
In fact, the Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% has been part of my morning skincare line-up for about two years now. Isn’t that crazy? You know what it means for me to be using a product that long, religiously? It means it’s effective and I don’t want to be without it. But this serum is also really unique. First, the texture. It feels like a super lightweight dry oil. Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate itself is a unique form of Vitamin C — an oil-soluble derivative of the vitamin that’s highly tolerated by skin and can be delivered in higher doses for more visible results. Derived from Vitamin C and Isopalmitic Acid, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is more quickly and readily absorbed by the skin than all other forms of Vitamin C. Because it’s absorbed so well, it’s easy to layer — and ideal for morning use when time is often limited.
It’s a very tight formulation, with just seven ingredients, including Jojoba Seed Oil, Tomato Fruit Extract and Squalane — in addition to a high level of Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. Aside from the pure L-Ascorbic Acid powder, I get the most intense skin brightening from this formula.
If you’re a fan of The Ordinary, as I am, the following guide of all their Vitamin C treatment will be helpful to you.
And, the one Vitamin C product I wouldn’t dream of skipping…
Of course, this blog article about Vitamin C wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning the most potent Vitamin C product in my entire routine — The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder, affectionately referred to as LAA.
What makes Deciem’s cute little pot of magic powder so special? First and foremost is the potency of the Vitamin C itself. I’ve told this quick story before, but it bears repeating now. A few months ago, a good friend asked me for advice on revamping his skincare routine. Like me, he’s been in skincare and beauty for years and still finds it all confusing and unreliable. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m all about pro-skin health ingredients — like Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, and a multitude of replenishing plant oils. My recommendations for him included a few well-formulated serums and oils and the 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder. He tried it that very first night, experiencing only slight tingling (I warned it was potent!). The next day, a co-worker complimented his visibly brighter complexion — the first time in his life anyone had ever done so!
It sounds crazy to say, but the one skincare product that will make the most immediately visible difference in the look of your complexion is this $5 pot of micro-fine powder. But it’s true and it will. It’s simply a complexion game-changer. I use LAA nearly every night, mixed in with a light, watery serum — the Amino Acids + B5, also from The Ordinary. Again, because of Vitamin C’s instability, you have to take care not to mix it with anything that will destabilize or deactivate it — including Niacinamide and any form of peptides. Use those in your opposite, morning regimen. (Watch my YouTube video on it here for application tips!)
One last thing I want to mention as I get asked this all the time. And that has to do with whether or not Vitamin C can be applied along with Vitamin B3 or Niacinamide, in the same skincare routine. The answer is YES! The only exception, again, is with a Vitamin C powder like the LAA one from The Ordinary. There’s excellent info on this particular skincare myth here.
I hope this was helpful. It’s been a long time coming and I really just wanted to get it right. The good thing is these are four — umm make that five — well-formulated Vitamin C products to jumpstart any regimen and give your complexion the boost it deserves.
**WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THESE SKINCARMA APPROVED ANTIOXIDANT VITAMIN C SERUMS ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE.**
The Ingredient List of the Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%:
Water , Ascorbic Acid , Glycerin , Dimethicone , Squalane , Butylene Glycol , Dipropylene Glycol , Acetyl Glucosamine , Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract , Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract/Extrait D'Orge , Morus Nigra (Mulberry) Root Extract , Molasses Extract/Saccharum Officinarum/Extrait De Melasse , Laminaria Digitata Extract , Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract , Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 , Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract , Algae Extract , Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 , Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 , Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 , Alcaligenes Polysaccharides , Caffeine , Sucrose , Whey Protein/Lactis Protein/Proteine Du Petit-Lait , Betaine , Salicylic Acid , Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein , Sodium Hyaluronate , Caprylyl Glycol , Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul'S Wort) Extract , Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane , Propylene Glycol Dicaprate , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake , Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer , Carbomer , Glyceryl Polymethacrylate , Tromethamine , Xanthan Gum , Potassium Sorbate , Peg-8 , Polysorbate 20 , Sodium Citrate , Disodium Edta , Phenoxyethanol.
The Ingredient List of the Sweet Chef Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot:
Water, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20,1, 2-Hexanediol, Propanediol, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Choleth-24, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Cyanocobalamin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil.
The Ingredient List of Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum:
Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Sodium-L-Lactate, Sorbitan Stearate, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Urea, Menthyl Lactate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Carbomer, BHT, Xanthan Gum.
The Ingredient List of the The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F:
Coconut Alkanes, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethyl Linoleate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Squalane.
The Ingredient List of The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder: