The Vitamin-C Serum Review

Skincare Product Review

Hi my name is Rue and I’m a skincare junkie!

Aside from being a foodie, I have this deep love for all things skincare. By no means am I a professional, but over the years, I have done a quite bit of research into various skin care products and believe I have done a pretty decent job of keeping my skin looking clear and glowy (technical terms :p ) and of course try to combat those wrinkle looking things that are no fun.

Speaking of which, one thing that I have been focusing on more recently is all the anti-aging things. As my almost-but-not-quite 40-year old skin is not in bad shape for the moment, I would definitely like to keep it looking this good for as long as is humanly possible without surgical intervention! I have a whole daytime and night time routine, which I won’t go into here (I’ll save that for a future blog post), to which I recently added Vitamin-C serums and I have loved the results!

Over the past few months, I tried out a few different brands of Vitamin-C serums. I shared some of my thoughts on my IG stories a few weeks ago and a few of you asked me to share my thoughts on the different brands I have tried, so here is a more permanent and detailed blog post on what I have tried so far.

Vitamin-C serums can be quite expensive so I totally get why you would not want to bite the bullet without knowing for sure if it is worth it. I know I hesitated before buying a few of these. If you can, I recommend getting a trial size or a starter pack so you can try out a small quantity before committing to the whole bottle. But at the end of the day, I do think they are worth the price if you can afford it. A little goes a long way, and the results are amazing with regular use. I am keeping a vitamin-C serum in my regular skincare arsenal for sure.

First, a bit of the Science-y stuff – Why Vitamin-C (L-Ascorbic Acid)?

Vitamin C has lots of benefits both inside and outside the body. You may have heard that you should take Vitamin C to help you fight off a cold. This is because it is an antioxidant which essentially helps to protect your cells.

Similarly, in terms of skin care, Vitamin C (also called L-ascorbic acid – which is the active form of Vitamin C) protects the skin from environmental damage, which can cause skin to look dull and crepe-like. L-asorbic acid has been shown to reduce excess pigment production which can lead to brighter and improved skin tone. It is like a collagen booster. Which is something we all loose from our skin as we age. So basically it can help skin look like it is aging better (dare I say slower) -appearing less wrinkly, dry or sagging.

Vitamin C is one of those products that has lots of research to back the effectiveness of its use as a skin care product. Obviously, do your own research to see if this right for you, or speak to your dermatologist before trying anything new. But from what I have read, it is safe to use for most people and has been shown to be effective for most skin types. So I felt safe giving it a go.

Note – if you do use Vitamin C, you should also use sunscreen every day. Since Vitamin C helps repair damage, if you don’t add the extra layer of protection of SPF to prevent damage, you might as well just throw your money in the toilet.

Ok. So now you’re as convinced as I am Vitamin C is a good thing, and found a way to make this work with your skincare budget. How do you know which Vitamin C serum is the right one?

The Methodology

There are many many (did I say many?) Vitamin C products out there. I focused on brands that come highly rated, are easy to buy (at Sephora or online) and that have clean ingredients. Obviously, there are many more serums than the four I tried, and I will keep trying different ones (comment below if there is one you recommend!), but for this post, this is my random sampling of products.

In order to give each product an even chance, I used only one product at a time over the course of a few weeks, before switching to the next product. This way I gave each one time to have a full effect on my skin. I also kept all other skin care pretty much the same, not switching other products or my routine too much so each product got a fair chance.

My Skin

First of all lets start with what I’m working with. My skin is generally on the normal to oily side. The t-zone can get a bit oily, and the cheeks can be a bit dry. I get the occasional breakout, but on the whole it is quite reasonable to deal with on a daily basis. I always make sure to cleanse every night before bed, and will exfoliate and moisturize at least once a day (normally at night).

The Line Up

For my Vitamin C skin experiment I tried out the following products:

There are obviously hundreds more products out there, but these are the ones I chose based on my research and what I thought would be best for me. I’ll give a quick summary of the highlights of each in my review below. Also, if you have others you have tried and love let me know in the comments below! I might give them a try next!

I reviewed each product based on a few key categories:

  • Active ingredients – The amount of Vitamin-C or L-Ascorbic Acid concentration in each bottle.
  • The overall texture/smell of the product. Note that fragrance is actually an irritant for your skin, so I rate a product (for skin) negatively if it has a fragrance (even if it smells good!). Want to know more about why fragrance is bad for your skin read here.
  • Value – This is cost in Canadian $ per ml. Lets face it – these serums don’t come cheap! – so if they are all the same, this would be my deciding factor.
  • Packaging – For ease of use, and more importantly, keeping the product free from contamination and protecting the potency of the product. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and oxygen and needs to be kept away from both to keep its potency. Ideally, it should come in an opaque and air pump type packaging so it is not exposed to oxygen till the moment you apply it on your face.
  • Results – My own opinion of how my skin felt, based on at least 1 month of continued use of the product at least 3-4 times a week (normally in the daytime).
  • Overall Rating – I rated each one on a scale of 1 to 5 – 1 being ‘forget about it’, and 5 being ‘can’t live without it’!

So here we go. This is my totally non-scientific review of a small selection of Vitamin-C serums I tried over the last few months.

The Results

CategoryDrunk Elephant – C-Firma Vitamin C Day SerumTatcha – Violet C Brightening SerumSenegence – SeneSerum CPaula’s Choice – C-15 Super Booster
The PromiseA potent vitamin C day serum packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and fruit enzymes to firm and brighten skin’s appearance and improve the signs of photoaging.A 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA serum with pure ingredients and gentle strength that helps soften, smooth, and brighten for more radiant, even-toned skin.A blend of the most advanced anti-aging
ingredients. This environmental defence
formula is made for all skin types and works
to create a healthier-feeling and younger looking
complexion.
This concentrated booster with 15% pure vitamin C dramatically brightens uneven skin while improving the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Active Ingredients15% L-Ascorbic Acid plus Ferulic Acid
1% Vitamin E
20% Vitamin C Blend
Mild Fruit AHAs 10%
Japanese Angelica Root Extract
Unknown15% stabilized Vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) at a pH of 3.0,
Vitamin E and Ferulic acid
Texture/smellClear gel-like texture. No real smell of note. You do feel this on the skin for a bit as it absorbs.Clear gel-like texture. No real smell of note. Absorbs pretty quickly.Has a pearly almost glitter like finish that you see on your hands after applying. A light Floral fragrance. Clear packaging so you can see the ‘beads’ of vitamin C.A clear liquid. No real smell. Absorbs very quickly.
Value (in CAD)$105 for 30ml – $3.50/ml$114 for 30ml – $3.80/ml$75 for 15ml – $5/ml$67 for 20 ml – $3.35/ml (converted from USD)
PackagingOpaque packaging – keeps product safe from light exposure
Pump dispenser – keeps product safe from oxygenation.
Opaque packaging – keeps product safe from light exposure
Pump dispenser – keeps product safe from oxygenation.
Opaque packaging – keeps product safe from light exposure
Clear packaging – so potential loss of potency due to light exposure.
Pump dispenser – keeps product safe from oxygenation.
Opaque packaging – keeps product safe from light exposure
Dropper dispenser – keeps product safe from oxygenation. Need to be careful not to touch dropper to face when applying.
ResultsLoved how my skin looked. It felt like it was glowing from within. I got lots of complements on my skin when I used this regularly.My skin felt smooth and clear, and was glowing. Loved the results.Didn’t notice a distinct difference like I did when using the Drunk Elephant or Tatcha products. So I suspect this has less concentration of Vitamin C. I didn’t like the glittery finish.Similar results as Drunk Elephant C-Firma serum. Notices a difference after about a week or so of consistent use. Skin felt smooth and had a nice glow.
Other CommentsI like that they add AHA to their ingredients so not only am I getting the benefits of Vitamin C but I also get a light exfoliant too. But after further research I learnt that the AHA is not very strong so you don’t really get the benefit of it.While the amount of Vitamin C is not listed anywhere – I did notice that ‘ascorbate’ (Vitamin C) appears somewhere in the middle of the ingredients list compared to the others brands which list it within the first 3 ingredients. This indicates to me it is less concentrated.
This one also has a fragrance so isn’t ideal for the skin in the long term (but it does smell nice).
I dont love the liquid consistency and the dropper applicator. It makes it hard to apply without dropping some – or it runs down the face too quickly and I feel like I’m rushing to rub it in.
Overall Rating
out of 5 (1= leave it; 5 = can’t live without it)
5/5

Loved how my skin felt after using this product. I will now wait patiently for Sephora’s bi-annual sales so I can stock up!
4.5/5

I like that this has both an exfoliant and vitamin C so technically does double duty. But I didn’t really notice that much of a difference when compared to the Drunk Elephant serum.
2 /5

Honestly this lost points on the cost and the fact that it has clear packaging along with the fragrance and glittery appearance. For this price, it is just not worth it for me and I really didn’t notice much difference in the results.
4/5

This lost points on the dropper applicator packaging and liquid consistency for me. But it works as well as the others, and results are the same. It is also the cheapest of the four I tried.

Honourable mention

Another vitamin C product – but not a serum – that I also tried was the Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask. This is more for weekly use. It has similar ingredients as the Violet-C Serum and I definitely noticed a difference each time I used it. My skin always looked glowy and refreshed each time I used it. It’s good for a quick glow before an big event. Or if you are not ready to make Vitamin C a regular thing.

A Few Tips on Adding Vitamin C to Your Beauty Routine

If you are new to Vitamin C in skincare, go slow. Some of these are very concentrated, so you want to give your skin time to get used to it. Start with applying once every three days or so, and then slowly work your way up to daily. Currently I use it once every other day or so, rather than daily, and I still notice a benefit. If you have sensitive skin or are just starting out, you might want to try mixing a little bit into your daily moisturizer first and see how your skin does before applying it directly to your skin.

You need patience for this one. It takes a few weeks to see results. Stick with it for at least a month. This is one of those long term benefit things. So don’t expect to get instant gratification.

And obviously, please speak to an expert if you want to know what’s best for you and your skin. This is just my opinion on what works for me at this time!

TL;DR

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is a great anti-aging product to add to your skin care routine if you can afford it. It helps boost collagen and results in skin appearing more glowy, even toned and less wrinkly. If you are looking for brighter, plumper, smoother skin you won’t be disappointed with a Vitamin C product. I definitely found that with every Vitamin C product I used I loved how my skin looked even without makeup. I am definitely adding Vitamin C to my daily routine (more like 3-4 times a week actually – cause that ‘ish is pricey! A little goes a long way!).

From the four brands I tried, I will be keeping Drunk Elephant C-Firma Serum on regular rotation in my skin care routine. Now I just need to wait for the next Sephora sale so I can stock up! πŸ˜€

Have you tried Vitamin C serums before? What’s your go to serum?

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