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Vitamin C

Vitamin C: 5 of the Best Skincare Products

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On my constant quest for glowing, bright skin one of my most faithful sidekicks is pretty much any product containing vitamin C.

Responsible for helping to exfoliate, inhibit hyperpigmentation (as well as to clear up existing pigmentation issues), and firm skin, vitamin C is a one-ingredient powerhouse.  And I can’t get enough.

According to Healthline, “Vitamin C is touted as one of the best ingredients on the market for pro-aging support — and the key to maintaining a smooth, even, and glowy complexion.

“Although you’re probably getting vitamin C in your diet, there’s no way to guarantee it’s going straight to your skin. Using serums and other topical products is the most direct way to reap these benefits.”

So, I thought I’d round up some of my go-to products by skin concern.

Best for a Megawatt Glow

REN’s Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

Containing Ascorbic acid (one of the most potent forms of Vitamin C), this slightly gritty paste is aimed specifically at targeting grey or tired skin tones- and for me it seriously delivers.

Designed to be massaged onto dry skin before adding water to activate it and leaving for one minute, I can feel this tingling as it gets to work.

The results are a glow that never ceases to surprise me, as well as an overall brighter skin tone. As a result, I generally use this the most if my skin is in need a quick pick-me-up before an event or if I’m especially tired.

Because it is a powerful antioxidant, this product also helps to combat some amount of UV and free radical (think pollution) damage, making it perfect for city or sunny place dwellers.

Great for: Those who worry about their Vitamin C going off. Although Vitamin C is notoriously unstable when exposed to light and air, REN’s product comes in an opaque tube to protect it from UV, while the water activation process also to helps to preserve it.

Not-so-great for: The smell and texture, which are pretty icky, while the formula is also prone to splitting. I always make sure to shake well before use and also try not to think too hard about the smell (like gone-off orange juice).


Best for Hyperigmentation

Lixirskin’s Vitamin C Paste

Also containing L Ascorbic acid (10% here), this daily wash off treatment acts as a gentle acid peel, helping to exfoliate and regulate melanin product (responsible for hyperpigmentation). also says that in dermatology “Vit. C has a potential anti-inflammatory activity and can be used in conditions like acne vulgaris and rosacea. It can promote wound healing and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” great news!

Meanwhile, this vitamin is also a powerful antioxidant which helps to neutralise free radicals and prevent UV damage.

Firstly, let me just say that for a vitamin C treatment (which notoriously smell terrible) I actually really like the scent of this product- sort of like lily pollen.

Compared to the REN product, this paste’s strength lies in its impressive skin tone-evening properties- helping to slightly fade any patches of unevenness.

While it doesn’t give me the same ‘oh wow’ glow as the Flash Rinse, I really like the healthy, more uniform-look it gives my skin.

Because vitamin C is also notoriously unstable and prone to splitting, I always give this a good shake before massaging a tiny amount across my face with wet fingers (and I mean like a pea-sized amount- this product may be slightly expensive but it lasts me absolutely ages because a little of this texture goes far).

Lixirskin suggest leaving this for a minimum of one minute each day, and up to around 15 minutes if you have time- which I try to do.

Great for: Sensitive skin types, as this is effective without being harsh.

Not-so-great for: Low waste, since I need so little of this each time that it’s easy for the tube to expire before I’ve used all the product.
Lixirskin’s Vitamin C Paste is $38.40 for 50 ml, Feel Unique US


Best for Oily Skin

REN Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream

While normally on the drier side, my skin can occasionally flare up into unexpected moments of oiliness.

When that happens the two products I switch immediately are my cleanser and moisturiser- moving over to lighter formulas.

One of those is another by REN; their Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream.

Although this moisturiser smells quite strongly like orange jelly (which I quite like but those with an intolerance to essential oils may not), it also has a cooling, gel-like consistency.

While this formula is a mixture of hydrating (water) and moisturising (oil), it perhaps comes down slightly more on the hydration side, making it ideal for use in the heat or when skin is oily.

The product’s active ingredients include ascorbyl glucoside, a highly-stable and water-soluble form of vitamin C thought to be able to slowly brighten skin and tackle hyperpigmentation.

Although not as effective as the more potent L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C, ascorbyl glucoside still acts as an antioxidant- helping to mop up free-radical damage.
The formula also contains seabuckthorn oil- a great source of Omegas 3, 6 and 9- to moisturise and soothe inflammation, as well as Diglucosyl Gallic Acid (a benzoic acid derivative) to gently peel and brighten skin.

The result is healthy radiance with zero greasiness in a formula that is paraben, sulphate, detergent, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance and silicone free.

Great for: Glow without grease.

Not-so-great for: Dry skin types, which might not find this moisturising enough.

Ren’s Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream is £38 for 50 ml, Cult Beauty UK and $48 for 1.7 oz/ 50 ml, Sephora US


Best for De-puffing

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

As the owner of some naturally tired looking under eyes, I’m continually hunting for products to make me look more rested.

And given my general enthusiasm for Drunk Elephant it was really only a matter of time before I tried out the brand’s C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream.

The sister product to Drunk Elephant’s Shaba’s Eye Complex, C-Tango is aimed mostly at brightening- thanks to its five forms of vitamin C- as well as lightly hydrating and moisturising, courtesy of cucumber extract and avocado oil.

This scentless lotion also contains eight peptides (another of my favourite ingredients) for an immediate plumping effect.

On the skin this isn’t quite as light as you might expect a depuffing product to be- and is happily actually a pretty nourishing cream texture. Thankfully it still absorbs into my skin in around two minutes, much like a serum might.

Using this I’ve noticed both some short and long term benefits- namely a simultaneous depuffing of under eye fluid retention as well as a plumping effect (thanks peptides) which helps fill my tear troughs slightly.

The result is a smoother under eye area, as well as a moisturising effect which my currently dry skin appreciates.

Great for: Anyone looking for an eye cream that brightens, depuffs and moisturises.

Not-so-great for: The wallet…Ouch.

Drunk Elephant’s C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream is £54 for 15 ml, Cult Beauty UK and $64 for 0.5 oz/ 15 ml, Sephora US


Best for Targeted Areas

Paula’s Choice C25 Super Booster

While Lixirskin’s Vitamin C Paste does a fantastic job at evening out my overall skin tone, I still have some smaller patches of hyperpigmentation.

These brown spots or patches appear when melanocytes (the cells which create melanin) go a little haywire and produce more pigment- and sometimes they can do with a little more specific attention.

One of my favourites- aside from Sisley’s Phyto Blanc line and Dr Dennis Gross’s Ferulic and Retinol range- is this Paula’s Choice booster- a 25% concentration of pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid again).

This product by Paula’s Choice may be tiny but it’s both highly concentrated and designed to be used as a targeted spot treatment so I really don’t use a lot.

It’s also highly effective on both my brown spots caused by sun damage and some post inflammatory pigmentation on my forehead; the result of an over-zealous at-home peel.

This has both lightened and decreased the size of a couple of patches- as well as generally smoothing my forehead where I apply this.

And although it’s in tiny tube, I actually use very little of this so it lasts ages. The thick texture of this means that I save this for night time use, though, since it’s definitely obvious on my skin.

Great for: Treating dark spots, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and generally dull complexions.

Not-so-great for: Those who like to use their Vitamin C products in the day, since this does show up where you put it.  It could be added to a serum or moisturiser, though, for a subtler look.

Paula’s Coice C25 Super Booster is £50 for 15 ml, Paula’s Choice UK and $55 for 0.5 oz/ 15 ml, Paula’s Choice US



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Sally Underwood is a journalist, *serious* beauty fan, and Editor-in-Chief of Live That Glow. Formerly Editorial Director of one of Europe's largest newspaper groups, Sally has been a beauty obsessive since her teen years spent dragging her long-suffering (but immaculately-groomed) friends around every beauty counter in London. She now leads Live That Glow's editorial operations.

Expertise: Skincare, Body care
Education: University College London

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