We’ve had a miniature heatwave here in the UK, which you’ll know about if you live in the UK, obviously, but if you don’t then perhaps won’t. I mention this mini pre-summer (four days of uninterrupted sun in Somerset, temperatures reaching approximately twenty four degrees) partly because I’m British, and therefore obsessed with talking about the weather, but mainly because the unexpected sunshine has brought forward quite a few of the summery skincare posts that I had begun to plan. Posts on excellent sunscreens, on lightweight makeup, on moisturisers that won’t make you feel as though you’re sweating lard.
The first of these posts concerns Vitamin C and the ease with which you can slip this little skincare warrior into your existing (or non-existent) routine. Vitamin C has proven antioxidant properties, which means (in the most simplistic terms) that it helps to protect the skin against external aggressors such as pollution and smoke. It keeps the skin looking brighter and more even-toned and can help with the appearance of wrinkles and loss of firmness.
I use some sort of vitamin C product most of the year round, but as the sun starts to peep out more often I naturally find myself stepping up the usage. I think because I’ve always thought of my vitamin C product as a sort of precursor to my sunscreen, I tend to associate it with the warmer months, but on a practical level it actually makes sense: it’s an extra layer of protection, a protective skin boost, an additional step in helping your skin to help itself. When I’m wearing sunscreen then I most definitely have an antioxidant beneath (or in) it – the two, for me, go hand in hand.
So, the Seven Cs. (Pretty proud of this title, I’m not going to lie: I’ve been sitting on it for about four years, so I’m positive that another writer must have already come out with it but I daren’t look. I’m not letting go of my pun even if it looks as though I’ve shamelessly cribbed it.) Seven Vitamin C products that’ll wake up your face and add a spring to your skincare step.
OK, so I’d say that the best-known, most well-respected antioxidant serum is probably SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. With 15% Vitamin C, this antioxidant, lightweight serum has been around for years and has been featured in countless peer-reviewed scientific journals. It’s sort of the ultimate in antioxidant skincare with the ferulic acid protecting the Vitamin C from oxidation (the product remains stable for 6 months once the bottle has been opened) and the optimum pH level and concentration for the ingredients to work effectively. Because of all of this, CE Ferulic is pricey. A bottle will set you back £130 (here*).
Other products I’ve tried that contain Ferulic alongside the Vitamin C: Garden of Wisdom’s Vitamin C 23% + Ferulic and Drunk Elephant’s C Firma Serum. The prices differ massively between the two, with GoW’s a purse-pleasing £10 (here) and Drunk Elephant’s coming in at £67 (here*). They are very similar in feel, smell, colour (and very similar to the SkinCeuticals serum, which we won’t go into here!) but I’m not sure how the formulas vary on a deeper level. Both pages linked have ingredients details, if you want to take a closer look, but I have to say that Nadine Baggott got me onto the GoW serum and it’s a top bargain buy.
If you would rather have the option of customising your own Vitamin C product, whether a cream, serum or potent on-the-spot treatment (for stubborn areas of pigmentation, for example) Paula’s Choice has launched two boosters.
They can be applied neat or mixed with other skincare and there are two levels – the C15 Super Booster (£45 here*), which has 15% Vitamin C as well as the now-legendary Ferulic acid, or the C25 Super Booster (£48 here*) which has Vitamin C at a percentage of – guess! – 25.
What if you’ll never in a million years remember to apply a separate Vitamin C product? Murad has you covered – I’ve reviewed the City Skin SPF 50 before (here) and it’s a great, intensely moisturising sunscreen.
The formula contains your antioxidant protection as well as UVA/UVB protection and it’s a sophisticated day cream as well as an SPF – perfect for a high performance daily moisturiser. The price has shot up since I last looked at it online, but hold off if you’re thinking of making a purchase as I have something special coming up this weekend… In the meantime you can gaze longingly at it here* – it’s £60.
Medik8’s Glow Oil is just lovely, for those who would like to get their Vitamin C hit in a more indulgent way.
With a beautiful slip but a dry finish, it’s a high performance oil with no fragrance that won’t make your makeup or sunscreen feel greasy. A few drops is plenty so it lasts an age. Find it here – £40.
The 7 Day System
Clinique’s Fresh Pressed 7 Day System (£25 here*) is an intriguing concept and will appeal to those who like a bit of a regime to follow.
It’s a high-powered cleanser and then a clicky tube of booster with 10% vitamin C – the two together, as a little two-step routine, give good brightening results in the space of a week. Tried it, liked it; possibly not the most cost-efficient way to go about things, but it’s a very sensible option and I didn’t feel any irritation after using this.
Actually, that’s a point to consider and I should have said it at the start; with most of the high concentrations of Vitamin C I do experience a little itching and sensitivity in my sensitive areas. By sensitive areas I don’t mean my lady parts, obviously – who uses vitamin C there?! – but the areas around my nose and on my chin. They just get a bit aggravated sometimes, which is easily counteracted by me applying some La Roche Posay Cicaplast cream (£6.50 here*) in the danger zones before the serum, as a sort of buffer. But worth noting for those with sensitive skin!
(La Roche-Posay’s new Pure Vitamin C10 – £28 here* – has been formulated with more sensitive skin in mind, should you find yourself looking for a gentle option.)
The original Vitamin C, for me, as in the first I tried properly, was the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate (£49.50 here*).
The slightly gritty texture pleased me, weirdly, and I remember feeling quite surprised by how quickly I saw brighter, more even-toned skin. Then I discovered Indeed Lab’s C24 Cream (£24.99 here*) which would still be a best buy for me, it’s so effective and really well-priced. Again, a slightly gritty, tacky texture, but I don’t mind that and always used it before makeup anyway, which used to go on over the top really nicely.
Vitamin C and Retinol together are a super-charged combination and I have seen great things from both Kate Somerville’s +Retinol Vita C Power Serum (£84 here*) and the Beauty Pie Super Retinol (+ Vitamin C) Night Moisturiser (£8.82 with membership here*).
Vastly different in price but also different in formulation, it’s difficult to pick a favourite here – the Kate Somerville feels silky, lightweight but potent and the Beauty Pie is creamier and could probably replace both serum and face cream if you wanted to simplify your night routine. (Though – again – hold your horses on retinol because I have a post coming up at the weekend that might just make you feel spendy!)
So there, a whole array of different Vitamin C products for all skin types, texture preferences and price points. It’s like a fruit bowl filled with luscious oranges of every variety. Little, juicy easy-peelers, massive blood oranges, satsumas, clementines – take your figurative pick and thank me for your bright, extra-protected skin later.