I, like you, want my skin to feel and look amazing. I’ve been on the dedicated skincare wagon for nearly 18 months seeking to find the holy grail items that make me look like a supermodel. Sadly, Vitamin C isn’t going to do that, but can it help? Vitamin C claims to help stimulate collagen production to make it look more plumped and smooth, inhibits melanin production to provide an even skin tone and help skin look bright, fight off free radical damage to the skin caused by UV rays and pollution helping to reduce the signs of the ageing. In short, it’s a tough wee bugger and with that many budget options on the market, it’s worth giving it a go!
I’ve tried the SkinDeva Vitamin C serum and after one bottle I decided it wasn’t working and jumped ship to the Garden of Wisdom Serum. I realise I was premature with that judgement but what can you do? I am now on my third bottle of GOW so sharing my thoughts to help you decide if this budget option is the one for you. I bought all three bottles with my own money so not to worry, I’m being influenced by nothing but the condition of my skin!
Product Name: 23% Vitamin C Serum & Ferulic Acid
Brand: Garden of Wisdom for Victoria Health
Packaging: Airtight, vacuum pump bottle, white plastic (so no light or air can get in). Was delivered in a bubble interior envelope, for those interested in keeping packaging waste to a minimum.
Price: 30ml for £10 (excl P+P)
Cruelty Free: Yes
Vegetarian: Yes but not sure about vegan.
Ecofriendly: Unsure but as the packing is plastic, likely not.
Active Ingredient: 23% Vitamin C. Specifically L-Ascorbic acid.
Full ingredients list: Distilled Water, L-Ascorbic Acid 23%, Alkyl Benzoate, Panthenol-D, Carbomer, Ferulic Acid, Sclerotium Gum, Optiphen, Hyaluronic acid
pH: 3.1 – 3.4
The ideal pH for Vit C is 3.5 however it can go as low as 2 and be effective. If you have sensitive skin it may be worth trying a Vitamin C with a higher pH to avoid irritation. At a higher pH it will be less effective as it is more effective when functioning within an acidic pH. Skinceuticals have patented their formula which states to have stablised Vit C and functions at the optimal pH.
Appearance: Slight viscosity to it but still runny, very pale yellow in colour initially (this is the Ferulic acid). Once it starts to become darker it is oxidizing and will be losing its potency.
Application: Apply a few drops. Dries down after a few minutes, leaves a slight sticky residue. It disappeared after applying SPF.
Fragrance and dyes: No to both!
Why use Vitamin C?: Vitamin C can help brighten skin and even out skin tone. It is a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent against free radical damage caused by UV rays and pollution. There is mixed opinion on whether Vitamin C in topical form even works due to uncertainties on its ability to penetrate the waxy top layer of the skin.
LAA is unstable however Ferulic acid can help to stablise the Vitamin C and prevent oxidization. Ferulic is an antioxidant in its own right also and when working with Vitamin C can help maximize the benefits of both! Research shows LAA to be most efficacious in the range of 10-20%. Less than 10% may work but it will be minimal and very slow. Unless you have very sensitive skin I would suggest using at least 10%. If not, there are serums available at 5%. Research doesn’t particularly back up the need to be going above 20% Vitamin C. It’s not proven to be any more effective than serums in the 10-20% range. However the higher the % the increased likelihood for irritation. This is a case where a higher strength is not always better.
Has Ferulic Acid
Functioning at effective acidic pH
Best packaging you can get to protect the Vitamin C from oxidising
Short ingredients list with added good ingredients
No fragrance or dyes
Cruelty free and suitable for vegetarians
It may irritate some people due to the high percentage of Vitamin C
It doesn’t include Vitamin E in the formulation
Not sure on it’s vegan and ecofriendly status
Summary: I used GOW for a few reasons: it was the only option in budget that had an opaque airless vacuum pump bottle and I got sucked in to the % before I knew better. I have found it to lighten and brighten my skin over an extended period of time. I am on to my third bottle and it has only been recently that I noticed a difference. Ideally, this formula would have Vitamin E as it helps the formula to penetrate and Vitamin C, E and Ferulic are a powerhouse together. I am pleased with the results, and the bottle and the price are amazing added bonuses. It is a shame about the Vitamin E but that is not enough to make me change to a higher priced option. I do still have pigmentation on my cheek that the serum has not managed to fully shift, but my overall skin tone is definately lighter and brighter and more even with marks faded.
What to look for: When looking for a Vitamin C product consider 1. the % of Vitamin C, (this will depend on your skins sensitivity level), 2. the type of Vitamin C (pure LAA is the most effective but unstable and can cause the highest irritation but will get results quicker, Vitamin C derivatives are more stable and will be less irritating but will be less effective and take longer to show results), 3. the pH (acidic pH is most effective but most irritating but if you have sensitive skin a higher pH will reduce irritation but also reduce the efficacy of the Vitamin C), 4. the additional ingredients and the packaging (a long list is okay if it has lots of beneficial ingredients however if its all filler ingredients with no benefit, why bother when there are so many options with minimal ingredients. Don’t be fooled in to thinking something more expensive is better. My next to try is the TimelessUK as it has released new airtight packing and that is dealbreaker for me.
Other options: Skin Deva, MaeGlow, Skinceuticals, TimelessUK, Drunk Elephant, Paula’s Choice, The Ordinary, The Inkey List, Mad Hippie, Ren, La Roche Posay, By Wishtrend, FaceTheory, Obagi, TruSkin, Sunday Riley, Ole Henrikson, Clinique, Bliss, Lancome …the list goes on. It all depends on what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to try smaller, independant brands. I have had a wee look on Etsy and there are so many options. Hopefully after reading this you will be able to navigate the Vitamin C options yourself and find the best one for you.
Sam ❤ xx