Photography Darren Chang Art Direction Shan
The new vitamin C serums are now much more potent because they’re more stable. They penetrate faster and deeper into skin. They give results in a shorter time. They don’t irritate sensitive skin as much as before. And each serum lasts longer after the bottle is opened.
And stability is paramount when it comes to vitamin C. No stabilility = no work done = no benefits to skin. That means it doesn’t protect the skin. Or boost collagen production. Or reduce pigmentation. Or improve radiance.
Once vitamin C breaks down – through water, light, air and heat – it’s useless and impotent. It’s that fragile.
That’s a big problem if pure vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is used. Thankfully, there’s a 2018 solution: these three much more stable forms of the antioxidant. Don’t take our word for it. The picture above shows the results of our 18-hour apple test (we applied serum to the right half). Disclaimer: The test is for illustrative purposes and don't accurately reflect the potency of the serums on skin.
1. Kiehl’s Powerful-strength Line-reducing Concentrate, $105
There was zero browning (a sign of oxidation) and a still fresh-looking apple on its right half after our 18-hour experiment. This serum has 10.5 per cent pure vitamin C and 2 per cent ascorbyl glucoside. The latter’s protective glucose layer makes it last twice as long as ascorbic acid when applied to your skin.
2. Bjork & Berries Skin Awakening C-serum, $104
We saw a little more browning on the apple for this serum, but it uses . The uses ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, one of the newest, fastest skin-penetrating forms of vitamin C. It’s resistant to heat and air. But because of its penetrative powers, it can irritate sensitive skin, so do a patch test first.
3. Re:erth Multitargeted Elixir, $135
The apple slice we used this serum on ended up the brownest of all in our experiment. However, this uses trisodium ascorbyl palmitate phosphate (APPS), a highly stabilised form of encapsulated Vitamin C that has studies to prove its efficacy compared to pure vitamin C. It uses a Lipodisq delivery technology that is said to allow the active ingredients to penetrate deep into the skin layers, breaking open to deliver them only when it comes into contact with enzymes and phospholipases present in the skin. The water- and fat-soluble form of APPS is also reportedly more compatible with skin, and is more hydrating.
A version of this article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of Her World magazine.