A while ago, I shared my master vitamin c post where I reviewed the different forms of vitamin c and the products I’ve used with each. Of the 7 forms, ascorbic acid is the most well researched, effective, but also the most irritating and unstable. It’s also the form I’ve had the least success with until I tried The Inkey List Vitamin C 30% Serum!
What is it
Formulated with 30% pure L-ascorbic Acid, this serum helps skin appear brighter and target signs of aging whilst also helping to protect against free radicals and pollution.
How I use it
In the pm after cleansing and toning, I mix a pea size of this serum with The Inkey List HA Serum. You can also mix this with a moisturizer, but definitely mix it with something. I then follow up with a soothing + hydrating serum and/or facial oil to minimize irritations because 30% AA is no joke. I do not use this every day.
Best suited for
All skin types except sensitive that want an affordable + effective vitamin c that won’t quickly oxidize. Super sensitive skin types might find the 30% ascorbic acid too harsh even when mixed.
Things to note
Alcoho-free and fragrance-free. Ascorbic acid itself in high % (above 10) will irritate sensitive skin, and this packs a whopping 30%.
An opaque plastic tube with minimal black & white packaging. Basic but protects the vitamin c from light and air well and makes it easy to dispense the correct amount of product.
None. Maybe a faint plastic-y kinda smell which I assume is what vitamin c smells like? Better than hot dog water!
A lightweight cream that feels like a silicone primer due to the dimethicone base. Personally I find it very easy to apply and comfortable on the skin with no pilling.
A velvet finish with zero stickiness, it’s almost as if you applied a primer!
Despite my hesitations about ascorbic acid for my skin (ie. it only seems to irritate and rarely deliver results, don’t ask why), the first impression of this vitamin c + hyaluronic acid emulsion was positive: minimal irritations, absorbs quickly, and no sticky finish!
Typical vitamin c usage directions will recommend using it in the morning for an antioxidant boost to protect against UV rays, however I noticed a significant brightening result when I used this in the evening.
Now according to dermatologist Dr. Shannon Humphrey, vitamin c can have an effect on the skin for 24 hours (source) so it should be effective no matter when you apply it, but another study showed that re-application every 8 hours is required for adequate photo-protection.
Something else to consider: While The Inkey List Vitamin C isn’t irritating when mixed, between chemical/physical exfoliants and retinol, I do not apply this daily. Instead I alternate this with my retinol and acids, meaning that only one active is ever used on a given day.
When testing this I was using it daily (no other acids or retinol), but in my regular routine I use this about 2-3 times a week.
To get my daily vitamin c dosage, I’ve been using serum with stabilized vitamin c derivatives that’s gentler on the skin. It’s not as potent as ascorbic acid, but you won’t risk damaging your skin barrier. You can find a list of options here or use an antioxidant serum that contains vitamin c.
Another solution is to increase the ratio of HA serum to Vitamin C when you mix them, but remember, this is a 30% ascorbic acid so even a small amount will still be pretty potent. Less is more!
The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum
This might be the strongest ascorbic acid vitamin c I've tried, but when used correctly, it''s been the least irritating and most effective. If you struggle with finding a vitamin c serum that actually brightens your skin and doesn't oxidize after a few weeks, this is definitely worth trying, especially for the low price.
You do need to mix this with another product because it's just too strong when used alone, but luckily The Inkey List offers an affordable HA serum, or you could use your own. I will definitely be repurchasing this one in the future!