vitamin c or retinol serum

Hi The Beauty Brains,

I know from your podcasts that vitamin C and Retinol both have functions in anti-aging and anti-acne. Thus, I am considering to buy a vitamin C or retinol serum. However, I am using anti-acne cleanser which contains salicylic acid. Could I use them together? And which ingredient do you think better? About 10% Ascorbic acid or encapsulated retinol serum?


  • edited October 2016
    @Tiffany60 OMG. My 2 fave irritating ingredients lol

    Start with one or the other. Reduce ALL actives when you start Retinol, including acids.

    personally, i prefer vitamin A over vitamin C.

    and we all prefer >10% L Ascorbic acid. preferably 10-15% (higher is ok too, but the skin can only absorb 15% max and min 10% is rquired for collagen production.

    See more Vitamin C posts by The Beauty brains here:

    i suggest you try Retinol + Vitamin C derivative (less irritating) why both? because i am greedy and i want it all! hee :x and to tip you over the edge, i shall reference this very young 61 year old who has been using Tretinoin (concentrated form of Vitamin A) since her 30s

  • ;precious 

    Thank you for your answer. Do you have any recommendation products like retinol serum and Vitamin C serum? 

  • Lady in that video is clearly full of botox and it is really not because of Tretinoin she looks so fake...
  • @Vi_Woolf Really? I don't know how to tell the difference.

    @Tiffany60 Where are you located? I am in Australia. so will recommend based which country you are in. Personally i am using Tretinoin. It is effective.... but very irritating to the skin.
    let us know

    • your skin type
    • your skin concerns
    • what are you using right now
    • any allergies?
  • @preciousia

    I live in Connecticut, US which is the north east of America. My skin type is acne prone skin. I am using Neutrogena(R) Cream Cleanser Oil-Free Acne Wash 6.7 Fl Oz and neutrogena moisturizer and Ombrelle Sunscreen SPF60 w/ MEXORYL LARGE 8 oz / 240 mL. I don't think I have any allergy.
  • Comparing retinol to retinoic acid is not really a fair comparison. There are way more studies about the anti-aging benefits of retinoic acid. Also Retinol has to be converted to Retinoic Acid to work. I'm using the lowest concentration of Retinoic Acid, it works fine, so personally I find this concentration is fine. I do experience enlarged pores with retinoic acid, I've heard more people are experiencing this. 0.1% Retinol can be safely added to any current regime, you have to watch your skin how you respond, but in general it doesn't give any problems. However 1% retinol can give quite some irritation.
  • @Peter

    As you said retinol could be irritating, does it mean about 10% ascorbic acid will be better for anti aging?
  • edited October 2016
    Both have benefits, Vitamin C has been studied extremely well, I would say better than retinol. Only Retinoic Acid can really reverse skin aging, so in most studies people hope to see the same benefits with Retinol, although not as dramatic, Retinol does give anti-aging skin benefits, but may also cause skin irritation some say even a bit more than the lowest concentration of retinoic acid. Because you can use retinol only at night (it is way too unstable to use during the day), ascorbic acid is a good starting point, because it protects your skin during the day and restores your skin at night. With these kind of ingredients it is important to buy products in airless packaging, and in general you want to avoid irritants and potentially harmfull plant extracts. A concentration of 5% Vitamin C or more is fine, however it is very important to combine it with Vitamin E. 
  • edited October 2016
    @Peter definitely trans-retinoic is far more potent thus like a double edged sword, high risk high rewards. No prizes for guessing which end of the stick I am picking :)

    For Tiffany, I recommend she starts with the milder version Retinol.

    Again I like to repeat this


    @Tiffany60 I suggest you use Retinol at night and vitamin C (derivative) in the day (perhaps night as well)

    From memory on iHerb (USA products), Budget options are:

    - Life flo Retinol cream (1% Retinol) perhaps you should start with something lower? Retinol products are not my expertise since I feel majority are overpriced. My Friend used this and she gives it thumbs up

    - Vitamin C I like the Mad Hippie one I am using now which is using a more stable, milder Vitamin C derivative. If you want to get the gold standard L Ascorbic Acid, try Timeless Vitamin C, it is a cheap dupe to Skinceuticsls $200 Vitamin C E and Ferulic acid serum.

    With timeless, start using 1-3 times a week. It is strong! Same with Retinol, introduce 1-3 times initially. Monitor your skin Ymmv.

    Will look at more options at the PC.
    If money is not a concern, I like Dr Dennis Gross Retinol product and Dr Perricone Vitamin C.
    Or you can also look into Drunk Elephant.

    Personally I have tried Dr Dennis Gross and Dr Perricone which I like but found too expensive. Have not tried Drunk Elephant (they just came into Australia)

    Another suggestion, I have ordered but have not received or tried is The Ordinary by Deciem.

    Vitamin C wise : I saw Dermadoctor Vitamin C & Kakadu Plum serum really nice. Also special
    mention to Mychelle Vitamin C serum.

    Last suggestion is try pocketderm, Curology. If I were in USA, I would give them a go!

    Of course, I like to emphasise I am not a doctor or beauty professional. Just a self-study skincare junkie cheating her age by a decade :)
  • @Peter, Preciousia

    Thank you for your suggestions, I have some questions about some ingredients in these products.

    Mad Hippie Skin Care Products, Vitamin C Serum, 8 Actives, 1.02 fl oz (30 ml)

    Other Ingredients

    (Actives in bold): Deionized water, vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), alkyl benzoate, vegetable glycerin, water, glycerin, sodium levulinate, sodium anisate, clary sage (salvia sclarea), grapefruit (citrus grandis), hyaluronic acid, amorphophallus konjac root powder, aloe barbadensis leaf, vitamin E (tocotrienol), ferulic acid, chamomile flower extract (recutita matricaria), sodium phytate, xanthan gum, hydroxyethylcellulose.

    This product contains citrus acid, so will it irritate and blog your skin?

    Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum, 1 oz


    Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.

    @Peter, will this product containing 20% vitamin C be irritating? Could you analyze these ingredients? Thank you.

  • edited October 2016

    Skinceuticals C E Ferulic

    I found this product fit with all the five tips in the podcast: What kind of Vitamin C is best for you.


    15% L-ascorbic acid:

    Lauded for its superior antioxidant benefits, this highly potent form of pure vitamin C helps neutralize free radicals and helps protects against oxidative stress while providing visible anti-aging benefits.

    1% alpha tocopherol: 

    This form of vitamin E neutralizes free radicals and replenishes skin lipids.

    0.5% ferulic acid: 

    A plant-based antioxidant, ferulic acid neutralizes free radicals and enhances the antioxidant benefits of vitamins C and E.


    aqua / water / eau, ethoxydiglycol, ascorbic acid, glycerin, propylene glycol, laureth-23, phenoxyethanol, tocopherol, triethanolamine, ferulic acid, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate

  • edited October 2016

    This email may help.
    i do not have irritation with this product.

    Hi xxx,

    Thank you for reaching out! Our Vitamin C Serum does not contain grapefruit peel (or grapefruit essential oil) which contains bergapten, a phototoxic agent found in the peel of many citrus fruits. It is safe for daytime use and is great for increasing the photoprotective qualities of your SPF during the day as it contains lots of antioxidants that ward off photodamage. Please let me know if I can assist in any other way.

    All the best,


    On Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 10:06 PM, <> wrote:
    Message: Hi
    i am looking at your Vitamin C serum. Can you advise me if grapefruit (citrus grandis) ingredient is photo-sensitive? is it ok to use the serum during the day?


  • edited October 2016
    another to add to the list is Skin Actives Vitamin C serum.  :) take a look at them.

    and yes

    obviously 20% Ascorbic Acid is technically more irritating than a 15% Ascorbic Acid but it is probably buffered too to get around the Skinceuticals patent. so other than %, there are other factors affecting how irritated your skin will be other than the % of the Ascorbic Acid, eg other ingredients in the formulae.

    at the end of the day YMMV. 

    i still think Retinol + Vitamin C derivative is better than L Ascorbic acid alone

    Bear in mind too that you would have to toss the Vitamin C serum (L Ascorbic acid) in 3 months or less. :) i would personally toss it in 1 month. with all their crappy packaging, the recommendations of the link you share. Go with airless like @Peter says.

    word of warning how detrimental it is for your skin if you use an oxidised L Ascorbic acid serum.

    if in doubt, see a derm. can't say i am qualified to provide anti-aging advice over the internet. All i can do is provide you information you can digest. Share my personal experience. At the end of the day, it is up to you to assess and make decisions yourself.

    hope this helps.
  • @Tiffany60
    Salvia is a problematic plant extract, also Propylene Glycol is irritating in high amounts. It looks like the timeless serum contains a very high amount of Propylene Glycol. About the grapefruit extract, there are so many compounds in such plant extracts, I dont know for sure if not using the peel extract is enough. Paula Begoun recommends to avoid Grapefruit extract completely, so I would suggest to follow that advice.
  • @ Peter,

    Do you think skinceuticals C E Ferulic deserve the price: $163?


    aqua / water / eau, ethoxydiglycol, 15 % ascorbic acid, glycerin, propylene glycol, laureth-23, phenoxyethanol, 1% tocopherol(vitamin E), triethanolamine, 0.5% ferulic acid, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate

  • No, it is too expensive.Also asorbic acid is too unstable to be packaged in a droppler. And if there's more than 1 to 5 % Propylene Glycol it's better to avoid. So its irritating and probably oxidized before you get it. Considering the price I would choose the Timeless, but personally I don't think any of them are good enough.

    There are creams on the market with 5-10% vitamin c which are packaged airless and use combinations with many other antioxidants, that's better. Your skin doesn't use only vitamin c and vitamin e as a defence naturally either, ascorbic acid may have been researched a lot, but there is more than one pathway for free radical formation in skin. So mixtures work really well, for example ascorbic acid without tocopherol is almost useless, you need to have the combonation. Things like resveratrol, green tea, superoxide dismutase, quercetin, turmeric and ergothioneine are very good as well, and have a good amount of research proving their effectiveness. If you find a good vitamin c serum, without irritants, it's a good addition of course to a regimen with other antioxidants.
  • edited October 2016
    I found this paula's choice product looks good, but still very expensive. What do you think?

    RESIST C15 Super Booster + RESIST Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment $83

    RESIST C15 Super Booster: 
    Water, Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C/antioxidant), Ethoxydiglycol (hydration/penetration enhancing), PPG-26 Buteth-26 (texture-enhancing), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (texture-enhancing), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Ferulic Acid (antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Acetyl Octapeptide-3 (skin-restoring), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Sodium Metabisulfite (stabilizer/antioxidant), Triethanolamine (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

    RESIST Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment:
    Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane (hydration), Dimethicone (hydration), Acetyl Glucosamine (hydration/skin replenishing), Niacinamide (skin-restoring), Butylene Glycol (hydration/texture-enhancing), Silica (texture-enhancing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Phenyl Trimethicone (hydration), PEG-10 Dimethicone ( texture-enhancing), Bis-Phenylpropyl Dimethicone ( texture-enhancing), Pentylene Glycol (hydration/penetration enhancing), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Morus Alba Root Extract (white mulberry extract/antioxidant), Morus Bombycis Root Extract (Chinese mulberry extract/antioxidant), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/antioxidant), Ceramide NP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide AP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide EOP (hydration/skin replenishing), Scutellaria Baicalensis Extract (skullberry extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract (antioxidant/skin-soothing), Phytosphingosine (skin-restoring), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Cholesterol (hydration/skin replenishing), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Vitis Vinifera Fruit Extract (grape extract/antioxidant), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (texture-enhancing), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 40 (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 80 (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Sodium Acrylate/Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Carbomer (texture-enhancing), Isohexadecane (texture-enhancing), Hexylene Glycol (hydration/penetration enhancing), Polymethyl Methacrylate (texture-enhancing), Mica (mineral pigment), Titanium Dioxide (CI77891 (mineral pigment), Disodium EDTA(stabilizer), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

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