Vitamin C serum

Posted on October 23rd, by Helen in Obsessions, Products, Skincare. 10 comments

Vitamin C serum

This opaque dropper bottle that I’m holding harbours a potent skin-saving potion: The Kellett Skincare Vitamin C Ferulic Boost serum. This is my third bottle, and after using it for a year, along with the other products in my “Kellett Kit” (pictured below, Vanna White style), I can confidently declare that my complexion is the brightest and smoothest that it’s ever been. My skin is more even-toned and my breakouts are fewer are farther in between. And I find that I don’t need to wear foundation every day anymore. Every woman’s dream skin, right?


Young skin is resilient and full of vitamin C. Vitamin C works to preserve skin health by aiding collagen production and guarding the skin from free-radical damage caused by natural aging and external factors such as exposure to UV light, traffic, and cigarette smoke. Stabilizing your skin’s levels of vitamin C can help to counteract wrinkle formation by increasing production of skin-plumping collagen.

Antioxidant serums used to be considered an added luxury, having somewhat of a hoity toity status. But today they’re considered essential, and a pretty smart addition to your anti-aging skincare arsenal. I only started using serums after getting my sunspots assessed by a dermatologist, who told me that vitamin C has a brightening effect and serums boast about 10 times the amount of active substances than cream moisturizers. Convinced that my drugstore vitamin C-enriched night cream was doing diddly-squat, I decided to splurge on vitamin C serums from various higher-end skincare companies: Obagi, SkinCeuticals, and GM Collins are a few brands that I’ve tried.

I like the Kellett Vitamin C Ferulic Boost serum the best. Before I get into why, the first thing you must know about Vitamin C serums (any brand) is that it will not smell like oranges. If it does, then you know you have a crappy product full of synthetic fragrance. Well-formulated Vitamin C serums smell kind of like battery acid!

Formulated by dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett, this serum is a lightweight, fast-absorbing and pharmaceutical-grade (read: highly concentrated with 21% L-Ascrobic Acid, the only form that can be used by the body) antioxidant formula, meant to be used in conjunction with sunscreen and other moisturizers to bolster their efficacy. For example, it works synergistically with sunscreens as “photoprotectors” against free-radical damage. So essentially, you get double the defence against environmental skin stressors, and that’s essential if you’re a city dweller like me.


Despite cigarettes being banned in restaurants and bars, I still find myself inadvertently inhaling second hand smoke. Every day, it seems like I’m walking behind a smoker on my commute home from work. Many studies show that cigarette smoke can lead to a listless complexion and weaker skin that does not bounce back from damage as quickly.

Another city skin stressor is construction. If you live in a condo complex where there is constant construction going on (my hands are up!), then your skin will really benefit from having an extra dose of antioxidant protection against the fumes and debris.

And let’s not forget the behavioural factors that age us. Weekend vices such as too little sleep and too many martinis can catch up on us, accelerating things like dark circles, blotchiness, and wrinkles and fine lines faster than we’d like. While natural aging will deplete levels of vitamin C, external pollutants decline vitamin C further.

Oh and if you think your healthy habit of chugging fruit smoothies every day is enough to protect your skin, think again. Topical application of vitamin C better targets skin concerns, about 20% more according to research. I’m a health nut too, and can attest to the fact that a produce-packed diet alone is not enough to stave off sun damage. You need to apply something to the skin from the outside that is designed to penetrate the epidermis, so you get internal protection. To illustrate my point, check out this apple test. Just for fun, I wanted to see what would happen if I applied a few drops of vitamin C to one side of a cut apple, exposed to oxidation overnight.

 Notice how much more browning the untreated apple halve has (on the right). That’s your skin without internal antioxidant protection!


According to the packaging, this serum is ideal for day and nighttime use (though I use it during the day, and reserve the night for my vitamin A serum to help fade sunspots and keep fine lines at bay). Place a few drops into the palm of your hands and apply it directly on cleansed skin, preferably on exfoliated skin to promote deeper penetration of the antioxidants. During the day, the order of product application should go from lightest to thickest, so serum first, wait a few seconds before applying SPF 30, and then makeup.

As much as I can, I also try to use this serum on my neck and the back of my hands to prevent laxity and sunspots. And while you’re not technically supposed to do so, I use this serum on my face right after a cosmetic laser treatment, as I find that it reduces redness and recovery time, knocking off a day from my usual one-week of looking sunburnt. You’re often advised to avoid applying anything too active on sensitized skin, so please check with your dermatologist before trying this at home.

Right after this, I use my Vitamin C serum.


Since 2008, I’ve heard Dr. Lisa Kellett preach the benefits of using topical antioxidants, whether on t.v. or in a magazine or newspaper article. Her advice has always stayed consistent: use vitamin A at night and vitamin C in the morning, preferably in the form of a pharmaceutical-grade serum. She’s always sold these two serums at her Toronto clinic, DLK on Avenue (108  Avenue Road) but it took me a while to swallow the steep price tag – $199 for vitamin C and $250 for vitamin A (retinol). But now I could never go back to another brand.

*Exclusive to Skiny readers, get 20% off when you purchase this serum from their website, Use the online checkout code “theskiny.”

Sure, this serum is not as cheap as the ones sold at Shoppers, but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. For a thorough review of the ingredients found in this serum, check out this article by beauty chemist, Louise Hidinger. In it, she compares the Kellett vitamin C serum to two other leading spa-grade brands.

 Note to new moms and moms-to-be! 

The instructions on the bottle cautions against use during pregnancy and breastfeeding without an explanation. So I contacted a rep from Kellett Skincare via email and this was their response:

“The reason we caution against using the vitamin C serum during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is due to the fact that there is no evidence or studies to support it’s use during these phases. In order for a study like this to be validated they would have to follow subject for 20-30 years at least, not to mention the highly unethical protocol this would involve.  As such we caution on the label to ensure we are in line with this lack of evidence.”




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