Over the past 9 months I’ve tried 3 different Vitamin C serums to see how they differ and which one I like best. The 3 products I tried were Timeless 20% C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum, Paula’s Choice Resist C-15 Super Booster, and Cosmetic Skin Solutions Vitamin C + E Serum Advanced Formula+.
You’ll notice that the big daddy of C serums (Skinceuticals) isn’t one of the 3 I tested for this post. That’s because I used it years ago when it was the only game in town, but I was appalled by the $140 price tag and was really NOT happy when it turned brown after I’d only used 1/3 of it. Five years later, there are so many Vitamin C serums to choose from and at much more reasonable price points too! I’d been using the serum from Timeless for about a year when Paula’s Choice came out with their C-15 serum and I decided to give it a try because so many viewers asked me about it. Then, because I can never test just 2, I decided to try Cosmetic Skin Solutions C serum as well.
To learn more about why vitamin C serums oxidize and how to make it last longer, click here:
Let me start off by saying that the 3 products I chose are more similar than they are different. That’s because I prefer a C serum that uses L-ascorbic acid combined with vitamin E and Ferulic acid. I like L-ascorbic acid over other forms of Vitamin C because it’s been clinically proven to be effective for collagen synthesis, neutralizing free-radicals, fading brown spots and reducing surface roughness. Unfortunately, it’s also the least stable form of Vitamin C so it deteriorates quickly when exposed to light and air. I like the serum to also contain Vitamin E because it increases Vitamin C’s ability to protect the skin from sun damage, and I prefer a C serum with Ferulic Acid because it can increase the effectiveness of Vitamin C and E 8-fold.
After ingredients, the other important factors are price, stability, efficacy, and feel. I’ll do a head-to-head comparison of the 3 products in each of those 5 categories. I already know which one is the winner for me, but you can get a pretty good idea which one you might like based on that information. So, here we go!
These are all water based formulas with slight differences in carriers and conditioning ingredients.
Paula’s Choice ~ 15% Ascorbic acid, 1% Vitamin E, .5% Ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid.
CSS ~ 15% Ascorbic acid, 1% Vitamin E, .5% Ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid.
Paula’s Choice ~ $45 for .67 oz. = $67.50 per ounce (but it’s usually on sale for $36)
CSS ~ $39.85 for 1 oz.
Paula’s Choice ~ Has a rubber gasket in the bottle to decrease the amount of air getting to the product. This really works! My bottle lasted for over 4 months before starting to turn yellow.
CSS ~ Oxidized rapidly after only 1.5 months
Timeless ~ Looks and feels like water going on. Non-oily and fast absorbing. Doesn’t leave a sticky residue.
Paula’s Choice ~ Slightly thicker and more viscous. Feels silky smooth but doesn’t spread as easily as the others. Sits on the surface longer and leaves a slightly sticky residue.
CSS ~ Very light weight, easy to apply. Slightly oily feeling, but fast absorbing. No sticky residue.
To judge efficacy, I took pictures after using each product for 3 months (or until it oxidized). I concentrated on the large age spot on the right side of my face. For comparison, I used a photo of the age spot from before I started using any Vitamin C serum.
Timeless ~ Worked to fade age spots and keep new ones from forming.
Paula’s Choice ~ Age spot was starting to darken around the edges and a new one started forming just above it.
CSS ~ Worked quickly to fade age spots and keep new ones from forming.
Timeless won on ingredients, price, feel and most importantly, efficacy so Timeless is the winner!
Paula’s Choice tied Timeless in stability was almost as good on ingredients but loses on price, feel and efficacy.
Cosmetic Skin Solutions tied Timeless in efficacy, was almost as good on price, ingredients and feel, but loses big in the stability department.
Links to purchase the products featured in this post:
$5 Off at Timeless Skincare use this link: https://www.timelessha.com/discount/HOTANDFLASHY ($5 discount will automatically be applied at checkout, no code needed)
* There are no up-front paid product placements in this video. All products were purchased with my own money for my personal use. My reviews always contain my honest opinion about the products shown. I’ve included links to where the products may be purchased and some may be affiliate links. If you click the link and buy something, I receive a commission for the sale, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra. You are free to use the link or not as you choose.