A Definitive Guide to IRC’s Current Antioxidant Serum Offerings
If you’re wearing a sunscreen every day, great. You’re doing it right. If you aren’t, stop reading this right now and purchase an SPF product. I like this one
, this one
, and of course, this one
If you’re looking to take things to the next level, I encourage you to consider an antioxidant serum, also known as sunscreen’s BFF. If you need a primer on why antioxidants so important, feel free to check out our previous blog post here
The Sensitive Skin Godsend
Suitable for: sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, mature skin
This vitamin C product is unique for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it comes in a powder that is activated by water. You can just straight-up mix it with a little bit of water and apply it to your face, or you can mix it into a water-based serum, like a hyaluronic acid serum. Agent created a water-based product called Holi(Water) to activate this powder. They call it a toner, but it’s actually a beautiful, hydrating hyaluronic serum.
The Vitamin C in this powder comes from Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP). The Vitamin C you’re probably more familiar with is L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA), which is the most potent and easily absorbed topical vitamin C on the market. Unfortunately, since it is powerful, it is also the least stable, which means it loses its efficacy more quickly than other products. It is more prone to irritating sensitive skin. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, on the other hand, is not as strong as its more famous sibling, so it means that it is more accessible for sensitive skin. It is also a stable alternative, especially in powder form, which means that you won’t have to worry about its going to be working for you a lot longer than LAA. L-Ascorbic Acid can also trigger acne breakouts for some people. Studies have shown that SAP can control factors that contribute to breakouts, which makes it an excellent choice for acne-prone skin.
The only other ingredient in this product is calcium. Calcium helps regular cell turnover. If the epidermis doesn’t have enough calcium, it will not be able to convert cells as quickly, which will make the vitamin C work less efficiently. As we age, our epidermis loses calcium and skin that lacks calcium looks old. The addition of calcium in this product makes it an excellent choice for mature skin.
The Plant-Based Multi-Tasker
Suitable for: minimalists who want to take the guesswork out of skincare, plant-lovers
The Active Treatment Essence (ATE) is Vintner’s Daughter’s Active Botanical Serum’s soul mate. While the ABS nourishes our skin with botanical oils, the ATE is a water-based product that is rich in hydration. It gives our skin access to a wealth of water-soluble goodness that the ABS simply cannot. However, you can derive benefit from this well-balanced water-based serum regardless of whether or not you use the serum.
The ATE contains more than 30 plant botanicals that have been fermented for five weeks to amplify their ability to be absorbed by the skin. This essence features niacinamide to brighten the complexion, minimize the appearance of pores and calm redness. Fatty Acids make skin appear healthier and more supple. Hyaluronic Acid hydrates deeply and decreases inflammation. Fruit acids gently exfoliate the skin. Probiotics strengthen the skin’s ability to protect and heal itself. Last but not least, vitamin C brightens and firms the skin. In this formula, vitamin C comes from plants—acerola, a cherry that contains one of the world’s highest natural percentages of the antioxidant, microalgae, and Kakadu plum.
This Active Treatment Essence can be used day and night. If you’re pairing it with the Active Botanical Serum, you apply the essence first. If you’re using it with any other skincare product, like a moisturizer or another face oil, you also apply it first. You want the essence to sit closest to the skin so that the water-soluble ingredients can penetrate the epidermis.
The Invisible Raincoat for City Slickers
Suitable for: all skin types, especially sensitive
The Skin Defensive is a somewhat ambiguous product that you after cleansing/toning and before serums. It’s not a toner, and it’s not a serum—it’s a protective shield for your face.
If you live in a pollution-filled city, this product is a must-have. Rather than utilizing vitamin C as its protective “shield,” Joelle Ciocco uses one of her favourite ingredients: hibiscus. This beautiful flower tastes delicious in alcoholic beverages, as well as being an anti-aging solution in skincare. It is rich in antioxidants that do what antioxidants are supposed to do: protect your cells from the oxidation that is caused by free radicals, aka all of the things that you come into contact within regular city life. Hibiscus is great for sensitive skin as it helps to reinforce your microbiome. This ingredient makes it an excellent choice for anyone prone to dermatitis or rosacea, as it will help to strengthen your skin’s ability to heal and ultimately minimize your sensitivity.
The Big Guns
Good for: sun-damage
Cosmetics 27 is all about efficiency and efficacy, and I love that for them (and me). All of C27's serums are short term treatments, meaning that you use that serum and no other, in addition to your moisturizer, for a specific time. When you run out of the bottle or finish your course of treatment, you move onto a different product with a different active ingredient. This method keeps your products at their most effective and it minimizes the chance of irritation because you aren’t mixing and matching active ingredients.
All of Cosmetics 27’s serums contain antioxidants, but the Glow 27 serum is the big boy. This serum can be used for a month to a month and a half at a time. It will brighten any skin tone, but it was created to target dark spots caused by sun damage. It is also effective at lifting the pigmentation left over from acne.
To begin with, this serum contains prebiotics, niacinamide and amino acids to strengthen the skin’s barrier and minimize inflammation. Centella Asiatica, Cosmetics 27’s hero ingredient, is added to accelerate the skin’s ability to repair itself.
The vitamin C in this serum comes in the form of ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. Unlike its siblings, AT is oil-soluble. It isn’t as potent as the OG L-Ascorbic Acid, but this doesn’t matter because its solubility means that it penetrates the epidermis the quickest out of any vitamin C, which arguably makes it more effective. It is also more stable than LAA.
The High Tech Hyaluronic
Suitable for: everyone, especially Instagram addicts and people who work behind a computer
This product is Sturm’s most underrated serum because it is a great hyaluronic serum at a fraction of the price of the OG Hyaluronic Serum. It also contains innovative antioxidant technology that products our skin from city living (hence “anti-pollution) and the blue light that emits from our electronic devices.
Cocoa Seed Extract (yes, chocolate) and purslane are potent antioxidants that help to combat the signs of aging that result from staring at a screen all day long. The addition of disodium EDTA creates a barrier that deactivates heavy metal ions emitted from electronic devices.
If you’re looking to try out a Sturm serum, this is a great place to start because you get the hydrating benefits of her signature hyaluronic serums in combination with antioxidant protection suitable for a modern technology-user.
The Instant Gratification Serum
Suitable for: all skin types, including sensitive
Sturm’s Brightening Serum is one of my favourite products to use before makeup application. Garden Cress Sprout extract helps to brighten the skin and lift dark spots caused by the sun, while allantoin soothes and calms the skin. Ginseng acts as an antioxidant to protect the skin from free radicals. Hyaluronic Acid replenishes moisture levels. Finally, optical pigments give the skin an immediate glow.
If you love Sturm’s Glow Drops, you will be obsessed with the Brightening Serum. Think of it as the Glow Drops, but supercharged with a potent cocktail of active ingredients that will soothe the skin as it brightens and firms.