The One Time I'm Not Sad About Getting A C+

Sometimes I can be a little over-ambitious with my blogging plans. I thought I would review and compare 5 or so different vitamin C serums all in one post. There are just few problems with that. First off, I am assuming that I would remember all my feels on said serums over the course of many, many months and secondly, the post would be hella long. So I've since amended my plans! I'll share posts reviewing 1 or 2 serums at a time and then once those are all shared, I'll share another post comparing them. Sound good?

The following photo probably gave it away by now: today's post is all about Dr. Dennis Gross's C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum. I received it in a PR package from the brand at the beginning of December and regularly used it 5x a week for about 3 and a half months. According to the box the serum is also cruelty-free and vegan.

Price, Size, & Availability

$78.00 for 1 oz/ 30 mL via Sephora, Dermstore, Nordstrom, Space.NK, & Cult Beauty


Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Niacinamide, Glycereth-7 Triacetate, Lactic Acid, SD Alcohol 40-B, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ascorbic Acid (I'm assuming this is L-ascorbic acid because D-ascorbic acid isn't useable by our bodies), Collagen Amino Acids, Superoxide Dismutase, Glycine, Carnitine HCl, Ubiquinone (aka CoQ10), Hexylresorcinol, Emblica Officinalis Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Isoquercetin, Mandelic Acid, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Phytic Acid, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Citrate, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, T-Butyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 80, Denatonium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Caramel


pH strips are for testing aqueous solutions, and since this is a water-based formula I'm assuming using the strip was okay in this case. With the strip, I would say it's about a 3.5.


I'm not going to lie-- it does not smell good. It pretty much just smells like vinegar. Then again, any vitamin c serum that's free of a synthetic fragrance is going to smell like *ss. It's the way it goes. I'm not sure if vinegar is better or worse than hotdog water; you tell me.

Thankfully after a week or so of using it, I stopped noticing the scent. It dissipates quite quickly.


Airless pump packaging-- aka the gold standard! The pump is easy to control and I haven't had any issues with it clogging. The outer container has a dark tint to it. Just in case I store it away from the sun, in a drawer. In the 4 months I've had the serum, it hasn't oxidized.


Mostly liquidy, but a little bit viscous. It's easy to spread and apply without getting all over the place. If I apply it with a heavy hand it makes my skin feel tacky. I stick to a little less than one pump for my whole face. It doesn't pill under heavy oils or moisturizers which is always a plus!

Active Ingredients

So a little primer on Vitamin C. To quote the Beauty Brains (a blog written by two cosmetic chemists because I am no professional, just a girl equipped with Google):

"Vitamin C is a chemical called (L-) ascorbic acid that is naturally occurring in skin. It is known to play a role in collagen production. In addition, when topically applied it is thought to help heal acne, increase the barrier function of skin to decrease moisture loss, protect from UV radiation, and prevent age spots."

Ascorbic acid is the most studied form of vitamin C but it's not the only one out there. One of the reasons brands started looking for alternative forms is because LAA is not the most stable ingredient out there. The Dr. Dennis Gross serum features LAA but its main active ingredient is 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (EAC.) According to the Beauty Brains, there's not a lot of data out there on its efficacy BUT it has been shown to help work against dark spots.

(Note: the Beauty Brains site refers to EAC as ascorbate as opposed to ascorbic acid. I think that's a typo because I can't find anything called 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbate & other publications refer to 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid as EAC.)

Further down on the ingredient list it carries yet another form of vitamin C-- Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. According to the beautypedia, it helps aid in the absorption of other forms of Vitamin C. I also found a study (albeit with a small sample size) that found a combo of Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate and LAA to be effective at stimulating collagen production and improving hydration.

So to sum things up: This serum features 3 forms of vitamin C. In highest concentration is EAC, which has been shown to work against dark spots. Next is LAA aka the gold standard of vitamin C to many because its naturally occurring in our skin and our bodies know how to use it. It can help heal acne, improve skin's barrier function, and protect against UV damage and age spots. Lastly is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate which can help other forms of vitamin C absorb better.

There's also the question of stability. But since my serum hasn't darkened in the 4 months I've had it, I'm going to make the assumption that it's stable. According to the box, it has a shelf life of 12 months once opened.

Inactive Ingredients

In addition to vitamin C, this serum is packed with antioxidants-- including superoxide dismutaseCoQ10, isoquercetin, niacinamide, carnitinekudzo root extract, indian gooseberry extract, and turmeric root extract.

Side note: The more I read about antioxidants, the larger my healthy dose of skepticism grows. I'm not skeptical about antioxidants as a whole, because on a biological level I understand how they work. But it seems that *everything* in skincare is antioxidant-rich these days. Sometimes it's hard to read through the marketing mumbo jumbo. To alleviate that I like looking for products that have a variety of antioxidants, that way there's a greater chance that some of them are doing their job. There are also "classics" that I trust like niacinamide and superoxide dismutase because they're well studied IMO. This serum has both!

This serum also contains a blend of acids as well as denatured alcohol. While I prefer my skincare products to be alcohol-free, I do think some of the claims against it are overexaggerated. I'm guessing in this formula it's a penetration enhancer. I do find the serum a bit drying but not irritating. I compensate for the dryness with other hydrating products in my routine.

When I Use It

Personally I almost always use vitamin C serums in my morning routines. It's the first step I apply after washing my skin. I then wait 15 to 20 minutes before moving to the next step of my routine. Usually, I apply it 4 or 5x times a week. Also, make sure to follow up with sunscreen to maximize those vitamin C benefits!


Finally we've come to the most important part of this post-- did it work for me. Short answer: yes!

Long answer: it did take me more than a month to start seeing results from this serum. Unlike AHAs and BHAs which seem to work quickly on my skin, vitamin C takes a while. I don't wake up with magically brighter and smoother skin. I had to play the long game.

After regular use with this serum, my acne scars started healing more quickly. Instead of turning a deep, dark purpley brown, they're a lighter purpley red color. It's also helped my skin become smoother! With regular use, I don't have as many texture issues, especially around my jawline. The entire time I used this serum, I think I only got one under the skin cystic acne bump-- a win in my book.

For about 3 weeks I used this in conjunction with Sunday Riley's good genes-- this in the morning and good genes at night. My skin loved it! The duo was like magic. My skin was brighter and evener. During my monthly visit for Month Flo I didn't have any major breakouts. It was a skincare miracle.


And that's that! I've since moved onto another Vitamin C serum and unfortunately, things did't go so well. But alas, those are the woes of a beauty blogger. Have you tried this serum? Or any other vitamin C serum? What are your favs?

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