What Beauty Editors *Really* Think About Ilia's New Vitamin C SPF
Did it reach new holy grail status?
In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, our team is trying out the new Ilia C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40.
The summer is typically when your beauty routine can be pared down to the essentials in order to let your skin and hair finally breathe. No one necessarily wants to spend an hour or more painstakingly applying their multi-step makeup or skin care routine (and if you do, kudos to your commitment) when you could be outside enjoying the gorgeous weather with friends and family. So discovering products that provide a multitude of benefits, like hydration or antioxidant protection against free radical damage, is always at the top of the beauty wish list. Even better if it also provides SPF, because not only is daily sunscreen essential, it’s particularly important in the summer when heat and sunshine are at their maximum levels.
So, when team TZR got wind that beloved clean beauty brand Ilia was launching a new multitasking skin care product, we obviously rushed to try it out. The just-released Ilia C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 is a sunscreen and multi-benefit skin care product that is set to rival the brand’s cult-favorite Serum Skin Tint, which also has SPF 40 protection. But while there are 30 shades in the complexion product, the new serum only has three shades — Tone 1, 2, and 3 — that are meant to adjust to every skin tone (although it’s not being marketed as a makeup product per se).
I’m sure you’re wondering: how does the buzzy new launch stack up against its sister product, and can it really deliver all of its purported benefits in one 30mL bottle? Here’s what our team of editors had to say about the Ilia C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40.
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- Price: $64
- Best for: A beauty minimalist who wants vitamin C benefits, moisture, minimal complexion coverage, and SPF protection, and all in one product.
- Your rating: 3.8/5
- Clean/Cruelty-free: Yes; there’s also no gluten or synthetic fragrance
- What we like: Lightweight, creamy texture, blurring effect
- What we don’t like: A little pricey, color transfer, sometimes pills, bottle is tough to pump
Ilia C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 Ingredients
There are three main active ingredients in this formula: encapsulated 10% vitamin C, a powerhouse antioxidant that can help minimize and prevent dark spots; encapsulated 2% niacinamide, which helps fight inflammation and boost collagen; and allantoin to moisturize and soothe the skin.
Pairing a sunscreen with vitamin C benefits isn’t a totally new idea, but it is nice to see more brands like Ilia incorporating it into their formulas. As Dr. Margarita Lolis, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Hackensack, New Jersey, previously told TZR, “Topical vitamin C can help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin helping to keep the skin plump and firm. It also helps to inhibit the skin’s production of melanin which is the cause of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.” Plus with repeated use, vitamin C can actually stop dark patches from forming in the first place, so it makes a lot of sense to pair it with a SPF. The added niacinamide and allantoin are also welcome benefits, especially for anyone dealing with dry, sensitive, or reactive skin.
The base of the formula is made up of three popular skin care oils: jojoba, meadowfoam seed, and squalane oils, which are lightweight and non-comedogenic, but still provide a hefty dose of moisture.
Hannah Baxter, Deputy Beauty Editor, TZR
Shade: Tone 1
“Given the nature of my job as a beauty editor, I’m never inclined to skip steps in my skin care routine in order to make it shorter; however, I appreciate that there are people who want more of a one-and-done product that combines many different skin benefits in one product (it’s definitely the direction that the beauty industry is trending). I’m such a big Ilia fan, so I was super eager to test this formula. It’s sometimes difficult to get out of the pump bottle, but the texture is an absolute dream — creamy, substantial but not too heavy, and it gives your skin a gorgeous glow.
Still, since this is an oil-based formula, I had to be careful not to pair it with a water-based moisturizer, or any other water-based skin care products underneath it, as that made it pill when I tried to blend it in. And if you’re wearing this with a white collar, you do need to be careful of how far down your neck you apply it — not a big deal if you’re used to wearing foundation (which I usually do not), but something to keep in mind if you don’t often use a tinted base. But given the triple oil formula, my dry skin definitely felt moisturized (if you’re on the combo to oily side, you could use this without a moisturizer, but I felt like I still needed humectants when I tested it without one). And in order to get the full sun protection factor from a sunscreen, you do have to use about a quarter-sized amount — that much of the product felt a bit too heavy, so I misted another SPF on top of it to be safe.
I consider this to be my new go-to product for travel, when I want my carry-on bag to be light without sacrificing any skin care products and their assorted benefits. The blurring effect is a nice bonus for anyone dealing with hyperpigmentation but doesn’t want a full face of makeup in the heat.”
Annie Blay, Associate Beauty News Editor, TZR
Shade: Tone 3
“I generally steer clear of mineral sunscreens as most usually leave a white cast on me and even tinted versions seem more like complexion products to me than skin care, but given Ilia’s reputation for no-fuss, effective beauty, I eagerly gave this a try. My immediate reaction was positive — no white cast detected as promised. I really enjoy how lightweight it feels on the skin and the sheer undetectable finish is a major plus, too.
I wore the SPF on a long hike in Pasadena and it truly held up — after an hour of sweating my face still looked dewy and radiant and I didn’t feel like sunscreen dripping off my face. On a separate occasion, I wore the serum under a light layer of face makeup (a skin tint, concealer, powder, and blush) and it held up here too, with little to no pilling. There have been a few occasions where I’ve experienced a bit of pilling when applying the product but it is minimal. Also, I found that, though the serum blends in with an undetectable finish, the color does still transfer the way a complexion product would — taking a mask off after a few minutes made this evident.
Admittedly, due to the tint I do see (and use) the serum as a bit more of a skin care complexion product rather than just an SPF, meaning I wear a different SPF under this serum and don’t apply this as generously. That being said I do still enjoy the light blurring and brightening benefits of the serum and definitely plan to keep it on rotation this summer.”
Angela Melero, Executive Editor, TZR
Shade: Tone 1
“I’ve been a fan of Ilia for years, so when this product came to my door, I was very eager to slather it on. Now, I typically believe in generously layering on my SPF, but the pump for the serum did not allow for me to get much from each, well, pump. So, it took a while before I was able to get an adequate amount of coverage on my face and neck. That said, the application of the serum was a dream. It absorbed quickly into my skin and didn’t pill or streak. The tint also worked nicely for everyday coverage (I spotted blemishes and my under-eye area with a bit of concealer), and left a nice glowy sheen on my skin. It didn’t feel greasy or lay thick on my skin, which makes it great for everyday wear. However, with the amount I have to pump out per use, I’m worried one bottle won’t get me through the week!”
Natasha Marsh, Beauty Features Writer, TZR
Shade: Tone 2
“I’m traveling in Europe all this month and needed something that was lightweight enough to not bother me throughout the long days of walking and touring, but strong enough to protect me from pollution, dryness, and other environmental elements my skin is not typically exposed to in New York. And Ilia C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 has exceeded my expectations.
The jojoba and squalene oil has graced my skin with the perfect amount of moisture while providing a lush, healthy glow. I don’t typically wear foundation because it feels too heavy but this has provided me with such an even skin tone and glow that perfectly fits into my minimalist (cleanser, moisturize, and SPF) skin care routine. I was a bit wary of how it would match my olive undertone skin and dark under-eye circles, considering the brand only offers three shades (I use tone 2), but I’ve been surprised at how well it matches.
What I’m not crazy about is the application — the bottle is a bit tough to get product out at times, but the light concentration that melts into my skin more than makes up for it. All in all, it’s a great pocket-sized travel SPF and tint. Aka, a great one-and-done product.”
BDG product reviews and recommendations are written and conducted by writers and editors with expertise in their fields. Testers often have specific experience with the situation or product at hand, and/or their review or recommendation is provided in consultation with experts. You can learn more about our standards here.