In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews.
Matter of Fact recently launched its Ascorbic Acid 20 Brightening C Serum, and let’s just say that the beauty industry is shooketh. Ascorbic acid is a potent form of vitamin C, which is a renowned ingredient in skin care for brightening the skin, lightening sunspots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and working alongside SPF to protect the skin from pesky free radicals damage. Of course, these benefits are what everyone longs for in their skin care journeys, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Ascorbic acid also has many downfalls, like losing stability quickly, pilling under makeup, and causing irritation in those with sensitive skin.
The team at Matter of Fact feel the same love-hate relationship towards traditional ascorbic acid serums as many would-be users do, which is why they’ve created the revolutionary Ascorbic Acid 20 Brightening C Serum that contains a potent 20% ascorbic acid that is fully solubilized in a waterless formula. The brand claims that this serum is stable until the very end of the bottle and has a lightweight texture suitable for all skin tones and skin types.
Although I’d like to use a daily vitamin C to reap the ingredient’s many benefits (particularly battling post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) I find that most ascorbic acid formulas are too strong for my sensitive skin, which results in redness and irritation. Still, I decided to try the Matter of Fact Ascorbic Acid 20 Brightening C Serum for four weeks to see if the brand delivers on its promises, even with my sensitive skin. Here’s what I’ve discovered.
The 411 On Matter of Fact’s Ascorbic Acid Serum
Ascorbic acid is a volatile ingredient that turns into a brown, murky color while losing a ton of its potency just a few months after opening the product. And to top off love let-down, it has a particular smell that is vaguely reminiscent of a dirty water dog (that’s NYC lingo for a street hot dog), which isn’t the sexiest thing to apply each morning. Suffice it to say, I’ve been hesitant to incorporate this ingredient into my routine and usually opt for antioxidant alternatives instead.
So what piqued my interest? To start, this serum uses a first-to-market waterless delivery system that stabilizes and maximizes the longevity of ascorbic acid, which sits pretty at a potent 20% concentration. In fact, the brand has conducted clinical trials that reveal this serum retains 94.25% of its initial 20% ascorbic acid concentration after 16 months, which is pretty remarkable since other formulas dwindle to less than 88% ascorbic acid concentration after a mere four months under the same conditions.
Despite assurances and testing that the potent formula is safe to use on all skin types and tones, the brand — and I — always recommend doing a 24-hour patch test before trying any product—especially one with such a notoriously irritating ingredient.
Plus, this formula contains ferulic acid to stabilize the ascorbic acid further while providing additional antioxidant protection. Pinus pinaster bark complex is also in the Ascorbic Acid 20 Brightening C Serum mix, providing antioxidant support to skin that regularly faces pollution.
Additionally, brand founder, Paul Baek, wanted to bring both potency and efficacy back into ascorbic acid, along with what he calls, “cosmetic elegance.” Baek made it his mission to create a serum that has a neutral scent, retains its color (thanks to the stable formula), and has a smooth, even finish on the skin. But did he succeed?
Testing Out The New Ascorbic Acid Serum
Of course, these skin care claims are pretty significant, but I’ve tried other formulas that fail to deliver on the same promises. This serum, however, exceeded my expectations from the initial application. Since most ascorbic acid serums are suspended in a water-based formula, many formulas I’ve tried in the past have felt too thin. On the contrary, this texture is thicker and feels velvety — I’d say the texture is somewhere between a hydrogel and a lightweight oil, soaking into the skin relatively quickly like the former, while still gripping the skin like the latter to ensure an even application. I don’t find that this serum leaves skin feeling tacky — in fact, it leaves skin feeling smooth and comfortable.
I find that with just half a pump of product each morning for four weeks, my complexion doesn’t look grey anymore—instead, I’m rocking a boost in luminosity which is a massive bonus for my lackluster skin as I head into a brutal winter. Additionally, I notice that the texture and hyperpigmentation around my forehead and chin area have diminished significantly, improving my skin’s overall tone — all I’m left with is healthy radiance.
As far as how this held up with my sensitive skin, I used a buffering technique that Baek recommended to me (my dermatologist told me to do this once with retinol, too), which means applying the formula after my moisturizer. This creates a barrier that protects sensitive skin from irritation while allowing the ingredients to work their magic on my epidermis. To reap this serum’s full antioxidant protection, I applied this each morning, following it with a mineral SPF. However, if sensitive skin isn’t a concern for you, feel free to use this product the way you usually would use a serum — before moisturizing.
Do You Need To Swap Out Your Vitamin C For This Serum?
So, will I continue to use this $92 ascorbic acid serum? Well, I’d say I’m already in love since I’m already seeing an appearance of better-looking skin — namely with brightening and fading hyperpigmentation — without experiencing redness or irritation.
When comparing this serum to others on the market, it falls into an average price point for a 30mL bottle of a potent ascorbic acid serum meant for daily wear (which is roughly between $70-$150 dollars, with some products even reaching close to $200). However, the waterless formula and added stability, the pleasant texture, and impressive results after just four weeks have convinced me that this is a superior vitamin C product. I’m confident that my love affair with this serum will last down to the very last (very potent) drop.
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