This review contains PR samples° and affiliate links* Finally, I’m reviewing the number one affordable vitamin C serum favourite of the skincare community: the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum!
Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum: Oh That Tricky, Tricky Ascorbic Acid…
You all know what a huge fan I am of affordable, well-formulated indie brand Geek & Gorgeous by now. Truly, I haven’t had a bad experience with any of their products as of yet, and many of them are my absolute favourites when it comes to actives and/or soothing skincare formulas. Apart from their skincare being both fairly priced and well formulated, I also happen to know that the people behind the brand are truly lovely and passionate about how they can bring great products to us.
I actually tried the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum when it was first launched, quite a while ago. But for some reason I kept forgetting to put my thoughts about it in writing, despite already going through two bottles of the stuff. Since I just received a fresh bottle, I thought it was about time to do a full, thorough review, given that this is the ultimate bestselling product of the brand.
Vitamin C is a tricky beast, I feel, and not enough skinfluencers point out the fact that it can be quite difficult to handle when first giving this antioxidant powerhouse a try. We constantly hear especially the “sciencey” skincare content creators drive home that “holy trinity” of “proven” anti aging products: sunscreen for prevention, retinol and vitamin C for texture-, wrinkle- and skin tone improvement. Which is true, absolutely, but… Well, vitamin C can be a b*** to use sometimes, depending on the product, dosage and overall formula. And honestly, some people just don’t do well with it, especially in higher dosages and especially if the form of vitamin C is pure L-Ascorbic Acid. It can make skin feel hot and uncomfortable, plus sensitive skin types can experience redness and tingling, sometimes even burning.
What I’m trying to say is: yes, vitamin C is a great, scientifically proven antioxidant, which can indeed do wonders for hyperpigmentation issues and overall dullness, plus boost collagen and thus prevent loss of skin firmness. As an antioxidant, it also fights against free radicals, the little buggers that make our skin age prematurely, often thanks to UV damage. However… I personally feel vitamin C isn’t for everyone, and that’s totally fine. If you have tried out an array of vitamin C serums and they all wreaked havoc on your skin, maybe it is time to accept that vitamin C isn’t meant for you?
But, before you fully give up on dear L-Ascorbic Acid and the wonders it can do for your skin, maybe have a look at the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow Serum…
Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum: Hitting the L-Ascorbic “Sweet Spot”
I’ve tried quite a few ascorbic acid based vitamin C serums in my time as a beauty blogger. My worst experience was, no doubt, the godawful The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% – what a grainy, stinging mess that was, yikes! Oh, and that ascorbic acid powder… Let’s not speak of it ever again, so as not to trigger some traumatic memories for me and my skin.
My main problem with many of the more affordable vitamin C serums out there has always been the slightly greasy feeling they can often have, so I was extra excited that the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow serum is water-based! For my combination skin, this definitely is a big plus, though for dry skin this may make it less suitable than a richer formula, so keep this in mind.
I’ve already told you about the benefits of vitamin C in skincare: it can help fade hyperpigmentation, even out skin tone, provide antioxidant benefits, boost collagen in your skin, make skin appear plumper and smoother. Ascorbic acid is the overall best-researched form of vitamin C vs. the many derivatives often used in gentler vit C products, however – it’s pretty unstable and prone to oxidisation. Thus, serums using a high amount of ascorbic acid are best kept away from direct sunlight and stored in the fridge. They will still oxidise eventually, noticeable as a yellow to orange-brown colour (fresh vitamin C serums usually are a clear liquid). This is also true for the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow Serum, so keep it in the fridge as much as you can, especially once opened. G&G give an estimated shelf life for an opened, refrigerated bottle of C-Glow of approximately 3 months, though mine have kept well over that time, up to 5 months, easily.
As for the percentage of ascorbic acid: most sources I’ve read say that between 10 and 20% is ideal, so that’s why you so often see the magical “sweet spot” of 15% used in serums. For me personally, anything over 15% is too intense, so I tend to steer away from more potent formulas. Now, while I’m at it, I also wanted to point out that the common belief that anything under those 10% “cannot work” is also a misconception. The wonderful Kind of Stephen wrote an amazing article on this topic, which also debunks the idea that we need vitamin C serums to have a very specific pH level to “work.” What is true is that lower dosage serums and/or those with a higher pH level won’t work at an optimal level, but to say they don’t work at all is in fact incorrect. They will likely do something for your skin, results may be just not as dramatic as when you use a higher percentage, perfectly optimised serum. In any case, it will please to hear you that C-Glow has an optimal pH level of 3.2-3.4 according to Geek & Gorgeous.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Ascorbic Acid Serum:
“Water, (L-)Ascorbic Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Butylene Glycol, Peg/Ppg/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Ferulic Acid, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide.”
Like all Geek & Gorgeous products, C-Glow is free from any fragrance or drying alcohol. Apart from the L-Ascorbic Acid used in this formula, you also get the added antioxidant benefits of ferulic acid, the perfect partner for vitamin C. Ferulic acid helps to stabilise ascorbic acid and thus prevent premature oxidisation, keeping the serum fresh for longer. Glycerin adds some humectant benefits to the serum, but the formula is mostly kept minimalist and pure, as this makes it much easier to maximise the effects of the vitamin C without risking oxidisation.
Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum: How to Use + My Results
When I started out in the skincare community, vitamin C serums seemed terribly complicated to me. People would use things such as a “pH adjusting toner” before their vitamin C and claim that you needed to use it in a completely dark room to avoid that pesky oxidisation. It was… quite literally a dark time. Some skinfluencers also still perpetuate that persistent myth of niacinamide not mixing well with Ascorbic Acid, supposedly causing the skin to flush, but actual science-based sources have long debunked this myth. I feel the flushing some people experience with this combo may rather result from putting a too high percentage of both ingredients on the skin, which could indeed cause redness, dryness and other troubling reactions (niacinamide works best at around 5%). So, if you have sensitive skin, maybe keep them separate, but don’t be too freaked out over your serum or cream containing niacinamide, no need to wait for half an hour between using the two ingredients!
If you are a vitamin C newbie, I’d advise you to not use your C-Glow and other actives such as retinol or acids in one routine, just to be save. I personally have had to build up tolerance with my vitamin C serums, as my skin does tend to react to stronger percentages. It is advisable to use vitamin C products in your morning routine, because this can boost the efficacy of your SPF! No, vitamin C does not “replace” a good SPF product, so please remember to use your favourite sunscreen in the AM.
As for where in the routine C-Glow should go: vitamin C serums are best used straight after cleansing, before any other toners, serums or creams. If you do use acids, these would go before your vitamin C serum. You can absolutely just apply the next product right after C-Glow, though experts tend to advise to wait at least a minute or two to allow optimal absorption.
The texture of the G&G C-Glow serum is just perfect for my combo skin: it is watery-light, completely free from that weird oily feel of so many Ascorbic Acid serums, and absorbs fully within seconds. It feels as if you are putting water on your skin, pretty much.
In the beginning I noticed slight stinging when applying this vitamin C serum, but now I can use C-Glow every morning (I do forget sometimes…) without any noticeable skin reactions. Again, I’d advise newbies to start off gently and only every other day or even only 3 days a week, to see how well you can tolerate the 15% dosage. I usually put a few drops into the palm of my hands and then gently pat them onto the skin. It doesn’t provide much hydration, but then I don’t really expect this from a vitamin C serum – my hydrating toners and serums give me plenty of that later on in my morning routine.
As for the results I’ve seen after consistently using C-Glow: my skin always looks fresher, brighter and more even-toned when I remember to apply the serum in the mornings. I also feel that it seems to plump up my skin, and I swear, those pesky nasolabial folds always seem less prominent with consistent use of C-Glow. I can’t really say that this faded the one sun spot I have under my right eye, but then no vitamin C serum has really managed to do that, so I don’t take this as a negative for C-Glow in particular. I honestly think hyperpigmentation is a difficult one to fully combat without the addition of lasers and co., but that’s just my personal opinion from trying all sorts of stuff.
The main thing I love about C-Glow is that my skin tone looks brightened all over and the skin appears and feels much smoother. These results, plus the ease of application and pleasant texture make C-Glow deserving of the hype it gets – I can absolutely see why this is the bestselling product from my beloved Hungarian indie skincare brand!
So, where can I buy the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum?
Geek & Gorgeous is situated in Hungary, so if you live in the EU you can very easily shop their products via their English-language online shop.* The brand also ships to most non-EU countries, and given their fairly priced products I think the extra shipping is worth it, personally. I often have Americans in my comments or DMs complain about the “high” shipping, but I think they may just not be aware how astronomical shipping costs are for us Europeans whenever we try to order from US sites! Compared to that, G&G are keeping shipping costs quite low, actually. Since C-Glow is made fresh weekly, it is usually also shipped out at a specific day of the week, so don’t be surprised if you see a slight delay in your order going out!
The 30ml bottle C-Glow Serum* retails at €10.50, approximately $12. Germany-based customers can also order via the German Geek & Gorgeous online shop!* And if you want to decant some C-Glow to keep on your vanity, you can also add an empty 5ml mini bottle* to your order for an additional €1.50!
Let me know in the comments: What’s your favourite vitamin C serum? Have you tried the G&G C-Glow Serum yet?
Take care guys, and stay safe – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest K-Beauty and skincare news, and check out my other work, e.g. my review of the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask!
°PR Sample, kindly provided by a brand or shop – I am not obligated to write this blog article, was not paid for the article, and my opinions are entirely my own.
*Affiliate Links, meaning I earn a small commission if you decide to use the link to purchase an item. This does not raise the purchase price for you, and it helps me and my blog to grow – so, thank you for supporting me in this way!!!