We put TruSkin Naturals’ Vitamin C Serum to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
Out of the many buzzy skincare ingredients I’ve tried out over the years, vitamin C has been one of the most effective, earning its spot as my can’t-live-without desert island pick thanks to its brightening, smoothing, and glow-boosting qualities. Having already tested out numerous vitamin serums at a range of price points, I was particularly excited to take TruSkin Naturals’ Vitamin C Serum for a spin.
Reading: Truskin vitamin c serum review
This $20 serum is not only a Byrdie favorite, but it’s also Amazon’s number one best-selling overall facial serum—a pretty impressive feat to accomplish. My personal vitamin C favorites fall on the pricier side, so I was curious to see how well this wallet-friendly contender would compare. I tested it out over the course of three weeks, taking note of how well it improved my skin’s texture and addressed my sun damage. Would it work just as well as my luxury go-to’s? Read on to find out.
About My Skin: Vitamin C helps it look its best
It still surprises me that just a few months ago, I had never bothered using vitamin C products consistently. Now? I can’t live without them. I have pretty normal skin that can get a bit dry depending on the season, but my main concerns are fighting signs of aging and keeping my skin’s texture nice and smooth. Now that I’m beginning to notice faint fine lines forming around my eyes and sun damage in the form of freckles and small spots is becoming more apparent, I rely on brightening and re-texturizing vitamin C serums to keep me looking smooth, radiant, and even-toned while boosting my collagen production.
I typically use vitamin C during my morning routine, applying it after I cleanse and before any moisturizers/oils and SPF, though sometimes I’ll choose to apply in the evening instead. For this review, I swapped out my usual, SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic, for TruSkin’s serum over the course of three weeks, usually applying in the morning. I also used it in tandem with Sdara’s Derma Roller once or twice a week in the evenings.
Ingredients: Vitamin C pairs with vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and MSM
The key ingredient in this vitamin C serum is, of course, vitamin C. Unlike many other products on the market that use L-ascorbic acid, this serum uses sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is known to be a much gentler, less potent form of vitamin C, which makes it generally safe for all skin types. It neutralizes free radicals, boosts collagen production, evens out the skin tone, and has microbial benefits—making it great for those with acne-prone skin.
This serum also contains vitamin E, a moisturizing skin barrier booster that works synergistically with vitamin C to double down on its free radical-fighting benefits. Other key ingredients include moisture-retaining, skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, and MSM (or methylsulfonylmethane), an organic sulfur compound that acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
In terms of concentration, Vitamin C, MSM, and hyaluronic acid are listed as the third, fourth, and fifth ingredients, respectively, while vitamin E is listed as the seventh, proving that all key ingredients are present in effective concentrations. The formula is also plant-based and certified cruelty-free, formulated without synthetic color, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, PEGs, or GMOs, and is considered clean by Byrdie’s standards.
The Feel: Lightweight and cooling
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I loved the feel of this product compared to other vitamin C serums I’ve used. It applies to the skin as an almost milky, gel-like serum, but it melts down into a runny liquid that absorbs into the skin almost instantly.
Considering that aloe leaf juice is the product’s second ingredient, this makes total sense.
Sometimes vitamin C serums can be oily, but this one didn’t leave behind much of a residue at all. It did leave my skin feeling a bit tight after it absorbed, but as soon as I moved on to my next step and applied a moisturizer or facial oil, that tightness dissipated.
The Scent: Very minimal
Vitamin C products are known to not always smell the greatest, so I was pretty pleased that this product didn’t have much of a scent at all. It smells slightly chemical-y, but that faded away almost instantly as the product absorbed into my skin.
Drying & Irritation: No stinging whatsoever
Vitamin C products are known to cause a stinging sensation when applied, and up until trying this one, I’ve experienced everything from a slight sting to intense burning with every other product I’ve ever used. However, with TruSkin’s serum, I experienced absolutely no stinging or irritation whatsoever.
Interactions: Avoid retinol, acids, and benzoyl peroxide
When using a daily vitamin C, there are a few other skin-care ingredients to avoid layering it with. Retinol can destabilize vitamin C, making it less likely to penetrate the skin, while benzoyl peroxide can oxidize it, rendering the product ineffective. It’s also best to not use it with other acids, such as AHAs, which can be harsh and cause excessive skin irritation. If you’re going to use any of these products, apply them at a different time of the day, or alternate using them with vitamin C instead. Vitamin C can also cause mild sun sensitivity, so be sure to follow with an SPF 30 or higher if applying during the day.
It’s also important to be aware that, over time, vitamin C products can oxidize, making them less effective and, in some cases, causing darkening or discoloration. If you notice your serum has turned orange or dark brown in color from its usual milky clear shade, it’s most likely oxidized. Pay attention to expiration dates and keep your bottle out of direct sunlight, heat, air, and other chemicals.
The Packaging: Glass bottle protects from oxidation
TruSkin’s Vitamin C Serum is packaged in a dark brown glass bottle with a sealed dropper lid, which keeps the product protected from oxidizing sunlight. Even so, it’s still important to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight and heat and be sure to make sure the dropper lid is tightly closed after each use.
The Results: Smoother, more radiant skin
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What I found surprising upon applying this serum for the first time was just how soothing is. While most vitamin C serums pack a bit of a sting, this one felt instantly soothing and hydrating thanks to the product’s high concentration of aloe leaf juice. The product melted into my skin pretty quickly, leaving behind a smoothed-out base that’s the perfect base for makeup. And although it left my skin feeling slightly tight once it fully absorbed, that feeling dissipated as soon as I moved on to my moisturizer step. By the end of the day, my skin still felt smooth and hydrated.
After three weeks, my complexion felt much smoother and I had more of a glow. I didn’t witness as powerful results as I have with other vitamin C serums—I didn’t notice much fading in my sun spots and freckles or any plumping effect on my fine lines—but there was a definite improvement in overall radiance, texture, and skin hydration.
Byrdie contributor Loni Venti also tested this product for three weeks and experienced similarly positive results: “If you peek at my before and after photos, you can see that this is a pretty effective product,” she says. “In just three weeks, I noticed a subtle but visible reduction in my pigmentation. My skin is softer, feels and looks slightly plumper, and is overall so much brighter. I rarely wear foundation these days (since I’m home 24/7), but when I do, I use a fraction of what I would’ve applied before trying this serum. Someone even mentioned in a Zoom meeting that I looked very well-rested and healthy!”
The Value: A great price for a great product
For $20, you really can’t go wrong with this serum. It’s effective yet gentle, and most importantly, you can feel good about its formula. It’s hard to find powerful products that are clean, cruelty-free, and created in small batches that won’t break the bank. In my opinion, this product is a no-brainer.
Similar Products: You’ve got options
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($166): The first vitamin C product I ever used consistently was the holy grail of all vitamin C serums, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, and to this day it remains my absolute favorite. Much, much pricier than TruSkin’s (ringing in at a casual $166 per fluid ounce), this baby really works. Formulated with 15% L-ascorbic acid—a more potent form of C than TruSkin’s sodium ascorbyl phosphate—it works synergistically with vitamin E and ferulic acid to protect against free radicals, improve signs of aging and photodamage, brighten the complexion, and improve the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and loss of firmness.
Overall, SkinCeuticals’ serum is a much more potent product and is a bit more irritating. I would recommend it for those whose skin can handle it, or who have already been consistently using vitamin C. Otherwise, TruSkin’s serum is great for all skin types, including more sensitive ones, and still is an effective radiance-booster at a much more affordable price point.
The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% ($6): To compare this serum to another affordable option, another favorite of mine is The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, which costs a mere six bucks. Formulated with 23% L-ascorbic acid, this creamy serum is not for the faint of heart. It’s potent and can be quite irritating, but I experienced much more noticeable smoothing and brightening results than I did from TruSkin’s serum. Both are formulated with moisturizing hyaluronic acid, but I felt that TruSkin’s serum was much more hydrating than The Ordinary’s. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, opt for TruSkin, but if you’re looking for something stronger (and you know your skin can handle it), you can’t go wrong with The Ordinary.
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