And I’m back with another #holygrail product.
So, I think it’s a fair to say that my skincare routine has changed dramatically in the last year. I’ve always been interested in skincare (suffering through 15 years of adult acne will do that to you), but I’ve definitely become a lot smarter about what I slap on my face – even if I do subscribe to the “whole face patch testing” method (shame on me). But after sitting down and really mapping my skincare over the last decade I had to accept certain things, not least of which was that my skin just won’t tolerate L-Ascorbic Acid.
That’s where Hylamide c25 Booster comes in. Unlike traditional Vitamin C serums that use L-AA, this uses Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, which is non-pH dependent, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C. That might not sound like a huge difference, but I think those are the key factors that allow me to use this product, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Product Information: Concentrated and completely stable 25% Ethylated Vitamin C booster offers a fast-tracked approach to a visibly radiant, healthy-looking skin tone.
Ethyl-Ascorbate Complex (25% pure Ethyl-Ascorbic Acid)
Extraordinarily-stable complex from the Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C) family to encourage an even, smooth and glowing skin appearance.
Pre-solubilized Resorcinol Complex
A patented, highly-efficient form of solubilized active resorcinol offers an evenly bright-looking skin tone while acting as a powerful antioxidant with an outstanding safety profile.
Ingredients: ethoxydiglycol, ethyl ascorbic acid, hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, phenylethyl resorcinol
There are several reasons why I prefer Ethyl Ascorbic Acid over L-Ascorbic Acid that have already been mentioned, but that bear repeating:
- It’s effectiveness is not dependent on pH. Similar to alpha and beta hydroxy acids, L-Ascorbic Acid needs to be at kept at a specific pH to be effective; in fact, it actually requires the lowest with a pH of 3. Anything above that and you start to lose effectiveness similar to how higher pH effects free acid content in hydroxy acids. Using an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C does away with this problem, and by extension any irritation caused by using a product with an extremely low pH on you skin.
- Because it’s not pH dependent and because it is oil-soluble you actually have a lot of freedom as to where you place this in your routine. Because L-AA is so dependent on pH, layering it over or under other non-low pH products can reduce its effectiveness. If you’re rushing to get out the door in the morning you simply may not have 10 or 20 minutes to wait between layers in order to give it time to absorb at the proper pH. Also, applying it over products that aren’t water based also could limit it’s absorption. None of that is a problem with EAA.
- Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is stable. If you’ve ever used L-Ascorbic Acid you know what a pain in the ass it is. Ideally it should be kept in a cool, dark place, and only expose it to air for the shortest amount on time possible lest it oxidize. And it will oxidize. Lightening fast. Adding Vitamin E and/or Ferulic Acid will slow the oxidation down, but it won’t stop it completely. Despite that, and despite cosmetic companies knowing damn well it’s super unstable, most still insist on packing it in dropper bottles. It’s almost like… I don’t know… they want it to oxidize quickly. But I digress. None of these issues are a problem with Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. Thank God.
- Speaking of oxidization though, L-Ascorbic Acid can actually oxidize on your face if you go out in the sun within about 20 minutes of applying it. Pale skin + oxidized L-AA means your skin tone will be closer to an Oompa Loompa than anything else. Again, not an issue with Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.
Anyway, that’s more why I prefer forms of Vitamin C that aren’t L-Ascorbic Acid and less about why I like this serum specifically.
There are a couple of reasons why I really love this serum that don’t have anything to do with the above:
1.) It works
I’ve used several vitamin C serums that use other forms of stabilized vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, to be exact), and I’ve never noticed a difference in my skin by any markers generally associated with their use: brightening and/or evening skin tone, reduction in fine lines, improvement in firmness. Literally, I’ve never seen any of that with SAP or MAP. Or L-AA for that matter, but it’s more a function of the fact that I simply couldn’t use it long enough to have those effects.
Within weeks of using Hyalmide c25 Booster I noticed improvement in every single one of those markers. It noticeably reduced my Post Inflammatory Hyper-Pigmentation, and evened my skin tone over all. The loss of elasticity I was experiencing due to 20 years of smoking disappeared within a month (which was really freaking me out, tbh), as did all the fine lines around my lips. And while I’m sure, a year later, that my skin tone is a lot lighter because I consistently use sunscreen, I’m sure the Phenylethyl Resorcinol – also known as SymWhite377 – , and Hydroxyphenoxy Propionic Acid are working hard to lightening and brighten.
2.) The concentration
Though Hylamide doesn’t disclose the amount of Phenylehyl Resorcinol they’re totally upfront about the amount of Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. There’s a paucity of research in topical vitamin C that isn’t L-Ascorbic Acid, but the research there is for L-AA is pretty overwhelming in the consensus that the most effective concentrations are 10% to 20%. Hylamide includes 25% EAA in this serum, so even if it’s mixed with another product (as Hylamide recommends) you’re still getting an effective amount of vitamin C.
3.) The ingredients
4 ingredients, three of which are actives. As someone with skin that is sensitive and reactive I appreciate that kind of brevity. Also, silicone free! Yay!
You know how I mentioned there’s a paucity of research for forms of vitamin C that aren’t L-Ascorbic Acid? Yeah, there’s zero evidence that Ethyl Ascorbic Acid does much of anything.
This is what we know for sure: it penetrates tissue in ex-vivo testing, and it does reduce pigmentation in in-vivo testing. That’s it.
Does it convert to L-AA? No idea. Does it protect from UV damage? Who knows. Does it increase collagen synthesis? Good question.
Those are important questions, and anecdotally I can answer them, but I can’t back it up with the research receipts.
Frankly, Phenylethyl Resorcinol doesn’t have much more evidence that it works, or at least unbiased evidence. The only research backing it up is from the company that makes it. Granted, it’s interesting:
According to studies published by Symrise (no independent studies were found), when directly compared to B-Arbutin, SymWhite 377 (Phenylethyl Resorcinol) was shown to be over one hundred times as effective at lightening hair, and when tested in vivo on skin that had not been exposed to light, 0.5% concentrations of SymWhite 377 proved to be more effective than 1.0% kojic acid. (source)
But I’m not sure how faith I can put in that, especially considering this:
The most compelling research looked at the results of a cream with phenylethyl resorcinol plus three other skin-brightening agents. The product was applied over a period of 3 months by 20 women, all of whom also used sunscreen. At the end of the study, it was determined that the women’s uneveness decreased by 43%.
The problem is we don’t know how much of this improvement is due to phenylethyl resorcinol, as it wasn’t used alone, which is the case with most products using this ingredient as a means to improve the appearance of an uneven skin tone. (source)
Now, of course a lack of research doesn’t mean these ingredients don’t work, but it would be nice to have the research to back the claims up.
I could find even less information about Hydroxyphenoxy Propionic Acid, though it’s supposed to be a lightening agent, and Skinceuticals – whose research I trust – uses it in combination with other ingredients as an alternative to hydroquinone.
Flushing and irritation are common complaints on the (several) makeup and skincare message boards I’m a member of. My skin does very flush slightly when I apply this, but it fades pretty quickly and I don’t feel it, just see it. No big deal for me. For some people though it’s intense, and/or painful, and/or doesn’t fade. I can see where that would be a problem.
Breakouts can also be a problem for some people, though none of the ingredients are generally considered acnegenic.
Like my #holygrail Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun, this isn’t a product I’m often tempted to stray from, especially when there are so many middling vitamin C serums floating around. As someone with serious skincare commitment issues that says a lot. As does the fact that I’m now on my 4th bottle of this, a year after trying it for the first time.