I know it’s not exactly what we all want to hear (especially those of us with rather extensive skincare collections), but there are only a small handful of ingredients that are actually scientifically proven to help reduce the signs of ageing. The most hyped, of course, is retinol, which works to increase the speed at which our skin turns over, revealing fresh, younger-looking skin with continued use. The other, equally as well-known but perhaps not as highly adored ingredient, is vitamin C. The reasons that vitamin C doesn’t have the same rave reviews that retinol does are plentiful, but that’s not to say it’s not as hardworking or effective of an ingredient.
One of the most powerful antioxidants out there, vitamin C works to protect skin against free-radical damage (and therefore signs of ageing), reduce pigmentation and generally take glow to the next level. The issue lies in the fact that it is incredibly hard to formulate with. In fact, rarely are skincare products that contain vitamin C and champion it as their main active ingredient actually able to deliver it in a way that allows you to reap major benefits. In all of my time as a beauty editor, I have only ever come across a small handful of vitamin C products that really do what they should. The most notable, of course, being Skinceuticals C E Ferulic.
Used by beauty editors, dermatologists and celebrities far and wide, C E Ferulic is the gold standard of vitamin C products. Results are almost instantly noticeable, and it gives skin a healthy radiance that really can’t be beaten. The price tag is enough to make you wince (hard), but the truth is, in my experience, when it comes to vitamin C, you get what you pay for. The only issue I have with it? It’s not perfect for those with oily skin, like myself. While its additional moisturising properties are great for mature or drier skin types, it’s just too heavy for my breakout-prone complexion.
So, while I have been reaping the benefits of the vitamin C in C E Ferulic for some time, its oily nature does contribute to congestion. Because of this, for years I have watched on as people with flawless skin rave about the all-round, box-ticking properties of the cult serum, feeling somewhat saddened that for me, it came down to a toss up between vitamin C benefits and congestion. Needless to say, therefore, that when I caught wind that Skinceuticals was releasing a vitamin C serum specifically for those with oily skin just in time for the new year, I was more than a little bit excited.
In fact, I was so excited that I was front of the queue to get my hands on a bottle of the Skinceuticals Silymarin CF serum before it even launched. I’ve been using it every single day for the last four weeks, and sadly, as much as it pains me to recommend a £145 skincare product, I think it might just be the best thing that I have ever put on my face. And I'm not sure that's even much of an overreaction.
Rarely does a product aimed at oily skin have an effect quite like this. With a tendency to dry skin out or cause some sort of irritation, I have found that serums targeted for those of us with oilier skin types need to be used with other products in order to get adequate levels of hydration and anxtioxidant protection. Silymarin CF, on the other hand, seems to do it all. First of all, it contains the all-important 15% L-ascorbic acid and 0.5% ferulic acid to deliver the same sort of glow-boosting, anti-ageing benefits as C E Ferulic. On top of that, it also combines 0.5% silymarin to offer up further antioxidant protection and prevent sebum oxidisation (meaning it helps limit breakouts). Finally, it contains any oil-skinned sufferers holy grail ingredient, salicylic acid, to super-gently unclog pores.
After a whole month of use, I can officially say that my skin is quite possibly the best it has ever looked. My complexion is more youthful, glowing and I haven’t experienced anywhere near as many congestion-induced breakouts as I have done when using C E Ferulic. I would by no means suggest it will significantly help to unclog pores and stop breakouts, but it certainly delivers the best vitamin C benefits I’ve ever experienced without increasing the chances.
If you ask me, while C E Ferulic has totally dominated the vitamin C landscape for the past few years, Silymarin CF might just be here to knock it off the top spot.