I’ve recently tried two vitamin C products: Indeed Laboratories Vitamin C24 and Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster. I got into vitamin C products a while back through the Obagi serum as a way to fade sun freckles on my hyperpigmentation-prone skin (Fitzpatrick type III, which in my opinion is one of the worst types if you’re prone to hyperpigmentation, because not only do you get pigmentation easily, but it also contrasts more with the rest of your skin). Vitamin C has other benefits too, such as promoting collagen synthesis (plumps up skin and reduces wrinkle depth), soaking up sun damage as an antioxidant, and fading acne scars (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH).
The annoying thing about vitamin C in skincare is that it tends to be very unstable, breaking down rapidly to dehydroascorbic acid in the presence of light, water and oxygen, and doesn’t penetrate the skin easily (it generally needs to be at pH < 3.5 for it to be unionised and hence penetrate skin better). Both these products manage to get around these issues.
Indeed Labs Vitamin C24
Indeed Labs Vitamin C24 ($36.99 for 30 mL) is a white cream-like product that comes in a squeezy tube. It gets its name from the 22% L-ascorbic acid and 2% hyaluronic microspheres that it contains. Here’s the ingredients list:
Dimethicone, Ascorbic Acid, Polysilicone-11, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Silica Silylate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate
The first thing you’ll notice is that this product doesn’t contain water. This is significant for two reasons:
- Water speeds up the decomposition of L-ascorbic acid to inactive dehydroascorbic acid, so using a water-free (anhydrous) formula keeps the vitamin C levels higher for far longer, translating to a more effective product.
- Only water-based products have a pH, and since the cream is oil-based, L-ascorbic acid will be unionised and can penetrate the skin quickly, again increasing effectiveness.
22% vitamin C matches the amount used in an in vitro experiment which used anhydrous vitamin C to increase collagen levels, although a small clinical study found that 10% already had good anti-aging effects. I found that it prickled a bit after applying it to my face – probably a result of the vitamin C dissolving in tiny amounts of water on my skin or in the air.
The main ingredient in Vitamin C24 is dimethicone, which is a water-repellent silicone ingredient. I found that this serum tended to bunch up and roll off my skin if I applied a water-based moisturiser on top like I usually do at night, so I generally used it in the day. Dimethicone is found in most make-up primers, and the serum did give a nicely smoothing priming effect that looked good under make-up. I’m guessing the hyaluronic microspheres would’ve helped as well – hyaluronate absorbs water quickly, so if they’re applied to your skin while dry they can settle into wrinkles then swell up to decrease their appearance.
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster ($64 for 30 mL) is an orange gel that comes in a pump. Here are the ingredients:
Water (Aqua), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Calcium Ascorbate, Sorbitol, Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Oleth-20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Benzophenone-4, Sodium Hyaluronate, Thioctic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6
You’ll notice that it doesn’t contain L-ascorbic acid, but instead contains vitamin C derivatives sodium ascorbyl phosphate (often abbreviated as SAP) and calcium ascorbate. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is much more stable (and expensive) than L-ascorbic acid, and absorbs at a higher pH too, so it’s less irritating while still being effective (I tested this serum to be pH 5). I haven’t found a study comparing the effectiveness of sodium ascorbyl phosphate to L-ascorbic acid when applied to skin, but its relative magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) works as well as L-ascorbic acid in clinical studies, and SAP is about 1/10th as potent as MAP at stimulating collagen in vitro (it’s difficult to say for sure that the ingredients will perform similarly on your skin, but in vitro tests usually show a similar trend). Calcium ascorbate is probably similar to ascorbic acid in action, and it might have a skin smoothing effect as well. Unfortunately, the concentrations aren’t given, and I can’t find them online either.
The Ole Henriksen serum also contains vitamin E, which works in tandem with vitamin C to protect against free radical damage (mostly UV damage). The other featured ingredients and their claims are grapefruit and orange extract (astringent and brightening), green tea extract (antioxidant), rosehip extract (vitamin C) and sodium hyaluronate (humectant moisturiser). The packaging recommends this for sensitive skin, but I’d be careful and patch test if you have any sensitivities to natural ingredients. I found that it didn’t sting (probably thanks to the higher pH), and the gel texture sank in nicely.
Do you have a favourite vitamin C product that you’d recommend? Let me know!
These products were provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.
40 thoughts on “Vitamin C Serum Reviews: Indeed Labs and Ole Henriksen”
I have not tried either of the products you mentioned and I am curious to see if they work for you. I tried Paula’s Choice Vitamin C serums and Dennis Gross, but neither causes the three brown spots on the top of my cheekbone to fade completely. I will need to have them lasered.
Yeah, unfortunately topicals can only do so much – if the pigment is too deep it can’t completely fade it!
Here is a link to a study about the efficacy of other forms of Vitamin C and how they compare
I love NIOD ELAN and would love to see a review of it
Unfortunately I haven’t tried this product yet – actually, I’m yet to see NIOD products in person!
Can you tell me in which order you use sunscreen and indeed lab vit C together, please? Because primer comes usually after sunscreen, right? Best regards 🙂
I usually do vitamin C serum, then a light textured sunscreen with lots of silicones (Biore Watery Essence). I haven’t tried using it with a thick sunscreen yet, but I’d probably put it on underneath so the vitamin C get a chance to absorb.
Thank you for this! I have wanted to add vit C to my regimen but I don’t know how to combine it/in what order to use it. I use sunscreen in the AM & retin A in the PM. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
I’d use vitamin C under sunscreen in the morning.
Got it. Thanks, again!
Love your blog! I’m alternating between the Indeed Vit C and Paulas Choice C15 Booster (but it turns my fingernails orange). I’m trying the Ciencia8 Vitamin8 serum I ordered from TVSN, which contains 30% Vit C in the form of Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate.
I haven’t tried the vitamin C from Paula’s Choice yet but I’ve heard it smells a little funky… I haven’t heard of orange fingernails from it yet though, thanks for the warning!
Excellent article! I would also love a post about the order of application of products–I always wonder if I’m doing it wrong!
Good idea, consider it on the upcoming list!
Hey – great article as always 🙂
I have the Dr Dennis Gross Triple C Peptide Firming Oil but I have a question… Where in a routine should this sit? It just says on “clean dry skin”… So after my Cosrx toner? Should I not use an essence? Can/should I use a moisturiser afterwards considering it’s oil based?
I think my confusion lies in that it’s an oil – if it were a regular vitamin C serum I’d be more confident in how to use it but considering its an oil I’m not sure what other steps I should/could do before and after.
I’d do it after toner, before essence/moisturiser (or maybe skip the essence altogether) – oils don’t usually form a completely impenetrable layer so the moisturiser should still be able to work.
Righto – thanks ?
Hi Michelle – what does it mean that ascorbic acid needs to be unionised? Can you give me more detail or source about how it would be more unionised if it was in an anhydrous system?
Ascorbic acid turns into a H+ ion and its conjugate base in water (ionisation), which stops it penetrating the skin. If there’s no water and only oils, it stays intact (unionised or free acid) and can penetrate. There’s a bit on ionisation in this post in the context of hydroxy acids, but it’s the same idea!
I’ve been using the Drunk Elephant one, I like how it feels on my skin, very firming, but it’s hard to tell if it’s doing anything. I use it in the morning and retin-a at night. My dermatologist said these two products were really the most important ones for anti-aging.
I totally agree with your derm! I’ve heard lots of good things about the Drunk Elephant serum 🙂
I use an anhydrous one in a little brown bottle from Philosophy, I think it’s called vitamin C Booster. You take a little scoop of the powder and mix it up with a bit of moisturiser when you need it. It seems effective.
Great post! New follower here.
So, i have two questions
1. Skinceuticals, speaking about CE Ferulic, says that dehydroascrobic converts back to ascorbic acid in skin, so that even if a water-based ascorbic acid serum turns light orange, it is still effective. Would you agree with this?
2. THis is more of a comment/suggestion. In Australia, a company called MooGoo makes an amazing Vitamin C serum containing 25% ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate at an excellent price of AUS$24. I’ve had good experiences with it.
Sorry, MooGoo is $34, not $24.
1. I haven’t heard this before, I’ll have to look into it! Most sources I’ve read say that DHAA is ineffective.
2. I’ve tried some other products from Moogoo but not their vitamin C yet! That price is really good, even at $34.
Great. Look forward to your thoughts!
A’kin also just released a new Rosehip Oil /w Vitamin C:
Oh yes, I actually have that sitting at home! Totally forgot about it. I’ve got a vitamin C serum review coming up soon, I’ll have to include that!
I’ve tried the OH and really like it. I’ve not tried the other though. I’m wondering how you feel the OH compares to Drunk Elephant C-Firma?
I have been using a Vitamin C product from Timeless skin care, 20% vitamin c + e ferulic acid serum, 1 oz, for 24.95. It last about 3-4 months. It is made to order, and shipping is free in the US. I read shipping is $8 around the world. I would love to know what you think. The link is: 20% vitamin c + e ferulic acid serum 1 oz
It sounds like a pretty good product!
I just saw on twitter that Nicole Murphy released a 3 piece combo kit and wanted to see if anbody had tried the other products and if they are any good?
Nicole Murphy @Nicole_Murphy 3h3 hours ago
Hi Michelle, have you ever tried the Radha Beauty Vitamin C Serum and what do you think about it?
The OH was the first Vit C product I tried (it was part of the “3 little wonders kit”, purchased from Sephora); it turned the skin around my laugh lines a yellow-orangy color. For reference, I have fair, cool-undertoned oily skin. I recently started using Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum and it’s my favorite so far but so pricey ($118 USD for 1 oz (30 ml)). I tried Lumene and it seemed to work for a bit then my skin normalized to it but was also too “heavy” for my oily skin.
Ugh how annoying! I haven’t used any vitamin C products from Algenist before but it sounds very promising 🙂
My favorite C serum is Andalou Naturals Tumeric with Vitamin C. I’ve had really good results from it, though I hate their new orange bottles vs their old green ones.
My favourite Vit C is the “Melano CC” I use it as a spot treatment and it works wonders on my 3 sun damage spots. Howeveer these are under my eye and it can be harsh but very effective. The tube it comes in is very elegant in that its a silver tube so the product do3snt degrage and oxidise and only squeezes out a couple drops at a time. It is a dry oil and hard to spread over face.
For all over face i mix the Ordinary Vit C powder in my hand every morning with a few drops of Resvertrol+Feurulic and some moisturizer. Its tricky to get the right consistency so that the powder “disolves” and makes a smooth application. But it works wonders for unever skin tone, sun damage, achieving that glass skin look and antioxidant protection.
Hi Michelle – do you have to wait 20-30 minutes after applying the Vitamin C24 like with other topicals? Or does the fact that it’s anhydrous mean you not have to wait? I’ve been alternating this and Differin nightly. Thanks!
I personally like to combine it with a water-based product so the crystals dissolve faster – I would expect that the anhydrous nature means that you would need to wait for longer than with an aqueous product, since there’s one extra step required before the ascorbic acid absorbs.
I was wondering would it not be a good idea to combine glossier aha/bha and ole henrikson truth serum? Or any aha/bha with the truth serum..