Refresh for May Day #29: My Favorite Facial Supplement

Supplements are big in today’s market. Countless patients come in on an array of non-FDA approved vitamin supplements purported to have some key, typically not scientifically proven, health benefits. Whether it’s for sleep or joints or weight loss or staying young there’s a supplement for you. But, facial products are less often thought of as supplements. As it turns out though, while I loathe daily pills for any reasons, I am quite beholden to Vitamin C in my facial products.

Topical Vitamin C, or ascirbic acid, has a number of reported benefits related to collagen stimulation and diminishing free radicals. While the facts about Vitamin C’s role in these two biologic pathways are correct, I must admit I haven’t scrutinized the studies linking these to better skin. But I do know that my skin is less dull and the dark patches less pronounced when I use Vitamin C containing products.

The array of vitamin C products one can find in the beauty aisle of the drug store or at places like Spehora and Ulta will make your head spin. Some are fairly pure and others a combined with other reportedly face rejuvenating Vitamins. I haven’t tried most but these are my top three:

1) Origins High Potency Night-a-Mins: “Put dullness to rest. Wake up radiant & refreshed. Now nature’s famed night cream is newly fortified with a system of time-released resurfacers plus Vitamins C, E & H, minerals & moisture-rich replenishers. While relaxing aromas lull you to sleep, skin sloughs away dry, dead layers. Deletes dullness” according to the manufacturer.

NightaMinsI have a serious allergy to sunscreens so for years this was my daily morning moisturizer. I will confess that this was during my surgical training and so I didn’t have a nightly routine. If I made it home it was an event. If I ended up not asleep on the couch in a pool of my own drool it was a miracle. So primping before bedtime was not even on my radar. But I had started residency with no routine at all except for washing my face with Neutrogena anti-acne face wash so coming upon Origins and starting a routine was a big deal for me. I settled on Origins because the staff took the time to learn what I was allergic to and what kind of skin type I had and helped me choose a face wash, a lotion (their name for toner), a moisturizer, and an eye cream. And so for the next decade or so, I used their Checks & Balances, United State, Night-a-Mins, and Eye Doctor. In recent years, I have changed up a little and today I use Origins Brighter by Nature line for my daytime routine (from wash, to eyes, to moisturizer) but I still use the Night-a-Mins at night (still not great at nightly but so much better) because it has an amazing smell, a soothing effect, and does result in a more wide awake look the next day. I don’t think I will ever stop using this stuff.

2) Tarte Maracuja C-Brightener Eye Cream: “Refresh, renew and recharge tired eyes with our eye treatment enriched with C-brighter™ technology. By harnessing the power of maracuja fruit, vitamin C and advanced botanicals, this skintuitive™ eye treatment visibly hydrates, firms and brightens the delicate eye area” according to the manufacturer.

tarteeyecreamI have used various other eye creams from Origins in the past. But a few years back, I was over the lingering disco effect of the GinZing eye cream and started to look for another. I did eventually decide on the Brighter by Nature which, as noted above, I use daily (over RoC’s Retinol Correxion Eye Cream) in the mornings. However, I expanded my search beyond Origins accidentally. When searching for a new concealer for my under eye baggage, I learned that Tarte does not use any chemical sunscreens. Thus, knowing that spending time at the Tarte counter would not leave me incapacitated for days beholden to oral steroids and topical anti-inflammatories (and I have had a few horrific events at beauty counters despite my clear statements of the exact chemicals I am allergic too) I stumbled upon the Maracuja eye cream while I was looking for safe make-up. The packaging is super cute. There is no discernible scent. The texture is luscious and I have found that it is a perfect evening companion to the Night-a-Mins. I am pretty sure my dark circles are here to stay but the intensity of the under eye marks of fatigue are lessened by the product for sure. And, as it turns out, I don’t have the patience to add something like concealer and make-up to my daily routine (I tried it for like 3 days and the extra time and effort just was not worth it for me to look better at work) so having products that diminished the appearance of tiredness without make up is a necessity for my aging face. [But if you want to use make up to look wide awake, check out this post.]

3) Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM: “Maximum results. Minimal irritation. Potent concentration of microencapsulated Retinol at 1.5% helps to encourage the skin’s renewal process. Moisturizing formula, infused with Vitamins C & E, suits all skin types. The appearance of tone and texture is enhanced. The look of fine lines and wrinkles is visibly reduced. Skin looks renewed, refreshed, restored. Oil-free. Fragrance-free” according to the manufacturer.

PTR_retinolPMGranted this product has a lot of other key ingredients but I came upon it after searching for a Vitamin C serum to supplement the two products above which I have been using for more than a decade and over two years, respectively. My eyes were better so I wanted to have the same betterment for my entire face (especially since adding any make-up, BB, or CC product was out of the question for the reasons noted above). I found the Tarte Maracuja oil to be just too oily and the Mario Badescu Vitamin C serum’s Lavender smell was migraine inducing for me. (I shop for these things at Ulta because I have one within 2 miles of my house and its return policy for these products is one of the best in the industry–if the product [non drug store brands only] doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, you give it back no matter how much you have used). So given that the Retinol Fusion PM had the Vitamin C that I was looking for along with the retinol my derm and plastics friends say I should have started in my mid-20s, I went for it and I really like this product. I confess that I don’t use it often enough as many nights I just collapse into a ball without a night time beauty regimen but when I have gone several nights in a row applying this product before applying the two products above, I have definitely noticed that I look younger and more refreshed. The drops come out almost like water. I take a few in the palm and them apply all over my face. It’s a new skill but I think I have got it down now and I have no desire to return this product.

So yes, I love Vitamin C for my face. It is without a doubt my favorite facial supplement.

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