As one of the most-coveted yet finicky ingredients in skincare, vitamin C promises to brighten, fight free radicals free and improve overall skin health.
IF you can get a stable form of vitamin C that you can easily work into your routine and use up before it oxidizes.
I wanted to find that in my purchase of Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, but alas, it was a total letdown.
A Little Background on Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
Designed as a “super potent vitamin C day serum packed with a powerful antioxidant complex,” Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum promises to “visibly firm, brighten, and diminish the appearance of photo aging.”
The promise of vitamin C in general is to address uneven skin tone, dullness and uneven texture. That’s C-Firma’s proposed solution, too, and exactly what I was after in purchasing this product.
This serum takes advantage of the three musketeers of vitamin C efficacy: vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid. Vitamin C is delivered in a 15 percent strength via L-ascorbic acid and further stablized and activated with vitamin E and ferulic acid.
The rest of the ingredients, notably chronocyclin, pumpkin ferment extract and pomegranate enzyme, provide antioxidant benefits and skin resurfacing support.
Here’s the full ingredients list:
Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Glycine, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60.
My Experience with Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
As a water-based serum meant to be applied to dry skin, it was difficult for me to incorporate C-Firma into my routine where I always start with a spritzed face before serum application.
Though I changed my habit in order to work in C-Firma, the experience wasn’t for me (I looooove my mists), so using C-Firma just wasn’t very fun.
The best skincare results come from the skincare you love to use — and use regularly — so this was my first warning sign that C-Firma probably wasn’t going to be a win for me.
But, I stuck with it for about eight weeks, applying the thin, watery, basically odorless concoction to my dry face before layering on gel-like serums, mists and light creams to start my day.
The fast-dry texture made this first step very simple and easily layerable, and Drunk Elephant’s skincare technology promises 72-hour protection from the elements, though it’s recommended as an everyday product (confusing, yeah?).
I didn’t notice many changes in those first two months, but my expectation with vitamin C is that you have to be in it for the long haul — at least six months — to really see results.
What I did notice, though, was the color of my C-Firma. Although I don’t have a picture of what the formula looked like upon first open back in August 2016, the photo above was shot in March 2017, seven months after purchase and open.
While the photo above is a very deep orange (clearly oxidized), my C-Firma looked pretty close to this — maybe a shade lighter — from first use. Could I have gotten an older batch to begin with?!
I didn’t think anything of it, assuming that was what it was supposed to look like, until I saw skincare blogger Gothamista’s recent video review that shows what fresh C-Firma **should** look like vs. what oxidized C-Firma looks like (see mine above).
Around the 9:15 mark, you can see an eye-opening comparison of what fresh, non-oxidized C-Firma looks like (clear-ish with a hint of yellow) vs. what a 5-month old squirt of C-Firma looks like.
So, to repeat what we all know, vitamin C is famously unstable. We get that. You need to use it consistently within an allotted time period.
My issue with Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is that on the package itself, the “use by” date (this little symbol) is 24 months. DE has since changed that to 12 months … yet recommends using it within 6 months?
HUH? 24 months?! 12 months? Are you kidding me? When Gothamista’s oxidized in 5 months and my 7-month pictures are as orange as you-know-who’s face, we’ve got to get a little more real here.
While after two years, the formula may technically be safe to use, it’s likely lost all efficacy and is doing absolutely nothing for your skin. That’s the case with all skincare with active ingredients, but especially vitamin C.
I’d like to see Drunk Elephant be more direct about how to use — and when to finishing using — C-Firma. The company told Gothamista (see the description box in the video above) that it’s best to use within 4-6 months of open, but that language isn’t reflected on the website, product or packaging.
It seems to me that’s only the right thing to do in the name of not only transparency, but in skincare education.
Until then, this will be a “do not recommend” from me, though it doesn’t take away from my love for many other Drunk Elephant products and what this line has achieved in the name of cleaner beauty.
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Do you use vitamin C in your daily routine? What are your favorites? Have you tried this or any other products from Drunk Elephant? Tell me in the comments!