Glow Recipe Has a New Vitamin C Serum, and It's Brilliant
When it comes to getting impossibly radiant skin, few brands understand the assignment quite like Glow Recipe. The brand is all about superfood skincare and pretty much single-handedly started the craze around watermelon-infused products—although it also has formulas featuring ingredients like avocado, banana, and blueberry. That commitment to clean formulas (and #aesthetic branding) has earned the brand a legion of fans, including none other than moi.
Glow Recipe’s latest innovation is its $45 Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum, which promises to help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, all while giving skin a brighter appearance. Best of all, they say, it’s gentle and tolerable for all skin types. And if you can believe it, the formula features five—yes, five—forms of vitamin C to get the job done. As a fan of Skinceuticals’ $166 C E Ferulic, the lower price point is certainly a draw for me, but I still had to know if it would work as well. One thing’s for sure: The timing of the launch couldn’t be better. As summer comes to a close, many of us are probably noticing new discoloration from that extra time in the sun. And who doesn’t like a little extra brightening?
I caught up with Glow Recipe co-founders and co-CEOs Christine Chang and Sarah Lee to get all the scoop on the new serum, including what makes it different from its other vitamin C serum (because I knew you were wondering). Read on for all the details, plus my review of the product and more dark spot serums to check out while you’re here.
What Is Glow Recipe’s Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum?
Think of it as brightening in a bottle. “What’s so great about our Guava Serum is it offers instant brightening while treating and preventing dark spots over time,” explains Lee. But give it some time for those longer-term effects. “For best results with dark spots and hyperpigmentation in mind, we recommend consistent usage for at least four weeks.”
Like all of Glow Recipe’s products, there’s a core fruit: guava. In this case, both guava seed oil and extract are used, which soften skin and offer antioxidant protection. It also contains tranexamic acid, which helps fade the appearance of dark spots, as well as ferulic acid and vitamin E, which help stabilize vitamin C.
Finally, there’s a vitamin C element. As I mentioned, there are actually five forms of it in the formula: tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate/THD ascorbate, 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate. (Don’t worry—there isn’t a test later.) “Vitamin C has quite a complicated chemistry and is notoriously a tricky ingredient for many reasons,” explains Lee. “It’s hard to stabilize in topical products, can be very sticky and greasy-feeling, and sometimes can cause irritation for sensitive skin.”
Part of the problem is our skin itself, too. “Skin is naturally hydrophobic, whereas most vitamin Cs are water-soluble and thus hydrophilic, resulting in poor skin penetration,” Lee explains. The solution? Combine both water-soluble and oil-soluble forms of the ingredient for optimal results. “In order to harness the potency of water-soluble forms, we were able to encapsulate four different vitamin Cs in both water and oil layers, creating a breakthrough dual encapsulation that effectively delivers these ingredients through the skin layers,” explains Lee, adding that “Dual encapsulation also helps to stabilize the vitamin C complex for maximum efficacy.” Got all that? Long story short the capsules allow for better penetration of ingredients.
What Skin Types Is Glow Recipe Guava Serum Suitable For?
Pretty much everyone can use this vitamin C serum. “We thought about the reasons typical vitamin C treatments may have been difficult for all skin types to use—greasiness, oiliness, irritation, stinging,” explains Chang. “We created Guava Serum with all skin types in mind, especially sensitive skin.” The key, according to the founders, is again that encapsulated vitamin C. “Our innovative encapsulation technology delivers optimal potency, gently releasing over time to minimize any irritation while helping to provide long-lasting results,” says Chang. “We also infused this potent blend of skincare ingredients into a lightweight, silky gel texture that absorbs quickly into skin.”
How Is It Different from Glow Recipe Pineapple Vitamin C Serum?
Those familiar with Glow Recipe probably know that the brand already has a vitamin C serum. So what’s the difference? “Our Guava and Pineapple serums both bring the power of vitamin C alongside superfruits and clinically effective ingredients for slightly different needs,” says Chang. The Guava Serum, she explains, “is for targeted treatment seekers with specific concerns of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven tone.” On the other hand, “The Pineapple Serum is a nice entry point for those newer to vitamin C and great for brightening and smoothing skin.” The products can even be complementary if you want a major glow. “Both are great for brightening, and we love the skincare trend of layering,” says Chang. “You can combine Pineapple Serum with Guava Serum together for maximum glass-skin results.”
Glow Recipe Guava Serum Review
Full disclosure: I’m pretty militant about sunscreen, so I don’t have a lot of traditional “dark spots.” But as luck would have it, I had just gotten back from a few days at the beach when I received this sample. I normally have a few freckles (which I love), but the extra time in the sun definitely brought out more spots than usual.
Here’s My (Sleepy, Pre-Coffee) Skin Before Using the Guava Serum…
My skin was still in decent shape, but there were a few extra little spots and dots, and I could definitely use a brightening pick-me-up. So I added the Guava Serum to my skincare routine—according to Lee, it can be used daily, morning and night, although, for sensitive skin, she recommends starting with 3–4 times per week and gradually increasing usage. I’ve been on my vitamin C beat lately, so I decided to go for it daily to see how the product fared.
But backing up a bit, let’s talk about the product itself. As I said, I’ve most recently been using Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, and the Guava Serum couldn’t be more of a departure. Skinceuticals’ product has a liquid consistency and fairly strong chemical smell, while the Glow Recipe serum has a light-pink color and fruity scent (both courtesy of the guava), and a milky, gel-like texture. But C E Ferulic is widely considered the best of the best, so the pressure was on for the Guava Serum, especially considering how much I loved the brand’s Watermelon Niacinamide Dew Drops.
The texture made it pleasant to apply, and I didn’t find it at all sticky or tacky. It also didn’t pill when I put on moisturizer (I let the serum absorb for about two minutes first). I didn’t use any other serums while testing this product, but if you were to do so, I would use lighter serums first, and then this one, since it has a more substantial texture.
I had an instant glow immediately after application, and because I’ve been skipping makeup lately, I also felt like that glow lasted throughout the day. I’ve also been impressed with the overall brightening abilities even though I’ve only been using the serum for about 10 days. Since my spots were on the mild side, I do think you would need to use it closer to four weeks to see the full results, as the founders recommend.
Here’s My Skin After 10 Days of Using the Guava Serum…
One additional note: The brand is still awaiting results of comedogenic testing to see if the serum may cause pores. I did get a couple of tiny pimples around my face, but no major breakouts.
Final verdict: Glow Recipe lives up to its name yet again, and as vitamin C serums go, it’s a relative bargain for $45. Sensitive and acne-prone skin may want to start slow, but it’s a gentle, effective serum.
More Dark Spot Serums to Try…
Made with vitamin C, niacinamide, and papaya and pineapple enzymes, this weightless serum was formulated to treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots in melanin-rich skin.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid are rounded out with hyaluronic acid in this anti-aging and hydrating serum.
This gentle serum blends 10% vitamin C with white shitake mushroom, which helps fade and prevent dark spots, along with the brand’s signature moisturizing squalane.