Clinical Skin's Vitamin C Pro-Collagen Serum Earns An A++ For Skin Elasticity
Skin care doesn't have to be complicated, but if you are going to pare down your routine to just a few steps, vitamin C is one of the best players to keep in the rotation. Ask any derm, esthetician, or beauty expert their all-time favorite skin care ingredients, and chances are they'll name-drop the MVP antioxidant.
It's also one of the best ingredients to invest in; although you can find a variety of budget-friendly vitamin C serums out there, the steeper price tag tends to correlate with better stability (and vitamin C is a notoriously unstable active).
So I'll just say it upfront: The Clinical Skin Vitamin C Pro-Collagen Serum costs $120. It's definitely an investment, but I'd argue it's one worth making—the high-quality formula transformed my skin by making it look plumper over time.
What makes this vitamin C serum so extraordinary?
Vitamin C itself has pro-collagen properties. In fact, the antioxidant is absolutely necessary for collagen production. "If you don't have vitamin C, your collagen can't cross-link to lift and tighten skin," Julia T. Hunter, M.D., founder of Wholistic Dermatology in Beverly Hills, once shared with mbg. And it doesn't just stimulate collagen production; it stabilizes the collagen1 you have, leading to overall wrinkle reduction.
So if you want to secure plump, youthful skin, you'll want to add vitamin C to your routine, be it via serums and/or supplements. But this Clinical Skin number takes those collagen-enhancing abilities a step further by adding a host of other antioxidants that boost vitamin C's potency. Vitamin E, glutathione, caffeine, and ergothioneine further protect the skin from free radicals and help reduce skin aging; ergothioneine, for instance, has been shown to reduce signs of photodamage2 (a main contributor to skin aging).
This formula is also housed in a ceramide-rich base, and we likely don't need to remind you how important ceramides are for overall skin health. (We'll just send you over to our full guide to ceramides if you have any questions.) But when it comes to topical ceramides, experts note they actually mimic your moisture barrier, thus helping your skin instantly appear plump and hydrated.
As for the texture, this serum has a lightweight, watery consistency. It instantly fuses to your complexion and practically disappears upon application. It's also completely fragrance-free, which is an impressive feat with vitamin C; many potent vitamin C serums—namely, ones with ascorbic acid—can smell a bit…foul. (Some people swear they smell like hot dogs.) Other formulas may include citrus extracts to either mask the smell or add a natural vitamin C boost.
I don't particularly enjoy my face smelling like oranges or hot dog water, so I was delighted to discover this Clinical Skin serum had absolutely no trace of scent. Post-application, I could barely tell I even had it on—but of course, my glowy results were a dead giveaway.
I apply a vitamin C serum every single morning, so it's important I find not only a stellar formula but one that feels enjoyable to apply. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how lightweight the Clinical Skin serum felt in my palms. I liken it to the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum; both are water-based and thin with high-quality ingredients and a steep price tag (Clinical Skin is slightly more affordable at $120 compared to $169).
Despite its lightweight consistency, this serum is actually very moisturizing. In fact, I even waited a few minutes before applying moisturizer so the actives had time to penetrate—and my skin didn’t feel tight at all (a surefire sign it’s begging for hydration). My skin tone looked instantly smoother and more even, with a subtle glow that lingered even after applying moisturizer and sunscreen. Over two weeks of testing, I noticed some hyperpigmentation on my chin and fine lines on my forehead started to fade.
I should note, this serum does include L-ascorbic acid, which is the most potent version of vitamin C and may come with skin sensitivity concerns. My skin, however, doesn't run too sensitive, so I would categorize the serum as quite gentle. I still suggest you patch test before slathering on all over, but even those with easily reactive skin find success with the stronger formula: "I have sensitive skin, and I've used the serum for a month without any problems," one 65+ reviewer writes.
Look, I won't lie: This serum costs a pretty penny. But if you're one to typically drop some coin on vitamin C (serums tend to be quite pricey, given their potency), I highly recommend you give this collagen-boosting formula a try. After testing it for two weeks, I've noticed a major difference in my skin's elasticity and tone. Those perks? Priceless.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.