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I've been using the new Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum* | £41 | for around about the past 8 weeks. For context, I usually use a pure-form Vitamin C serum (Ascorbic or L-Ascorbic Acid) and then a separate serum to tackle uneven skin tone, but I decided to give this a go on its own to see if it could wrap that up into one step for me. Today I'm returning my verdict and also comparing this formula to the existing Pineappple-C Bright Serum* | £46 | from the brand (this is also formulated with Vitamin C), so let's get into it...
I will absolutely be doing a deep-dive into hyperpigmentation at some point (it's been one of those long-gestating posts!) but the bottom line is: there's not one ingredient you can use and it's going to transform your skin, you really need a cocktail. For me, the more ingredients that are beneficial for uneven skin tone that a brand can throw in, the better, and if there can be added antioxidant and hydrating benefits: even better! Ultimately, the more good stuff I can pack into fewer steps of my routine, then better. And, I think if you want good skincare but you're a busy person or don't have a ton of time or the inclination to layer on multiple serums, trying to figure out what might work together: that's the kind of formula you need too.
The Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot piqued my interest because it looked like it would do exactly that. In terms of Vitamin C, no you're not getting pure-form, so you're possibly not getting those collagen-boosting benefits, but not everyone can handle Ascorbic Acid and the irritation that comes along with the low pH it's formulated at. However, this does contain a blend of more-stable, less-irritating derivatives that can still give some antioxidant benefits (protecting the skin from free radicals in your environment) and help with uneven skin tone. In here we have Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, which is an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (a doctored version of ascorbic acid that's more stable), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a salt-based derivative and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate and Ascorbyl Glucoside are water-soluble derivatives. The more derivatives, the better, in my opinion. Whilst some people will argue that Ascorbic Acid is the be-all and end-all, I personally think it depends on your skin goals and with multiple derivatives, you're increasing the likelihood of getting some great results. These are used alongside tranexamic acid, which is relatively new to the world of cosmetic topicals but has been used for many years as a treatment for blood loss. It was then discovered to potentially help with uneven skin tone and discolouration (including melasma) when applied topically. We then have a tripeptide to help renew and refine the skin, which is obviously going to be great if you're dealing with uneven skin tone.
There are also plenty of other antioxidants in the mix, which help to stabilise the Vitamin C but also can boost its effectiveness. We have both the pure form of Vitamin E and a derivative of it, which works synergistically with Vitamin C, as well as providing calming, replenishing benefits for the skin. Ferulic Acid is another antioxidant often used to boost and stabilise Vitamin C. We then have a few ingredients that make this formula feel very well-rounded, like glycerin (a water magnet) and moisturising, emollient oils (including the titular guava) to give the skin a soft, hydrated feeling. I think it's added ingredients like these that make this a great one-stop-shop. You don't need another hydrating serum or to layer on different actives to get antioxidant and skin-evening benefits: this is just your all-in-one morning serum.
I personally went right in and used this every morning (as someone who can use a 15% Ascorbic Acid daily) and experienced no irritation whatsoever. I really recommend this serum for someone who wants Vitamin C in their routine primarily to promote an even skin tone but finds Ascorbic Acid a bit... much. It's also great for people who don't have the time or energy to be applying 5 different serums and researching their compatibility. This was pretty slow-acting compared to more concentrated formulas I've tried, but I'm not mad because it was so well-rounded and completely non-irritating. The only thing I'd really add to this is niacinamide but I guess that's in a lot of products already. But, it works and hyperpigmentation is a long game. This helped my skin's overall quality, improved its clarity and hydrated it at the same time.
Let's get into the comparison with the original Vitamin C from this line: Pineapple C-Bright. This is a less-complex formula, but it does contain fragrance, whereas the other only has plant extracts so that's something to bear in mind if it's a concern for you. This one is formulated with pure-form Ascorbic Acid alongside 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, which I think it good because pure-form can be hard to formulate with and pairing it with derivatives both hedges your bets but also helps stabilise it. The packaging here actually filters out UV light so this should be pretty stable with the stopper in the opening of the bottle there too. I can personally use this up in 4-6 months before it starts to darken with the tell-tale signs of oxidation (which begins to render Ascorbic Acid useless).
Alongside the Vitamin C, we do have other beneficial ingredients like soothing aloe, a hyaluronic acid derivative (drawing water into the skin) and squalane (effectively the plant version of the oils our skin naturally produces). There's a Vitamin E derivative in here to help with stability, then lactic acid, which is an acid exfoliant. I don't think it's in a high concentration to really deeply-exfoliate the skin, but it's hydrating and can also help with the penetration of other ingredients.
Using this product, the primary benefits I observed were hydration and glow. My skin looked so fresh, so dewy and so healthy. I can use this product on dry, dull skin days and it just transforms things for me. I wouldn't say I saw dramatic results in terms of pigmentation improvement, but it really depends on what you need. I did still find this gentle, it's just a different product for different skin concerns. This is actually more of a quick fix for when you want a good skin day, whereas the Dark Spot formula is a long-term strategy for evening out the skin's overall tone.
Have you tried either of these products?