After watching some skincare routine videos on YouTube, I decided that I NEEDED an antioxidant serum in my life. So I plopped down and asked Google for a recommendation. After reading an endless flurry of reviews, I settled on Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum.
Keep reading to find out more about the product (and about my glow-up).
Color (Yes, It’s Supposed to be Yellow)
A lot of people think that all Vitamin C serums should be clear. And if they’re not clear, they’ve oxidized (aka gone bad).
While this might be true for some serums, it’s not true for this one.
I actually emailed Mad Hippie to ask for their take. Here’s what they said:
With regards to the color of the serum, our serums do vary slightly from batch to batch in color and consistency because the bulk natural ingredients that we use (particularly plant extracts) vary a bit depending on batch and season. A pale yellow, cloudy serum is not outside the realm of normal for our Vitamin C Serum due to the plant extracts (such as chamomile, clary sage, and konjac) used in the formulations. We use a very stable form of vitamin C that does not oxidize easily even when exposed to heat for brief periods of time (such as during shipping).
Personally, I love that they use a more stable version of Vitamin C because it means that I don’t have to keep my serum refrigerated to keep it fresh. (For the record, I’ve kept my serum in my hot-and-humid bathroom for the past 3 months and it’s still going strong.)
Hooray for that!
To apply the serum, I add 3-4 drops to my palm and gently pat it onto my face. Since it contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin—both of which are powerful humectants—applying it to a damp face gives me an extra layer of hydration.
Because it absorbs into my skin incredibly fast, I don’t have to wait an eternity to move onto the next step in my skincare routine.
Also, I’m glad to report that, as someone with oily skin, it doesn’t make my skin any oilier.
This serum layers well under makeup. It doesn’t pill or make my makeup slide or do anything else that it shouldn’t do—as long as I don’t oversaturate my face with it (3-4 drops is really all you need).
Packaging (Standard But Perfect)
The Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum is packaged in a 1-ounce, amber dropper bottle.
Since antioxidants (like Vitamin E, ferulic acid, and even SAP) degrade in light, a dark bottle protects the ingredients and keeps them from going “bad.”
And yes, it’s made from glass, not plastic.
Side note: Since I hoard skincare products and I usually don’t get to finish them in time, I really appreciate protective packaging like this. No, it’s not revolutionary. But it works. And that’s all I need it to do.
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum Ingredients
Deionized water, vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), akyl benzoate, vegetable glycerin, water, glycerin, sodium levulinate, sodium anisate, clary sage (salvia sclarea), grapefruit (citrus grandis), hyaluronic acid, amorphophallus konjac root powder, aloe barbadensis leaf, vitamin E (tocotrienol), ferulic acid, chamomile flower extract (recutita matricaria), sodium phytate, xanthum gum, hydroxyethylcellulose.
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP)
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (otherwise known as SAP) is a stable derivative of Vitamin C.
Generally speaking, it provides the same benefits as every other derivative (i.e. fights free radicals, brightens skin, and boosts collagen production). But because it’s stability, it’s doesn’t degrade as easily as other derivates—think longer shelf life—and it’s less irritating to skin—meaning it doesn’t affect TEWL (source).
There’s one more benefit worth mentioning.
It’s an acne-buster!
A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that SAP kills P. acnes (aka acne-causing bacteria) and prevents sebum oxidation (another known cause of acne). The best part is that it can do all this with virtually “no side effects.” Considering how drying some other acne treatments can be (read my article on the pros and cons of salicylic acid here), this is a big win.
Glycerin is in everything. Okay, maybe not everything. But if you check the back of your favorite moisturizer, I bet you’ll find it listed in the ingredients.
Why is it so widely used?
Well, it’s a pretty powerful humectant. Meaning that it can attract and hold water onto the upper level of your skin.
When formulated correctly, research has shown that it can increase skin hydration (source).
The main complaint that people have about glycerin is that it’s tacky. In this formulation, the only time I experienced any “tackiness” when I used too much (again, 3-4 drops is more than enough).
Clary sage (scientifically known as salvia sclarea) has a long history when it comes to folk medicine.
As it turns out, the free-folk were onto something. Because today’s research shows that it has both antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (source, source).
Originally, I was up in arms when I saw grapefruit as a featured ingredient. I thought that citrus oils/extracts were photosensitizing—meaning that they’ll negatively impact your skin when you’re exposed to sunlight.
But after doing some research, I learned that I was wrong.
According to an article on the International Journal of Molecular Science (source):
The distilled oils are not phototoxic, while the expressed oils carry a low to moderate risk of phototoxicity due to the presence of furanocoumarins.
And guess how Mad Hippie extracts their oils. Yep, that’s right. Steam distillation (source).
I guess grapefruit isn’t as bad as I thought.
Now that we have the photosensitivity issue under control, let’s talk about some of its benefits.
First of all, grapefruit will make your product smell good—who doesn’t love a citrus-y scent?
Second, it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties (source).
Third, research has shown that it has a slight antibacterial effect towards P. acnes (aka acne-causing bacteria) (source).
You might have heard about hyaluronic acid from a Neutrogena (or Loreal or Olay) commercial.
But, unless you’re a super-skincare-freak, you might not know exactly what it is.
Hyaluronic acid, like glycerin, is a humectant.
Unlike glycerin, it has the capacity to hold 1,000 times its weight in water. Which can temporarily plump-up your skin, reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Did you know: The active ingredient in Juvederm (aka the filler that’s trending in Hollywood) is none other than hyaluronic acid. Regardless of what you think about big lips, I think we can all agree that HA is really good at plumping things.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera)
Aloe vera is a perennial succulent that’s been used medicinally (and cosmetically) for thousands of years—even Cleopatra used it in her beauty routine (source).
Although it mostly consists of water, it’s also chock-full of vitamins, enzymes, and minerals—some of which are antioxidants.
Now if you’ve ever been waxed, lasered, or sunburned, you’ve probably been advised to treat your skin with an aloe vera gel.
The thing that makes aloe vera so great is that it’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and promotes wound healing (source).
Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid
As antioxidants, Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid are popularly added to Vitamin C serums to provide an extra layer of sun protection.
One study even found that it was effective in reducing thymine dimer mutations (aka the mutations that are associated with skin cancer) (source).
Needless to say, these antioxidants are meant to be used in addition to—not in place of—your daily sunscreen.
Did it work?
I live in one of the most polluted cities in the US (yes, Los Angeles).
So I felt like I needed an antioxidant serum to protect my skin from pollution. Since Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum fit the bill, I incorporated it into my skincare routine.
To be honest, I didn’t really expect it to do anything tangible.
And after a month of use, I didn’t see any differences in my skin.
But hey, I paid good money for it. And it was fighting free radicals. So I kept using it.
Then one day, after two months of use, I saw my reflection in an outdoor mirror.
And I could hardly believe it—I WAS GLOWING.
Not just any kind of glow. It was like a pregnancy glow (without the pregnancy part). It was glorious!
As someone who suffered from acne in the past, I’m kind of hard on myself when it comes to my skin. But this serum made me feel good about myself.
The only downside is that I don’t think it’s as good as L-AA serums when it came to treating my hyperpigmentation. So while it’s good for overall brightening, I would stick with L-AA, azelaic acid, or a chemical exfoliant to treat dark spots.
It’s Cruelty-Free AND Vegan!
After my glow-up, I wanted to learn more about the company. So I went sleuthing on their website. Apparently, all their products are cruelty-free (i.e. they don’t test on animals). And most of their products are vegan—with the exception of their Facial SPF, which uses beeswax. Of course, since this serum doesn’t contain SPF, it’s both cruelty-free and vegan.
What I Liked
- Seriously brightened my skin
- I don’t have to worry about oxidation as long as I use it within 6 months
- It’s vegan and cruelty-free
- It’s hydrating (because it contains both glycerin and hyaluronic acid)
- Doesn’t make my skin oily
- Sits well under makeup
- It’s affordable, especially when you compare it to some of the other Vitamin C serums out there
What I Didn’t Like
- Didn’t see huge changes in my hyperpigmentation
Where to Buy
Sometimes you can find the Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum at your local health food market—FYI, it’s in every Whole Foods in the Los Angeles Area.
But it’s usually a few dollars cheaper when you buy it online (click here to see it on Amazon).
Even though I read a ton of positive reviews before I bought this product, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did (sometimes hype can skew reviews).
But I’m glad to report that it actually works!
It was gentle enough to use twice a day, it brightened the heck out of my skin, and it didn’t make my skin greasy. It’s a triple threat.
And if you’re looking to add a new serum into your routine, I highly recommend that you try this one.