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There are so many reasons to love vitamin C serums. The namesake of these products simultaneously aids in collagen production, fades fine lines and reverses hyperpigmentation from sun damage. But while we love the numerous benefits of vitamin C, it is notoriously unstable and can break down into a smelly, unusable serum pretty quickly—which is why we can’t stop talking about one particular product formulated to prevent all that. Can you guess which one? Hint: it’s beloved by basically every celeb out there, from Hailey Bieber to Gwyneth Paltrow.
It’s Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum, of course! Points if you got it. Points if you didn’t. We’re all friends here.
In my personal experience, only one other product comes close to the Skinceuticals holy grail: Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum. It includes the same two odor-combatting, life-extending ingredients that Skinceuticals’ celeb-loved serum has, but it’s a fraction of the price. And now, it’s on sale for under $25 during Ulta’s Forever Fabulous Sale.
Though it’s a vitamin C serum, this skin fuel has two other star ingredients worthy of noting, since together, the trio forms a seriously impressive treatment. Ferulic acid, a plant-derived antioxidant that protects skin from UV radiation, also helps stabilize vitamin C for maximum penetration into your skin cells. Vitamin E, known as tocopherol, boasts its own antioxidant properties but rounds out vitamin C’s stabilization squad. Since it’s fat-soluble, it can get past that pesky layer of sebum on our skin cells and deliver the helpful ingredients deep into our skin—think of it as vitamin C and FA’s Uber driver.
There’s solid science to back up this trio’s star power. In the 1990s, a dermatology research physician named Dr. Sheldon Pinnell published a groundbreaking study showing that when formulated together in a very specific concentration, vitamin C, ferulic acid and vitamin E work miracles on the skin. Naturally, he formed a skincare company called Skinceuticals to capitalize on his findings and patented that formula—which we now know as the renowned Skinceuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid serum, and it retails for a cool $169. Yes, science is making our wallets hurt.
Still, you can take advantage of Dr. Pinnell’s discovery thanks to Mad Hippie’s incredibly similar serum.
I’ve been using this product for a few years now, and it is (in my opinion), the closest Skinceuticals dupe on the market today. It’s packed with vitamin C, ferulic acid and tocopherol—which, as we talked about earlier, is a skincare starting lineup. While the Skinceuticals serum uses vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic acid, the Mad Hippie serum uses a vitamin C derivative called Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. SAP is a much more stable and less irritating form of vitamin C, and recent research suggests that it may even do a better job of battling acne. It keeps my skin glowing and does an unmatched job of combating my genetic melasma. For me, that benefit is worth its weight in gold.
But don’t take my word for it! The Mad Hippie serum is beloved by Ulta reviewers alike, boasting a near-perfect 4.5-star rating on the site.
“This has been a game-changer in my AM routine for skin brightness and clarity,” wrote one particularly satisfied reviewer. “The final piece in the puzzle… I get compliments on my skin often. Highly recommend. I keep an extra bottle in my cabinet so I never run out.” Another reviewer gushed that they “lost count of how many bottles [they’ve] purchased” and that it helped “hyperpigmentation disappear so quick, and leaves skin glowing and radiant.”
It’s such a standout product and I can’t recommend it enough. Score Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C serum at Ulta for $25.49, down from $33.99.