Dermalogica Biolumin-c serum: finally something that works on my pigmentation
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
I love vitamin C. I love the concept of it, and the theory of how it should work. Vitamin C seems to be the perfect all-rounder: it is a powerful antioxidant, also known for its ability to improve uneven skin tone by breaking down existing pigmentation and preventing new ones from forming. Other benefits of vitamin C include boosting collagen production (and hence increased firmness and elasticity) and reducing wrinkles and roughness. Yet, I have been struggling to get vitamin C to perform on my skin at a level that others have claimed. I always see more radiant skin, but I had never seen any fading of my pigmentation... until I discovered Biolumin-c.
(see also: my reviews on Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum)
The vitamin C
At first I was a little skeptical about Dermalogica Biolumin-c. In the past, I have always used L-ascorbic acid - the most potent form of vitamin C available. Yet, the "C" in Biolumin-c is a combination of two vitamin C-derivatives:
Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate
Aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphates
Both are more stable forms of vitamin C, and especially the later, is claimed to better penetrate skin than L-ascorbic acid.
Stable derivatives means less ready to react - hence, generally less potent.
Dermalogica says that the concentration of vitamin C derivatives is 4.7% (which I assume to be the combined concentration). However it also says that their combination "has been scientifically proven to deliver three times the amount of vitamin C when versus leading competitor". I guess what it really means is that it is not useful to compare the vitamin C concentration with L-ascobic acid concentration in other serums, which is typically anywhere between 15-20%, due to the different penetration abilities and potencies.
What I like about this serum is the extensiveness of the ingredients included. Apart from vitamin C, it contains (to name a few):
lactic acid: chemical exfoliant and skin polisher
chia see extract: source of omega fatty acids and antioxidant
palmitoyl tripeptide-5: shown to stimulate collagen synthesis in in vitro studies; may have an effect on skin firmness when used in combination of other peptides
sodium hyaluronate and glycerin: skin humectants
It has the perfect texture for me. Lightweight and easily absorbed, with some viscosity but not thick. It worked well with all other serums and moisturisers that I layered on top.
Storage and ease of use
Since we are talking about vitamin C, this needs a specific mention. L-ascorbic acid, the most potent form of vitamin C, is very fiddly to use. Serums containing L-ascorbic acid often have a short shelf life, short life after opening, and need to be stored at low temperature (e.g. in the fridge). Due to the low pH of L-ascorbic acid, other products that can be used at the same time can be quite restricted.
Because Biolumin-c is stable, the application was really easy. I applied the serum on my face after misting my skin with a toner. The serum was absorbed within seconds, and I could layer my other products over it quickly. I could use almost anything I like afterwards because there was no pH restrictions. Cold storage was not necessary.
At first, I was using it once a day (AM - Biolumin-c; PM - Dermalogica Pure Bright C-12). After 2 weeks I decided to use Biolumin-c twice a day because Pure Bright C-12 was not really doing a great deal for me (by this time I have gone through almost 2 bottles of Pure Bright). I persisted using Biolumin-c twice a day for another 3 or 4 months, applying 2-3 drops each time (1 full dropper as prescribed was way too much).
My skin is prone to dehydration. It was a bit of a shame that this serum alone could not provide me with the hydration that I needed. I always used a hydrating serum after Biolumin-c, followed by a moisturiser (during the day), or a facial oil and a night cream (in the evening).
It wasn't until the last week or so before I finished the whole bottle, I noticed real results. I am glad that I persisted. My pigmentation spots actually faded, especially those ones which were more intense. Before I started using Biolumin-c, I had two new pigmentation spots starting to develop at the same time - one on my forehead and one on my eye lid. They were about the same intensity a few months ago. Towards the end of the bottle, I noticed that the spot on my eyelid was a lot darker compared to the one on my forehead - and I had not been applying Biolumin-c on the eyelid at all. I truly believe that the serum has helped lighten, or at least slowed down the darkening of, my pigment spot on the forehead.
I did not notice a significant increase in glow or radiance in my skin while using the serum (as opposed to a well formulated L-ascorbic acid serum where the glow is usually quite instant), though I was overall happy with the condition of my skin including texture and firmness.
What about Drunk Elephant C-Firma?
I think Drunk Elephant C-Firma is a fabulous serum. Out of the two however, I prefer Dermalogica Biolumin-c as it is more suitable for my lifestyle (less fiddly and less wait time), and it also addresses my main concern at the moment which is pigmentation.
Visible lightening of pigmentation spots
a good cocktail of beneficial ingredients
Not hydrating enough
No noticeable difference in overall radiance
Expensive (A$130 for 30 mL)
Patience is needed
This review was written based on my opinion after using one bottle.
Full ingredient list
Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Lactic Acid, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Seed Extract, Sodium PCA, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract, Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, Trehalose, Polyacrylate-13, Propanediol, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Polyisobutene, Methylpropanediol, Carrageenan, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, Limonene, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.