Saturday, July 14, 2018

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

After an interruption, the Vitamin C (last)Week is back for its final touch (then it will be make a return when I finish testing the other three). I am saving the most expensive one for today because I have got quite a bit to say about this.

Drunk Elephant is one of those brands that's active and popular on social media. In the past, I have tried their Allure award winning sunscreen and think it's scratchy, sweaty smelling piece of crap. The experience made me hesitate to try anything else, especially consider their high price tag.

After numerous swatching trips down Sephora, I have grown to like the C-Firma Day Serum so when the Fall 2017 sale came, I got two minis and a full sized one (as part of gift set) and started to use it promptly.

Having tried quite a few vitamin C products in the past, I know that many can cause skin sensitivity. With the hipster semi natural brand principle, I somehow assumed that Drunk Elephant would be effective but gentle, like Haba but packing a stronger punch.

 I was wrong. While I was testing it (on my face, because the skin on the back of my hands reacts differently anyway) on and off for six weeks, it managed to give me pesky little breakout/blisters every single time. Not unlike other serum that contain L-Ascorbic acid. If it were a 10 dollar serum from Marshalls, I would have stopped using it right away and pour it down the drain when it turns brown.

Things are different with Drunk Elephant. First, it's really expensive that I didn't want to give up after a few tries. Secondly, I don't have a habit of returning products unless it's craptastic (even for makeup I am lukewarm about, I keep them as a reminder to not dive in again). Lastly, I really wanted to love it as it felt fantastic on the face. I hate that phrase but I have to just say it...

Vampire! Just kidding, I meant "cosmetic elegance".

C-Firma has a very light golden yellow color, an watery oil formula that sinks right into skin (for winter at least). It makes my skin feel nourished while leaving no residue, even though no visible effect was observed at the time. In a way, it's like having a jug of cold orange juice (and nothing else for breakfast) first thing in the morning, it's probably too much sugar and not great in terms of nutrition or tummy-filling. 

For the first two months (of using it once every few days or so and getting zit right away), things were uneventful. Sometime in early January when I picked up again, I finally stop having reaction and was able to use it daily. It was smooth sailing ever since...

Drunk Elephant recommends using during daytime, as an antioxidant boost to sunscreen.  I can certainly use it the morning, as it sinks in quickly when the surrounding is dry and cold. I ended up reserving for night time use because it seems to stain my skin orange like rosehip oil. Anyway, another benefit of using it at night is waking up with that  C-Glow the morning after. Of course it doesn't just give me a glow in the morning. When it comes to fighting older deep acne mark (and from OCD picking), this is the most effective at getting rid of the PIH (post inflammation hyperpigmentation).

With two months of continuous use, it evened out the spots significantly that I reached for base makeup less and less (and even when I use them, I only need a small drop/thin layer), later on I was able to go back to my old base, using physical sunscreen as my only canvas. Aside from getting rid of acne marks, it also seems to be firming keeping new break out away and preventing pitted scar from forming (I didn't know how it worked but it was the only new item I was using).

Another collateral benefit was that it gave me stronger, more resilient barrier. It had little to do with actual formula: The serum is to be used on clean dried skin right after washing (as damp skin might make it more irritating) and I need to wait a bit if I use other skincare with active ingredients.

Every night, after washing my face and using C-Firma...I just ditched toner (oftentimes used with cotton pad) and head right to sleep because lazy.

I guess by cutting the toner/rubbing with cotton pad step (that's lots of exfoliating I did twice everyday) , my skin was able to heal much faster by itself. For the half year I have used it, my skin have been well behaved for most of the time. The formula can get a little drying around eyes and mouth but it's not too bad since it has many plants oils/extracts to counteract the drying effect.

So far you have heard what I like about C-Firma (the feel,  effectiveness and minimal side effect after initial purging), here is something I don't love.
(This is after a few weeks of use already gaining a yellowish tinge)

While well studied and effective, L-Ascorbic Acid is one of the less stable form of vitamin C that can become broken down with exposure to light, air and heat. Even with the fancy looking twist pump (which isn't really airtight), the C-Firma oxidized right before my eyes.

Remember that I said it stained my skin yellow? When the serum is first bought, it's nearly clear with the tiniest bit of golden yellow tinge and did not stain my face/finger at all. Around the two months (after purchasing, it oxidizes inside the container unused anyway), when I started seeing stronger yellow tinge and stains on my finger, the effects also diminish exponentially while the serum start to irritates the more delicate areas.

At first I thought the effect hit a plateau (as with many active ingredients) but when I start seeing result with a freshly bought mini, I knew the bottle is a no-go. Basically, the formula oxidizes so quickly that even if you start using the freshest stock, by the time you are 2/3 done the rest is barely effective. In that case, a 8ml mini ($23 from the rise and glow set) seems more economical.  This is what I concluded after going through two full sized bottles (had to speed through the end) and three minis. Luckily I didn't hoard backups during sales.
C Firma two months after purchase - Not irritating yet but getting weak at  doing its job already. If you see it staining your finger after use, it's time to hit the bin.

Clearly, I loved C-Firma enough to be using it daily for the six months/repurchased both minis and full sized bottles. Given the high price and instability, I just made the switch to Timeless CE Ferulic and don't seem to miss Drunk Elephant much, at least for now.
(This is what's left in a mini bottle six months after purchase, at this point I might as well use it as a self tanner)

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Glycine, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60

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