Lixirskin Vitamin C Paste

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What is it?

A Vitamin C mask / treatment.

What is it supposed to do?

Lixir writes that it “neutralises oxidised sebum and proteins to revive greyish, greenish and dull skin undertones. Scavenges free radicals, provides natural sunscreen against UVA and UVB and regulates melanin production. Helps Collagen production and protects Elastin.” 1

Who is it for?

I think it is good for anyone who wants a brightening effect, a layer of antioxidant protection, and a pigmentation fading effect. I would say it is fine for all skins excluding those with allergies to fragrance. It is fine on my acne prone skin. I don’t find it remotely sensitizing.

What’s it Like?

Texture? Lixir calls it a paste, but I don’t really agree – I think a paste is stickier than this is. It is more of a humectant-rich jelly / gel / lotion kind of texture. It has way too much slip to be a paste. If a blob of this product was placed on my palm, and my palm was turned over, the product would pomp down. It really reminds me of lemon curd, but like, with little bits of mealy, soft solidness. It isn’t gritty.

Color? Hm. Egg yolk yellow? Not cooked egg yolk, though. Raw egg yolk. Slightly more opaque. It is appealing.

Fragrance? Lemony and mildly floral. Like a greenhouse. There is fragrance in the product, which it keeps it from smelling of Fantastik.

Is it irritating? I don’t find it to be irritating at all. I have no issues using it after shaving, and if that doesn’t make me weep, I generally think it is universally tolerable. So, no.

Absorbs? It kind of does, or it dries down, or something. Point is, by the time I rinse it off, the original maskiness has mostly disappeared.

Leaves the skin feeling? Good. Hydrated and glassy. It leaves the skin looking brighter immediately.

Is it a stable Vitamin C formulation? I don’t think it’s like, 100% stable. The packaging isn’t fully airtight, so I do feel compelled to work my way through it relatively quickly after opening (within a few months). It also isn’t water free. I did some “testing” on a mostly spent tube, and I found that after being open for around five months, the texture sort of split, and the color went from a pale yellow to a more orange-y-brownish hue. I don’t get the sense that it oxidizes if I’ve used it within ten weeks of opening, which is about how long it takes me to get through a tube.

Actives & their indications

It’s Vitamin C, specifically, 10% L-Ascorbic Acid. It’s a good antioxidant, so it can be helpful in scavaging free radicals. There is research showing that it is helpful for skin brightening and reducing pigmentation. It has also been shown to be helpful with collagen synthesis.

L-Ascorbic Acid is unstable, and fails to provide benefit once it has degraded. I discourage stockpiling L-Ascorbic Acid products. If one wants to use products which contain this ingredient, I recommend buying one product at a time, and using it daily. This will make it more likely that the L-Ascorbic Acid will remain active, and can be used in pursuit of treating its indications.

How are you supposed to use it?

Lixir instructs:

Every morning, warm a pea size of paste in the palm of clean hands and apply to your face, eye contour, lips, neck and décolleté, massage with damp fingers, leave for a few minutes and rinse with a clean towel mitt. If it is one of those mornings when you just don’t have the time, never mind, but do it the next morning; if on the other hand it is one of those mornings when you have more time, leave it on for a bit longer.

How do you use it?

First, I love how Lixir’s directions are at once inordinately specific and superlatively general. Like, “warm a pea size” and “a clean towel mitt,” and then “a few minutes” and “leave it on for a bit longer.” I actually quite like a general style of direction, as it asks the user to listen to their skin instead of deferring thought to a ten minute timer.

I find I use this a bit differently. After cleansing, I will plomp a, hmm, let’s go with nickel-sized portion onto my palm, swipe across and massage across my face and neck just after cleansing. Then I wet my hands and go over again.

Point of difference one: a pea-size doesn’t quite make it across my surface area. I can get down with a pea size with a stiff, rich cream. When I think “pea size” I tend to think of products like Tazorac, Retirides, Ialuset Crème, even something like the L’Oréal Vitamin C, you know, things that hold their shape. Products with that kind of surface tension allow me to dispense a good dollop, after which I can dot it around my face, and then I can finish the application using my whole hand and a bit of muscle. For runnier things like the Lixir, I much prefer to plomp a nickel-sized quantity in one palm, swipe across my hands, and then work across my face in the following fashion:

Point of difference two: I don’t really warm it in my palms, either. I never really know what this means – like, number one, how am I to expect that my palms are sufficiently warm? I tend to stop at the neck, as I am a boy and quite lack the bustline which is indicated by décolletage. I tend to wear crewnecks as I have 1980’s Saturday Night Fever chest hair. Point is: my upper chest is hardly my prime concern.

Point of difference three: I apply this using dry fingers, and massage with some water after the product is on my face.

I use it in the morning. I will cleanse, use this, and then a hyaluronic acid, a moisturizer, and then I drown myself in sunscreen, and then I’m out the door. If I am using an exfoliant, which I almost never do in the morning, I would use that before the Lixir. If one is using another serum/ treatment thing, it would logically go on after the Lixir.

This product is marketed as a mask, and it seems like a mask, but I actually think it is better thought of as a Vitamin C serum that one applies and removes as one would a mask. More on this to follow.

How long until you see results?

One can see a brightening impact is immediately. It is quite lovely, and is of such a robust level that it makes one want to use it daily. I will argue that a few weeks in, the brightening effect starts to seem less significant. I would argue that this is a result of the fact that my complexion has been rendered brighter unilaterally. After around four weeks of use, I started to see a noticeable difference in my pigmentation.

It is important to write that I used this over the same period that I was using some other ingredients (Tazarotene) that are potentially helpful with pigmentation, too, so I can’t say with certainty that it was the Vitamin C Paste that moved the needle for me. Yet, it definitely helped. It is my belief that it tipped the scale towards pigment removal, for me.

What are your opinions?

This is an excellent product. I really love it.

I’m generally not really one for masks. I think they are what people who have no skin concerns who don’t cleanse or wear sunscreen buy to say that they are ‘obsessed with skincare.’ No shade, I like skincare too, but if we want to be into skincare, I think it is important that we get the requisite things (sunscreen and cleansing) right.

That said, I like this one. First of all, it doesn’t really work or feel like a mask. When I go to remove it, there is hardly anything to remove. Now, I don’t know if it goes away by magic, or evaporates, or absorbs, but, it’s basically gone, with just a smidge of residual tack where it was certainly applied minutes before.

So with that out of the way, I will describe the motivating experiences I’ve had that inform my judgement that this product is “excellent.”

  1. The fact that it is a “mask” makes it very easy to use with other products. I find that many (terrific) affordable Vitamin C’s (the L’Oréal, the Stratia) are lovely, but are in heavy bases which make liquid products drip off before they trickle in. This is not the case with the Lixir: once I’ve removed the filmy remains of the mask, it’s as if I’ve hit the reset button on my routine. I can use whichever textured product I want directly on top, and not risk it rolling off due to some more occlusive product layered beneath.

  2. It isn’t sensitizing at all. At A.L.L. Here’s the thing: I’m a man, and my facial hair grows rapidly. I don’t like having a beard, so I have to shave every day. This makes my skin more sensitive to products with a low pH, as the act of shaving results in my face being lacerated into a matrix of microfine cuts. Basically every Vitamin C burns if I use it after shaving. The Lixir doesn’t. It merely tingles. There’s no stinging, no burning, none of that feeling that my face is on fire. With this product, I can shave in the morning and use a Vitamin C, which I haven't been able to do with other products.

  3. I find it makes quicker work of brightening and breaking down pigmentation than other Vitamin C’s. It works really, superlatively well for me. I think this is due to the fact that it isn’t sensitizing, which allows the results to manifest more quickly on my complexion.

Can you say something about the brand?

I wrote about the brand broadly in my review of their Electrogel Cleanser. Since then I’ve made good on my intention to try more of the line. The Electrogel Cleanser is nice, I still keep it around when I feel like things are getting out of balance, but I’m not using it daily. The Universal Emulsion is a great cream – lightweight and easy to wear. It feels good on the skin. It’s also an excellent hand cream – like, second to none, excellent. Lixir claims it uses some sort of emulsification technique that gives it an SPF of 10 (tested according to the Colipa method). I find this to be an appealing idea, but I don’t have confidence in it, as I haven’t seen the absorbance spectrum. Of course, Lixir does not need to share their resting results, but if they did, I might feel as if this claim is less dubious. I cannot imagine relying on this for sun protection: one needs to put a proper sunscreen on top during the day.1

I’ve also used the Night Switch Retinol. One is to mix it with the Universal Emulsion and apply it like a cream for a few weeks, and then take a week off of using it, and then switch to another night switch product. I didn’t follow the instructions regarding the alternating of products: I used it on alternating nights with Tazarotene for 5-6 weeks. I found it to be really nice. I didn’t really use it in a way where I would have seen a huge difference, but I will say it didn’t make me peel, and I think it gave a little glow. I mean, it is Vitamin A – if one wants to see results, one should keep at it for several months. I didn’t do that so I can’t speak to whether or not it made me look like a baby, but I can say I would recommend it based on the fact that it is a well formulated Vitamin A that didn’t make my face fall off.

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What I will say broadly about the line is that everything seems to be effective and gentle. Nothing hurts and everything seems to work really well. I have a lot of confidence in their products.

I’m also quite fond of the packaging & branding, which was done by Two Create Studio. Their portfolio makes me keenly aware that I did not go to art school, which is to say, I really like their work, and it makes me want to practice and be better at like… design. Anyway, I love the little squidgy tubes: never has toothpaste packaging felt so cute and sophisticated. I also am obviously obsessed with their color scheme. Black, and what a color matching app calls “light grayish orange.” I think of it more as like, “tangerine blush.” I also just realized it is a pretty similar color to the background I've set on my work computer, which speaks to the fact that I am fond of it. There's is more blush, mine is more orange, but, hey, whatever.

I’m also fond of the typography. I’ve always found Open Sans to be challenging to use: it can be a bit... hm. Wide. It is really well used in the Lixir branding, where it looks luxe and full of personality.

Full Ingredients List:

Glycerin humectant | Water | Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C, see above | Cetearyl Olivate emulsifier | Sorbitan Olivate emulsifier | Oryzanol a rice-derived botanical extract; here as an antioxidant | Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil essential oil, fragrance | Sodium Hyaluronate humectant | Xanthan Gum stabilizer | Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract essential oil, fragrance | Lavandula Hybrida Flower Oil essential oil, fragrance | Benzyl Benzoate here, I think it is fragrance? Also could be a solvent? Limonene fragrance | Linalool fragrance

For how long have you used it?

I have had it since February (it’s now June), and I’ve been using it consistently since purchasing.

Price?

$ 45 / 50 ml | $0.90 / ml

Repurchase?

I already have. More than once.

Similar to?

Honestly, nothing comes to mind. Here are some other Vitamin C products that I think are good which aren’t at all similar to the Lixir but make my skin look / feel similarly. To some degree.

The champion of all antioxidant / Vitamin C products is the legendary SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. It is a splendid, lightweight liquid that gives a brightening effect, is lightly hydrating, and feels generally fortifying on the skin. The Lixir has a similar brightening / pigmentation fading effect for me, but it lacks the spinal-backbone sort of feeling that the Skinceuticals gives me. While I wholly exalt the Skinceuticals as the market leader, it is beyond what I can afford to use on a regular basis, and it isn’t a product that keeps for longer than several months, so I don’t have it in stock, nor have I used it since the summer of 2018. I remember it being a bit sharper, and more sensitizing, for me. This isn’t so say that I think that the SkinCeuticals is sensitizing: see note above re: shaving.

The cheaper cousin of the Skinceuticals is the Maelove the Glow Maker Serum, which I reviewed a long time ago here. It is a good product, and the price is right. The marketing is horrible: the marketing copy literally reads (or used to read) “Serums are confusing” which is just the most unbelievably terrible description of a skincare product I’ve ever encountered. A shame, because the product is actually really great. Anyway, I found the Lixir gives a stronger glow, but the Maelove (which gives a lovely, mild glow) is a liquid texture, which some people might prefer.

I would also compare this to the L’Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Vitamin C Serum, which is good and very affordable. I like the L’Oréal, but it is nowhere near as pleasurable to use as the Lixir: it’s kind of heavy, it stings a bit, and I didn’t notice as big in impact from it as quickly as I did the Lixir. The L’Oréal is affordable, though, and good, and I have confidence in its stability.

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Buy?

New London Pharmacy, at Beautylish (where I’ve never shopped), the super luxe Net-a-Porter, via Lixir’s website(https://lixirskin.co.uk/products/vitamin-c-paste) (although it seems a waste to pay the shipping from the UK if there are Stateside stockists).

Read more

On Lixir's Website

1 Okay, Lixir is big on this 'natural SPF' claim. I'm going to explain my thinking on this claim, and the theoretical logic on which it is based.

One, L-Ascorbic Acid is a good antioxidant, and will therefore mitigate some of the free radical burden caused by UV radiation. However, this impact is not long lasting. Any free radical scavenging which occurs will happen just after the product is applied. While using topical antioxidants before sunscreen is a logical way to prevent some of the damage from a day's worth of unavoidable UV exposure, it is not sunscreen. A sunscreen would prevent the formation of free radicals with UV exposure. So, while I accept the claim that thie product could offer added protection when used in addition to a sunscreen, I do not accept that it is "natural sunscreen."

In regards to the Universal Emulsion and its SPF of 10, it is logcal to imagine that it could, indeed, offer this SPF when tested via the Colipa Method. I really can't imagine a brand making up something so specific. However, I don't have confidence that this (low) SPF of 10 manifests in actual use conditions, as I don't think people are applying 2 milligrams of Universal Emulsion to every square centimeter of skin every two hours.

This is all to say, I kind of get where Lixir is coming from in regards to the photoprotective properties of these products, but I do not think one should rely on the Vitamin C Paste or the Universal Emulsion for protecting one's skin from UV radiation. Use a sunscreen. Please. :)