The Vitamin C Serum That Helped Reverse My Melasma (plus a sunscreen that you don't want, you NEED)

Y'all, that title isn't clickbait. The Vitamin C serum I'm talking about for this week's edition of Bridal Beauty really did help reverse my Melasma, which I had previously read wasn't possible without some type of hormonal change. To which I now say, boo-yah, Web MD. 

For those of you who are blessed-and-highly-favored enough to not know what melasma even is, let me break it down for you. Melasma is a brownish discoloration of the skin that appears primarily on areas that receive heavy sun exposure. It can be triggered by hormones (including birth control) which is why it's sometimes referred to as a "pregnancy mask." Lucky me...I got to wear the world's most unflattering pregnancy mask smack dab in the middle of my forehead for over a year without even being pregnant.

Backstory: Taylor and I backpacked through Southeast Asia during the late summer of 2016, and I was less careful about using sunscreen on that trip than I should have been. After spending a month stateside, we set off on another extended trip—this time to Australia and New Zealand, where the ozone loner is extremely thin and the sun shines with mega-watt power. While browsing around a makeup store one day with particularly unflattering florescent lights, BAM. There it was. A massive, blotchy brown spot that my makeup wasn't even close to concealing. While I hoped that it would fade on its own once we returned home, like a tan or a sunburn would, the reality is that it stuck around and took every opportunity it could to grow and darken. 

I'm all about inner beauty, but I'd be lying if I said that my self-esteem didn't take a hit courtesy of this thing. I started wearing makeup while I was at home by myself just because I didn't want to see "my spot" (as I started calling it) when I looked in the mirror. I also began Googling things like "how to reverse melasma" and "does melasma ever go away" on a fairly regular basis, and eventually decided to give Vitamin C a shot. 

If you are dealing with melasma (or any type of skin discoloration) and planning a wedding in six months or less, I can't promise you that incorporating Vitamin C into your skincare routine will make your discoloration 100% disappear by your wedding day. From personal experience, however, I do feel confident in saying that I believe skin discoloration can be noticeably lightened within that timeframe! 

Here are a few extremely up-close and unflattering Before-and-After views of my forehead that shows the difference using Vitamin C consistently for one year has made. These photos were taken in natural light with NO editing. (Obviously...otherwise that acne would be outta here.)

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Here's another no-makeup picture from further away that I think really shows the difference. Happily, using Vitamin C has also helped to reduce my acne and redness, improved my overall skin texture, and—naming and claiming it is helping me prevent fine lines!

Okay so after ALL that build-up, the product I've been using and loving consistently is K-Beauty fav KLAIRS Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop. Disclaimer, that's an Amazon Affiliate link, but I am in zero way paid to promote or talk about this product. (But, like, if you want to discuss that...holler.) I pay for all of my own products and genuinely, absolutely love this one. It's a hero for me! You can also purchase Klairs products via Soko Glam. Their website is AMAZING. I'm not an affiliate of Soko Glam but I am a big-time frequent flyer of their website (as my husband can testify). They always include free samples with your purchase and have a great rewards program.

QUICK NOTE: If you do happen to peruse Soko Glam, you will probably come across another Vitamin C serum called the Triple C Lightning Liquid. I was actually one of the first people to purchase this product when it launched, and I wanted to love it—I had already started seeing great results from my Klairs Freshly Juiced which contains 5% ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), so the promise of a formulation that contained a full 20.5% of the same ingredient sounded like a sure thing. Unfortunately, the first serum I ordered arrived damaged, and the second replacement batch yellowed after just two weeks of use—a sign that ascorbic acid has lost its potency. I ended up throwing it away and quickly switched back to Klairs. I won't be making the switch again, but, hey...maybe you'll have better luck!

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VITAMIN C
(and see results ASAP)

  • Apply it at night. You'll wake up in the morning looking so glowy!
  • USE SUNSCREEN. Sunscreen helps prevent future discoloration, slows the signs of aging, and, oh yeah...helps shield you from skin cancer. Vitamin C usage makes you extra susceptible to sunburns, so always be sure to apply SPF 30+ beneath your makeup before heading out for the day. MISSHA's All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk is literally the best sunscreen I have ever used. ZERO white cast and does not break me out. You can also find it on Soko Glam
  • Pair your Vitamin C with complementary products. I recently added Klairs Vitamin E mask to my routine after reading that Vitamin E helps to stabilize Vitamin C...i.e., it helps me get the most out of my serum treatment. It has a strange flan-like texture and takes some time to absorb, so I recommend only using this product at night. (UPDATE: I tried to love this product but ultimately it hasn't been a hero for me. Read more about my current regimen here.)
  • If you're in need of a little extra brightening, I also recommend trying this DIY sake and sugar scrub. Fermented rice is a known lightening + brightening ingredient, and this scrub has been the extra something-something my skin needed to even out and tone up! Since I've had such great results with this scrub, I'm also interested in trying out this Fermented Rice Water Toner from 100% Pure in the near future!

The ONE positive that came from my melasma-fighting experience is that it caused me to really buckle down on my SPF usage and to ramp up my skincare routine. I now wear SPF 50 daily and never go outside for extended periods of time without a hat, which I think my 70-year-old self is going to appreciate. 

If you end up trying any of these products for yourself, be sure to let me know! I can talk about how to plan a wedding in six months or less allllll day long...it's true. But I just might be able to talk about skincare for even longer.

CALLING ALL SKINCARE JUNKIES

PS: Just wanna talk about skincare 24/7 and ditch the wedding planning chat? Enter your info below to join our Skincare Junkies list and get occasional emails ooh-ing and ahh-ing over new product lines, skincare breakthroughs, before and afters, and the like. If you get a weird thrill from reading through the ingredients listed on the back of your fav products, this is the community for you.


6 comments

  • Hello Veronica! Thank you so much for your comment, I’m so happy to hear that you have started to have success with Vitamin C for your Melasma as well! In answer to your questions:

    1. I do not currently use Retin-A or any retinol product, so I’m not sure about the interaction between the two. Sorry, I wish I could be more helpful on that!
    2. I apply Vitamin C with my hands. I use the dropper to put several drops on my fingers, then lightly massage it all over my face (rather than using as a spot treatment) and allow it to absorb.
    3. In the AM I apply toner/serum first, then SPF, then makeup.

    Thank you again for stopping by—let me know what you find out about retinol/vitamin c!

    Karley | A Short Engagement
  • Karley, thanks for sharing your story. I’m 50 and lucky to have had near-perfect skin all my life. Last year I came down with a nasty case of melasma, bilateral on cheeks, mainly. Reading up on it, I decided to start using retin-A. One month went by with only a little flaking, but not on the cheeks. I found a small sample of Vit C and began applying it atop the mealsma only (boy, did it sting!!). Long story short, it worked like a chemical peel, flaked off, and the melasma is greatly reduced. I’m a believer in Vit C. My questions are: Have you tried it with retin A? How do you apply the Vit C, with fingers all over? Or do you concentrate on dark spots only? Do you rub it on or pat it in? And finally, at what point in your routine do you apply sunscreen, after serum and before make-up? Thanks for writing such a cute and sincere blog. Very helpful :)

    Veronica
  • Hi Rachel, thanks for chiming in! I’ve heard mixed opinions about using Vitamin C in the morning…some say it boosts the efficacy of SPF, but others say it can make you more sun sensitive! I personally find that it absorbs better at night so I mostly stick to that, but I do occasionally use it in the AM as well. Overall just love this superstar vit drop :)

    Karley | A Short Engagement
  • It’s actually best to use vitamin C during the day because it increases the effectiveness of your SPF! A handy bonus from an already awesome ingredient. :)

    Rachel
  • Hi Carla! Thanks for your comment! Yes, melasma is definitely hard to treat. I am still working on mine too—it’s a long process but I have definitely seen improvement! I use the Klairs Freshly Juiced serum all over my face, not just as a spot treatment. I use the Vitamin C serum first all over, and then after I apply the Vitamin E cream more as a spot treatment on my forehead and nose. It is pretty sticky, so you will need to wait a bit for it to soak in. My Vitamin C serum typically lasts about 6 months, during which time I store it in a dark cabinet. Then I order a new bottle as soon as it’s out! I have not had an problem with the Klairs serum oxidizing. I hope this helps!

    Karley | A Short Engagement

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