C-12 Pure Bright Serum

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 90.00
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Brand Overview

This pricey treatment from Dermalogica is supposed to treat brown spots and uneven skin tone, but most of the ingredients the company claims will do that are lacking research proving they have much, if any, efficacy on controlling excess melanin (skin pigment) production.  But, there’s reason to be hopeful!

The oligopeptides this skin lightener contains have some promise, but the research shows that while they may be potentially effective at interrupting melanin synthesis, tripeptides such as those connected to lightening ingredient kojic acid are superior (Sources: Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, ePublication, October 2014; and Experimental Dermatology, August 2012, pages 563–568). Still, peptides may prove to be helpful “partner” ingredients to pair with more established lightening ingredients.

Phytic acid, which Dermalogica calls out as another lightening ingredient in this treatment, has no published research documenting its effectiveness on brown spots—so you’re essentially  banking (and it’s a lot of bank!) on the oligopeptides working as claimed.

The water-based, serum-like texture absorbs quickly and leaves skin feeling silky-smooth, and it’s also fragrance-free, which is unusual for Dermalogica (many of their products are scented the fragrant plant oils). C-12 Pure Bright Serum is suitable for all skin types, but it’s a potentially effective product we’d advise you to use in tandem with a skin lightener that contains a more robust mix of ingredients research has shown to lighten brown spots. For example, you could pair this product with a vitamin C – or hydroquinone-based skin lightener and potentially see enhanced results. Many people struggling with skin discolorations need to use a mix of lightening ingredients rather than just one, so this multi-pronged approach may be the key to success.


  • Lightweight texture works with any moisturizer.
  • Fragrance-free formula.
  • The oligopeptides might be of some use for lightening brown spots.


  • On the pricey side given the potential effectiveness of the lightening ingredients is questionable.
  • Most of the ingredients Dermalogica says will lighten brown spots lack research supporting the claim.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

Lightweight, highly-active topical treatment combats hyperpigmentation (brown spots, discoloration and uneven skin tone) day and night. Advanced formula absorbs quickly to optimize efficacy while helping to increase skin luminosity.

Water/Aqua/Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Oligopeptide-34, Oligopeptide-51, Squalane, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Polysorbate 60, Phytic Acid, Zinc Glycinate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

Dermalogica At-A-Glance

According to company history, Dermalogica products came into being because founder Jane Wurwand could not find a spa-oriented skin-care line that met her criteria. She was dismayed that so many skincare lines aimed at the aesthetics market had products that contained alcohol, artificial colors, fragrance, mineral oil, and lanolin, ingredients he believed had a well-documented history of problems. That's true for fragrance and alcohol (and artificial colors to a lesser extent), but mineral oil and lanolin have no documented history of causing skin problems.

The line is positioned as a no-nonsense, no frills take on skincare, with clinically-inspired packaging that does protect its beneficial ingredients from light and air. Speaking of ingredients, Dermalogica does include a lot of beneficial ones in its skincare, though there are a number of formulas in the line that also make the misstep of including potentially-irritating fragrance ingredients.

For more information about Dermalogica now owned by Unilever, call 1-800-345-2761 or visit www.dermalogica.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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