Liftactiv Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector
Vichy’s Liftactiv Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector contains an effective amount (15%) of pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plus ingredients that bolster its benefits. Even the pH of 3 is optimal for this type of vitamin C to work at peak potential…so why the so-so rating? The amount of denatured alcohol tops our list, plus we have a lingering concern about this product’s color.
Packaged in a brown glass bottle topped with a dropper applicator, this liquid treatment layers well with other products. That’s great, but with denatured alcohol as the third ingredient, the risk of irritating skin is fairly high. See More Info to learn why this type of alcohol is bad news for skin.
The ingredients supporting the vitamin C include vitamin E (tocopherol) and Pinus pinaster bark, both good antioxidants, alongside replenishing hyaluronic acid. Unfortunately, these ingredients are up against the problems denatured alcohol poses, which also includes them being less able to help your skin.
Back to the product’s color: upon opening, we observed this has a medium copper color, a strong sign the vitamin C has oxidized. Vichy mentions on the product label and its corresponding web page that “color may change over time”, which is true for similar vitamin C treatments. It’s not customary to find this type of product to be so dark from the get-go, and leaves us concerned that the formula may not be properly stabilized.
On the other hand, the natural color of Pinus pinaster bark is similar to the color of this product. Despite this, we’re skeptical the amount this product contains would create such depth of color and, if this ingredient was completely responsible for the product’s color, why didn’t Vichy just state as much, rather than the more vague line about color might change over time?
Last, despite Vichy’s claims, this isn’t a “dermatologist-grade treatment”. The reason? No such standards exist for this label, not to mention if this counts as a dermatologist-grade product, so would every other high-strength vitamin C products, the best of which are on this list.
- Contains an effective amount of pure vitamin C.
- Other antioxidants and hyaluronic acid enhance results from the C.
- Liquid texture layers well with other products.
- The pH of 3 is ideal for ascorbic acid to be effective.
- Amount of alcohol likely to irritate and potentially dry out skin.
- We have some concern about the color of the product.
- Not a “dermatologist-grade treatment” as no such standards exist to define what that means.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.
When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we’re referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.
When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There’s no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.
The reason they’re included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it’s easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn’t lead to negative long-term outcomes!
Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin’s protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.
The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.
There are people who challenge us on the information we’ve presented about alcohol’s effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded “alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing….” But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.
Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you’ll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It’s important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.
References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190
Discover a new pure and potent Vitamin C Serum formula, which combines 15% Pure Vitamin C and Natural Origin Hyaluronic Acid for skin that is brighter and feels firmer in just 10 days. This Vitamin C Serum formula with only 11 ingredients is paraben-free and fragrance-free. LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum is a dermatologist grade treatment yet at an accessible price making it the perfect addition to your anti-aging routine.
Vichy's products, though well-intentioned, are incapable of addressing several common problems. About all you can expect from most Vichy moisturizers is relief from dryness. That's it. Every product's claims "talk the talk," but they cannot possibly walk the walk because what's in them is, for the most part, standard, and without any research behind it to show that it makes a difference.
A big-deal ingredient for Vichy is their Thermal Spa Water. It is said to reduce irritation, strengthen skin's natural defenses, and provide free radicalquelling activity thanks to its trace minerals and salt. There is no substantiated proof to support these claims, save for a somewhat primitive chart Vichy provides to show this water helps reduce cutaneous signs of irritation (what it was compared to, if anything, is unknown). Two other L'Oreal-owned brands, Biotherm and La Roche-Posay, have similar special waters, each claiming to be mineral-rich. Yet if these are so unique and wonderfully beneficial for everyone's skin, why don't all L'Oreal-owned lines such as Lancome, L'Oreal, Kiehls, SkinCeuticals, and The Body Shop, use them, too?
As expected, there are some bona fide winners among Vichy's products, but using Vichy exclusively with the expectation that their products have the answer to whatever your skin needs to have fixed is like thinking green tea is the only food your body needs.
Note: Vichy is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although Vichy does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they dont test on animals unless required by law. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Research Team.
For more information about Vichy, owned by L'Oreal, visit www.vichy.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.