CLE’s Vitamin C Elixir

Philip Cosores

Considering we profiled Lauren Jin, the founder of CLE Cosmetics this week, it seemed like the right time to highlight one of my favorite products by her company, too. While I could probably write a rave review about every single one of the LA-based company’s nine offerings, 2019 has been nothing for me if not The Year Of The Serum so I’m reviewing CLE’s Vitamin C Elixir ($45) to kick things off. First things first, like all of CLE’s products, this elixir is delightfully packaged, coming in a slide out, debossed box with the stopper and serum displayed separately. It is really the perfect gift for a skincare lover, and I already set a few aside as stocking stuffers for some of my favorite beauty junkies this year. 

As mentioned in Jin’s profile, the next compelling aspect of the elixir is the way it combines both Western and Eastern skincare ideals. As a bi-layer oil and serum hybrid, the elixir uses beauty wisdom from both sides of the world to help make your skin flawless. On the oil level we’ve got: Rosa Canina Oil (also known as rosehip oil), Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil and Phytosqualane (an ingredient you might recognize as Squalene, look for phyto to ensure it’s plant-based and not from like, a shark) to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The serum includes 11% pure Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, antioxidants, Amino Acids, and Ferulic Acid, another plant-based antioxidant that helps protect the skin against environmental pollution.

Before use, shake the elixir to combine both layers, and take a dropper full of the mixture, rub it between your fingers and apply it all over the face. Vitamin C is a very popular skincare ingredient because it’s a very powerful antioxidant and naturally brightens skin, but it can easily degrade if exposed to light or heat, and tends to lose its potency over time. Hence the smaller bottle size for this serum, it comes in around half an ounce, but should still last you about a month with daily use, the ideal timeframe to preserve the ingredients. 

If you don’t use it within a month, make sure to refrigerate this serum to help prolong its effects, as it does expire. Luckily, CLE actually notes that on the box so skincare noobs like me don’t mindlessly keep it on their bathroom shelf for a year. The life expectancy of this product ties back into the idea that it’s something to be used daily on the skin, ideally after toner (Glossier’s Solution made that step simple, but I also love this cheap Thayers Witch Hazel with rose petals and aloe vera) and before moisturizer. 

Generally, I tend to only do serums at night because they leave my skin too sticky or greasy, and I can’t go out and face the day with that kind of texture. I tend to have combination dry/oily skin, but much more oily than dry, so putting any more moisture on can feel counterintuitive. Until my facialist at Heyday explained that my skin is oily because it’s so dry, it’s working overtime to counteract that. Lightbulb. Anyway, this elixir is the right balance between sticky and hydrating, so I can use it mornings before continuing on to my moisturizer. I’m guessing that has something to do with the oil and serum combination, but regardless it makes me twice as likely to use this elixir.

Since CLE gifted me a few bottles of the elixir over the last few months due to its recent launch, I gave one to my roommate so we could measure the effects on our very different skin types. Differences aside, the impact was the same — brighter, more even texture and tone, reduced fine lines and unevenness. Plus, people constantly comment on this tiny glass bottle full of golden liquid, and it’s so fun to get compliments on an elixir that’s also helping make your skin better.

When it comes to a product that’s heavy on antioxidants as this one, I think it’s important to discuss oxidation, because until this year I basically didn’t know what that was. Just a cursory Google will reveal: oxidation is a process that produces free radicals, and free radicals are your skin’s number one enemy, because they damage cells and cause aging. My roommate and I are both in our early thirties, so this has basically become a primary concern, and the elixir made a difference we both saw within a month of use.

This is a great “starter” serum for someone who is just getting into the skincare game, because of how easily it goes on under makeup. But, its bi-layer oil and serum design means it’s also advanced enough for the experts, who are also looking to multitask within their advanced, multi-step routine. Whoever you’re shopping for, it’s an ideal gift, even if combining the Christmas spirit with a robust self-care practice means the person you’re splurging on a gift for is yourself.

Shop CLE’s Vitamin C Elixir here.

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