Dr. Dennis Gross Found a Way To Make Vitamin C More Potent and Less Irritating, and My Sensitive Skin Has Never Looked Brighter

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Vitamin C is having a moment. Though the ingredient itself isn’t new, recent innovations have found ways to make the antioxidant more powerful and less irritating, which means our inboxes have been flooded with exciting new launches of late. One we’re particularly hyped about? Dr. Dennis Gross’s Vitamin C Lactic line, which hit Sephora shelves this week.

The line includes four different formulas—a serum, a moisturizer, an eye treatment, and a cream—all of which pair vitamin C with lactic acid, a milk-derived alpha-hydroxy acid that’s known for its gentle exfoliating abilities. According to Dr. Gross, placing the antioxidant alongside this chemical exfoliant allows it to better penetrate your skin to work its magic, upping both its protective and brightening abilities.

“Lactic acid uniquely builds the moisture barrier,” explains Dr. Gross. “It specially triggers genes in the DNA of the epidermis to make more ceramides and squalane, and actually stimulates the production of the skin’s own ingredients.” Because the ingredient hydrates the skin and encourages more moisture retention through its exfoliating process, it sets up your skin barrier to be able to better absorb the benefits of vitamin C. Once lactic acid’s work is complete, the antioxidant steps in to reverse signs of sun damage (think: dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and discoloration), neutralize free radicals from harsh environmental factors, and boost collagen production.

Combining the two ingredients into a single formula not only helps to cut down on your routine steps, but also ensures that you’re not overdoing it on actives (which, as you may well know, is a surefire way to irritate your complexion). “I love keeping control of the entire chemistry of the product…by putting the two ingredients together, it protects the integrity and effectiveness of the product,” says Dr. Gross.

What happened when I tried them

As someone with sensitive skin, the thought of using formulas that include both vitamin C (which has irritated my complexion in the past) and an exfoliating acid admittedly had me worried. But Dr. Gross recommended starting out with “baby steps,” which meant adding the products to my routine every other night. And I’ve done just that: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I stick with my usual gentle cleanser, peptide-packed serum, and hydrating moisturizer, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I experiment with Dr. Gross’s Vitamin C Lactic Acid product. Throughout the testing process, I’ve also made it a point to up my sunscreen usage so that I’m extra protected, since chemical exfoliants (like the lactic acid in this serum) make skin more sensitive to sun damage.

After two weeks of using the new products, I’m happy (and, okay, kind of surprised) to admit that my skin has remained irritation-free. Instead, it feels soft to the touch, and I’ve noticed that my freckles (which are technically a sign of damage) aren’t as dark as they typically are in the summer. I was also surprised that the eye treatment has helped diminish the appearance of crow’s feet around my eyes, which I’d be noticing more than ever after my recent birthday. I’d also be remiss not to mention the smell—another thing I’m typically nervous about—but the fragrance has a perfect balance between cleanliness and hints of orange that feels dreamy after a long day in the sun.

From now on, the collection will be a permanent part of my complexion-care rotation, and my sensitive skin has never been happier.

Shop Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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