Found: A Gentle Vitamin C Serum That Actually Makes Sensitive Skin *Less* Sensitive Over Time

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Adapting your skin-care routine can be challenging, especially when you have sensitive, acne-prone skin like mine. But now that it's fall, my beauty regimen needs a bit of a refresh to adapt to my seasonal skin-care goals, which are as follows: brighten my complexion, reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne, and balance out my skin tone overall.

Achieving all of this without causing any irritation can seem like a tall order. But when I was asked to try out the new Paula's Choice 25% Vitamin C + Glutathione Clinical Serum ($65), I was pumped! This lightweight serum is formulated to target various skin concerns, including sun damage, uneven skin tone, discoloration, and dullness (aka, everything on my list)—all while being suitable for sensitive skin.

Paula's Choice, 25% Vitamin C + Glutathione Clinical Serum — $65.00

Key ingredients: vitamin C, glutathione, GAP technology


  • Clinical-level formula
  • Brightens, fades, and reverses signs of oxidative stress
  • Boosts skin resiliency over time
  • Powerful yet gentle and sensitive-skin friendly
  • Hydrating
  • Fragrance-free


  • Pricey

Formulated with a powerful punch of 25 percent vitamin C, the Clinical Serum is designed to boost the skin's antioxidant supply, to brighten, fade, and actually boost skin resiliency over time. That means sensitive skin like mine would be less sensitive, or at least, better prepared to deal with stressors in the long run. More on all of that below.

In This Article

Experts In This Article
  • Julio Lamberty, Director of Innovation and Formula Development at Paula’s Choice

How it works

The star ingredients are right in the name: a potent combination of 25 percent vitamin C and glutathione. But how does this formulation help sensitive skin?

Julio Lamberty, director of innovation and formula development at Paula's Choice, explains that vitamin C—which is one of the main antioxidants in your skin—improves sensitive skin's ability to withstand visible changes from external stressors (think: UV rays, blue light, and pollutants.) But the benefits of a strong vitamin C extend beyond surface-level protection. "Vitamin C and its derivatives also help bolster skin's immune system by protecting Langerhans cells from UV radiation. These specialized immune cells help protect skin's living layers from more serious, irreversible damage," says Lamberty. While your skin naturally contains some vitamin C from dietary and supplemental sources, environmental exposure can erode these reserves over time.

Lamberty underscores that topical application of vitamin C is increasingly essential, especially as we age. It's a proactive step you can take to ensure your sensitive skin remains resilient and radiant despite the challenges it may face. Each bottle of Clinical Serum is blended with a burst of the super-potent antioxidant ergothioneine, which has been linked to stopping inflammation in its tracks. Combined with glutathione (which helps even out skin tone) and the brand's GAP technology (amino acids that help boost the skin's natural glutathione levels), this is a gentle elixir that works to, "improve skin's response to oxidative stressors that would otherwise chip away at the skin's barrier and increase sensitivity."

My review

Having been an enthusiast of Paula's Choice products for a while, my expectations were naturally high when I got to test the Vitamin C + Glutathione Clinical Serum. Paula's Choice has consistently stood out for me due to its commitment to ingredient transparency, to the extent that they've even provided a skin-care ingredient search engine, making it easier for consumers like me to make informed choices.

My expectations weren't just met—they were exceeded. The serum goes on like a dream. It’s fragrance-free, lightweight with a milky texture that my skin quickly drinks up and it makes my skin feel smoother and softer even before I add my moisturizer.

Photo: Author

Aside from instant hydration, it was hard to tell the results right away; the product is designed to give you brighter, more even skin over time, not necessarily instantly. It's been a few weeks since I started using the serum, and I can definitely see an overall improvement in tone and brightness. I've been keeping my skin-care routine simple; During the day, I apply the 25% Vitamin C + Glutathione Clinical Serum and follow up with SPF to protect from UV damage. I cleanse and use it at night before applying my moisturizer and eye cream. You can also use it as a treatment in areas where discolorations (such as post-acne marks) are a concern.

If you're looking for a serum that offers a one-stop solution to various skin-care concerns while focusing on gentle, transparent ingredients, this serum is undoubtedly worth adding in to your routine.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Wu, Yan et al. “Protective effects of a topical antioxidant complex containing vitamins C and E and ferulic acid against ultraviolet irradiation-induced photodamage in Chinese women.” Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD vol. 12,4 (2013): 464-8.
  2. Liu, Hui-Min et al. “Safe and Effective Antioxidant: The Biological Mechanism and Potential Pathways of Ergothioneine in the Skin.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 28,4 1648. 8 Feb. 2023, doi:10.3390/molecules28041648

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