5 Editors With Different Skin Types Test SkinCeuticals’ Viral Brightening Potion

Months ago when I posted a photo of one of SkinCeuticals’ latest launches to my Instagram Stories, pandemonium ensued. Instantly, I was flooded with DMs questioning what it was, if I’d tried it, when it would be available, if it was single (jk, but you get my point).

The reaction was insane, and honestly, I think I would have drawn less attention if I had posted a selfie with Chris Hemsworth. You see, SkinCeuticals is beloved by too many celebrities to count and often recommended by the top dermatologists It’s lusted after by us mere mortals too. The price points are high, but so is the efficacy, and the brand’s most popular formula, C E Ferulic ($166), might just be the most iconic, famous, and universally used and/or wish-listed skincare item in the universe.

I realize this sounds dramatic, but I’m actually being quite serious. Due to the popularity of the brand, whenever there’s a new launch (which isn’t often, mind you), we skincare lovers get very excited. Especially when said launches promise to work overnight to gift us with a smoother, brighter, and healthier complexion. Featuring a free-acid value of 10% glycolic acid, the brand’s still relatively new exfoliating night cream promises effective exfoliation and natural turnover all before you slap snooze the following morning.

The term “free acid value” refers to the pure strength of the glycolic acid itself, and according to the brand’s website, it’s influenced by the concentration of the acid in tandem with the pH of the formula. To ensure utmost quality and efficacy, SkinCeuticals went ahead and blended the exciting new cream with 2% phytic acid, which further encourages the clarity and brightness of a dull, fatigued complexion. But does it actually work?

Although the formula claims to work for all skin types (the website insinuates oily, normal, sensitive, and dry), in addition to its triple action-soothing complex for a happy and healthy skin barrier, an experiment was definitely called for. So I grabbed my fellow beauty editor, Courtney Higgs, in addition to a couple other beauty-loving co-workers at the Who What Wear office and passed out some samples.

Since all of us have different skin types, different skincare routines, and different expectations when it comes to the products we choose, it was the perfect way to put one of SkinCeuticals’ buzziest launches to the ultimate test. Keep scrolling for our honest reviews and some bare-faced selfies for good measure.

Skin Type: Combination/acne-prone. My Review: Given pretty much any opportunity, my skin insists on breaking out. When it comes to my skincare routine, I’m a little laxer in the mornings and usually do a quick swipe of cleanser, toner, vitamin C serum, and SPF—if that—before heading out the door. However, my nightly routine is significantly less flexible. I’ve been working with celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau for over a year now, and we finally have a very specific routine down pat that plays nicely with my skin and discourages its penchant for blemishes. Because of that, I’m always a bit cautious to adjust my nightly product M.O. That said, I love SkinCeuticals, and I keep a couple of the brand’s signature serums in my cabinet at all times. So I can’t say I wasn’t enticed by Glycolic 10, which promises improved skin texture and brightness—two of my biggest skincare goals. As recommended, I used this overnight treatment every other night for a week to start since I can sometimes be a bit sensitive where acids are concerned. Before application, I had anticipated a thick, sticky texture but was surprised and relieved to find how nice and lightweight the treatment is. Even though the “glow” is supposed to be a longer-term perk, my skin looked super dewy and radiant just after I applied an even layer to my face, and the results were even better the next morning. I won’t lie, the formula hasn’t performed any serious magic—I’m still fighting some breakouts, and my skin still isn’t as smooth as I would like, but I feel confident in saying that if I continue my use (and graduate to nightly application as the brand suggests after week one), I will continue to notice improvement. Where this product really shines is the brightening factor. Even with just a few applications, I’ve noticed some of my residual acne scarring has begun to recede, and the overall evenness and clarity of my skin have definitely improved. So far, so good!

Skin type: Combination. My review: I used Glycolic 10 for about two months, and the results were honestly pretty miraculous. I started using it only once per week then slowly worked up to applying three times weekly. By the time I was comfortable and applying a few nights a week, I noticed my skin texture becoming much smoother, more refined, and less prone to breakouts, which I had been dealing with in the months before I started using it. The problem is that the skin around my nose and mouth just could not handle the strength of the chemical. If a drop so much as grazed my nasolabial area, I would wake up to dry, tight, rash covered skin. This made me nervous because while the rest of my skin seemed to be thriving, I felt like I was always risking a reaction. I ended up discontinuing use about 10 days before I went to Hawaii over the summer because I didn’t know how my skin would react to the increased sun exposure, and then I just never really got back on track. I think I’ll try a gentler formula and see how I do.

Skin type: Sensitive. My review: When it comes to skincare, I love testing out new products and always have a new rotation of items on my bathroom counter. My skin is on the sensitive side and doesn’t react well when too many products are piled on, so I tend to keep my day-to-day routine pretty minimal. In the morning, I use Bioderma Sensibio H20 ($15) to remove any lingering makeup, Biologique Recherche P50 Toner, and Augustinus Bader The Cream ($265), which has been such a game changer. It’s the same routine at night, with the addition of Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform ($95) and Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex ($62). This SkinCeuticals treatment was a recent product to end up on my testing counter, and though I’ve only been using it for a week, I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with the results so far. My skin looks noticeably brighter and glowier after just seven days—which is always something I’m after. I haven’t seen any changes to my skin texture as the bottle promises, but I’ll definitely be adding it to my nighttime routine to see what happens over the next month.

Skin type: Oily. My review: My biggest skin concern is all the discoloration and uneven skin tone I have mostly due to my acne scars, so I’ve been prioritizing products that have glycolic acid and chemical exfoliants in my routine to help lift those stubborn dark spots. In my experience, it takes time to start seeing any results, so I was pleasantly surprised to wake up in the morning to even, glowing skin after just one night of sleeping in this overnight treatment. I noticed that my darkest spots were more subdued than they were the night before, and my skin had a super-soft texture and overall glow to it. If it transformed my skin this much in just 10 hours, I can only imagine what it would do if used it more frequently.

Skin type: Dry/combination. My review: After washing my face at night as usual, I applied Glycolic 10 all over my face. I had an indulgent weekend before, so my face was a bit dull and red. The product wasn’t as thick as I expected it to be, so it was easy to apply evenly. I felt a slight burning sensation after applying (and for maybe 20 minutes after), so I was a bit nervous I might get an allergic reaction since my skin can be sensitive at times, but I think it was just the exfoliating formula doing its work and exactly what it’s intended to do! After the 20-minute sensation, I didn’t experience any irritation or itching. It’s pretty lightweight, so aside from the tingly, burning feeling when first applied, I forgot I was wearing anything new or different after about an hour or so. When I woke up the next morning, I noticed the redness had decreased and my face seemed a bit brighter. I have to try it a couple of more times to see if it really makes my skin glowy, but since I didn’t have a bad reaction to it, I’m excited to test it out again.

Next up, three budgets, three smart skincare routines, broken down by cost per wear.

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