Skin & Tonics : Skincare Guides & Product Reviews

Skincare guides & product reviews for hydration lovers & the moisture barrier obsessed

Vitamin C Ester by Perricone MD, An In-Depth Review

First of all, a warning: This post is long. Apparently I have a lot to say about this product and vitamin C in general, so you might want to cancel your afternoon meetings and grab a snack before you start reading.

There are always fads in skincare that come on strong and then fade away as people discover the effects are minimal and the claims are scientifically disproven. However, there are a few magic ingredients that have stayed very visible on the skincare radar because they actually make noticeable changes in your complexion, and have plenty of research to back up their efficacy. One of those ingredients is Vitamin C, an antioxidant that promotes collagen production, treats hyperpigmentation, and protects skin cells from sun damage.

A few months ago I started using Vitamin C Ester 15 by Perricone MD ($120), and I love the results I’m getting. For a vitamin C product to be effective, the recommended range of C the product needs to contain is 5% – 10%. This product is a whopping 15%. Perricone MD ‘s product also claims to have a superior delivery system to other vitamin C products. While I have no way of knowing whether or not that particular claim is true (I couldn’t find any research on it), I do know that I’m getting results.

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15

How I Use It

The instructions say to apply C Ester 15 after cleansing your face at night. I deviate from this and use it in the morning for a couple of reasons:

1. I use Retin-A at night, and having two heavy-duty products on my face at night is a bit much for my skin. Dermatologists recommend against using C & A on your face at the same time because it can cause irritation, and who am I to argue with a dermatologist?
2. Vitamin C actually boosts the efficacy of whatever sunscreen your wearing, so I would be missing out on some product benefits if I used this product at night.

I use a dime-sized amount for my entire face and apply it after cleansing and toning, but before moisturizing. The instructions say to wait a few minutes before applying moisturizer to give the product some time to sink in. I like to wait at least 10 minutes.

One box of Vitamin C Ester 15 contains 4 tubes, and the whole thing lasted me a little over 2 months with every day use.

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15

The Pros

The results started being visible around the end of my second week of using this product. After a few more weeks, the difference was even more noticeable. It’s now been just over two months, and here’s what I’ve experienced:

• Tighter pores
• A brighter complexion with a natural “glow” (I skipped a week at one point to see what would happen,  and by the end of the week my skin looked a lot duller.)
• Faded acne scars (This was also partially due to my Retin-A use, but the C Ester 15 certainly sped up the process,)
• Much smoother overall skin texture

I fortunately don’t have a lot of wrinkles yet, so I can’t speak to the firming abilities this product claims to have, but I can tell you that the overall difference was visible enough to make me ditch a few of my long-time skincare staples (like my beloved Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum) just so I could free up some funds for this product.

One of this product’s strengths is the packaging it comes in. The box itself is actually pretty cumbersome and, in my opinion, very wasteful, but the tubes inside are really ideal for maintaining the integrity of the product. Vitamin C should never be exposed to light or else it will oxidize. Oxidized vitamin C is not only less effective; it’s also capable of causing harm in the form of free radicals. The Perricone MD tubes are completely opaque, and because they’re tubes, there’s never any light exposure like there would be if I were taking a lid off a jar to access the product.

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15

That little blob is enough to cover my face. It smells exactly like fresh oranges.


The Cons
Perricone MD Vitamin Ester-C 15 does have a couple of marks against it. The lesser offense is that it’s drying. This product is definitely not a replacement for moisturizer. It is a treatment, so you really need to use this in addition to a moisturizer. I have dry skin and don’t have any issues with it when I use it in conjunction with my moisturizer, but people with intensely dry skin my want to dab on a little extra moisture with this product.

Secondly, at $120, this is one of the more expensive vitamin C skincare products on the market. It’s in the same price range as Skinceuticals Vitamin C E Ferulic Serum ( $146 – and weirdly smells exactly like hot dogs). Although I really like C Ester 15, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to spend this much money in order to get a decent Vitamin C product. I tried a couple of inexpensive C products before this one, and although they did give me some visible results, they were not as visible as the C Ester 15. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t just choose the wrong inexpensive products.

I do have a list of less expensive vitamin C products I would like to try next, to see if they measure up. They are:

Ester-C Serum Hyper-C Anti-Aging Therapy by Jason Natural ($33)
Super C-Ester by Skin by Ann Webb ($50)
Vitamin C Anti-aging Serum by John Masters Organics ($30)

I’ll definitely post reviews of each of those products when I’ve tried them. If anyone reading this and has used any of the three C serums I just listed, please let me know what you think of them!

The Verdict
This is a really great product with a really high price tag. If you want to splurge on a skincare product that you know will work, Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15 is the product for you. I’m a believer in it, but I’m also still hopeful that I might be able to get the same effects from a less expensive product. If I can’t, I’ll just have to come crawling back to Perricone MD with my fists full of money.

Skin & Tonics Rating: A

If you want to try C Ester 15, I recommend buying it through the Perricone MD website. They have a special deal where if you opt in for their replenishment service, it’s 10% off the product price for each shipment ($108 instead of $120). They also give you a free full size Vitamin C Ester Eye Serum ($55 value) with every shipment.

I signed up using this deal and can also tell you that when I received my second shipment few days ago, it came with a free 2 oz. bottle of their Firming Facial Toner in addition to the free C Ester Eye Serum. I’m not sure if that additional product was a one-time thing or if that’s just how they roll with their replenishment service, but it was a very nice surprise.

Bonus discount: Use code PERSONAL15 at checkout to get an additional 15% off your first order.

Follow me on Instagram:


This post contains affiliate links. Shopping through these links help support this site!

Share this:

1 comment on Vitamin C Ester by Perricone MD, An In-Depth Review

  1. Hi there,

    I’m currently using Dr Dennis Gross HydraPure vitamin C serum. It’s an excellent product (pricey though, $95.00 although I’ve seen it cheaper online)

    Check out Paula Begoin’s review on it, she rates it as a “best” vit C serum. This serum has 3 forms of vit C and I believe it’s 18% so a decent strength. This stuff feels incredibly silky going on, sinks in right away and most importantly delivers results! My 38 year old complexion is brighter, fine lines reduced and my skin looks and feels smooth! It’s definitely good stuff. Just thought I’d recommend it to you to try and see if you like it more them the Perricone. The Perricone is good but it’s really a “one note” lacks any other significant stand out ingredients. The HydraPure boasts an impressive amount of vit C plus additional ingredients so more bang for your buck..or many bucks 😉