Does beauty’s new wonder ingredient live up to the hype?  

A daily dose of vitamin C in your skincare is said to brighten, smooth and firm. Frankie Graddon tests out the theory

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By Frankie Graddon on

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If you are anything like me, the last few months have been God-awful in the skin department. Since Christmas, I have careered between dry flakiness and spotty meltdowns. Examining my face in the office toilets a few weeks ago (pure punishment on account of the very revealing lighting), I noticed that the texture on my cheeks and forehead had turned rough and bumpy. To be honest, it’s been a real struggle finding anything to fix it.

This time of year is always going to be hard on your face. If it’s not central heating, it’s cold weather or severe lack of sun. There is a glut of skincare products on the market promising to help and several with the latest beauty-buzz ingredient, vitamin C. Promising to brighten, firm and smooth, vitamin C is being hailed the ultimate winter-skin fix – so, is it really all that?

I decided to give it a go with Clinique’s Fresh Pressed 7-Day system. Launched just last week, it contains a high concentration of additive-free vitamin C and claims to give instant results, boosting radiance and "retexturing" (smoothing) skin. Use the cleanser and the booster for seven days and see the difference. Sounds good, right?

I started with the cleanser, which comes as a powder in seven individual sachets, to keep the vitamin C fresh. (After a few days in open air, vitamin C starts to degrade, so it has to be kept sealed for it to work properly.) The sachets are a tad on the faffy side; however, they are good for portion control and handy if you’re travelling. 

To use, tip the powder into the palm of your hand, add a few drops of water, then mix into a loose paste and massage all over your face. Leave it on for a minute, then rinse. The texture is smooth and a tiny bit foamy, but not drying. 

As well as a hefty dose of vitamin C, the cleanser also contains kaolin clay (absorbs dirt and exfoliates) and salicylic acid (gets rid of dead skin and excess oil). I used it once a day in the mornings and, by day two, noticed a difference in the texture of my skin – much smoother. By day five, the crop of little red spots that were populating my nose had shifted. 

The second phase of the system is the booster: a turbo-charged concentrate that you add to your regular moisturiser twice a day. This promises to brighten, firm, reduce age spots and wrinkles. It contains a high percentage of vitamin C, as well as algae and caffeine (to calm) and molasses (for the dark spots).

If I’m totally honest, on first use it’s a bit too complicated. However, once you’ve got your head around the application process (see below), it's rather lovely. My skin definitely upped its glow factor and looked far less wintery dull than it had previously.

When you first get it, peel the silver foil off the top of the canister, then “activate” it by clicking the orange button twice. This releases the vitamin C into the booster, which is then effective for seven days. Give it a shake to mix everything together, then squeeze two drops into your moisturiser. The texture is smooth, light and mixes well with both gel-like moisturisers and rich creams. 

I'd also been advised that I could put the booster straight on my skin (after cleansing, before moisturising) for a supercharged hit. I didn't notice any huge difference in result doing this, but some mornings it felt quicker than mixing it. 

I finished the system over the weekend and am far happier with the state of my face. Smoother? Definitely. (Thank God). Glowy? I'd say so. At £25, it's not cheap, but it's also not outrageous and, for a quick end-of-winter skin fix, I think it's worth it.   



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