Last week the TV started to talk to me…
“The SUPERCHARGED secret to your skin’s best future!” It said.
My attention was caught.
Not as magnetically as if Ben & Jerry’s were advertising, however it was close.
“Advanced results, 93% agree this serum makes you look younger”
Wowzer, strong words.
“Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum, with golden vitamin C and breakthrough actives for brighter, more even-looking skin”
Take a watch here, warning – it is corny.
My brain began to have fireworks.
Magic, golden vitamin C – what’s that? What is that?
I need to know.
Replexium – huh?
93% say it makes skin look younger.
What are these magic actives?
Does it work? Do I need to recommend this to my SkinCoachees?
Is Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Serum THE anti-ageing serum everyone should have?
And so I asked everyone on my email list – do you want to know?
You said YES.
Jan said yes, Alida said yes, Jo said yes, Donna said yes, Louise said ‘pleassseee tell us!’, Ana said ‘Yes please!’, Pix said yes, Allison said ‘Yes! I want to hear’. And so many more of you said yes.
And so today, we’re here to investigate the ‘inside sauce’.
Here to answer the burning question – is Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Serum worth it?
A Charlotte’s Magic serum review which is based on science.
Are you ready to see what’s behind the magic? Come take my hand dear friend…
Charlotte’s Magic Serum Review; what the heck are those actives?
The TV talked to me last week because my ears heard ‘Golden Vitamin C’.
It got me excited. I thought – ooooeeee – is this a NEW vitamin C?
Psst – vitamin C is a fantastic anti-ageing active. It boosts your skin’s collagen levels aka helps plump up fine lines and wrinkles. It brightens skin. It helps regenerate other vital antioxidants inside your skin. It’s the bees-knees.
But there’s 1 issue. It goes off crazy fast. If you’ve ever had a vitamin C serum turn brown or dark, this is what’s happening.
So I thought – Omgosh a new vitamin C?
Show me that ingredients list now.
I need to know what Charlotte Tilbury Magic serum is using. I need to do a Charlotte’s Magic Serum review.
And so with excited and trembling hands 😉 I googled for the ingredients list. Here’s what I found;
Psst; don’t worry if this looks like gobbledegook. That’s very normal… and it’s why you have me in your back pocket. I’m talking you through Charlotte’s magic serum actives step by step.
Did you spot it?
At first look my excitement plummeted. Oh, it’s ascorbic acid. And it’s almost last on the list.
Ascorbic acid is the OG form of vitamin C. It’s the one which goes off super fast.
This can’t be it, can it?
And so I got my science dig on.
Here’s what I found.
Golden vitamin C is ascorbic acid bonded to gold.
It sounds fancy but is it fancy?
When you buy Golden vitamin C from the supplier it comes as a mix of;
(This is like cake batter. Chocolate is the bit you want but it can’t taste good unless there’s flour, eggs and oil in the mix too. Delish.)
- Sorbitol – this is a humectant, it attracts and locks water into your skin
- Xanthan gum – makes the liquid thicker – people use this in food where it does the same thing
- Ascorbic acid – aka vitamin C
- Gold – dollar, dollar
- Glutathione – an antioxidant, aka anti-ager, it’s skin-identical, your skin already makes this – wahoo
Okay, so it got a bit exciting. Here are the standout facts you should know;
- When vitamin C is protected by gold and glutathione it’s antioxidant powers, skyrocket. This is much greater than other protected vitamin C products i.e. sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), SAP scores 43% free radical scavenging ability vs. golden vitamin C at 100%. Psst – keep in mind this is test data from the makers of golden vitamin C.
- If you compare golden vitamin C to free as a bird and unprotected vitamin C, it’s 100% free radical scavenging vs. 45%, meaning free as a bird vitamin C is not as anti-ageing (psst; more about when you should start using this kind of anti-ageing skincare here).
- You need LESS golden vitamin C for even greater free-radical scavenging benefits. And it’s effective at very low doses. In fact, the recommended dose is 0.3-0.5%.
- Golden vitamin C at the same dose as free ascorbic acid, protects your skin against oxidation by up to 70% more. Yes, this is pretty impressive
My friend, these facts go to show it’s not always about the percent of active in a formula. It’s about the supporting actives which come along with it.
Cold shower moment. What we don’t know is if a product contains more normal/free as a bird vitamin C, would it give as much protection as less golden vitamin C?
Bottom line; yes this is a pretty special active, it’s proven to get deep into skin and it’s got fab anti-ageing, antioxidant action.
Now, what else?
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Ingredients; the ones they shout about
We’ve got the ‘chocolate’ sorted, now’s time to find out if there’s chocolate sprinkles too 😉
Here are the actives Charlotte Tilbury’s team shout about;
- Polyglutamic acid
- Sepitonic M3
- Crystal complex
- Plant adaptogen extracts
Along with golden vitamin C this makes Charlotte’s magic 8.
Are they magic?
Let’s get the facts on these wacky sounding 7;
- Polyglutamic acid – psst, as Donna pointed out on email, the INKEY List also sell a 3% polyglutamic acid serum for £12.00 vs. Charlotte Tilbury’s magic serum for £60 (although there is a £25 trial serum you can get, I’m linking to this at the end). However, this is really the only key active The INKEY List’s polyglutamic acid serum contains. It’s a mono-active product. So, what does it do? Polyglutamic acid’s claim to fame is it can hold up to 4X as much water as hyaluronic acid. Aka it will plump your skin superbly. Like getting the iron out on your fine lines.
- Sepitonic M3 – you sep what!? Don’t worry my friend, this is just a fancy-pants name. Like saying knowledge navigator when you mean teacher 😉 The actual actives behind this name are a bunch of minerals – Magnesium Aspartate and Zinc Gluconate and Copper Gluconate. These are antioxidants, they can help defend your skin against pollution and supplier studies show after 28 days a 7% reduction in deep wrinkles. Not bad. Although cold water moment – if you look in the mirror every day, 7% is not likely something you’re going to say wowee to. You’ll need to take regular high-resolution photos to see.
- Replexium – a mix of anti-ageing peptides, “reduces the appearance of wrinkles and gives skin firming benefits in just 3 weeks”, it’s a mix of Dimethyl Isosorbide (penetration enhancer – so the peptides can get to where they need to be), Polysorbate 20 (solubiliser), water Acetyl Tetrapeptide-11 and Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9
- Crystal complex – hmmm, sounds like marketing puffery 😉 truth – Charlotte Tilbury’s magic serum crystal elixir, contains crystal powders like ruby and quartz, these will be light reflecting so they’re likely to make your skin look instantly brighter and more even, in my opinion, they’re not doing much else
- Squisandryl – a fruit extract, “clinically proven to increase of skin resilience, elasticity and firmness”, collagen booster
- Niacinamide – I have so much love for this active, it’s a B vitamin and there really isn’t much it can’t do. It’s anti-ageing, skin tone evening, redness-reducing, brightening, soothing. Almost every skin type will love niacinamide. It’s the first active on the Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic serum ingredients list meaning there’s 2nd most of it. Wahoo. Psst, it’s also 1 of the 5 actives on my 5 best anti-ageing actives cheat sheet, you can grab a free copy here to find out the other 4 – it makes choosing great anti-ageing skincare, easy-peasy.
- Plant adaptogen extracts – I can’t help but giggle at the name of these, ‘resurrection leaf’ is one of them 😉 there are actually some heroes here, there’s magnolia extract (Schisandra Chinensis) which has anti-pollution benefits, is anti-inflammatory (psst; ageing is inflammatory) and anti-oxidant. Others can be brightening and skin thickening (psst; this is helpful as skin thins with age) – however some of these results are only in a test tube (what us scientists call in vitro, when it comes to claims it’s in vivo you want).
Bottom line; there are some really nice actives in Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic serum. Are they worth the £60 price tag? It’s probably more like a £40 serum, with the extra £20 being marketing money. What I do like is there’s a real breath of actives. This means lots of anti-ageing changes are being tackled. This can be a major drawback of serums like The Ordinary and The INKEY list, they’re cheaper, but they’re also mono-active and mono-focus.
Charlotte’s Magic Serum Review; The extras you asked & mentioned
When Allison emailed me back to say heck yes I want to know if Charlotte Tilbury anti-ageing magic serum truly is ground breaking, she made a fantastic point. Their Magic Crystal cream comes in a jar.
Not fab because every time you open it up, oxygen gets in – bad news for antioxidants as oxygen uses them up (plus the bacteria from your fingers gets in too). First point also applies for this dropper serum, it would be even better if it was a pump.
If you do grab yourself a trial bottle of Charlotte’s Magic Serum be sure to pop the dropper back on pronto.
Sharon emailed me back to say she’d already been trialling the serum. Exciting right. After using for about a week she mentioned her skin was feeling better. And she gave herself a cold shower moment – is this just the psychological effect?
What I think is also great about Charlotte’s magic serum is the number of humectant actives aka water magnets, there’s your bog-standard like glycerin, then there’s your advanced like polyglutamic acid.
These are not alone, there are also more.
Keeping your skin well hydrated is not to be underestimated. This is a fantastic way to not only improve the health of your skin but to also anti-age it. Plus hydration does a heck load for plumping away fine lines. These are the kind of benefits you can start to see quickly.
Karin also pointed out – there’s a heavy scent and Alida asked, ‘Heck yes [I want to know]! All these products claim to do good for your skin but I’m so sensitive and have been burned (literally!) by these things before!’.
If you’re sensitive to fragrance or have sensitive skin like Alida, Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic serum is not for you. There are several allergens in the mix – you can see these on the end of the ingredients list as Limonene, Geraniol, Citronellol, Linalool and Citral. Sorry Alida, this one’s a no-go for you.
And Jo asked, ‘it would be handy to know whether to buy or avoid’. I couldn’t give you a Charlotte’s magic serum review without a verdict eh.
Here it is, avoid if you have very sensitive skin. If you have non-sensitive skin, then heck yes, I actually would say this is a fair serum to trial for anti-ageing. It’s deeply hydrating, has some actives which would give your skin an instant perk plus has 2 out of 3 in the antioxidant trio, no vitamin A but lots of vitamin B and that golden vitamin C. It is pricier, however, it’s also an all-in-1 formula. And that price tag is comparable to other all-in-1 formulas.
And don’t forget to also grab your free copy of my 5 best anti-ageing actives cheatsheet – find out if Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic serum has them all by downloading yours here.
Over to you my friend. Do you have a question about this in-depth, Charlotte’s Magic Serum review? Ask me your questions in the chat below. Even better, have you tried the serum yourself? Let others know what you think. And as always, there are those sharing buttons to send this knowledge bomb onto someone you love. You are the best.
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.