Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum Review

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum Review

Vitamin C serums are all the rage at the moment. In fact, it is probably rare these days to find a brand that has not jumped aboard the Vitamin C serum trend train. Dermalogica is no exception. Created by the International Dermal Institute, Dermalogica was introduced to focus on products with ingredients that promote skin health without causing irritation or breakouts. The Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum reviewed here is one of their more recent additions.

So why is vitamin c the current ‘it girl’ of skincare ingredients?

Well, that would be largely due to the wide-variety of scientifically evidenced skin benefits that it offers.


Vitamin C Skin Benefits

Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, which is something that decreases as we naturally age. This decrease in collagen is drastically enhanced when the skin experiences large and accumulative amounts of UV exposure. When the skin is exposed to UV radiation, free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) are formed. These free radicals cause inflammation and changes to cellular DNA, destroying collagen and elastin in the process and potentially leading to some forms of skin cancers.

Antioxidants, such as vitamin c, co-exist to protect the skin from this free radical damage. In fact, vitamin C is the most abundant antioxidant in the skin. Unfortunately, even with very high doses of oral vitamin C, only a small amount will be available for use by the skin. For this reason, topical application of vitamin C, such as vitamin C serums, are required to maintain sufficient skin levels of vitamin C [1].

Furthermore, while sunscreen protects skin from the majority of UV radiation-induced damage, it can only block 55% of the free radicals produced by UV exposure [2]. This means that antioxidant serums, such as the Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum, should be used in conjunction with daily sunscreen use.

Vitamin C also inhibits an enzyme known as tyrosinase, which is the main enzyme involved in the production of melanin. This means that vitamin C serums can decrease melanin production, reduce pigmentation, and brighten skin tone [3]. In fact, some topical vitamin C formulations have been shown to be as effective as topical hydroquinone therapy at reducing hyperpigmentation [4].

Another crucial role of vitamin C is in the formation and regulation of lipids and ceramides in the stratum corneum (the outer most layer of the skin responsible for the skins barrier function) [5]. This means that it can help enhance the skins barrier function and increase skin hydration.

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C also make it a potent anti-inflammatory and redness-reducer, which means that it may help improve inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. In fact, research suggests that some forms of vitamin C are very effective at improving acne [6].

Finally, vitamin C can also improve the appearance of capillary skin (e.g. reduce the appearance of fine thread veins), and promote wound healing, which makes it an excellent candidate for improving post inflammatory erythema [7].

So, now you may be sold on why vitamin C is such an in-demand ingredient and a focal point for this Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum Review. But what do the other ingredients offer in Dermalogica’s vitamin C serum?


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Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum Ingredients

The full ingredients as listed on the Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum package are:

Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Lactic Acid, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Seed Extract, Sodium PCA, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract, Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Aminopropyl Ascorbic Phosphate, Polyacrylate-13, Propanediol, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Polyisobutane, Methylpropanediol, Carrageenan, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl, Polyacrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, Limonene, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol.

According to Dermalogica’s website, of these, the active ingredients in their Biolumin-C serum are:

  • Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate, Aminopropyl Ascorbic Phosphate)
  • Lactic Acid
  • Sophora Japonica Flower Extract
  • Salvia Hispanica (Chia Seed) Oil

In most cases, cosmetic ingredients lists display the ingredients in descending order of concentration. In other words, the ingredients with the highest concentrations are listed at the beginning. This means that the active ingredient with the highest concentration in the Dermalogica Biolumin-C serum is Lactic Acid. Could it be argued then that it is more accurate to refer to Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C serum as a lactic acid serum rather than a vitamin C serum?

Either way, lactic acid, and vitamin C compliment each other as they both improve skin brightness. As mentioned earlier, vitamin C enhances the brightness of the skin by decreasing the production of pigment.


Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that can increase skin cell turnover and renewal, creating brighter skin in the process. In addition, AHAs can increase skin thickness and firmness, improve skin softness, and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles [8]. Furthermore, topical application of lactic acid can increase the levels of stratum corneum ceramide levels and reduce the water lost from the epidermis (trans-epidermal water loss: TEWL), resulting in an improved lipid barrier and increasing skin hydration [9].


Other Ingredients

There are a number of other great ingredients packed into the Dermalogica Biolumen-C Serum. Here’s a quick rundown of what they do:

  • Chia Seed Oil – Rich in n-3 fatty acids, as well as alpha-linolenic acid and flavonol, chia seed oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can improve skin hydration[10].
  • Sophora Japonica Flower Extract – Rich in fatty acids, amino acids, and polysaccharides, S. Japonica has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is used as a whitening agent due to its ability to inhibit tyrosinase and thus pigment production [11].
  • Palmitoyl Tripeptide 5 – A peptide that can increase the production of collagen as well as prevent the breakdown of existing collagen [12].
  • Hyaluronic Acid – Is able to form a film on the surface of the skin to reduce the loss of water from the epidermis (TEWL) as well as acting as a humectant to draw water into the skin and increase the water content of the epidermis [13].
  • Vitamin E – A fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect the skin from the free radical damage caused by UV radiation. It is particularly effective when combined with vitamin C and ferulic acid [14].

Dermalogica claim that the Biolumin-c Serum can work with the skin’s natural defenses to:

  • Brighten – by exfoliating and reducing pigmentation
  • Firm – by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Defend – by preventing and correcting free radical damage

Indeed, the science behind the ingredients appears to support these claims.

So, enough of the science. What is it actually like to use the serum?

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum Review – Personal Use, Results, & Opinion

Time for some anecdotal evidence. After all, research can only give us a basic idea of what we may expect from Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C Serum. Of course, your experience may vary but here is what I found…

Before we go any further, here’s a bit of background information to make it easier to understand whether you could expect similar results:

Female, early 30’s, fair skin (type I), first signs of aging (mainly some fine expression lines), combination skin prone to breakouts and post inflammatory erythema, and an avid sunscreen user.

I have very little pigmentation – a couple of freckles here and there but not the type of pigmentation that would benefit from this type of serum.

Note: This is not a sponsored review. I purchased this serum myself for my own personal use. However, this review does contain affiliate links.

First Impressions

The Biolumin-C Serum has a citrusy fragrance that, for some reason, reminds me of Christmas. I can’t quite pinpoint why the scent reminds me of Christmas, my closest guess is that it reminds me of the smell of fruit cake/ Christmas cake.

It comes in a white opaque bottle (to prevent the vitamin C serum from oxidizing in sunlight and losing its potency) with a glass dropper pipette.

Upon application, the serum feels quite thick and oily which made me a little nervous that it would cause me to break out. However, it absorbs into the skin and left my skin feeling nourished rather than greasy.

However, I used the Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance on top of the Biolumin-C serum and it did take quite a while for it all to soak in. I used the serum at night due to the fact that alpha-hydroxy-acids, such as lactic acid, can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Initial Results

I would have to say that I saw results almost straight away, largely due to the hydrating effect of Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C Serum. My fine lines appeared noticeably reduced and the next morning my skin definitely appeared brighter. I have a feeling that my skin really likes lactic acid.

Continued Results

While my fine lines weren’t too bad to begin with, they definitely appear reduced. I do think this is mainly due to the fact that my skin is far more hydrated than usual, but perhaps there has been a slight boost in collagen production as well. Particularly as my skin feels plumper and firmer.

One unexpected result from the Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum was the disappearance of a very fine broken capillary on the bridge of my nose. I’m not sure how long this took to disappear, I just noticed one day that it had disappeared. However, it is entirely possible that this is a coincidence and that it would have disappeared without the use of the serum. Either way, I thought that little broken capillary was with me for life, so I am pleasantly surprised that it has gone!

While I cannot comment on the pigment reducing abilities of Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C Serum, my skin is noticeably brighter and has a nice little glow to it. Plus, no breakouts!

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum Review Summarised


  • Brighter skin
  • Firmer skin
  • No breakouts
  • Skin is more hydrated
  • Smells like Christmas
  • Small broken capillary vanished
  • Fine lines slightly improved


  • Price
  • Can take a while to absorb into the skin
  • May make the skin more sensitive to sunlight


Overall, I would have to give Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C serum an 8/10 and I would highly recommend trying it out!Buy Now From Amazon



  1. Al-Niaimi, F. & Chiang, N. (2017). ‘Topical vitamin C and the skin: mechanisms of action and clinical applications’, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 10(7), 14-17. 
  2. Haywood, R., Wardman, P., Sanders, R. & Linge, C. (2003). ‘Sunscreens inadequately protect against ultraviolet-A-induced free radicals in the skin: implications for skin aging and melanoma?’, J Invest Dermatol, 121(4), 862-868. 
  3. Kameyama, K., Sakai, C., Kondoh, S. et al. (1996). ‘Inhibitory effect of magnesium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate (VC-PMG) on melanogenesis in vitro and in vivo’, J Am Acad Dermatol., 34(1), 29-33. 
  4. Espinal-Perez, L., Moncada, B. & Castanedo-Cazares, J. (2004). ‘A double-blind randomized trial of 5% ascorbic acid vs. 4% hydroquinone in melasma’, Int J Dermatol, 43(8), 604-607. 
  5. Ponec, M., Weerheim, A., Kempenaar, J., Mulder, A., Gooris, G., Bouwstra, J. & Mommass, A. (1997). ‘The formation of competent barrier lipids in reconstructed human epidermis requires the presence of vitamin C’, J Invest Dermatol, 109, 348-355. 
  6. Woolery-Lloyd, H., Baumann, L. & Ikeno, H. (2010). ‘Sodium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate 5% lotion for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial’, J Cosmet Dermatol., 9(1), 22-27. 
  7. Jaros, A., Zasada, M., Budzisz, E., Debowska, R., Gebczynska-Rzepka, M. & Rotsztejn, H. (2018). ‘Evaluation of selected skin parameters following the application of 5% vitamin C concentrate’, J Cos Derm., 18(1), pp. 236-241. 
  8. Brohem, C., Mambro, V., Lorencini, M. (2016). ‘Therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of epidermal aging’, Textbook of Aging Skin, 1917-1927. 
  9. Rawlings, A., Davies, A., Carlomusto, M., Pillai, S., Zhang, K., Kosturko, R., Verdejo, P., Feinberg, C., Nguyen, L. & Chandar, P. (1996). ‘Effect of lactic acid isomers on keratinocyte ceramide synthesis, stratum corneum lipid levels, and stratum corneum barrier function’, Arch Derm Res., 288(7), 383-390. 
  10. Jeong, S., Park, H., Park, B. & Kim, I. (2010). ‘Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritis of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers’, Ann Dermatol., 22(2), 143-148. 
  11. Lo, Y., Lin, R., Lin, Y., Liu, Y. & Lee, M. (2009). ‘Active constituents from Sophora japonica exhibiting cellular tyrosinase inhibition in human epidermal melanocytes’, J Ethnopharmacol., 124(3), 625-629. 
  12. Schagen, S. (2017). ‘Topical Peptide Treatments with Effective Anti-Aging Results’, Cosmetics, 4, 16. 
  13. Olejnik, A., Goscianska, J. & Nowak, I. (2012). ‘Significance of hyaluronic acid in the cosmetic industry and aesthetic medicine’, CHEMIK, 66(2), 129-135. 
  14. Keen, M. & Hassan, I. (2016). ‘Vitamin E in dermatology’, Indian Dermatol Online J., 7(4), 311-315. 


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  1. Amino propyl ascorbyl phosphate is a vitamin c derivative, however I couldn’t find much studies on it. Except the one done by the company producing it. It also most products containing it such as advanced clinical ls vitamin c serum tend to contain acids and you really can’t pin point which is working.

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