Review: Drunk Elephant – C-Firma Vitamin C Serum (2021 Reformulation)

Where to purchase: Cult Beauty (LINK) / Sephora (LINK) / Boots: LINK

NOTE: My Review of the Previous C-Firma Formulation: LINK

Price: £67

Volume: 28ml

Made in: The USA

What is it + What does it do: A potent Vitamin C Day Serum (containing an Antioxidant complex) meant to brighten the skin and reduce collagen breakdown (i.e. promote well-ageing). This also contains Fruit Enzymes (to help resurface the surface of the skin) and Skin Beneficial ingredients to also help with skin brightening and well-ageing (reduce the signs of photodamage).

What’s the difference between this and the previous C-Firma Serum?: This Serum needs to be mixed by you, which means that it remains fresh UNTIL you open and mix the ingredients together (so it can be as potent as possible for the first uses). The previous version oxidised very quickly since it had already been mixed before purchasing. So, DE have reformulated SO this product comes with the Vitamin C Powder that you mix into the solution before clicking it into the anti-air and anti-sunlight packaging to keep it fresher for longer.

Aims to: Reduce the signs of ageing and photodamage (i.e. dark marks and fine lines and skin elasticity) to promote a brighter-looking tone.

Supposedly Good for: All Skin Types

What I think: I would not recommend this to sensitive skins (this will sting). I do think Dry + Mature skins would prefer this over Oily-combination skins.


Note: The pump gets messy. The product dries up and collects at the hole.

Vegan?: Yes

Cruelty Free?: Yes

How long does it last after opening?:

pH: 2.5 (So quite acidic!).

Packaging: Plastic outer and inner packaging. There is a tube that contains the Ascorbic Acid Powder, and then another plastic bottle that contains the liquid. So, you pour the liquid into the tube with the powder; this activates/starts the serum (and the oxidation process). You attach the tube to do the lid of the serum that you will pump with, then shake for 30 seconds, and then you click everything into place.

NOTE: The Serum should last for Six Months (no need to refrigerate).

(Pictures and Video Demo down below):

  1. The Box

2. The Plastic Packaging you will put the mixture into + click the lid into.

3. The Lid + the Ascorbic Acid powder ready in a tube.

4. You will put the left into the right and click it shut (to keep the air out.

5. This is the Liquid Serum base. When ready, you open this and pour into the Ascorbic Acid Powder Tube, shaking as instructed.

6. This is when I added the liquid into the powder and now the powder has fully dissolved into the mixture. It’s not fully transparent, but is slightly yellow. I then put that into the plastic outer packaging, clicking it shut (see video below for demo).

How long does this last for?: This should last 6 months after opening.

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Video of Packaging:

Directions: Can be used both in the AM and PM. However applying a Vitamin C Serum underneath an SPF will improve its photoprotective abilities (reduce free radical damage).

  • Drunk Elephant recommend applying this to the face, neck, chest and back of hands.

How I use it: I apply this in the AM and PM using 2 pumps (for face and neck), I use whatever is leftover on the back of the hands. I apply this underneath a moisturiser.

Key Ingredients: 15% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – This antioxidant ingredient helps protect the skin from free radical damage, improves the look of dark spots and also helps reduce the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin (promotes well-ageing). 0.5% Ferulic Acid pairs well with Vitamin C (Helps prolong the oxidation of this formula and also helps improve Vitamin C + E) and Vitamin E is also added to help stabilise and improve the formula. These 3 antioxidants together help reveal a firmer, brighter and more even-looking tone.

Liquorice root extract (Brightening) + Hyaluronic Acid (Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer) – Hydrating ingredient meant to penetrate further into the skin. Helps plump the skin + Pumpkin Ferment and Pomegranate Extract + Gluconolactone (PHA) + Lactobacillus Extract – gentle skin exfoliating + smoothening (Helps boost the C-Firma antioxidant complex’s into the skin).

Grape Extract, Indian Gooseberry, Chronocyclin + Green Tea – Antioxidants (promote well-ageing + de-stresses the skin). Chronocyclin (Anti-ageing peptide that helps promote Vitamin D production in the skin).

Full Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ascorbic Acid, Laureth-23, Glycerin, Tocopherol, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Ferulic Acid, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Propanediol, Gluconolactone, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Pentylene Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sorbic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin.

NOTE: The Incidecoder have a full ingredient breakdown HERE

Texture: This is a watery formula. However, it feels kind of oily and once it’s dried down, it forms a film on the skin which doesn’t feel comfortable. This does feel hydrating however.

Does the texture differ from the original version?: No, same tackiness and thickness.

Is this Lightweight?: It’s a liquid, so in that sense; yes. But it still has a feeling of thickness when applying (hence why I think Dry Skins > Oily Skins).

Sticky Finish?: Yes. Especially the more you add, the stickier this gets, and moisturiser doesn’t seem to erase the stickiness.

Greasy Finish?: No (but it kind of feels greasy when applying and spreading).

Does this stain pillows?: Yes. Especially if you add more and if you sleep, face on the pillow; it will stain.

Does this ball up?: No.

  • As you can see, this still runs down the hand.

Does this Sting if the Skin has been Irritated / Sensitised by Shaving/Heavy Retinol Use?: Yes.

Summer or Winter?: For my Oily-Combo Skin and the stickiness/texture of this; it works better for me in the Winter. But Dry skins could use this all year.

Layerable?: You can technically apply product on top and there’s no balling up BUT, I have tried to use moisturisers with all types of textures to try and reduce that sticky finish, and it doesn’t work! The stickiness seeps through all additional layers on top and then my face sticks to my pillow.


Video Swatch:

  • I hope you can tell how much this product has oxidised! Definitely haven’t got much time with it before it becomes mute.

Fragrance?: No added Fragrance and/or EO. However I don’t like the scent of this. It smells sour.

Good Under Makeup?: No. It feels sticky too, so I don’t know if the texture would feel pleasant.

How long have I been using this?: 3-4 Months.

Will I use until Completion?: I don’t really want to, but I will since it’s so pricey!

How Long will that take?: Another Month or Two (DE have stated this lasts 6 months, so yes it’s roughly correct).

The Effect?: This does help boost the skin. I have noticed a brighter tone and improved look of fine lines. But it is hard to keep using this product even with the good results, due to the texture for me. This does also hydrate the skin.

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What I like:

  • Fragrance + EO Free
  • Vegan + Cruelty-Free
  • Hydrating
  • Good packaging (I.e. tried to make this last for 6 months (whereas some Vitamin C Serums only last 3).
  • Doesn’t ball up
  • Did help improve the skin’s condition

What I don’t like:

  • Sticky finish (really off-putting)
  • Forms a sort of film on the skin once absorbed and dried down which I don’t find pleasant.
  • Still racing against the clock to use this before it fully oxidises
  • Expensive
  • Don’t like the scent
  • Stains my pillows

Overall Rating and Conclusion: 3.8 (nearly a 3.7)/5 – The actives in here are great. I like the ingredients added. This definitely does help boost and brighten the skin. However I just can’t get over the smell, and the texture. I really don’t like the stickiness of this product, and nothing I add on top will stop it from being sticky. It makes a mess on my pillow too. It almost feels like a syrup on the skin, and it’s just not a comfortable feeling. I’ve tried to add less and it still doesn’t. I appreciate that this lasts slightly longer than the Paula’s Choice C15 Serum, especially for the price; but I still feel like I’m racing against the clock to finish this before it fully oxidises.

Would I repurchase?: No. It’s too sticky, too pricey and doesn’t smell that great for my taste.

Dupe?: The Paula’s Choice Vitamin C Booster has a less-sticky texture, but oxidises quicker (LINK).

If you would like to see what other Vitamin C products I have reviewed, then check it out HERE.

My Skin Type: I am acne prone and have slightly dehydrated combo skin. My skin is usually tight where the cheeks and eye area is and the outer parts of my face. My T zone is oily. My skin isn’t a fan of thick/heavy formulas so I opt for lightweight formulas to prevent it from clogging up. My skin doesn’t like essential oils either and I try to avoid fragrance when I can.

Disclaimer: I am a skincare enthusiast and not a skin expert. I am not qualified to give out dermatological advice. This type of advice should only be given by a medical practitioner. Upon trying / using any of the reviewed products on the blog, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings and please seek medical advice if needed.

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