I am 39 years old with combination skin (a very oily t-zone; normal to dry elsewhere) that is on the sensitive side and prone to redness. I have fine lines, wrinkles and some light hyperpigmentation. For the past 30 days, I have been testing Deciem NIOD Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network ($70), or ELAN for short.
ELAN is a vitamin C serum that includes a 30 percent concentration of ethylated L-ascorbic acid along with a few other antioxidant ingredients — superoxide dismutase, selenium and zinc. According to the company website, these ingredients provide a “strong fight against oxidation while enhancing barrier function, balancing visible discoloration, reviving skin tone, and supporting collagen production and repair mechanisms.”
Like many other vitamin C serums, ELAN is packaged in a glass bottle with a dropper to dispense the serum. I have tried a few other L-ascorbic acid serums, and they have typically had a water-like consistency. In contrast, ELAN has the consistency of a dry oil. I personally prefer the dry oil consistency, because it doesn’t absorb as quickly as the watery serums and it is thus easier to spread a drop of serum across a larger surface area. Of course, this could be a drawback for those who enjoy near-instant absorption. ELAN absorbed fully into my skin within a few minutes.
One of the major distinguishing factors of ELAN is that it is a stabilized form of L-ascorbic acid that does not need to be refrigerated. ELAN uses an ethylated form of L-ascorbic acid that is solubilized in water-free esther. This formulation prevents the oxidization to which other vitamin C serums are prone. Throughout my 30-day trial, I kept ELAN in my bathroom and it is still as clear as when I first opened the bottle.
Also unlike the other L-ascorbic acid serums that I’ve tried, ELAN is supposed to be used at night rather than in the morning. This struck me as odd because it had been my understanding that vitamin C serums should be used in the morning in order to provide antioxidant protection. After a quick search on the internet, I found that morning application is not required for a vitamin C serum to provide UV protection. Skin is able to build up a storage of vitamin C. One study found that tissue saturation of vitamin C at a 20 percent concentration occurred within three days of use with a half-life of approximately four days. (It should be noted that the study also found that tissue levels of L-ascorbic acid increased and was maximal at a concentration of 20 percent and tissue levels of L-ascorbic acid decreased with concentrations that were higher than 20 percent — ELAN has a 30 percent concentration).
In my search for whether or not vitamin C serum should be applied in the morning or evening, I also found that some dermatologists are recommending using antioxidants at night. Recent research shows that UV damage continues hours after being in the sun. Further, free radical activity occurs during the rejuvenation process at night.
At the conclusion of my 30-day trial, I am on the fence about whether or not I would purchase ELAN after I am finished with the bottle that I was sent. I have experienced positive benefits with its use, such as more even skin tone, a healthier glow, more refined texture and a slight reduction in my hyperpigmentation. But, I have also experienced those benefits with cheaper vitamin C serums. However, with some other vitamin C serums that I have tested, I have also experienced some stinging. ELAN did not sting my thin facial skin at all, so it gets strong thumbs up for sensitive skin.
I am also concerned that ELAN uses an L-ascorbic acid concentration that is less than optimal according to research. I am curious as to why they chose a 30 percent concentration over a 20 percent concentration. Ultimately, the biggest attraction that ELAN has for me is the stability of the serum. Having to keep a serum in the fridge has led to inconsistent use and total abandonment of other vitamin C serums. Not having to run to the fridge or worry about oxidization is thus a huge plus in my book and makes me lean toward continuing to use it long-term.