ILIA Beauty likes being the first. Since it was founded in 2011, the makeup brand has been a leader in the clean beauty space, and it has gained serious popularity for its skincare-forward makeup. With ILIA's latest launch, the C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 ($64), the brand is taking this reputation a step further. "It is a first of its kind and first to market," ILIA founder Sasha Plavsic tells Byrdie of the vitamin C and SPF serum. "We created a whole new technology with this product."
The goal was to create an oil-based formula that acts as a "true hybrid product," combining the benefits of vitamin C with the protection of a mineral-based sunscreen. This particular combination had never been done before—mainly because it's difficult to nail down. "Vitamin C is super picky, and it doesn’t swim well with SPF. That's why people haven't done it," Plavsic says. "They usually fight each other, so this is the first time you’ll see a mineral SPF and vitamin C together."
Despite the challenges, there's good reason to pair these ingredients. Per Plavsic, for daytime routines, you really "can't have one without the other." She explains, "Any type of skincare active that’s a true active"—aka, vitamin C—"needs that sun protection throughout the day as the light degrades your skin."
In other words, if you want the brightening benefits of vitamin C to remain effective throughout the day, you need to have a layer of sun protection on top—or, as is the case with C Beyond, in the formula itself. "Our SPF helps increase vitamin C's effectiveness by up to 200%," Plavsic explains.
Read on for all the details on ILIA's latest launch and our honest review.
ILIA C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, non-nano zinc oxide SPF 40, niacinamide, allantoin, jojoba oil, meadowfoam seed oil, squalane
Product Claims: Hydrating formula, featuring the protection of mineral SPF 40 and the brightening powers of Vitamin C
Why We Love It: An easy-to-use formula that combines SPF protection and vitamin C; fully recyclable bottle
For C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40, Plavsic was partially inspired by another ILIA product, the Super Serum Skin Tint. She says, "Skin Tint was inspired by me in the bathroom in the morning with my kid hanging off my leg and trying to get my moisturizer, my SPF, [and] everything all in one. And C Beyond was inspired by wanting to take that one step [further] and get into some serious skincare."
The serious skincare in question? High-potency vitamin C. Plavsic wanted to make it easier for skincare enthusiasts to incorporate this powerful active into their morning routines in a productive way. To do that, sunscreen needed to be involved, which is where things got interesting (see: complicated). "We had to continually find ways to stabilize the formula," Plavsic explains.
Approximately thirty iterations later, ILIA managed to create a formula that hit every mark on Plavsic's checklist. Plus, they ended up with something that could fill a hole in their current lineup. "Our complexion category was missing a whole block of people who won’t wear more coverage," she tells Byrdie. "I really feel like the people who don’t wear a lot of makeup will like this product."
Per Plavsic, this formula "sits in the land between makeup and skincare," but finding that perfect middle ground wasn't easy. It took the brand three years to formulate C Beyond—and that number three actually comes up a lot in this product. Its base is made of three oils: squalane, jojoba, and meadowfoam seed. It comes in three tones. And it incorporates three active ingredients: 10% L-ascorbic vitamin C, 2% niacinamide, and .5% of allantoin. Plus, SPF 40.
In other words, there's a lot going on. But, there's a careful balance to this combination that really works. As Plavsic explains, "The active ingredients are encapsulated before they go in, and then they’re dispersed into the formula. They're all floating in there, suspended in their own little cocoons." This formulation helps vitamin C stay effective. "It's encapsulated, so it doesn’t oxidize quickly. And then they can sit in that environment and live together in harmony," Plavsic adds. Until, of course, you pump it out of the bottle.
Once you do, you can see that the formula is tinted, yet another aspect of this product's balancing act. Many of C Beyond's ingredients are white powders (vitamin C, niacinamide, allantoin, and SPF mineral zinc). So, un-tinted, the formula would come up with a white cast, especially on deeper skin tones. "We wanted to ensure that we were inclusive, and that’s why we made tones," Plavsic says.
But even with the slight tint, this serum is only about 10% makeup. Once applied to your skin, the formula is extremely sheer. "It’s meant to make your skin look a little bit smoother, a little more refined, with a soft glow," Plavsic says. "You’re getting all of that sunscreen and those active benefits without the stickiness, without the white cast, and without really any makeup." The result? Barely-there coverage with a noticeable glow and major skincare benefits.
Hannah Kerns, Beauty News Writer
I've always heard great things about ILIA's Skin Tint, but I've never been overly determined to try it. On an everyday basis, I shy away from foundations, even the lightweight ones. That said, when I heard about C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40, I was intrigued. I love a 2-in-1 formula, especially one that involves two cornerstones of skincare: vitamin C and sunscreen.
C Beyond did not disappoint. The formula, though oil-based, felt like a serum when I put it on my skin. The tint disappeared almost instantly, leaving behind a glowy finish that acted as an ideal, moisture-rich base for the rest of my makeup. Even if there weren't serious skincare benefits, I would use this just as a primer. That said, the added draw of vitamin C and SPF has made this a new staple in my morning routine.