The serious glow-givers in Boots' under £15 Radiance+ range gives Murad a run for its money
We can always rely on Boots No7 to deliver high-performing skincare at purse-friendly prices. Last year its first-ever retinol, Advanced Retinol Night Concentrate to great acclaim hitting the sweet spot of retinol tolerance of 0.3%. With this new vitamin C range, No7 Radiance+, the brand is nailing another of the key actives recommended by experts. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects against internal and external stresses, as well as brightening and evening out the skin by inhibiting the overproduction of melanin that leads to dark spots.
The collection of five products includes a serum, toner, moisturiser, exfoliating cleanser and eye masks priced between £7.70 and £15 as a launch offer. The most expensive thing in the range is the Radiance+ 15% Vitamin C Serum , £15 (normally £20) a high-strength formula with vitamin C in the form of ethyl ascorbic acid.
Eagle-eyed skincare lovers will notice the collection is reminiscent of Murad’s Vita-C Complex which launched in spring 2020, priced from £56 to £72.
Murad’s Vita-C collection is full of heavy-hitting ingredients with highly stable vitamin C (it can go off very easily turning it from a protective antioxidant to a damaging prooxidant if not formulated properly or exposed to light). It's Glycolic Brightening Serum , £72 and Vita-C Dark Circle Corrector , £56, earn their hefty price tag thanks to a combination of gold-stabilised pure l-ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD), a highly bioavailable and absorbable vitamin C derivative plus a dose of body's master antioxidant glutathione , which works in synergy with vitamin C to recycle it, giving it extra life in your skin.
No7's lower price points bring with them less sophisticated formulae but the opportunity to buy into one of the key ingredients that experts recommend for brightening at a lower price point. Word of caution, Vitamin C is (in most formulations) an acid, so if you are using other acids, say in your toner, your skin may become sensitized.
Experts advise, for noticeable results, to look for potency of between ten and 20 per cent vitamin C and at 15 per cent, Radiance+ 15% Vitamin C Serum ,sits well in that bracket. The serum promises to reveal radiant skin after just one use. It has a citrus scent (no surprise) and a light, gel texture thanks to hydrating hyaluronic acid and castor oil. High strength vitamin C can sting, so the addition of calming allantoin to this formula is a good buffer. Murad’s Glycolic Brightening Serum works in a similar way, with the addition of glycolic acid as well as subtle gold light-reflecting particles.
An exfoliating toner is now part of most people's everyday regime and the £9 toner in this range No7 Radiance + Vitamin C Glow Toner , has it all with two per cent vitamin C in an alcohol-free formula with BHA acids (use sunscreen afterwards), willow bark extract as well as calming aloe vera and moisturising castor oil.
The Radiance+ Daily Energising Exfoliating Cleanser , £11.25, is a foaming formula thanks to sodium laureth sulfate that uses glycolic acid to lift off dead skin cells and apricot seed powder to buff away dirt and grime. It has a gel texture with exfoliating balls inside. Vitamin C comes in the form of citric acid and ethyl ascorbic acid.
Fans of a face mask will love the Illuminating Hydrogel Eye Masks , £7.50 for five pairs, making them exceptional value. They’re soaked in serum to give an instant glow to the under-eye area - a quick fix before that early morning Zoom call. They contain magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a form of vitamin c that is not acidic and is less irritating for the delicate eye area.
Murad’s Vita-C Dark Circle Corrector, £56, is more of a long-haul product that brightens and colour corrects as well as banishing puffiness.
The Vitamin C Daily Brightening Moisturiser , £10.50 has a gel texture thanks to silicone. It also contains alcohol to give it that 'sink in' feeling, but which can be drying. Vitamin C can oxidize when exposed to air, making it less effective, however, No7 have used ascorbyl glucoside here , which is a stabilised form of vitamin C (as fans of The Ordinary's Ascorbyl Glucoside serum , £8.75, will know. Dr Sam Bunting also uses this form in her Flawless Brightly Serum). Ideally, vitamin C should be in opaque containers with airless pumps (which you'll find in the Murad products) for maximum stability.