I’ve always liked vitamin C serums – in fact, I think they were the first antioxidant anti-aging treatments I had ever heard of when my dermatologist sold me some tiny, expensive vial some 20 years ago. I was glad to agree when TIA suggested I try a new one, the NCN Pro Skin Care Vitamin C+ Serum ($39.95).

And, coincidentally, when I was only about two weeks into my test of this serum, Marta posted her Five Best Vitamin C Serums of 2013, which served to remind me how many really great vitamin C-based products there are. I haven’t tried all of TIA’s Five Best (though both YBF CE Concentrate and YBF Restore are long-time favorites), but even if this one didn’t make the cut, it was a moderately priced and simply formulated offering that might appeal to many readers.

It’s turned out to be a perfect fit for the past month of really hot, sticky weather in the Northeast. As instructed, I’ve used the serum generally both morning and night, either with just a dab of moisturizer or nothing else except eye cream. The serum does contain hyaluronic acid and another moisturizer, sea kelp bioferment, so even with its high concentration of vitamin C, it hasn’t – at least in tropical New York – been at all drying. In fact, my skin feels hydrated and smooth, and I would say that this intensive application of C and E has brightened my skin and improved its evenness, even fading some pigmentation, over that time.

The serum comes in a plain, dark-colored glass pump (to prevent oxidation) covered with a plastic top; it may annoy the fastidious that this is a bit messier and drippier than the more common sealed pump. That aside, it’s been perfectly easy to use. According to the NCN website, L-ascorbic acid is the form of C that absorbs best – I know that other products use different forms. And the addition of glutathione, a peptide and powerful antioxidant that gets quite of lot of attention itself, stabilizes it. The other claims to note are that the 20% concentration of vitamin C is the most effective, and that the pH of 2.0 allows the serum penetrate the skin. That’s interesting since it’s a higher concentration than typically seen in these products, as far as I can tell.

NCN Pro is a broad line with many offerings in several categories, including serums, lotions, and creams – and seem to be pretty no-nonsense in style and reasonably priced. At $39.95 for 1.3 ounces, the vitamin C+ serum is a decent value. It’s probably a good choice for someone looking for a very high C concentration and a straightforward formulation of C, E, and ferulic acid.

Ingredients: Water, L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Hyaluronic Acid, Glutathione, Sea Kelp Bioferment, Oat Beta Glucan, Vitamin E (mixture of Tocopherols & Tocotrienols), Ferulic Acid, Optiphen