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Nutra-Lift Maximum C, CSS C+E Ferulic, YBF - reviewed and recommended

Cosmetic Skin Solutions C+E Ferulic Serum
Is a Solution for:
Sagging Skin
March 29, 2011 Reviewed by Emily 9 Comments

After Marta’s end-of-February post on “What’s New in the Truth in Aging Store” I put in a plea for more Nutra-Lift in the shop; and after Marta added the Maximum C-Ultra Serum she replied to my comment about this product and CSS by asking for feedback on the Cosmetic Skin Solutions offering.  I told her then I’d do my best to comment on my experiences, given that TIA has brought forth an embarrassment of riches and introduced me to several serums that work well and provide great value.

I had discovered the Nutra-Lift Maximum C-Ultra when I first became aware of the line here on TIA a couple of years ago.  To me, this is a multitasking and very useful product and at $37 for an ounce (which goes a long way) a remarkably good value. It boasts vitamin C in several forms as well as DMAE (which I understand is somewhat controversial), hyaluronic acid, and vitamins D and E, minerals, etc. It has more body than the typical serum — almost somewhere between a serum and a lotion — and I find it very moisturizing.  In fact, I used it all summer without a moisturizer under sunscreen; and when I remember, I put a bit on my hands after finishing my face.   Like other Nutra-Lift products, it comes in a low-tech pump (so of course at the end I unscrew the nozzle to eke out the last globs), which delivers the product easily.  I will certainly keep Maximum C around; right now I’m typically using it mornings, under moisturizer, and suspect I’ll lean on it more heavily when (and if) summer ever comes.

But then Marta’s clever “product twins” theme caught my attention (especially the video!) and I was curious about the Cosmetic Skin Solutions C+E Ferulic Serum, which she also anointed (as it were) in late January as one of the TIA Five Best vitamin C serums. And when I decided to try it, CSS (on Amazon) was offering the C+E in combination with their Hydrating B5 Gel for a total of $59.95 (for an ounce of both) — so of course I bit. (It looks like the special is still on, by the way.)  I’ve been experimenting with this duo for about five or six weeks, and again have to say that they are a great pair for the price.  You’ve already seen the TIA writeup on the C+E serum; the Hydrating B5 Gel offers B5 (pantothenic acid) with, again, sodium hyaluronate.

These products really go on smooth and silky, as the CSS website claims; both are clear liquid serums. And they’ve been helpful — my skin feels nourished and smooth, more hydrated, in better overall shape — I do particularly notice a difference when I wake up.  My only caveat about these products is that they come in nice, simple glass bottles with eyedroppers. This fits their no-nonsense and vaguely scientific branding, but has a couple of drawbacks. I hadn’t thought about until I read several comments by TIA readers, but this kind of packaging — versus the airless pumps other companies use — exposes the product to air and thus, oxidation.  And it makes them quite a bit harder to apply.  (I’ve concluded I have to put a few drops in my palm and then put on to the face; otherwise they just run all over.)  Having said that, I like the pair and their performance so far, and will continue with them (the bottles are about half full at this point).  I’m using them at night, after cleansing, and before moisturizer and eye cream.

It seems that the C+E Ferulic Serum is a winner, but the Hydrating B Gel, given the use of phenoxyethanol — maybe not so much.

I couldn’t complete this comparison without mention of Your Best Face, which has again delivered with their (fairly new) Hydrate B Concentrate ($45 in the TIA shop) and Antioxidants Concentrate ($55 in the TA shop).  They’ve been extensively reviewed here on TIA, and they’re great.  They aren’t, obviously, C serums but they should be mentioned here, since we’re talking about many of the same goodies in different combinations.  Hydrate B includes sodium hyaluronate, B5 (panthenol), niacin (B3), and DMAE; antioxidants, ferulic acid and vitamin E, in addition to YBF’s signature ingredients.  They both come in the far better engineered airless pump that YBF always uses, which is preferable both for precision and potency—as well as cleanliness!  Following Marta’s suggestion I’m currently using Antioxidants Concentrate when running the Sirius Aurora, but I will certainly keep both on hand for use alone or with Restore, YBF’s “C and more” serum.  I went with Restore exclusively for a month in January when I stuck with an YBF regime, and though it’s expensive ($120 in the TIA store), it’s a wonderful C product.

I guess the moral is that there are many good delivery vehicles to get these ingredients to your skin.  There are differences in packaging and ease of use.  But I’d love to hear from TIA what the most effective ways to combine these actives are, and what constitutes the recommended or optimal use of C, E, and B vitamins for aging skin.  In the meantime, these are all, in my experience, worthwhile and effective choices. Thanks!

Ingredients in Nutra-Lift Maximum C:

Deionized water, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl glucosamine, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, L-ascorbic acid, tetrahexydecyl ascorbate, lecithin (phosphatidylcholine), DMAE, A-lipoic acid, hyaluronic acid (pure), super-oxide dismutase (SOD), mushroom beta glucan, CoQ10, natural tocoperols (vitamin E) L-carnitine, ionic calcium, magnesium, vitamin D (ergocalciferol), boron, xanthum gum, orange rind extract, copper sulfate, zinc.

Ingredients in CSS CE Ferulic:

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Asorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate.

Ingredients in CSS Hydrating B Gel

Aqua (water), Sodium Hyaluronate, Pantothenic Acid, Phenoxyethanol

Ingredients in YBF Hydrate B:

Reverse osmosis water, vitamin B5, sodium hyaluronate, niacin B3, dimethylamioethanol (DMAE), paraben DU

Ingredients in Your Best Face Restore:

Reverse osmosis water, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (vitamin C), alpha arbutin, ppg5 ceteth-20, vitamin B5, dimethyl isosorbide,niacin, spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone), vitamin e, c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, sodium hyaluronate, polysorbate-20, Lipochroman-6 (dimethylmethoxy chromanol), triethanolamine, paraben du

  • February 23, 2015

    by Alice

    The heading says NUTRA LIFT, however, the bottle shown says COSMETIC SKIN SOLUTIONS. They are 2 different products, which one was actually reviewed?

  • September 13, 2011

    by Kate

    Maybe I missed it, but I don't understand what the "performance" is. What exactly do these products claim to do, besides moisturizing? And do they do it? Emily says she is happy with their performance and value without ever saying-at least that I found - exactly what they do other than making the face feel smooth. For my money, any moisturizer will do that. And, if she is using all these products at once, all together, how does she know what is working for what issue or not? Help!

  • August 2, 2011

    by Crystal

    Can the CSS CE Ferulic be used under the eye area or is it too harsh?

  • April 11, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Mike, thanks for the tip about face shaving - you aren't the first guy to have mentioned it here: . I have to admit that I'm a bit too squeamish to give it a try.

  • April 11, 2011

    by Mike

    Thanks for this interesting post.

    I purchased the same C+E/B5 package from Amazon. I've noticed a huge difference, especially around my neck. I have really deep "tree rings" in my neck, and the serums along with other methods have helped me out.

    A sunscreen goes on really smoothly over the B5 gel.

    I know most of you are women, but for the men reading this: I use the serums after shaving. It's a perfect aftershave, and actually is sort of a mini-facial. A man's pores are open after shaving, and thus should be a great time for the serums.

    I've also begun shaving/running the razor blade over my forehead (with the grain of the skin); the skin near the temples where crow's feet form; and my neck. "Shaving" my full face has eliminated some of the some fine lines that had formed, and has evened out the tree rings around my neck.

  • April 7, 2011

    by Carolyn

    I've loved the CSS CE Ferulic for a couple of years now, but I do have a question: if it oxidizes, is it no longer useful? Is it better to find the sample sizes or it ordering the regular-size container o.k., knowing it may oxidize? Should I store the regular-size container in the refrigerator? TIA (that's Thanks In Advance : ))!

  • March 31, 2011

    by marta

    I was amused to find that CSS Hydrating B Gel has a product twin and once again it is Skinceuticals. The Skinceuticals Hydrating B Gel has the exact same formula as the one by CSS that Emily mentions. The price for the CSS for 1oz is $24.95 and the price for the Skinceuticals 1oz is $67.

  • March 30, 2011

    by Sunday

    Thank You Emily for all your homework!!! I really enjoyed this article of comparison ~ your post helps me immensely what with my decision to quit Retinols and go in another direction entirely. I also love the price point on most of these products. I have come to rely on all the efforts put forth on TIA and really appreciate the time it must have taken you to compare...Thank You for your "worthwhile and effective choices".

  • March 29, 2011

    by Mark

    Hi Emily -
    what a timely post - I went back to using Skinceuticals CE Ferulic a few weeks ago especially around my eyes and it does make a difference. It hydrates and brightens around the eye area and doesn't cause any problems for my oily skin. I found a great deal on ebay for a pack of six 5ml (approx) sample bottles with droppers for $30. No more problem of exposing the whole bottle to air and it is perfect for travel. Stored in the refrigerator, the liquid begins clear and stays clear since the smaller size bottle is used up before oxidation has time to turn it amber. Thanks for a great post.

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