Review: Gloss Radiant Shot (a high potency yet non-irritating vitamin C serum)

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m always banging on about the wonder of retinol. Personally, I use Dermaceutic’s 1% but because it’s nice and sterk I can’t use it every day or I’ll irritate my skin. So, on non-retinol days, I tend to slap on vitamin C. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the next best thing when it comes to multi-tasking like a boss. Much like retinol, vitamin C is a kick ass antioxidant, encourages your skin to produce more collagen and can lighten up the look of pigmentation. Essentially all the things that retinol can do, but to a slightly lesser degree of efficacy. In short, retinol is Batman and vitamin C is Robin.

Still, not all forms of vitamin C are created equally. Of all the kinds you could buy, L-ascorbic acid is the most potent. He’ll give you the best collagen-boost for your buck BUT he’s also super-duper unstable. You have to package him carefully – (no air, no light) and ensure he’s at the right pH or he’ll lose his mojo. Then, the moment he hits your face, he starts to degrade (Light! Air! OMG!) And it gets worse… thanks to all his big dick energy, he’ll irritate sensitive skins. Hearing all that, you’d wonder why anyone would put up with L-ascorbic acid. Alas, he’s good at what he does. Think of him as the asshole brain surgeon that everyone hates, but the only one who can snip out your tumour. Or is he?

Enter ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. As I’m not a masochist, I’m not going to type that out again, so let’s refer to this as AT. A relatively new form of vitamin C, AT is a lot more stable than moody L-ascorbic acid. He can do all the things that L-ascorbic can do – albeit to a slightly lesser extent – with the pay-off that he’s a dream to work with. No stinging. No redness. No drama. He’s also super-duper stable, so he won’t have a divalicious nervous breakdown the moment you don’t treat him right.

Then there’s the penetration factor (God, that sounded terrible even as I typed it)… Unlike L-ascorbic acid which is water-soluble, AT is oil soluble. Oil and water do not mix and all skins have an oily lipid barrier. This means water soluble ingredients like L-ascorbic acid have a harder time penetrating your skin, but AT can slip in fast and go a lot deeper. It also remains in your skin a lot longer than L-ascorbic acid as the latter is excreted easily and quickly via your skin’s water channels. Good to know as there’s been evidence to suggest that a slightly less potent ingredient can be just as effective – and maybe even more effective – than something stronger if it’s better at penetrating and has more time to work its magic.

Being so new, there aren’t too many products in South Africa that contain AT but one of them is Gloss Radiant Shot (R1 300). Created by local aesthetic medicine practitioner and all round nice guy Dr. Alek Nikolic, it contains a whopping 10% AT! Better yet, it’s not a one note wonder. He’s included extra kiffness in the form of brightening niacinamide, soothing panthenol, antioxidant vitamin E (which boosts vitamin C’s antioxidant factor further) and ultra-hydrating, skin-plumping hyaluronic acid. (The latter sits at a very sexy 5%.)

Could my ring finger look any more bulbous and freaky?

I got to sit down with Dr. Nikolic late last year to chat about his new line and came away super impressed. In answering my questions he was 100% transparent and didn’t side step anything (this is a biggie – just try to ask Environ about their retinol percentages and see what happens) and didn’t make any bullshit claims. It was very clear that this new line was his baby and that he’d painstakingly trialed loads of formulations before settling on something of which he is proud. He didn’t just hire some chemist to whip up a dupe of whatever’s already on the shelf and slap his name on it. is the result of a guy who really knows his stuff and wanted to create something that could be as potent as possible without freaking out sensitive skin.

I live for a world where all cosmetics companies disclose percentages.

If you’ve been wanting to benefit from vitamin C but find L-ascorbic acid too intense, give Gloss Radiant Shot a bash. It’s literally the next best thing! I’ve been using it since I got it and love that it isn’t tested on animals, is packaged in an airtight pump and has a crème-gel texture that absorbs in a flash.

Love, love


P.S. Paying just over a grand for an action-packed cosmeceutical is pretty standard but I realise not everyone has deep pockets. If this you, know that The Ordinary also make an AT product that costs less. It’s currently out of stock at the few local online stores that sell it but it’s worth a shot if you’re desp for potent, non-irritating vitamin C on a budget. Just bear in mind that unlike’s formula, which serves up a lekker bouquet of ingredients, The Ordinary’s only active is AT. (The ‘vitamin F’ they’ve include is just a made up name for the fatty acids i.e. plant oils that it’s been mixed with.) And nope, I haven’t tried it myself.

P.S.S. Dr. Nikolic was kind enough to give me two other products to try and I’ll be chatting about them in yet more posts later on down the line. Both are great and I now somewhat regret leaving his office screaming ‘Find me a rich doctor husband or I’ll tell everyone your skin care gave me herpes!’ Sorry Alek! I was super jet lagged and you’re a gem!

19 thoughts on “Review: Gloss Radiant Shot (a high potency yet non-irritating vitamin C serum)

  1. Heya! Have you tried Drunk Elephant’s Vit C serum yet or know anyone who has & has an opinion on it? I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference yet, but my skin is always low-key crappy so it’s pretty hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t 😦

    1. I’ve read up on Drunk Elephant and it looks great on paper. I’d actually love to try it but haven’t yet so I can’t be of too much help. And your skin is NOT low-key crappy. Still, if you’re not seeing enough of a vitamin C ‘glow’ consider using an AHA product, but only if you’re NOT sensitive.

    1. This is less potent than that (Trivita contains 15% L-ascorbic acid) but also a lot less likely to irritate so you can use it more often. If you make the switch, let me know what you think.

    1. Hi hun! A retinoid is a product containing retinol. You won’t find the strong ones at stores Clicks or Dis-Chem, only at aesthetic salons and online stores like that specialise in cosmeceuticals. As a newbie you should start with a low percentage retinol product (like 0,5%) and when your skin gets used to it you can bump up to a 1% product. My favourite retinol brand is Dermaceutic. You can learn more about retinol by googling it. It’s one of the best anti-ageing ingredients on the block.

      1. Hey Leigh, thanks for your response. I am actually looking for those that you need a prescription for. I have used strong ones for a while now and would like to get the prescription variety. Do you know if I can see a General Doctor or do I need to see a Dermatologist. Have you used prescription ones before?

  2. I enjoy your posts so much Leigh, thanks! I love Vichy’s Vit C, but it’s quite pricey, this sounds cool

  3. Hi Leigh
    I’ve been using the ordinary products for over a year now (first foray into retinol), what’s your take in their retinol products?

    1. Hi hun! Sorry for the slow reply. It got lost in the mix. The only The Ordinary retinol product I’ve ever tried was their 1% retinol in squalane when I was in Asia and couldn’t get hold of another Dermaceutic 1% retinol, which is my fave. For me, The Ordinary’s oily texture isn’t ideal for nightly use (it gets into my hair line!) Also, I don’t like that it’s packaged in a clear pump. I know they blab on about it being stable, but I’m just not convinced. In the end I never finished it and went back to Dermaceutic when I got back to SA. So ja. I’m a bit meh about it, but will probably end up using it up on my chest and see how that goes.

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