Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum Review: A Natural Acne Fighting Solution

by | Last updated Apr 18, 2020 | 76 comments

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Decided I’d take a break from all the informationally exhaustive posts lately, and do a review on the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum.

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

See price on Amazon

A little background information: I’ve been trying to incorporate an Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C serum back into my routine, but have found many of them quite irritating and somewhat drying. Decided I might as well try a Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate variation because they’re gentler on the skin and provide similar benefits.

Began investigating, located one with the proper pH and some kickass ingredients. Took the splurge, and viola — enter the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum into my life. Let’s start analyzing this serum from one of my favorite, but less important aspects: the smelly smell.


The Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum has a very light and subtle floral sent. Hardly noticeable if you aren’t paying attention. There’s a sort of sweetness to it. The best words I could think to describe it are “flower candy.”

It’s not unbearable or overwhelming in the slightest, quite the opposite — calming, soothing, relaxing. I look forward to applying it morning and night because of the de-stressing effect it gives me. It’s probably my favorite product as far as scents go.

“But yeah yeah. Who cares about the smell? If I wanted to smell something nice, I’d go the fabric softener section when doing groceries! What are the ingredients? Benefits? What the heck does it do, buddy?”

I hear yuh. Let me explain.

Ingredients and Benefits.

Not that I’m crazy about them, but If by any chance you’re a fan of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) ratings, you’ll be happy to learn that this serum has the highest safety profile of any Vitamin C serum analyzed on their website.

90% of the ingredients score a 1 on a scale of 10 (the lowest toxicity rating possible), and the remaining 10% of ingredients score a 2 — giving Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum no hazards and the highest safety profile. With that said, here’s the full ingredient list.

mad hippie vitamin c serum ingredients

Water Deionized, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Alkyl Benzoate, Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea), Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), Hyaluronic acid, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Vitamin E (Tocotrienol), Ferulic acid, Chamomile Flower Extract (Recutita Matricaria), Sodium Phytate, Xanthum Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose

As you may know, everyone approaches skincare differently. What works brilliantly for some, might not for others. “YMMV” as they say. There are a many ways of reaching the end goal of clear radiant skin.

For me, it means taking the minimalist approach when possible. The less unnecessary filler ingredients I see in a product, the higher it ranks in my opinion.

This is not to say ingredient dense products are bad. In fact, they could work wonders. But given my sensitivities, redness, and extremely clog-prone skin I prefer short ingredient lists with maximum efficacy. It’s simply a matter of preference.

My line of thinking is that the more ingredients a product has, the higher likelihood it may cause a problem for those with extremely problematic skin like myself.

And this is why I really appreciate the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum — it’s minimal but packs a punch. Let’s break down the beneficial ingredients in the formula.

Sodium ascorbyl phospate (SAP) is the most stable and bioavailable form of Vitamin C. It’s a highly effective active ingredient, and one of the safest and gentlest currently available.

Unlike Ascorbic Acid, it doesn’t oxidize quickly meaning it has a longer shelf life, making it a particularly favorable ingredient to use in cosmetic formulations. However, there’s been more research done on Ascorbic Acid than SAP, and the benefits of Ascorbic Acid are plentiful and undeniable.

So why would you want to use SAP instead?

Besides its way longer shelf life and better absorption, the current scientific hypothesis is that SAP gets converted into ascorbic acid in the skin anyway. (12)

To add to that, multiple clinical trails have shown SAP has additional acne-fighting benefits that Ascorbic Acid does not. (34)

UPDATE 7/7/2017:

Not only that, for decades scientists have known that lipid peroxidation (i.e. the oxidation of sebum) plays a MAJOR role in the development of acne. In fact, there is evidence that “lipid peroxidation is the driving force behind the progression of comedogenesis and inflammation in acne.” (31)

Well guess what prevents sebum oxidation? SAP! Indeed, research has shown that it reduces sebum oxidation by up to 40%! (32)

Moreover, other clinical trials have shown SAP has better efficacy (i.e. is MORE effective) than 5% benzoyl peroxide, 1% clindamycin phosphate, and 0.1% adapalene (a.k.a differin). (33343536)

Better yet, it has absolutely no side effects. None. Studies have shown the irritation level of SAP on skin is akin to that of the vehicle (i.e. the inert substance that isn’t supposed to do anything!). (567)

Ascorbic Acid requires an inherently low pH to work which could be irritating if you don’t have hardy skin or are accustomed to chemical exfoliates. Overdoing it with low pH serums or chemical exfoliates will set you back in progress not help. So if your skin is easily irritated, then you might want to opt out for an SAP vitamin c serum instead.

I’ve said this before, but more is not necessarily better. In skincare, less is more. Patience trumps impulsiveness. The idea is to play the waiting game. Have the willpower to use less, and not jump the gun. That’s how you’ll see the most progress.

With that said, if you’re impulsive like me when it comes to skincare then SAP is your best friend. You don’t have to introduce it slowly and can start using it twice daily without experiencing any side effects whatsoever. Thus, results occur quickly and include brighter skin, more even skin tone, reduction in pigmentation issues, and acne clearing.

In case you’re interested, here’s what Mad Hippie had to say about the SAP vs. Ascorbic Acid ordeal.

“The percentage of Vitamin C needed in skincare products varies depending on the form of Vitamin C used. We use a very stable and bioavailable form of vitamin C called sodium ascorbyl phosphate. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is approximately twice as effective as L-ascorbic acid, the most commonly used form if Vitamin C used in skin care, which is not utilized as well by the skin. We use approximately a 10% concentration of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is equivalent to about a 20% concentration of L-ascorbic acid in its effectiveness. Most of the L-ascorbic acid, when applied, sits on the skin’s surface without being absorbed and utilized and often causes irritation as a result. The primary difference is that sodium ascorbyl phosphate, the form of vitamin C that we use, has a salt attached to it, allowing it to penetrate the skin’s lipid barrier and making it more bioavailable. This also makes it much more stable and less prone to oxidation, which is a huge problem with L-AA.”

  • Vitamin E

A natural antioxidant that works synergistically with Vitamin C. Provides photoprotection against UV light, (8) inhibits tyrosinase thereby lightening skin, (910) may help wound healing, (1112131415) and protects against oxidative stress (important for anti-aging). (16)

  • Ferulic Acid

Natural antioxidant that works synergistically with vitamins C and E. (17) Provides photoprotection by inhibiting free radical formation (an anti-aging benefit), (181920) and absorbs UV radiation (good for sun protection). (222324)

  • Hyaluronic Acid

A naturally occurring substance and potent humectant capable of holding 1000 times it’s water weight. (2526) It’s extremely effective at hydrating skin by drawing moisture from the environment, and gives a “plumping” effect that reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Also promotes and significantly speeds up wound healing. (27282930)

  • Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera)

A natural ingredient as old as your great great grandmother x 10. It’s been used as a multipurpose skin treatment for over 3,500 years. For most people, it’s the thing to use after a horrible sunburn.

It’s a good source of naturally occuring antioxidants. (31) Has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, lightening, and healing properties. (32333435) Clinical stuides have also shown it’s an effective psoriasis treatment. (36373839) If you don’t know what that is, here’s what it looks like. (Yes, it’s painful.)

  • Glycerin

Another humectant that hydrates the skin by drawing water from the environment.

  • Konjac Root Powder

This comes from a nutritionally dense medicinal plant from southeast Asia and China. It has a ton of vitamins and minerals including A, E, C, D, B, copper, magnesium, iron, niacin, zinc, folic acid etc. It’s healing properties have been used in Japan for 1,500 years.

In cosmetics it’s used as a natural alternative to carbomer to create a gel-like consistency that forms a thin barrier on the skin. It’s also the ingredient used to make konjac sponges in case anyone’s wondering.

  • Grapefruit

Antioxidant, antifungal, and secondary preservative. May have natural and gentle exfoliating properties.

  • Chamomile Extract

Gentle herb that contains flavonoids (plant compounds with antioxidant effects), and great for sensitive skin. It’s soothing, has anti-inflammatory properties, inhibits free radical synthesis, and is a remarkable vasodilator (i.e. increases blood flow to skin).

  • Clary Sage

Has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, (40) and probably what gives this serum it’s lovely scent. (41) Mad Hippie says it balances oil production and acts as a natural toner too, but take that information with a grain of salt.

Application and Feel.

I personally like my serums to have a bit of “slip” to them. It makes it easier to apply and spread across the face with less product. In my experience I’ve found watery serums to be more drying as well.

These days I try to avoid irritation and stay hydrated whenever possible, so avoiding anything that causes excess dryness is a plus. The Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum meets all these requirements.

spread test applicationspread test spreadspread test dry

As you can see it’s runny, has a bit of slip to it, sinks in nicely, dries matte, and leaves a slight tacky feeling (not a big fan of this).

It’s non-drying, and the addition of hyaluronic acid and glycerin provide an additional boost of moisture which is great. It layers well under products, and I’ve yet to encounter a problem mixing it with other serums, moisturizers, or spot treatments.

I said this already but the smell is subtle and absolutely divine too, making the application process all the more enjoyable.

How to Use.

The serum can be used twice daily without irritation. Simply apply a few drops on the palm on your hand or face and spread evenly. Because SAP is pH dependent (6-7) the placement of it in your routine matters.

Here’s a sample skincare routine showing it’s placement with all things being considered. Depending on what you’re using some of these steps may not apply so adjust it accordingly.

  1. Oil cleansing method, or oil cleanser.
  2. Gentle pH-balanced cleanser (5.5 or below)
  3. Low pH serums or toner. Wait 20-30 minutes.
  4. Salicylic Acid (BHA). Wait 20-30 minutes.
  5. AHA (glycolic, lactic, mandelic). Wait 20-30 minutes.
  6. Vitamin C (SAP) — Use Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum here
  7. Retinoids (Tretinoin [Retin-A], Retinol)
  8. Spot treatments or other actives (e.g. Benzoyl Peroxide, Azelaic Acid).
  9. Moisturizers.
  10. Occlusives (e.g. Vaseline, Aquaphor)

The Take Away.

  • Ingredients: 5/5

A ton of great stuff here including 10% Vitamin C (SAP), Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Chamomile Extract. Clary Sage, and Konjac Root Powder.

  • Benefits: 5/5

Acne fighting, skin lightening, hyperpigmentation reducing, photoprotective, and extremely gentle.

  • Application: 5/5

Has a lot of slip, spreads easily, dries matte, leaves a slight tacky feeling, and smells great!

  • Packaging: 5/5

Well, you saw the pictures! The bottle and box are lovely. Because oxidation is not an issue here, the dropper dispenser works fine.

  • Value: 4/5

It’s decently priced but starting to verge on the slightly more expensive side of things ($27).

Overall: 4.8/5 (Highly recommend!)

mad hippie vitamin c serum 2

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Very few Vitamin C (SAP) serums are formulated this well or with proper pH. It’ll probably remain a stable in my routine unless I find something better in the future. For now, I’ll continue alternating between this and Ascorbic Acid variations every couple months. Hope you’ve enjoyed this review!



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