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When I got my hands on Peach & Lily's latest skin-care secret, a powerful spot treatment, I wasn't expecting the formula to be oil-based. I've had my fair share of slapping on pimple patches and dotting my face with brightly colored pastes right before bed, so I wasn't prepared for a transparent formula (this is key, as you'll soon find out) that sinks into my skin without a trace — besides a subtle glow in the areas it's applied to.

I was lucky enough to be the first person to try Peach & Lily's Transparen-C Pro Spot Treatment, which has been over three years in the making. If you've read any Allure skin-care product roundup, chances are you've probably come across a vitamin C mention. We are adamant admirers of the powerful, versatile ingredient that triggers the production of collagen and elastin, fights against environmental aggressors like UV exposure, and — perhaps, most evidently — inhibits melanin production to prevent hyperpigmentation from forming. "[Vitamin C] is a superior brightening agent that works to fade brown spots without altering normal skin pigmentation," New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Howard Sobel previously told Allure.

But once you start getting into the nitty-gritty of vitamin C, things can get confusing, fast. The name, Transparen-C, is a nod to Peach & Lily's mission of educating its community about the "why" factor behind the brand's product development. Yoon tells Allure that it took the team years of research and testing — around 57 different formulas — to land on ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate

For the uninitiated, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is an oil-soluble form of vitamin C that is "more stable than traditional ascorbic acid in cosmetic formulations," Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai in New York City, explains. Its chemical structure consists of four legs (hence the "tetra" in its name), which is why it doesn't easily oxidize or change colors, according to cosmetic chemist Ginger King. 

While the final product is intentionally packaged in an opaque, peachy bottle, Yoon says that the formula didn't even oxidize in a clear bottle left by a window for an entire year. And in comparison to tetrahexyldexcyl ascorbate (THD ascorbate for short), "a close cousin" in the vitamin C family, Zeichner and King both agree that ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate penetrates faster and more deeply into the skin. 

While you can apply it all over your face, Yoon says it's been carefully formulated to be a spot treatment. "Even two or three percent and up to 10 percent is considered heavy-hitting potency for ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate," she explains. "We decided to include 20 percent because we really wanted to design it to target any discoloration, blemish scarring, and stubborn melasma." 

But despite the seemingly high concentration, it's safe to use on even the most sensitive of skin (Yoon did extensive testing while pregnant as well). I'm hesitant when testing out new vitamin C products, as they've been known to sting my skin, but I can attest to the fact that I felt nothing — no bite, no irritation — from the very first application.

The surrounding cast of ingredients, as Yoon notes, is just as crucial to the efficacy of ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. Like the revered (but more expensive) SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, Tranparen-C is spiked with antioxidant-rich ferulic acid and vitamin E. "Compounding vitamin C with another antioxidant helps preserve the stability and boost the effectiveness of the serum," Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, previously told Allure. Additionally, a protective base of non-clogging macadamia, sunflower seed, and meadowfoam seed oils ensure Transparen-C is gentle enough to use every day.

An extremely mild 0.5 percent concoction of kojic and tranexamic acids helps resurface the skin and speed up the spot-treatment process. They're also key brightening ingredients — call them a sidekick to ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate — that have been shown to slow melanin synthesis in studies, as New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Hadley King previously explained to Allure.

I usually keep my morning skin-care routine super simple but have found myself incorporating Transparen-C first thing in the a.m. after quickly cleansing my face. I simply squirt one or two drops and press them into any areas where my dark spots lie — at the time of writing, this includes my left cheek, chin, and forehead (around my hairline). From there, I follow up with a soothing, niacinamide-rich serum (vitamin C and niacinamide are one of Yoon's favorite ingredient pairings, too), and a moisturizer with built-in SPF (I'm digging Kinship's at the moment).

While vitamin C is often touted as a daytime ingredient because of its photodamage-preventing benefits, Yoon points out that it also works just as well when your skin is in its most regenerative state while you're sleeping. But just once a day is enough, she says. It really comes down to your personal preferences. 

As someone who isn't particularly thrilled about facial oils, I'm happy to report that Transparen-C disappears into my skin instead of lingering around and hosting its own grease fest. The lightweight oil also doesn't carry any noticeable odor at all, which has been a pain point with countless, high-concentration vitamin C products. I haven't been using the treatment long enough to notice dramatic results, but I can say that one particularly stubborn post-acne scar is already visibly lighter after five days of diligent use.

Pick up a bottle of the brightening fluid for yourself at peachandlily.com for $43 starting today, February 18, and ulta.com starting February 21 (and in stores starting March 7).

Peach & Lily Transparen-C Pro Spot Treatment

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