September 26, 2022
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Recently, I’ve become completely consumed with finding the perfect SPF. As someone who’s had pre-cancer growths surgically removed and is genetically at a higher risk for melanoma, sun protection is one of my top priorities when it comes to skin care— but finding the right solution for my face hasn’t been the most straightforward of journeys.

Mixing UV protection into the rest of my skin-care routine is the goal, and when I heard Ilia had just created an all-in-one product that did just that, I was elated. The new (it launched May 17) C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 boasts 10-percent vitamin C and niacinamide, plus shea butter, ethyl esters, jojoba, meadowfoam oils, and squalane—and, of course, SPF 40. Add in some moisturizing allantoin (one of Ilia’s go-to ingredients) and it’s a dream formula in a chic off-white bottle.

Thanks to zinc oxide, this serum is a lightweight mineral sunscreen (as opposed to a chemical sunscreen). Its fluid form is easier to blend into the skin than your average sunblock cream, and thanks to a slight beige (or tan, or brown, depending on your choice) tint, there’s no white cast whatsoever. And because it’s in a serum formulation, it’s easy to layer C Beyond with another favorite SPF or your go-to makeup.

Worn on its own, it provides a barely there, no-makeup makeup look, thanks to the (nearly imperceptible when blended) tint. Truly, it looks like you have nothing on your skin, but it does help brighten (thanks to the vitamin C) and give you an all-over dewy glow. And despite having skin the color of printer paper, I tested Tint 1—the range’s light-to-medium tone—and it blended right in. Though it looked to be several shades darker than my foundation while dispensed, the formula and coloring melted seamlessly into my complexion.

ilia c serum

I got to really put this SPF to the test while in Hawaii, on long unshaded hikes and while swimming at the beach for hours. I’m happy to say that I didn’t experience a single burn on my face—not even a tinge of pink! Lately, I’ve loved layering this under another, heavier SPF for added protection (this doesn’t necessarily mean your SPF protection is doubled though, just an FYI) when I’m getting more sun exposure, though I’ve also been using it at home for daily protection even when I’m not outside as much. Depending on your risk factor and skin tone, you could very much use this as a standalone product.

The serum is fragrance-free, although there’s a light, powdery scent from the ingredients alone (a bonus, IMO), and the dispenser has a cool pump top; I saw some reviewers were not jazzed about this, but I personally am into it.

Here’s what the serum (Tone 1) looks like when it’s first pumped onto skin (in this case, fair skin). It can appear darker, but blends in sheer with a glow.

ilia serum

And since I didn’t want this to be a totally one-sided review, I had my BFF and travel buddy in Hawaii test it out too—she loved it just as much (and the tint worked for her, despite being roughly seven shades darker in foundation tones). Our senior commerce editor tried it as well (pics below), and layered Ilia True Skin foundation ($54) on top for ideal coverage. In the photos below, she’s only wearing Ilia C Beyond Triple Serum and True Skin foundation on her skin (so no bronzer, illuminator, highlighter, etc.).

ilia c serum

The TL;dr? This SPF serum packs a punch and is putting in the work on so many levels. This will 1,000-percent be part of my regular rotation.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.