Common Heir Is Changing the Vitamin C Serum Game—Here's How

Since the start of this whole social distancing thing, I have gotten very into skincare.

These days, I'm hyper-aware of my routines, as well as the things I put on and into my body, and more and more, I'm concerned with the products I use, as well as how they're made and how they impact the world. So when the team promoting a new sustainable and plastic-free beauty brand called Common Heir reached out to me, I was instantly curious.

Founded by Cary Lin and Angela Ubias, Common Heir is behind the world's first clinically-proven (and silicone-free) vitamin C serum that's sustainable and effective. The brand pre-launched earlier this month, and capsules will be available to ship starting April 6. I got the chance to talk to the folks at Common Heir to find out what it's about, and try it for myself ahead of time.

The Vision

Sweety High: What is your mission statement at Common Heir?

Common Heir: Our mission is to make sustainability a beautiful part of our traditions and rituals. We hope to be the gateway into sustainable beauty swaps that are downright indulgent, and not granola. We better your bathroom shelf and boudoir with high-performance products that are low impact on the environment and still clinically proven to deliver results. We redefine classic beauty with modern approaches: to our formulation, packaging, how we give back and how we reimagine the beauty industry and our beloved beauty traditions.

Common Heir header art

(via Common Heir)


SH: What skincare benefits can we get from vitamin C?

CH: Vitamin C is a scientifically proven skincare superstar and powerful antioxidant. Among other benefits, it keeps your skin texture feeling smooth and your complexion bright, protects your skin from environmental stressors and also promotes collagen production to help with fine lines. It's often most effective in a serum concentrate to help the skin soak up the benefits.

Our vitamin C features a deeply-penetrating, oil-soluble form of vitamin C called THD (short for Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate—a mouthful!) that helps brighten, even skin texture and tone, and is specifically formulated to be gentle on skin while delivering powerful results. However, vitamin C is notoriously unstable and can expire quickly, which is why plastic pumps and bottles are used. As an alternative to using plastic, our biodegradable capsules—made from algae and food-grade plant starches—help protect the vitamin C's potency while also making it planet-friendly.

In addition to our unique form of vitamin C, we've added a brightening, complexion-boosting botanical blend of marshmallow root, rice bran and licorice root extracts.


SH: Why do so many other vitamin C serums include silicone? Why was it important to you to omit this ingredient from your products?

CH: Silicone gives serums, foundations, primers, etc. that super desirable, velvety, silky texture. However, silicones aren't always the skin-friendliest ingredient and can act as a barrier and trap dirt, oil and other undesirable things in the skin which, if you're acne-prone or have sensitive skin, can oftentimes lead to breakouts or texture issues. Because of this we opted for alternatives that still leave your skin velvety soft, some even derived from coconut like Coco-Caprylate/Caprate and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride.

Common Heir capsules

(via Common Heir)


SH: What is Credo for Change, and why is it important to you to be alumni of the program?

CH: Credo for Change is a mentorship program created by Credo Beauty to support and provide resources for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) founders in areas like marketing, sales, branding, etc. that will prepare their brand for larger distribution in retailers or direct-to-consumer.

It allowed us to create a sense of community with other founders, and provided us with guidance that we were on the right track with our mission because Credo Beauty, which has some of the highest standards in the industry when it comes to sustainability, saw something in our mission and our stories as co-founders that was worth nurturing.


SH: Why is sustainability and reusability so important to you?

CH: It's important for us as a founding team to leave a positive impact behind as our legacy, whether it's in the rituals or traditions we inherit or pass on to our families (our "heirs"), or the planet we leave for future generations.

Common Heir came from a pretty simple yet extremely impactful moment—when Cary was walking along her local Santa Monica beach, she stumbled upon plastic lotion bottles that were covered with barnacles. The expiration date was three years old, and she wondered how long it had been at sea. Both co-founders have worked in the beauty industry for years on different sides of the spectrum, Angela in product development and manufacturing and Cary on brand and marketing. Coming together we had a really sobering awareness of the 120 billion units of packaging produced annually. We were aware that recycling is ultimately a business, and that in practice, most plastics used in beauty and personal care products don't end up getting recycled.

So we wondered where everything we had a hand in creating was ending up, and how long it was going to stay on this planet. We began to think about how we could bring about change by reinventing how products are created, with attention to detail about where things might end up.

Our vision with Common Heir is to better the world, the beauty industry and the shelf in your bathroom. Even though we might have inherited different beauty traditions, we have the world in common. We share the intention of leaving the world in a better place than where we found it so we can pass it on. We want to use beauty to cultivate joy, and to take care of our own selves, communities and the planet.

We think sustainability should be beautiful and joyful. We formulate with intention—meaning no petroleum-derived ingredients, sustainably sourced options, packaging materials are readily biodegradable (meaning they degrade fast, as opposed to over hundreds of years). Paper has a very high recycling rate in the U.S. (unlike plastic), and so the capsules are housed in a completely reusable or recyclable cardboard tube free of any coatings that would impact disposal. The plant-based serum capsules are readily and fully biodegradable, with a zero-waste option—they're dissolvable in boiling water!

Common Heir art with flowers

(via Common Heir)


The Experience

When I opened my package of Common Heir, I was immediately struck by the stylish cardboard packaging, decorated with an elegant flower and fern pattern. Immediately, I started thinking of the types of things I might store in it once I was done with its contents. Inside were a bunch of small, non-plastic capsules, almost resembling tiny whoopie cushions. They were unusual, but that only got me more curious about what might be contained within.

They also arrived at the perfect time, as I'd just run out of my go-to vitamin C serum from Superbloom, and felt that my routine was really missing something between the misting and moisturizing steps. I pinched the little pink capsule with one hand and twisted off the tip with the other before squirting its contents into my hands.

I found that the serum had a nice, thick consistency, and when I rubbed it over my face and neck, it immediately felt great on my skin. It was super hydrating without feeling too greasy, and had a nutty, slightly fermented smell (which, for some people, might take some getting used to). Even better, trying out the new product didn't make me break out or have any kind of skin reactions. Plus, I love that they're portioned out for me, so I never have to worry about using too much or too little, while also not worrying about waste when I tossed the biodegradable leftover packaging in the trash.

Common Heir single capsules

(via Common Heir)

I've been using this serum for about two weeks now, and my skin feels amazing. The tone and texture are even, I haven't had any acne or dark spots and I look bright and cheery-eyed, even when I don't feel it. It's become an essential part of my morning skincare routine.

A two-month supply (or 60 capsules) retails for $88, which is definitely a bit rich compared to the typical products in my daily regimen. However, if you're looking for results and you're not opposed to dishing out a little extra for them, I think Common Heir is worth it for the quality and the good the company does for the environment.


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