I've used several vitamin C serums over the years, and loved many of them. My skin responds incredibly well to vitamin C treatments overall, but it just got way too expensive. So, I was thrilled when I read this here, and gave it a try. I used distilled rose water, L-asorbic crystals from Vitamin Shoppe, and a vegetable glycerin. I make it at 10% strength, and store it in the refrigerator in a cobalt blue bottle, using a dropper to apply to skin. and started out using it every other day . I am now using it morning and night (morning and night on a clean face, underneath moisturizer), and in the two weeks I've been using it, I can already see a serious difference. And, apparently, so can others, as I've been asked several times if I've had "something done." I've also been carded several times (this could just be coincidence, I know). It didn't take 10 years off my face or anything, and I have to admit I am blessed with genetically very nice skin; but, it definitely boosted my glow, my fine lines on my forehead are diminishing, and things just look all around more firm and youthful. I've also started using it on my hands recently, and see improvements there, as well. It's not a miracle or anything, but the improvements are visible and significant. And given the ridiculously low cost and ease of DIYing it, I'm definitely going to continue with this!
I've been using for around a month now, at varying strengths. Purchased ascorbic acid powder from GOW, as well as their serum base (just water, preservative, and a starch to give thickness. I know there are varying debates on preservatives, but they use paraben free preservatives, and this saves me from having to make new batches every few days.) For approx. 10% serum, I'm using 1/4 teaspoon AA powder to 2.5 teaspoons of serum base.
The results? After a few experimental weeks with dubious results (which I don't really attribute to the AA serum, moreso to barraging my skin with too many products and using a lotion w. niacinamide in it...more on that in a bit), my skin has become much smoother, and the fine lines under my eyes are beginning to soften (so far no change in darkness of undereye circles...but i think that was a pipedream anyway). As I don't have acne prone skin, I can't really attest to the acne fighting powers, but the few blemishes I have gotten seem to be helped by it. I say go for it...it's cheap and easy to make, and from the positive feedback, seems to only do good things. for reference, i use this serum every other night with just my facial lotion on top (a no frills one, in order to not overload my skin). Once a week, i give my face a gentle scrub to get off any dead skin the AA serum has sloughed off.
Note on niacinamide: Do not use niacinamide and AA powder together....I'm no scientist, but from my research they sort of "fight" with each other and can cause bad reactions in the skin. both are good ingredients to use separately, but not together.
EDIT: it became too difficult to prevent the serum from oxidizing/measuring correct amounts, so i've decided to stop making it. im thinking of purchasing the CSS ferulic CE one...we shall see.
EASY CREAMY C BUTTER:
2 TBSP Cetapil Cream ( or simila brand)
4 TBS SPF ( I use Olay SPF 15 sensitive)
1/8 Tsp Vitamin E Oil 28,000 IUs
2 Evening Primrose Oil caps (break & squeaze into mixture)
Dissolve 3-4 Vit C 500mg pills in 1-2 TBSP hot, fresh brewed green tea.
Add to cream mixture and blend well. Store in cool dark place.
COOL ADD IN:
2 Dropper fulls of pure hyaluronic acid (Timeless Skin Care makes a good one).
Your skin will look AMAZING.
After reading the reviews, I tried the vitamin c serum for almost two weeks. Whiteheads and acnes began popping up all over my face. I am sure it works for a lot of people (thus the glowing reviews), unfortunately it does not work for me. Still have to deal with the remaining acnes and the scars left from the use of the serum.
Wow, this is a revelation! Thanks, Kassy, whoever you are! I mixed some up and it was too stingy, so I diluted it to half strength, and it's fantastic! My clock is now turning backwards, I swear.
I'm just hitting menopause and my face went to hell all of a sudden I have every kind of wrinkle, even smoker's wrinkles around my mouth, even though I've never smoked.
I buy products by ingredients anyway, and had read some female dermatologist recommend vitamin C, but all the ready-made stuff is so expensive, when I found out about this I had to try it. I'm going to keep on tweaking the recipe -- I'd like it to be thicker so it'll stay on my face [and arms and cellulite on front of thighs] better.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, kASSY!
When I first used it my skin got soooooo itchy that I couldn't help but rinse it with water. But after one use, it gave my skin a healthy glow, like I just came out of the spa. Also, tightened my pores and faded my marionette line and under-eye lines. I had immediate results from this product.
Will never experiment on my face again. This is HG for me
I have been using diy vitamin c for a year or so now. It has made my skin clearer and complexion brighter. It also seems to have softened some lines around my eyes.
Overuse can make your skin dry though, so it is worth being sensible and not using it everyday whilst your skin gets used to it.
I source my L ascorbic acid from activeextracts.co.uk or lotion crafter in the US.
Updated 18th June 2012:
My recipe has changed to a simpler, but no less effective one I found on MUA. Here it is:
1/4 tsp L-Ascorbic Acid (purchased from bulkactives.com)
1 1/2 tsp rosewater (Heritage Store Rose Water)
1/8 tsp Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
1/8 tsp glycerin
Note: lasts two weeks in dark drawer, same as Kassy's recipe below.
My DIY Vitamin C + E + Ferulic is formulated by the wonderful and amazing Kassy (Kathy) who is often on skincaretalk.com forum. I'll post a lot of links in this review to help anybody seeking more information on how to make their own, variants and where to source for L-Ascorbic Acid (it really IS cheap!)
Here's the recipe I use:
Kassy's 15% Vitamin C + E Ferulic
http://www.skincaretalk.com/diy-skin-care/7596-diy-vit-c-serum-recipes-ingredient-sources.html (thank you Fawnie for posting it!!)
Read the recipe thread to see where you can find Ferulic Acid, Sea Kelp Bioferment and other invaluable tips. I learned so much from there.
I have rosacea, so I lowered the L-Ascorbic acid to around 10% to start off with. It still stung and my face turned slightly pink after use so I made a new 7.5% batch. Just half the amount of L-Ascorbic Acid. That works nicely.
Here is a whole slew mind-boggling number of other DIY recipes, scroll down a little to find C Serums.
Tips on making your own Vitamin C + E + Ferulic serum:
Always do Ferulic Acid in Vodka (or non-denatured alcohol) first, as this one takes a fair amount of time to dissolve, and if you make the L-Ascorbic phase first, it will oxidize a fair bit before you can mix it all together. Use ICE COLD alcohol to dissolve Ferulic Acid better. Pop your bottle of vodka into the fridge first before starting this.
Warm up (not boiling) distilled water used to dissolve L-Ascorbic Acid powder, and use ultra-fine powder if you can get your hands on it as it will dissolve faster. Lotioncrafter sells the ultra fine version. I didn't know about this and bought the regular version, which works fine, just needs slightly more time stirring.
Sea Kelp Bioferment is a wonderful addition and along with Ferulic Acid, this formula can last for around 1-2 weeks in an amber/blue bottle stored in a dark place. No need to refrigerate, unless you want to prolong its shelf life even further. Important: When you see that your mixture has turned yellow, throw it away immediately. Oxidized Vitamin C will do more harm than good on your skin, because instead of being antioxidant, it becomes pro-oxidant.
This formula without an emulsifier will not mix well. Meaning you have to shake it to mix the oil and cream together before applying. If you don't want to do that, you can add Polysorbate 80 to emulsify.
Edit to add: I discovered with Kassy's recipe, only 14 drops (3% of Polysorbate 80) is needed.
Do not use a metal spoon to mix - Vitamin C oxidizes with metal. Use plastic or glass instead.
For those who wants a video to watch how it's done, here it is:
Note: This is a different formula, not Kassy's!
For those wishing to find out more about other different forms of Vitamin C used to make serums, namely Ascorbyl palmitate and Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), see here:
PS: If you like this DIY business, buy a good digital kitchen scale that goes as precise as 0.01g. Many sites selling actives sells one, I know BulkActives sells one, as does Skin Essential Actives. You can even formulate your own recipe using this tool:
And as you browse for recipes, you often come across recipes that calls for "a teaspoon of this", "a quarter teaspoon of that" but if you want to break it down into percentages to tweak your own, and also this technique is useful if you want to make a different finished amount each time (say, you want to make 4 oz of Vitamin C to give to your friends), learn how to break it down here:
My advice is to read up and prepare yourself as much as you can. You can always "wing it", but it's always risky and even more so for those with sensitive skin. We don't always have to pay high price for beauty.
This homemade serum is a major life-savor! I was using milk of magnesia suggested from the acne.org website, which while making my skin matte, also seemed to give me tons of little under-the-skin bumps + major blackheads along my jaw + only slightly faded the post-acne dark marks. Using the homemade vitamin C serum has cleared up everything other than a couple totm cystic pimples! I feel a lot more confident with my skin, though not enough to go without make *yet*, but hopefully soon. My skin is soooo smooth that some days after washing my face I just keep touching my cheeks. The post- acne scars/marks have faded drastically, and it's evening out my skintone. To top it off I've only been using this 2 WEEKS!
My formula consists of tablets of the generic vitamin C brand from walmart (blue and white label, ~$3) into about 12-14mL of distilled water. The first week I used only 3 tablets, but the second week I used 4 and I seem to be getting a better response (faster fading of the marks, better smoothing of my skin). I break up by hand, added to the water and let dissolve on its own. Before use I shake thoroughly because not all of the tablet dissolves - you get almost like a slurry with the undissolved stuff laying on the bottom. I put on a generous layer before bed - it does make the skin feel slightly tight, and leaves a kind of powdery layer in spots, but that's okay considering the dramatic results. On days that I don't go out/wear makeup I put it on in the morning as well. I use up everything in a week - I think to keep it longer isn't good from what I've read in other posts. I also store it in a small bottle wrapped up and out of the light - ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is light sensitive. I don't seem to be having any problems with it not being pure ascorbic acid, since the tablets contain other things like preservatives, fillers, etc.
I know you can buy bulk ascorbic acid. I am planning on making the serum with this soon - I plan on having an exact formula (amounts, percents, etc.) for a week's supply, and I'll post it when I do.
I can't stress how amazing this stuff is! If starting out I would suggest maybe trying maybe 2-3 tablets in 15mL water first for a week or so, and then maybe increasing by one tablet for the next batch (don't go too high, maybe up to 5-6 tablets because then the concentration might be too much for the skin to handle) until you find something that works. But for those who have been looking for a cheap remedy with fast and effective results should definitely try this!
EDIT: I am still only using the vit C tablets because it's definitely working! My face is still amazingly clear and baby-butt smooth, most of my post acne marks have faded and I can now leave the house with just concealer topped with a loose powder foundation! I'm super happy because I haven't been able to do that since about grade 8-9. This stuff is definitely staying in my routine, and I've been suggesting this stuff to anyone that will listen to me :)
Here in Australia the average price for a quality vitamin C serum is around $100. I found out a few years ago how to make my own and have not only saved a lot of money, but I now have a product that I can control the concentration of and ensure it is fresh, with minimal preservatives and fillers. I am currently using a serum with a final concentration of 10% vitamin C new users are advised to start with a lower concentration and work your way up to minimise any irritation irritation in the case of vitamin C is NOT GOOD, and does not mean it is working better the opposite is quite true.
I am quite controlled with the preparation I have a medical science background and have worked in laboratories, which has been to my benefit with DIY skin care. I choose to be this particular with my preparation to ensure I am getting the best possible product outcome for my skin.
Digital scales, a 10ml graduated glass cylinder, a 100ml glass beaker, and a glass stirring rod.
1.2g l-ascorbic acid, 7ml distilled water, 3ml KY jelly.
Preparation of glassware:
I wash everything by hand with regular dish detergent no cloths or scourers as this scratches laboratory glassware. Everything is rinsed with tap water, then I do a final rinse with boiling water (just straight from the kettle). I leave to drain - the glassware dries quickly after this. Once dried and cooled, everything is given a final rinse with distilled water this helps to remove any mineral build up from the tap water used to wash and rinse.
I weigh out 1.2g of l-ascorbic acid powder straight into the beaker. I then use the graduated cylinder to first measure out 3ml of KY jelly, then top that up to 10ml with distilled water. If the KY jelly is cold, it will be difficult to work with I gently warm it up first.
Add the 10ml KY jelly/distilled water mix to the beaker containing the vitamin C.
Mix gently using the glass stirring rod.
Sit beaker in a warm water bath to finish mixing this helps the l-ascorbic powder dissolve properly.
Decant into a small amber dropper bottle, and store in the fridge for no more than two weeks.
I spent about $30 all up on all my glassware (I have a decent collection now) and $10 on my digital scales. These items are easily sourced on eBay.
l-ascorbic acid powder I purchased 50 grams for about $5 here in Australia from a pharmacist.
I bought a box of eight 15ml amber glass dropper bottles for under $10.
Vitamin C applied topically has been shown to improve the skins collagen matrix in about 60% of people. It does not work for everybody. The other benefits of vitamin C serums are that they can improve the appearance of the skin with regards to pore size, hyperpigmentation, uneven texture, acne, scarring the benefits are endless. Even if you dont see a reversal in damage to the skins underlying structures, you will still see a minor improvement in the skins appearance superficially as vitamin C is an acid and provides lightening and exfoliating benefits.
The importance of pure l-ascorbic acid powder:
The optimum concentration for vitamin C serum to be effective is stated to be around 10%. Depending on individual tolerances and metabolisms, some people will see results with a 5% concentration, other people may need more. The downside to increasing the concentration is that you increase the amount of acid you are putting on your skin this will cause inflammation which will be counterproductive to any good that can be done by the vitamin C.
To get the full effect of a 10% concentration you need pure l-ascorbic acid.
l-ascorbic acid is the form of vitamin C found in nature. The other form, d-ascorbic acid, is the chiral cousin of l-ascorbic acid. It is physiologically not viable, and your metabolism will simply filter it out. d-ascorbic acid is the manufactured form of vitamin C.
The trouble with mixes of both the d and l forms is that you never know the final concentration of l-ascorbic acid you are using. This is the case with crushed up vitamin C tablets.
The other problem with crushed up tablets is that these contain an immense amount of fillers (amongst other rubbish). Again, you will never know the actual concentration of vitamin C your end product has. Plus, you will be applying a heap of unknown additives to your skin these may increase the rate of oxidation of the vitamin C (be it in the bottle or on the skin), they may render it ineffective if applied topically you never know what is going to happen. My advice, is source a pure l-ascorbic acid powder. It is cheap and easily available online.
Other forms of vitamin C have not been shown to be effective in skin care to any notable degree. I do not recommend their use in home made or commercially available products. Ever.
Users also need to be aware of the use of vitamin C with other skin care products it is an acid, so it will affect the action of other active ingredients. Copper peptides should never be used at the same time as vitamin C as the acidity of the vitamin C will render the copper peptide useless. It can also increase the likelihood of inflammation caused by retinoids if applied simultaneously.
The good thing about vitamin C however is that once it is applied, it is quickly absorbed, and stays active in the skin for up to 48 hours, therefore you really dont need to use it every day however, daily use is advised for antioxidant protection.
Vitamin C is a godsend provided it is made correctly, used correctly, and your skin is receptive to it.