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.
I have been using a few variations of homemade Vit C serum over the past few months and I have finally found a perfect combination that works well with my skin. First of all, I got my pure, L-ascorbic acid powder from Trader Joe's - you get a big jar for $10 (it should last for ages), it has no other ingredients or fillers and it dissolves nicely. The jar just says "ascorbic acid" but based on my research and experience, it is plenty good for the serum. I also use reverse osmosis water and I make it fresh every week and store it in an amber glass, dropper bottle. I was adding a few drops of glycerin but I made the last several batches without it and suddenly the serum became much more effective for my skin type. So if you've had mediocre results with some recipe you found online, I urge you to try other variations. Now here's the kicker, the serum is fine on it's own but I've had amazing results when coupling it with Alpha Hydrox 10% AHA enhanced cream. My skin became amazingly smooth after just a couple of days of doing this. I have large pores which are still visible but at lease it is very smooth - unlike the divot-like holes they were before (tinted moisturize covers it up nicely and no need for a smoothing primer anymore). Some of my old acne scars have faded quite a bit as well - my naked skin never looked this good. Note that I only do this at night as I live in a pretty sunny place and want to minimize sun damage.
This is truly wonderful. I have used it twice and am already noticing a difference in my skin. I have several acne scars and some are deep holes that look like very enlarged pores. I didn't do any specific measuring to be honest, because I don't think it will make too much of a difference if you use 2.1 mL of water as opposed to just 2.
- I purchased a plastic container from the dollar store - the kind that would be used for travel sized lotion, and I cleaned it out with hot water a few times and allowed it to dry before filling it with anything.
- I filled the container about halfway with filtered water (I didn't use distilled)
- I dropped in 3 Vitamin C tablets that I purchased from Wal-Mart (their brand) and allowed them to mostly dissolve
- I added a bit of Vitamin E oil
As you can see, I wasn't too specific with my measurements and yet it still worked out. I apply this to my face morning and night after cleansing and let it absorb, then follow with moisturizer. There is already a noticeable difference in my skin and I will continue to make/use this product. If it does enough to noticeably heal/improve my acne scars I will update to let you all know. Please try this out, it is so cheap and easy to make, you can alter it to suit your needs and it actually does something unlike so many expensive products that don't even after using them for weeks/months.
While I did enjoy the results of this, constantly making new batches became too time consuming for me, as you need to make a new formula every few days. While the results are nice, I rarely make this anymore, and it is definitely not something I regularly use. If you have the time, it's definitely worth it!
L-ascorbic acid = ascorbic acid = vitamin c
The terms l-ascorbic acid and ascorbic acid are used interchangeably, ascorbic acid being the generic name for l-ascorbic acid.
L-ascorbic acid is the natural form. D-ascorbic acid is synthetic and ALWAYS listed as such. So if your product says ascorbic acid, it will be l-ascorbic acid. You can always email the manufacturer to confirm.
Ascorbic acid powder is readily available on line from suppliers such as i-herb etc.
I couldn't find a L-ASCORBIC ACID unless I ground it from the vitamin C tablet. But I found this Vitamin C(Calcium ascorbate) powder in a caps from Ester-C brand.
BUt I don't know is Calcium ascorbate the same as L-ASCORBIC ACID . They all called Vitamin C.
I try to make my own Vitamin C serum.
Thank you so much for your help
Thanks to this string, I discovered I could make my own Vitamin C serum, thereby saving tons of money while avoiding silicones, humectants, and other things my oily skin doesn't need but are present in most serums. While hunting around for a place to buy L-Ascorbic Acid, I stumbled upon makingcosmetics.com. The website inspired me to try making a few different potions: Vitamin C mixed with distilled water (made fresh every few days); Vitamin E and a sunblock mixed with alcohol; Niacinimide mixed with water; and an eye cream mixed with rice-soy peptides. I'm very happy with how everything turned out and with how inexpensive and easy this is. My entire order from makingcosmetics.com was like $80, and I have enough supplies for a year's worth of all my potions. I'll check back in a month and report if the rice-soy peptides actually helped with my dark circles.
Considering how expensive most Vit. C serums are and how notoriously difficult it is to stabilize the formulation, I figured this was worth trying to DIY. Even though I had never made a skincare product before, this was very easy to make and use. I started with the standard 10% formula and gradually tinkered until I got the consistency I liked and ended up at 20%.
I've been making and using this for about 4 months now, and it is making my skin tone brighter and lighter overall. The difference is most notable on the backs of my hands, but even the hyperpigmentation on my face is starting to very slowly fade. I will continue making and using. Thanks MUA.
just started this last night.
i work in a compounding pharmacy so i made a little batch at work :3
titurated (finely crushed) four plain ol' 500mg vit c tablets, levigated then brought the final volume up to 30ml with distilled water, put it on the magnetic stirrer for about 15 minutes until the particles were dissolved, transferred to an amber glass vial.
which puts it at a strength of about 6% (didn't want to start too high)
it was pretty liquidy and hard to work with but i didn't want to use glycerin so when i got home i actually added about 5ml of jojoba oil... which puts the strength at about 4% also it's a oil water combo so i shook it vigorously before use
anyway, used it after my nightly routine but before moisturizer (actually fell asleep before moisturizing oops)
this morning my skin was EXTREMELY smooth. the leftovers of a breakout i had last week are very faded.
i'm really excited. this cost me basically NOTHING to make.
will update in the next few days.