Homemade Vitamin C Serum


175 reviews

89% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.8

Price: $$

Package Quality: 3.8

Price: $$


on 7/10/2011 5:56:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Normal, Fair, Warm

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Green

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.

Equipment used:
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 don’t 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 don’t 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.

221 out of 223 people found this review helpful.

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Medium, Warm

Hair: Black, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

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.

24 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

on 6/21/2011 12:09:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Tan, Warm

Hair: Blond, Wavy, Coarse

Eyes: Other

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!

12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

on 6/15/2011 8:27:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

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.

40 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

Age: 30-35

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

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

on 5/14/2011 2:05:00 AM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Very Oily, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

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.

14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

on 1/26/2011 5:43:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Medium, Neutral

Hair: Black, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

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.

16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Age: 25-29

Skin: Normal, Tan, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

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.

12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

on 12/20/2010 1:27:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Oily, Tan, Cool

Hair: Red, Curly, Other

Eyes: Brown

2014 Update:
Still the business! I've played with different moisturizers and foundations and creams and powders but THIS has not changed. I tried to jump on the Obagi Professional C bandwagon and had to come right back here in less than a week, my face was falling apart.
My formula hasn't changed. Water and l-ascorbic acid spritzed twice a day and gently rubbed in like a serum.

Original 2010 review:
VIT C/L-ASCORBIC ACID *is* the business, folks.
It's been about 4 weeks. I use ONE part l-ascorbic acid to FOUR parts distilled water. Disslove to clear liquid, dip cotton pad and spread to entire face each night after makeup removal and toner. After vit c, add moisturizer if needed. That's it. Essential oils were giving me white heads, so I'm off those. I do micro scrub routinely in mornings.

Results: My middle age acne had cleared up (after three years of this battle, that alone is amazing), the dark spots from acne have faded dramatically.

Firm believer in the collagen factor (no pun intended): I was staring in the mirror wondering what was different with my face. The *shape* was different but I couldn't identify the different part/thing. Until I first heard it, and then again, several people I see on a routine (business) basis had suddenly mentioned 'you have dimples'.

I haven't noticed my cheek dimples in years. One side had completly gone away, I suppose due to slackening skin. Well, both sides are *very* obvious again: plumper and deeper than I have seen in years.

Amazing trip with DIRT CHEAP l-ascorbic acid. I will *always* keep powdered vit c in the stash.
Highly recommend for aging skin!

49 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

on 12/17/2010 8:22:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Curly, Coarse

Eyes: Hazel

Love this. My skin is good, but I have some minor freckling and weird texture on my forehead--sun damage--which I hoped this would address. That was my only hope going into this experiment. Initially, I made according to the standard 10% recipe, slightly modified because I didn't want so much glycerin: 1/4tsp ascorbic acid crystals dissolved in 1.5tsp water, then added .5tsp vegetable glycerin. Applied that nightly with a cotton pad. I noticed some slight improvement in the softness of my skin, but nothing else. Even 4 weeks of nightly use. I was prepared to give it 3 months before declaring it a bust, but I decided to alter the recipe slightly in the hopes of spurring on some improvement. Since then, I've been doing .5tsp ascorbic acid dissolved in 2tsp rosewater, with .5tsp glycerin--which I believe puts the concentration closer to 20%, the recommended maximum. I applied the same way (paying close attention to how my skin felt at first, as I did not wish to irritate it with the increased vitamin c--no irritation, just a warm feeling for a few minutes after application) and instantly noticed softer, plumper, dewier skin in the morning. In a couple weeks, I also noticed marked fading of my sun-induced forehead freckles. And my skin just looks smoother and plumper and . . . happy. The improvements have not been earth-shattering, but they're definitely improvements. I'm really pleased with the serum! And the substitution of the rosewater for plain filtered or distilled pleasantly eliminated the very metallic smell I was getting from the initial recipe. I make a new batch every 2 weeks, and store in a cobalt dropper bottle in a cool, dark drawer. So far doesn't seem to be oxidizing before I can use it. Will continue to make and use, definitely.

27 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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