I make a 20% vitamin C serum using only distilled water and L-ascorbic acid powder as I find additional ingredients to be somewhat inessential for my purposes. Like the reviewer directly below me, I apply my serum using a fine mist spray bottle, which I purchased on Amazon for about $5. I previously applied the serum using the more common method of a pump container, but for whatever reason, when I apply the serum directly with my fingers, it causes significant pilling of products that I apply afterward (moisturizer and sunscreen). I'm certain the vitamin C serum is responsible, given that pilling does not occur with any of the other products I use when used alone. Pilling would also occur regardless of how long I waited for the serum to absorb into my skin before applying other products (typically 20 minutes). After trying a fine mist spray bottle to apply the serum, I no longer experience any pilling (hooray!). I simply spritz a few pumps of the serum all over my face and wait for it to air dry (usually 5 minutes) before proceeding to sunscreen.
While I can't say that I've noticed any significant improvements in the appearance of my skin since I began making my own vitamin C serum a couple months ago, I can say that it's made a significant improvement in my wallet! Previously, I would spend about $20 on an Avalon Organics serum, which seems exorbitant now that I know how inexpensive the ingredients are that it contains. My primary reasons for using vitamin C serum are to keep my skin healthy and to prevent early signs of aging. I hope that with continued use, I will be very thankful for my decision! For the price, you haven't much to lose.
I started making my own Vit C serum about 1 month ago. I use 1 teaspoon crystalized vit c from Trader Joes and 1/2 cup rosewater. I put everything into a cobalt glass spray bottle. Shake until vit C is dissolved. I apply a thin spray on face, neck, upper chest and back of hands AM and PM, followed by CeraVe moisturizer. I do not rub/pat the serum in my skin, I just allow it to dry. To be honest, I haven't seen any miraculous changes in my skin. Nothing bad either. I must admit, I have pretty nice skin (thanks to using ProActive about 10 years ago), so I am using this for maintanance. I am going to test on cellulite on one thigh, I'll use it for 2 months and report back on my findings. If this stuff works on cellulite...I'm going to make batches in barrels!
Edited to say, I am now using plain distilled water instead of the rosewater and have noticed a tad more stinging, but in the a.m. my skin looks radiant. Will continue to use distilled water, which is nice because its much cheaper than the rosewater. Not noticing any difference in celulite yet, but going to keep applying for a few more weeks.
I wanted to share a way to make a big batch of the base serum - with preservative (I think this helps the serum overall stay stable) - without a scale, so every week you just add some LAA.
The final concentrations of my serum would be: 20% LAA, 15% propylene glycol, and 1% Optiphen (water is 64%).
Step 1: You want to make serial dilutions of the Optiphen. (To those who are not math-minded, this just means - first you dilute the Optiphen by 10%, then you use this diluted Optiphen at a 10% strength. This is equivalent to using Optiphen at 1% overall, a way to measure out small percentages without the use of a scale.) So you add 1/8 tsp of Optiphen to 1 tsp of water. This is approximately 11% Optiphen.
Step 2: finish the base serum. add 2 tsp PG, 8 tsp water to your 1+ tsp diluted Optiphen. Voila, you have 11 tsp of the base serum, 10-11 batches' worth (it may not be enough for 11, because you always lose a little via pouring and stuff).
To make 5.5 tsp, or 5 batches' worth, use: 1 tsp PG, 4 tsp h2o, and 1/2 tsp the diluted 11% Optiphen. Keep the rest of the diluted optiphen for your next batch.
Step 3: every 1-2 weeks just measure out 1 tsp of base serum + 1/4 tsp LAA. If you want 10% LAA, use 1/8 tsp (this will of course change the overall ratios so that PG and Optiphen %age are higher, but it's not a big deal). I keep my serum in an amber glass pump bottle in a drawer in my bathroom.
I like this method because it's less work (every week you have less measuring to do, what with the PG and water and stuff), plus the preservative overall helps stabilize the serum.
And for those of you who really want to save time/steps, just find a toner you like - preferably one that has no actives and is glycol-based, and just mix 1 tsp of that with your LAA every week. Seriously, couldn't be easier. With that little effort, and the huge savings cost, I don't see why anyone still purchases their C serums!
A one-ounce bottle of pre-made, LAA serum is at least $30, usually $50+. But let's just say for arguments' sake that a $20 one existed. On the other hand, the amount of LAA you use in a DIY serum, for a 20% serum, comes out to $1/oz. PG and Optiphen are so cheap, that it comes out to mere cents per ounce. So it costs ONE DOLLAR to make one whole ounce of serum, completely DY. Even if you used a store-bought toner, that's maybe $1-3 per oz. So there you have it, you're spending a max of $4 per ounce, compared to $20, 30, 50, 100...
I had been wanting to experiment with this for a long time since the brand I used changed formulations and increased price. I finally took the plunge and have been very happy. I can now tailor my serum to meet my skin's requirements using several of the recipes found here and on the internet. The information I have found here on this site gave me the courage to do it, so thank you to the ladies (and gents?) of MUA. My skin is happy and my wallet is happier.
For you ladies who say it won't dissolve, try warming up the crystals in your hand first and then add your liquid. That has helped me. Also, there is bound to be a little grittiness left over. It seems to smooth out instantly on my skin if I rub in gently.
I tried making a vitamin c toner a couple times using recipes/guides of the internet a while ago... I remember it working out fine the first couple times--and by "fine" i mean that it didn't burn bad--but I remember the last one I made I kept it in a dark glass bottle and the third day I used it, it burned like a bad sunburn all day long and my skin looked like complete crap...I was really scared it had damaged my skin, because it looked so inflamed and irritated for a while (shit, maybe it DID damage it. I mean, my skin has never been the greatest, so who knows?).
So i gave it a one because it didn't seem to do much for me in the first place, and really, I was just writing this review to caution people to be careful when making stuff like this, as vitamin c is notoriously unstable and ironically, it can actually cause free radical damage to your skin once it degrades (and it degrades fast). If you do make it, it seems like it's probably best to make it one-time-use style.
This does all the good things already mentioned by all the other MUA members, but the one thing that has me especially happy with this serum is that it has really improved my cellulite! I've been using it once a day, after my bath, and although I haven't been as regular with it as clockwork, after 2 months I've seen at least 60% reduction in my cellulite .. yay!!!
UPDATE: Still using this and I've noticed even more of an improvement in my cellulite :)))))
I have gotten sun poisoning every year after my first major summer sun exposure for the last 5 years, possibly due to working in a place with no daytime sunlight and arriving & leaving in the dark. This year it was different: put homemade Vit C serum all over my body followed by sunscreen, went to pool with sister. After a full afternoon of sun, no sun poisoning! Next day, shaved legs in AM so I didn't want them to burn, therefore I foolishly left the serum off of my legs, but used it everywhere else, followed by sunscreen everywhere including legs,. and guess what: after an afternoon of sun, I had sun poisoning, and the rash? Only on my legs - where I didn't put the serum!!!! Went to the dermatologist to get help with the rash, explained the story, & she said it made sense. Been covering myself with it daily since, went to Hawaii for 10 days with my husband, did not even burn! (Did not tan either, but that is another story.) I am of Irish descent and I burn like it is my job! I am a believer. This will be a life changing staple in my skin care routine. Also, I read something below by another reviewer who said she had suddenly noticed dimples, I am not even kidding but I now have dimples too! I recently started invisalign braces, so I had attributed them to that, but who knows? Maybe the C had something to do with it too...
The formula I use is 3tsp distilled water, 1 tsp glycerin, 1/2tsp L-ascorbic acid from Trader Joe's. This could easily be halved if you are just using it for face. I store it in the fridge in a cobalt pump and it is enough for two generous whole body coats. It should really be made fresh every few days, toss it if it turns yellow (oxidized). I've found that if the water is slightly warm the Vit C dissolves much better. Do not use anything metal in the mixing process. One down side, the glycerin makes your skin sooo soft, but does leave you a bit sticky/tacky feeling. It should tingle a little when you first put it on, but that subsides fairly quickly. I've read that you could rinse it off after giving the Vit C a bit of time to sink in to your cells. If I'm going to the pool or beach, I just leave it on and slather some sunscreen on top.
Update Aug 23 2012: While this helps pigmentation and makes my skin so beautifully glowy, I think that topical Vitamin C just breaks me out. With or without glyercin. I'm going to try again once more to be certain as I'm more or less done purging from Triacneal. If I get spotty, I'll know it's not for me. Alas, I may just need to use this vitamin internally as it still can be beneficial for skin health. ................................So after a few months of tinkering with this recipe, I have found what works for me : 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals (Natural Factors) in one ounce of water (previously boiled and filtered - I live in an area with fantastic, soft drinking water, though I may try Evian or Fiji water). I found that my skin does not do well with glycerin in any concentration in this serum. I don't know why, but it appears to cause me clogs/zits. Anyway, I use this 1-2 x daily - under my rosehip oil/sunscreen in the morning, and under Avene Triacneal at night. I am finding this combo is slowly but surely clearing my clogged skin, evening out my tone and giving me a nice glow. I would recommend this, though as everything DIY, YMMV!
Simplest recipe ever: vitamin c granules, wet with water, then add some glycerin to desired thickness.
Most potent vitamin c serum for face ever. Quickly degrades (within 5 days). Put in a dark container to extend life.
Enjoy antioxidized skin for 0.1% of the price and 1000% the effectiveness of store bought.
After much researching and price comparing, I decided to make my own Vitamin C Serum. I mix the following in the palm of my hand (I like this method because it is fresh each day)..
4 drops pure Rose Oil w/ Grapeseed Oil
1 drop pure Vegetable Glycerin
1/16 teaspoon pure Vitamin C Crystals (ascorbic acid)
It does burn and tingle for a bit, but it never lasts more than 10-15 minutes. The results are amazing and addictive. I am hooked after seeing visible results after just one week. I purchase all of the ingredients from iHerb.com, although there are many other good websites and health stores. Use FOF205 to receive five dollars of your first order.