Vitamin C is a very powerful substance and it is found in many commercial products for the skin because it is a strong antioxidant, it has lightening properties and, last but not least, it boosts the production of collagen (therefore you are left with a firmer skin).
Vitamin C is “ascorbic acid” (you could also find “L-ascorbic acid”) but in the creams you buy, if you read the ingredients, you will never find “ascorbic acid”, probably you will find “sodium ascorbyl phosphate” or “magnesium ascorbyl phosphate” (there are also other forms of Vitamin C, this is a mere example). What is this?
Well, Vitamin C has great properties but it doesn’t keep stable: it oxidizes even in contact with air, with light… (this is why if you make fresh orange juice you should drink it immediately after), so in order to be able to add this vitamin in our face creams, cosmetologists use a stabilized form of Vit C: if in the ingredients of your cream you read an ingredient which contains the word “ascorbyl”, to make it very simple, that is the stabilized form of Vitamin C.
These stabilized forms are many and they are growing in number all the time. They are not something negative (and even I use them in the making of Vitamin C creams… maybe I will post a recipe soon about it 🙂 ), however their properties are not 100% the same of the pure Vitamin C.
Today I am going to show you the easiest and most effective way to make at home a special Vitamin C Serum which is much more powerful than every cream you ever bought 😀
The only way to use pure Vitamin C (therefore “L-ascorbic acid”) effectively is to use it right away and make a new serum all the time.
This is why the recipe of today, unlikely all the cream recipes I have shown before, is not in 100 gr but it is in very small amounts: because you will have to make it anew every time you want it 🙂
But don’t be scared: it is made of three ingredients only and it is divided in two parts 😉
1 teaspoon demineralized water
1/8 teaspoon L-ascorbic acid (you can easily buy it in pharmacy; ask for the powder of vitamin C or ask for Ascorbic acid, simply 😉 )
(if you wish to, you can add also a drop of glycerin)
You mix these two ingredients in a bowl and measure the pH (you can find pH strips even in pharmacy: buy those from 0 – 14 so you can use them also for the other homemade cosmetics in the future. They should look like THIS in order to show you exactly the correct pH of the solution).
WARNING! Measuring the pH is important!
Ascorbic acid is obviously an acid (and it is also very strong) so you don’t want to apply on your skin something of pH 2… however Vitamin C is well absorbed (and used) in your skin only at a pH range of 3.5 or lower. Therefore check the pH of the solution and if you see it is lower than pH 3.5 adjust the pH by adding a little bit more water. Now check the pH again and keep adjusting until the result is pH 3.5.
This is really important and I am not responsible if you ruin your skin.
At this point you can apply this water on your skin using a brush or even your own fingers, keep applying even in multiple layers until the water is finished.
WARNING! Do NOT apply on the eye area or too close to your lips or nostrils.
It is normal if it stings a little, but it should not be painful and it should not last more than 2 or 3 minutes.
WARNING! If you feel pain wash off immediately! If after 3 minutes the stinging hasn’t stopped yet, wash off immediately! Some people have a very delicate skin and this acid might be too strong for them. If this is your case, rinse off immediately and avoid using acids on your skin. They could damage it!
If instead your skin didn’t react badly to the Vitamin C boost :D, wait for the skin to be dry (wait approximately 10 minutes) and now it’s the part two 😉
(second part of the “recipe”)
2 drops of Vitamin E (Tocopheryl acetate or Tocopherol – you should be able to find it in pharmacy very easily. It is a very dense liquid. The Tocopheryl acetate should be transparent or slightly yellowish. Tocopherol, instead, is dark brown).
Put these two drops on the tips of your fingers and tap it all over your face.
This time it shouldn’t sting anymore.
Let it sit on your skin for 20 minutes and wash off (you will have to wash your face vigorously, because Vitamin E is quite sticky 😀 ).
This is the easiest, most effective Vitamin C serum.
After applying the ascorbic acid, you apply Vitamin E because these two Vitamins work in synergy, boosting the antioxidant properties of them both! 🙂
I wouldn’t suggest to apply this Vitamin C serum everyday because it is quite aggressive. Once a week should be enough.
It is better to make this treatment in the evening before sleeping (so the skin has time to “recover” all the night) and I would suggest to avoid making this treatment in summer or late spring (it is always negative to use acids on the skin in summertime! They weaken the barrier of the skin and they can make more disasters than positive things if your skin receives direct sun rays in the period of an acid treatment).
Now, after having done a little bit of “terrorism” about this Vitamin C Serum… I can say that I have not misused it and I am very happy about the results!
I used to have some red signs on my skin, left from an old acne, and they are finally gone! 🙂
Also, my skin looks more fresh and firm! 🙂
So don’t misuse this DIY and have a great day! 😉
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
46 thoughts on “DIY Vitamin C Serum”
Why do you recommend not to apply it around the eye area? what do you call around the eye area?
You said it is well absorbed on a Ph of 3.5 or lower , however you also mentioned that is lower than 3.5 add more water?
Because the eye area is very very delicate and applying something acid as 3.5pH is too much for the skin there! 🙂
It is well absorbed on a pH which is lower or at level of 3.5… the reason why you should use it at pH 3.5 is that a lower pH would be too aggressive to the skin. In fact the pH of our skin is approximately 5, 5.5, therefore a pH 3.5 would be “bearable” for our skin but lower would be too aggressive: so we want the vit C to be absorbed well, but not to burn our face! 😀
I have done the silly thing of using this serum at a more acid level (2.5 pH) and my skin reacted badly so I had to stop using this serum for a month before my skin would be fine with it again 😉
Hope this helped 😀
Hi itsallinmyhands i am going to make the serum but i have a question before i do because it is only a small amout 1teaspoon of water how do i use the test strips properly? I’ll try to explain the strips i got have four pads on them each a different colour and the strips have to be soaked in the solution for just half a second but if i am only using 1teaspoon the solution is not deep enough to dip the whole strip in the water can you help with any suggestions thanks.
Cut the strip in 3 parts by its length (this will just allow it to use more strips and not soak too much water 😉 ) so you still have all the 4 pads that will reach to the solution. This way the strip will also bend very easily and just slide in the spoon (or wherever you keep the “serum”) 🙂
Hope it helped!
Hi i made up the serum tested it like you said but few days later had a breakout, i did moisturise afterwards but still broke out any suggestions what to do to try and avoid a breakout or is it just too drying to my skin and changing the ph. I wanted this to work was going to use it in conjunction with a derma roller for acne scars fyi i never used the roller with it just wanted to see how my skin would handle it first thanks.
I don’t know why you did break out. The acidity might make your skin dry a little, but shouldn’t make you break out.
However, if you have still acne going on right now, you should stop doing this serum: this serum helps cancel the redness of acne scars (doesn’t make them disappear) but it doesn’t help a breaking out skin… it actually irritates it more so it is not a good formula if your skin is already suffering.
You might try to do this again, only once your skin is calm: if you break out once more after doing this serum, then just stop trying making it because it simply means your skin is not fine with it, so you should listen to the “replies” you get. 🙂
Are you sure the pH wasn’t too low?
Was your skin burning during the application?
It should only tingle a little.
If you try this again, definitely lower the amount of ascorbic acid and see what happens. 🙂
ps. I wouldn’t combine it with a derma roller in the way that they are both stressful for the skin. With a derma roller I’d rather suggest you to use something SOOTHING and that would help cicatrization (but, as a derma roller wounds the skin, I believe a farmaceutical product and not a cosmetic would be appropriate).
Lovee your article. I wanna ask about pH. So, does your recipe (1/8 tsp l ascorbic plus 1 tsp dist water) show exactly pH 3,5? Or does it more acid or base than 3,5? Please let me know. I cant find any pH strips in my local drugstore so it will be more efficient and effective if i just do the exactly same recipe with you without burning my face. Thankyou 🙂
No no no 🙂
pH can vary very much depending even on the water you use so please buy pH strips online! You could be able to find them also in pharmacy! Try ordering them to the pharmacy. I am sure they will be able to purchase it for you! Request those in the picture (brand doesn t matter but at least different color to be more precise).
Please don t try this without pH strips! It could be dangerous!!
Hi it’s allinyourhands I know the recipe says deminerelised water but is there any exeptions allowed here, I only have destilled water and wondered if i could use that but if not i will get some deminerelised water thanks.
Yes that’s the same thing! 🙂 the best would be deionized purified water (no bacteria as well), in case read the post about Water in cosmetics 🙂
Anyway, what you have will do! 🙂
Hi itsallinmyhands and again thanks for the reply.
the reason i was thinking of using the derma roller with it because alot of forums and you tube and the like were raving about using vit c with the roller because it produces collagen, and with the roller you get even better results aparently I do get breakouts every two months or so and i am constantly on antibiotics i don’t have systic acne but it is mild to moderate and i had scars i was hoping to heal i did test it and it seamed close to 3.5 but if i use it again i will be even more thorough.
What pharmaceutical products could you suggest to use with the derma roller if you don’t mind me asking? Also do you have any potions or recipes for ongoing acne thanks.
No I don’t have any product to suggest, but a dermatologist should have one! 🙂
However, usually hyaluronic acid is used to help repairing the skin… but I wouldn’t apply a cosmetic grade hyaluronic acid serum or cream on micro cuts.
3.5 seems fine!
However for ongoing acne you could try other ingredients! For example Niacinamide (also called Vitamin PP) at 2%-3% should be good, also pay attention to the oils and butters in your creams (I wrote a post about oils and acne) and soothing ingredients like the glycyrrhetic acid… but also try eating more fruit and fresh vegetables, simply try eating better… do a little more sport (but acne will get worse before getting better in case you don’t usually move much) and stick to it 🙂
I have used this serum a while back and it works! I could see a positive difference even in just a couple of days,It is so much more effective and cost efficient when DIYed. Thank you for putting this up. Reminds me to start using it again.
🙂 thank you Priya!
Thanks itsallinmyhands i do keep active i go to the gym 3 times a week usually but the other stuff i will try and i will read about the oils thanks really appreciated.
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Good luck Stephen! 🙂
I beated acne few years ago, took time but right now I am still acne free 🙂 the eating well helped a lot and oh! Just crossed my mind: I applied on my skin a 3% boric acid solution for 15 minutes everyday for a month (boric acid is a bit toxic so this is not something you should do for a too long time). I used to pour it on cotton disks, apply them and leave them there for a while. It totally helped in both calming the skin and making it acne free. It dried the skin a little.
I’m so glad that I came across your website today, and even more ecstatic about the recipes! Okay, I have a question about vitamin C used in serums, creams, treatments, etc. I just happe to be allergic to high acidity citrus fruits, mainly oranges, lemons, strawberries and grapefruit and wouldn’t ya know, even vitamin C supplements, so do you know of any other form of a vitamin C that I could replace it with that’s still in the vitamin C family? I know that there’s various types of fruits with vitamin C so my thinking is that I could possibly use an essential oil or another form of a vitamin C powder such as a fruit powder (that’s not from the fruits listed above that I’m allergic to) and possibly make up a serum, cream, etc. but of course it would need to be used at night due to photosensitivity issues. If so, could you please share an easy recipe with me? I say easy because I’m new to the whole diy cosmetic thing but I am familiar with essential oils. I really hope that my question is coming across the way that I’m thinking of it in my mind because I really don’t want to sound like I’m half crazy! Thanks again for sharing your recipes and wisdom with the rest of the world, including to us newbies! Oh, I really like that you include pictures because that just helps to know that we’re on the right track and what it sold look like at each phase!
Blessings and peace,
Hello Tanja! 🙂
Unfortunately I am not sure how to help you 😦
In essential oils there is no vitamin C (vitamin C is very difficult to stabilize), the only fruit that comes to my mind full of vitamin C that you didn’t mention above is kiwi!
However! Kiwi powder or any fruit powder won’t work because I don’t think that in fruit powder there will be that much of vitamin C left at all.
You should ask a doctor exactly what are you allergic to, because on the market you can very easily find pure Vitamin C powder which you could use to make a daily serum (so it wouldn’t need to be stored and preserved).
I mean: is your allergy related to Vitamin C or to something else inside these citrus fruits?
Because if it is related to Vitamin C itself I am not sure you could use a different form of stabilized vitamin C and not have an allergic reaction.
Did you understand what I mean?
I really think you should first find out WHAT (inside of those fruits) exactly you are allergic to 🙂 in order to be sure you won’t risk anything at using pure vitamin C.
Cause if you are allergic to fruit acids… well, vitamin C IS a fruit acid and I don’t see a way to get away with it 😦
Sorry I couldn’t be of help 😦
Hi Tanja. If you buy pure l-ascorbic acid, it is just a bio-available chemical processed in a lab and has no DNA of fruit or other organisms in it, including GMO material, even if it is derived from GMO corn. Although I’ve found most of it isn’t, possibly due to consumer demand. ‘Now’ Foods do an ascorbic acid powder that is definitely non GM, too, which you can get from http://www.iherb.com, though I get a bulk powder from ebay. Shop around, just make sure it’s pure ascorbic acid, and powder is best to dissolve. Also, I use distilled water, which has a ph of around 5.5, so I’ve just made some serum using 1g of c powder and 15ml distilled water, and that has turned out to be around 3-3.5, although it’s quite difficult to tell exactly as the colours never match the card exactly, but it tingles slightly and doesn’t burn, so I think I’ve got it about right. I keep this in a brown dropper bottle in the fridge. Hope this helps.
Thank you Paula. Just to be sure: it is ok that you make a small batch and keep it in the fridge… However it won’t last more than 2-3 days. It would be better to keep it in a transparent bottle so you would be able to tell the slightest change in color.
Hi there! I really liked the way you explained everything 🙂 I had read about this serum in other websites and I am quite confused because in some of them they said that the vitamin c serum was good for leaving in the face throughout the day to help with the free radicals. So that would be a bad idea? Also, I was thinking about using this serum all days, would that be too much on the skin? If yes what other serum would you recommend? Thank you so much!
Yes it is definitely too much to use it everyday.
And yes I don’t suggest using it for many hours. You should wash it off: what happens is that the serum oxidizes on your skin if you leave it there too long and this is NOT GOOD.
This serum works great every couple of days but only on short period of time (one or two months). Then you need to let your skin rest for a while.
You could use another serum that works differently: for example hyaluronic acid serum. 🙂
Thank you very much!
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Ive seen some posts saying Hyaluronic and ferulic acid should be used to make this serum, what are your thoughts on that
Hyaluronic acid and vitamin c are not compatible ingredients.
Also, HA is expensive and this serum lasts a maximum of 2-3 days (better would be to make it fresh every time), so I don’t suggest it.
Thanks, what about ferulic?
Ferulic acid stabilizes vitamin C a little but it needs a professional formulation around it.
L ascorbic acid should only be used for something like this serum which is not preserved and is used immediately after it is made.
If you want to make a cream with vitamin C, ferulic acid and some sodium hyaluronate, you can, by using a stabilized form of Vitamin C (MAP, SAP…)
Hope this helped
Have you seen this kit being sold by Felicia rose? She suggests using Hyaluronic acid with ascorbic acid. Could you explain why you say they are not compatible please. I am confused.
L ascorbic acid depolymerizes hyaluronic acid (it breaks it), the pH is not compatible.
What is formed is low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, which would be good except it is formed in low percentage (I don’t think enough to be effective).
This is why I said they are not to be mixed together.
Also, again, hyalur is expensive and you cannot preserve L ascorbic acid, so it is a waste of ingredients.
You would better make this Vitamin C serum as I wrote it and separately make a preserved hyaluronic gel (or liquid, if you buy concentrated low molecular weight sodium hyaluronate) and use them one after the other.
I don’t see why to mix and waste ingredients when you can use them more effectively separated 🙂
Hello – question on the above … you mention to use them one after the other … do you mean use one for 2-3 months and then the other? Or do you mean maybe the Vitamin C in the evening and the Hyalur in the morning? But you are saying not to put Vit C Serum on and put the Hyalur over top of it …. I have made both of them – just curious best route to take.
You do the vitamin C serum, which you should wash off after 20 minutes or it oxidizes on your skin doing the opposite of what you want it to do… and THEN can apply the Hyaluronic Acid serum 😉
AWESOME – THANK YOU!! 🙂 Another question …. what should I use to wash it off? Or is a good rinse with water ok?
A normal face wash or a very good long rinse. The thing is that if it remains on your skin it won’t do good, so take the good of it and then wash it off well in whatever way you find right 🙂
Oook, let me check if I got this right… so can vitamin E stay on the skin? Do we rinse off vitamin C after 20mins, then apply E?
I’m just asking because I don’t see the reason not to leave vitamin E overnight? I mean it doesn’t oxidize so why not?
Problems with this…
1) Simply adding Vitamin C powder (L-Asc. Acid) to water and applying it the skin’s surface will not do anything. The skin won’t absorb it all- similar to how your face does magically fill up with water after a shower. Esp with a rinse-off product. You need a penetration enhancer (usually ethoxydiglycol, Arlasolve DMI, propylene/butylene glycol).
2) No emulsifier/preservative. You need an emulsifier or gelling agent to hold the Vitamin C, water, and Vit E together (provided you’re adding it in). Also a preservative is necessary if you plan on keeping the serum longer than a few minutes.
3) No pH adjuster. You are correct L-Asc. Acid and water alone drops the pH to dangerously low levels. It therefore needs to be manually adjusted with drops of a pH raiser (Triethanolomine).
4) Vitamin C’s short life span. L-Asc. Acid rapidly oxidizes and decays when added to water (“browning” of Vit C serums). Adding Vit E Tocopherol does stabilize and slow the decay, but considering the conditions of “home made” serum (lack of proper equipment, lots of air exposure)… Won’t last long.
Buy proper ingredients from DIY skincare websites (Triethanolomine, cosmetic grade vitamin powders, GelMaker EMU, etc) and use a more stable version of Vit C. I use Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate Vit C from MakingCosmetics.com! Not volatile to light/air like LAA, neutral pH, easy to formulate with.
Or buy a pre-made DIY Vit C kit (MakingCosmetics and LotionCrafter both have them) 🙂
It doesn’t need a preservative as it is thrown.away after few minutes.
Sorry but I don’t have any intention to touch Triethanolamine. You are free to do so if you wish.
I do make a different version of this now, I do gel it first. I am sure you have noticed it is a very old post 😉
About using SAP, I don’t simply because there are many studies that show how stabilized forms of Vitamin C are not effective, or at least not even close to the basic form.
I don’t like to use penetration enhancers because I don’t want stuff to penetrate deeper in the skin (just for the record, the penetration enhancers penetrate too… With everything else you add, included triethanolamine. Of course you are free to use it, if that’s what you like).
This serum doesn’t need to go deeper in the skin: it has worked great as it is on the redness of scars. There’s really no need for enhancers, but you are free to use them if you like.
The pH doesn’t have to be adjusted in this serum, it just has to be checked. If I really need to rise it a little cause it is lower than 3, I use other functional ingredients, certainly not triethanolamine.
There is a reason why this serum needs to have such a low pH, I believe it is already explained.
I don’t know what kind of blog you thought this is, but I only purchase “proper ingredients”.
Thank you for your concern, I guess.
Hi, I just discovered your blog and I am blown away by the quality of the content, so thank you for keeping up the hard work!
I just read that you updated the version of this serum to a gel, can you explain a little bit more? Do you add Xantan gum or something else for that purpose?
Thank you again, I am a new subscriber, kind regards
Yes I add xanthan gum, glycerin and d-panthenol instead of Vitamin E. I like it more this way. Because it is such a small amount, I don’t weight anything. I just make a very small amount and throw away whatever is left 🙂
I have a doubt.
I would like to make a serum using the “combo”: L-ascorbic acid, ferulic acid and vitamin E.
What are your recommendations?
Could I solubilize the L-ascorbic acid with water, then mix the ferulic until being soluble, and end it adding vitamin E?
Could I use it daily to help fighting sun damage and protect from the pollution, and rinse in the end of the day?
Thank you very much!
The Vitamin E should be applied later because it won’t melt in water. I wouldn’t use this every day, but you can use it every day for a couple of weeks… Because nothing in large quantities and for a long time is healthy: even antioxidants/vitamins have bad sides.
So you can do this, but don’t exaggerate. 🙂
Just read this. Thanks so much for this infomation. Cant wait to try it. If gelling this serum, what amount of xantham gum is required, since its a one off use for each time it is prepared. Thank you
It goes with trial and error since it is such a small amount it cannot be calculated. However you can do also without gelling agent 😉
I know its been a while you posted but what is your best emusifier for face cream(just your personal prefrence as of now) since its been awhile u posted here)
Emulium Mellifera at thr moment. But I am going to test a few promising ones now 😉