Homemade Vitamin C Serum

This is by far the best skin care treatment I’ve ever made.

IMG_8349

Vitamin C serums are highly coveted by people of all ages. They are known to boost collagen production in the skin, making it more plump and dewy, erase signs of premature aging, heal acne, even out skin tone, and neutralize free radicals. Some beauty brands charge anywhere from $30 to $100 for a 1-2 ounce bottle, and I’m going to show you how to make your own for pennies!

Let’s begin by looking at what you need to get started:

1. L-Ascorbic Acid

Though it appears that L-ascorbic acid and ascorbic acid are chemically identical, most high-end manufacturers use the L-ascorbic acid.

After much research, I have found this brand to be one of the better buys, and it’s reasonably priced.

 

2. Use glass or plastic utensils

I mix everything in a glass ramekin and usually use my finger or a plastic spoon to stir the mixture.

This is more of a precaution for me, as I’ve read that metals can destroy the effectiveness of the vitamin. It’s no big deal to do it, so why not?

3. Amber Glass Dropper

Vitamin C is very sensitive to air and light, so, unless you make a fresh batch daily, you’ll want to store your serum in a tinted bottle like this one:

 

I really like this one because both the bottle itself and the dropper are made of glass.

4. pH Strips

Though I’ve never tested my serum, I wanted to include this step here. In order for the serum to be ‘effective’, the pH of the solution (recipe below) should be between at about 3.5 on a pH strip (a bit less is okay). This is when it is able to penetrate the skin cells on your face.

If your serum pH level begins to rise or it turns yellowish, toss it out because it is oxidizing. An oxidized serum will cause free radical damage, not prevent it.

If the pH is lower than 3, it can be irritating to the skin, causing redness and dryness. I’ve been fine just using a little trial and error to figure this out. :-)

5. Serum Base

Many women opt to use vegetable glycerin for this step, but I personally like using jojoba oil.

Jojoba oil is chemically comparable with the human sebum, which makes it able to mimic the mechanisms of sebum and how it helps keep the skin healthy. I use this one in my formula.

If you prefer to use vegetable glycerin, just substitute it in place of the jojoba oil in the recipes below.

6. Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin C and vitamin E work synergistically, and vitamin E is very moisturizing, so I like to add a drop or two to my serum formulation, but it is completely optional.

You can also use olive or argan oil, as they both also contain vitamin E.

How To Make It

If this is your first time using any type of acidic face treatment, you may want to start off slowly with a 5% solution. Most top vitamin C serum producers are somewhere in the 15-20% range, but you can easily work your way up using the following recipes:

1. 5% Solution

  • 1/4 t. L-ascorbic acid
  • 1/2 t. jojoba oil
  • 4 1/4 t. distilled water (make sure it is distilled, as the naturally occurring minerals in purified water can interfere with your serum’s effectiveness)

2. 10% Solution

  • 1/4 t. L-ascorbic acid
  • 1/2 t. jojoba oil
  • 1 3/4 t. distilled water

3. 15% Solution

  • 3/8 t. L-ascorbic acid
  • 1/4 t. jojoba oil
  • 2 1/4 t. distilled water

4. 20% Solution

  • 1/4 t. L-ascorbic acid
  • 1/2 t. jojoba oil
  • 1/2 t. distilled water

I like to put the ingredients into a glass ramekin and use my finger to mix everything together. That way, I can feel when the crystals have dissolved. Alternatively, you can mix the serums with a plastic or glass utensil.

I like to use this at night, but feel free to use it whenever you’d like!

Options:

  • Add in a drop or two of vitamin E oil to any of the above.
  • Alter the oil and water amounts to your liking, but be sure to keep the total amount of liquid the same or the potency percentage will be incorrect.
  • Eliminate the oil altogether and just use water and vitamin C.

Notes:

  • The higher the oil to water ratio, the more ‘serum-like’ the formula will be. For example, the 20% solution will be more viscous than the 5% solution, which contains more water and, thus, will be more watery.
  • Shake well before each use to distribute the vitamin C.
  • Do NOT use with copper peptides as they cancel each other out.
  • Make a new batch every 3 days for maximum freshness and bioavailability, as it degrades quickly. You can test this either with a pH strip (if your level is above 3.5, toss it) or by color (it should NOT be yellow).

The serum can be a bit irritating upon first using it, as it is acidic. Be sure to allow the serum to dry and dissolve into your skin, and then follow up with a moisturizer. This will aid in preventing dryness and, subsequently, blackheads.

Various sites purport that vitamin C stays in your skin for up to three days. That being said, it may not be necessary to use it every day, but let your own skin be your guide.

How To Store It

There are some women who keep their serum bottles in the refrigerator to preserve it longer (up to a week). If you choose to do this, take your amber bottle with the homemade serum in it, wrap it in tin foil, and place it in the fridge.

My preference is to just keep my homemade serum in the amber bottle in my bathroom cupboard.

Whatever you decide, be sure to keep the serum away from unnecessary air and light exposure.

IMG_8348

In Closing

I know it sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and the reward will be a super cheap serum that will make your skin GLOW like nothing else.

I have seen a massive improvement in my skin tone. After just a few days of using my homemade version, my skin became brighter, clearer, and more even-toned. I’ve even noticed some old acne scars diminishing!

I highly recommend that everyone try it! Happy skin, happy wallet! :-D

What’s your best and cheapest beauty secret/trick?

Shared with: Make Your Own Monday, Natural Living Monday, Fat Tuesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Healthy 2day

 

*Disclosure: Some of the products linked in this post are Amazon affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase them through my site.*

 

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Comments: 71

  1. Amber September 6, 2013 at 11:10 am Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    Well, you know I am a sucker for homemade beauty products. I LOVE this!!! I am going to give it a go. I’m pretty sure my Coop sells all these ingredients (and they carry those cute little Amber jars…I have several varieties actually that I use for things like my homemade lotions). So I will let you know how it goes. :-)

    Have a great weekend.

    xo,
    –Amber
    Amber recently posted..Zughetti with Roasted Butternut Squash, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Baked Chicken Topped with Lemon Garlic Cashew SauceMy Profile

  2. Susan September 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren! You said this serum helps with premature aging. What about real aging? I’ve never used anything like this, and am not sure what it would do for my old-age skin (not real old, just late 60s). :-)

    • Lauren September 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm Reply

      Lol! From what I’ve read, it helps in general with fine lines, age spots, and overall complexion. I’ve read many threads where the women commenting were in their 50s and 60s. For how cheap it is, I don’t think it would hurt to try! :-)

  3. Emma Brown September 7, 2013 at 12:06 am Reply

    I was wondering how long does this serum last before the vitamin c oxidizes? I’ve heard of people making new batched everyday but that’s a lot of work. Any idea if this is good for several days or a week?
    Emma Brown recently posted..Self Care, Is Best Care During Holiday SeasonMy Profile

    • Lauren September 7, 2013 at 7:21 am Reply

      To my understanding, it lasts about 3 days. I’ve read some women that wrap their amber bottles in tin foil and keep them in the fridge, making it last as long as one week though.

  4. Laura | My Little Gourmet September 7, 2013 at 12:14 am Reply

    At the risk of sounding like a spam comment, I found this post to be very informative and helpful. :) Seriously though, I really want to make this, I just have no idea where to even begin to find this stuff in Germany. I guess the first step would be to translate all of these items into German, google and then go from there. Thanks for this awesome money saving idea!
    Laura | My Little Gourmet recently posted..White Bean and Vegetable PastaMy Profile

    • Lauren September 7, 2013 at 7:18 am Reply

      Haha! Ironic you mention spam when I happen to be receiving a ton of it at the moment. :-P

      All of the items are available on Amazon…can you receive shipments from them? I hope you are able to figure something out and try it, Laura! :-D

    • sandy February 16, 2014 at 2:18 am Reply

      Here in Croatia I have bought the vit. C in DM (Das gesunde Plus) and glycerine and vit.E capsules in the farmacy. I think in Germany it is symilar so try it..

  5. Ljgenthusiast September 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm Reply

    This post is amazing, as is every post you write! You are wonderful in every way a woman can be. I am so proud of you Lauren…

  6. Stacie September 16, 2013 at 7:30 am Reply

    So the 10% and the 20% have the same amount of acid?

    • Lauren September 16, 2013 at 8:07 am Reply

      Correct, but in the 10% solution, there is more water.

  7. Pam November 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm Reply

    How do you get your vit E oil to dissolve into the C serum, it seems to just form a ball and sit on the top.
    Thank you for your post on this subject.

    • Lauren November 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm Reply

      Hi Pam,

      I just shake the bottle well or, lately, I’ve been making it in my hand right before I apply it (meaning I just put a drop of vitamin E oil, a sprinkle of vitamin C, and a bit of water in my hand and mix it with my finger). :-)

  8. Rene November 27, 2013 at 6:10 pm Reply

    Hi Pam
    What is copper peptides?
    Thanks

    • Lauren November 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm Reply

      It’s just a mineral component of some facial serums. :-)

  9. Rene November 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren, can I ask you what is copper peptides?

  10. Rene November 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm Reply

    Thank you for your reply. Also I would like to know can I use purified water b.p. and just noticed that my vitamin c that I bought says calcium ascorbste. Not sure if its ok to use them? Thanks.

    • Lauren November 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm Reply

      I’m not sure what b.p. is…it’s best to use distilled water, as any other kind can contain metals that can interfere with the vitamin C’s effectiveness. I don’t always do it, so I don’t think it’s a huge deal.

      It’s best NOT to use calcium ascorbate, as this has a calcium buffer which will, again, interfere with the serum. Most high-end brands contain L-ascorbic acid, so that’s what I imagine works best. I’ve used just ascorbic acid with good results as well though.

      I hope this helps!

  11. Linda December 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm Reply

    I do not imagine throwing their thirty dollar store bought C serum after three days. I have made a batch and put some in an amber container and some in an opaque jar. The serum in the jar did not turn yellow for several weeks so I believe if you store it correctly it will not oxidize in less than a week.

    I want to give these as gifts so can you comment? Is there something in these products that delays/prevent oxidation I can use at home? Isn’t Vitamin E a natural preservative?

  12. Jessica December 28, 2013 at 6:21 am Reply

    I’m so excited to try this DIY Vitamin C Serum. Thanks for the detailed guide.
    Jessica recently posted..Ask an expert…My Profile

  13. Uzma December 30, 2013 at 9:33 am Reply

    Hello Lauren. I tried this vit c serum and the first batch gave me rave results – it really brightened my face. However, the subsequent batches are not even as close to doing the same. Would you please shed some light on it.

    • Lauren December 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm Reply

      Hi Uzma,

      I might guess that you need to increase your percentage potency? For instance, if you started out with a 5% solution, increase it to 10%. :-)

  14. Dpd January 5, 2014 at 11:26 am Reply

    Hi
    I thought Vit E was oil soluble and Vit C water soluble and the two cant be mixed …. Any thoughts?
    Thanks

    • Lauren January 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm Reply

      Hi there,

      I’m not sure that that means they can’t be mixed, but it is true that the vitamin E won’t dissolve in water. I usually put the serum into my hand and then add a drop or two of vitamin E into my hand as well. The two vitamins work synergistically, helping the serum to work better than the C alone. Most high end manufacturers also include vitamin E in their formulas, and I personally notice a difference when I add it.

  15. Kristen January 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren-
    I would like to try this, but I am hesitant to use any type of oil on my skin because it is very acne-prone. However, I do want to see if this type of serum can help with my acne and acne scarring. I know you can also make vitamin C serums with just the vitamin C and water. What ratios do you suggest of powder to water to obtain the different percentages? Thank you!

    • Lauren January 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm Reply

      Hi Kristen,

      You can just replace the amount of jojoba oil with an equal amount of water. You may find that just doing this makes your skin a bit dry, so you may want to find a moisturizer that you tolerate, otherwise, the dryness may clog your pores and lead to blackheads or breakouts. Good luck! :)

  16. rani January 14, 2014 at 8:56 am Reply

    can i use grape seed oil instead of jojoba oil in vit c serum

    • Lauren January 14, 2014 at 9:38 am Reply

      Hi Rani,

      I’m only familiar with grapeseed oil as a cooking oil, so I can’t vouch for using it here. You can use water in place of the jojoba oil though and just follow up with a moisturizer.

  17. Nick January 22, 2014 at 7:52 am Reply

    Hi Lauren. I just wanted to clarify something: l-ascorbic acid and ascorbic acid are exactly the same thing. They are both the levo (left) rotary enantiomer of the molecule. The other alternative would be d-ascorbic acid, which would be the dextro (right) rotary enantiomer of the molecule, ie, the mirror image molecule. D-ascorbic isnt found naturally and is relatively difficult to make in a lab. So by convention, the l from l-ascorbic acid is dropped off–except by cosmetic companies wanting to sound fancy to justify exorbitant prices. By the way, Ive used homemade ascorbic acid serum–just water and ascorbic acid in a spray bottle–for a couple of years, and it works. Real men use topical vitamin C!

  18. Kari January 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm Reply

    Hi, I’m making a batch of this. How much do I apply? Should I use it sparingly? Or should I use a lot?

    • Lauren January 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm Reply

      Hi Kari,
      -
      Haha, I was just putting mine on for the night. :) I use about a nickel-sized amount.

  19. Dion Birch January 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm Reply

    Hi what do t mean in the measurements please

    • Lauren January 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm Reply

      Hi Dion,

      t is for teaspoon :)

  20. dion January 30, 2014 at 11:57 pm Reply

    thanks didn’t know if it was tablespoon or teaspoon .

  21. AT January 31, 2014 at 11:13 pm Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    I have sensitive skin that is acne prone. Lately I’ve had great success with oil cleansing method. I was wondering what if you use magnesium ascorbyl phosphate instead of l-ascorbic acid? Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is not acidic and so wouldn’t cause a lot of redness and irritation. I was thinking of dissolving it in water and then use jojoba oil. What doyouthink?

    • Lauren February 1, 2014 at 9:14 am Reply

      Hi AT,

      I’m not sure this would be good for your skin if you have open wounds from the acne. From my reading, I really don’t think anything can be substituted for the l-ascorbic acid. It does have a little sting when applied, but if your acne is not ‘open’ (from you squeezing, picking, etc.) you might be ok. It may actually help! Otherwise, you may want to look at something else. I had success with Proactiv when mine was really bad, so maybe that could be an option for you?

      • AT February 1, 2014 at 11:03 am Reply

        Thanks Lauren. I’ll try l-ascorbic acid and let you know. I don’t have any open/active acne, just quite a few scars – some from picking the zits and some for unknown reasons.

        I’ve tried benzoyl peroxide at various concentrations (proactive’s active ingredient) but it leaves me with a lot of redness and burning. I remember one time it felt like a chemical burn. I don’t know why I have such sensitive skin, but hey what can you do? I think I read somewhere that magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is for people whose skin is too sensitive for the acidic effects of regular vitamin C. I’ll try it and see how I react. If it works alright for me, that will be really good as I was looking at the prices and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is really EXPENSIVE!

        • Lauren February 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm Reply

          That’s really interesting! If you try it (and you remember), let me know how you it works for you! :)

  22. […] Rejuvenates the skin and restores a healthy, youthful glow to the skin. With the increased production of collagen, the skin becomes more supple. This improves blood flow to the area and re-establishes moisture levels in the skin. […]

  23. Lindsey February 7, 2014 at 5:39 am Reply

    Hi Lauren. Thanks for this very helpful blog post. I bought the products you recommended and have made and tried several batches. I’ve encountered a small problem though. No matter how much stirring/shaking/waiting I do, the L-ascorbic acid never really dissolves in the room temp water. Finally, with most recent batch I warmed the water a little before mixing. This did help and the crystals fully dissolved, and it felt like the solution applied well. But my concern is that by warming the water, I may decrease the effectiveness of the vitamin C since I read that heat and light can degrade it. I keep it in the fridge afterward for the remaining application or 2, but I’m just wondering if that initial warming of the water makes it less effective. Any idea?

    • Lauren February 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm Reply

      Hi Lindsey,

      Sorry for the delay. I’m not sure about warming the water…my trick is to put a bit of the serum in the palm of my hand and rub it with my finger a bit to break up the crystals. Then, I just apply it to my face from there. You also might try breaking the crystals in a coffee grinder a bit before making the serum? I hope that helps!

      • Caroline February 12, 2014 at 8:24 am Reply

        Hi Lauran
        Can normal glycerine be used for the vitamin c serum.

        • Lauren February 12, 2014 at 8:37 am Reply

          Hi Caroline,

          I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking about animal glycerine versus vegetable glycerin?

  24. Caroline February 12, 2014 at 8:42 am Reply

    Hi Lauren
    Yes I am I bought glycerin from pharmacy & not sure if its animal or vegtable thats why wanted to ask if it made a difference.

    Thanks

    • Lauren February 12, 2014 at 10:51 am Reply

      I think it will work fine. :)

    • Lauren February 12, 2014 at 10:51 am Reply

      If you have any hesitation, just use all water, let the mixture dry on your face, and then follow up with a moisturizer.

  25. Caroline February 13, 2014 at 12:25 am Reply

    Hi Lauren

    Your a star thanking you so much for advice I will start soon & fab site :-)

  26. A.J. February 20, 2014 at 4:15 am Reply

    Hi
    I noticed that there is no mention of a preservative anywhere in this serum. Adding water and not adding any preservative is not well dangerous in my opinion. I wouldn’t really feel safe to use it…My two bits.

    • Lauren February 20, 2014 at 7:40 am Reply

      Having no preservatives is actually part of the point here A.J., along with affordability.

  27. Jean February 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    I happened to have just bought a bottle of Vitamin C Crystal but it is only Ascorbic Acid (No L infront), will it be still effective? Thank you.

    • Lauren February 22, 2014 at 8:51 pm Reply

      Hi Jean, it’s worth a shot! I’ve used it as well with good results. :)

  28. Friday Finds | Oatmeal with a Fork February 28, 2014 at 5:01 am Reply

    […] I love my Homemade Vitamin C Serum, I like to change-up my skin care routine so my face doesn’t become resistant to the same […]

  29. ari March 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I like the sound of this recipe much better than the other ones I have found. Can you tell me what is the mg/per serving size for the LAA you’re using? i.e.: 1/2 tsp = 2,000mg. There is no ingredient info on the Amazon link.

    • Lauren March 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm Reply

      Hi Ari,

      I’m not seeing that information on the container…that’s a good question! They have two daytime telephone numbers if you’d like to call them and ask: Phone: 425-292-9502 and 425-292-9503 (From 9am until 4pm PST).

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help!

  30. Selina April 18, 2014 at 5:41 am Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    can i use my regular facial oil (which also contains jojoba oil) insted of 100% pure jojoba oil ?

    thanks :) and greetings from Germany

    • Lauren April 18, 2014 at 8:39 am Reply

      Greetings Selina!

      Your regular oil should work fine. :)

  31. Candi May 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren, I am making a list of all homemade facial products to make. I started out with a few masks. I had no idea about all these products I could make myself. I remember my boyfriend using a serum he got from the dermatologist some years ago due cystic acne. it came with a dropper and amber bottle. I am pretty sure this is what he was using b/c that product was homemade. He has more of an oily skin type. Would you suggest starting with a higher 10%? Or should we just start low at 5%. My skin is pretty dry so I know I would start at the lower end. Thanks!

    • Lauren May 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm Reply

      Hi Candi,

      If you have sensitive skin, I would start at 5%. The vitamin C inevitably makes any skin type drier, which is why it’s beneficial to use the jojoba oil or another moisturizer of your choice in conjunction with it. I hope this helps! :)

  32. kikki June 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm Reply

    hi Lauren. I have noticed enlarged pores on my cheeks since i started using the serum. I would love to continue using the serum but enlarged pores are a deal breaker as at a certain point it cannot be reversed. i use 10% strenght started with 5%. what could i be doing wrong? can i get the same benefits if i take the vitamin c internally?

    • Lauren June 26, 2014 at 3:57 pm Reply

      Hi Kikki,

      I’m not sure what to say, as I’ve never experienced nor heard that myself. Is it possible something else in your skincare routine is contributing? Vitamin C is definitely great to take internally! I take it every night. The only other thing with the serum is to eliminate the oil, if you’re using it. I hope you figure it out! :)

  33. Han July 14, 2014 at 5:40 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren, great post! I’m debating whether or not to spend time and money buying and using some ph strips to test my serum to ensure its being absorbed. Or do you think with using the quantities you outlined that this is unnessesary and that it will already be the correct ph?
    Thankyou.

    • Lauren July 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm Reply

      Hi Han,

      I’ve never used the pH strips, and I feel my serum is very effective, so I would say go without them! :)

  34. Friday Finds | Oatmeal with a Fork July 18, 2014 at 8:51 am Reply

    […] use it every other night (along with my Homemade Vitamin C Serum on the off nights), as I find it the most effective for myself this way, and I really enjoy the […]

  35. Diana August 4, 2014 at 7:50 am Reply

    Hi there,
    Love this idea, but I cannot get the oil and water to mix regardless of how much I shake/mix the ingredients. Any ideas?
    Thanks!
    Diana

    • Lauren August 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm Reply

      Hi Diana,

      I’ve actually taken to mixing the vitamin C with water in the dropper (minus the oil), dispensing a bit in my hand along with a drop or two of oil, and then just massaging it into my skin. Hope that helps!

  36. Diana August 5, 2014 at 8:40 am Reply

    Thats a good solution. Thanks!
    D

  37. Diana August 26, 2014 at 7:48 am Reply

    Hi again,
    So I have been using this for about 3 weeks and loved it until, discouragingly my skin completely broke out. Is this kind of like a retinol where your skin needs to get used to it, and when you first start, all the clogged dirt comes to surface? I want to keep using it, and I will most definitely wait it out and deal with these breakouts if the end results will really be amazing. Any insight would be great. Thanks! Diana

    • Lauren August 26, 2014 at 8:19 am Reply

      Hi Diana,

      I haven’t had any trouble with this myself, but I can’t say for sure that someone else wouldn’t. The only thing that may be happening is the serum is drying out your skin a bit and clogging your pores. Are you using a moisturizer with it? That would help!

  38. Terence August 29, 2014 at 9:16 am Reply

    Thank you for this. It’s your attention to detail, thoroughness, and providing web links to effective — but cost-effective — products (on Amazon, etc.) that makes you want to try this out. Great job.

  39. donna September 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm Reply

    i am wondering if the PH level should be 3.5, when useing the 5%,10%, 15% and 20% vitamin c serum, or is it suppose to be diffrent for each percentage of vitamin c serum?

    • Lauren September 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm Reply

      Hi Donna,

      The percentage doesn’t matter. :)

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