Homemade Vitamin C Serum

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


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!


  • 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.


  • 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.


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! 😀

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.*



  1. says

    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.


  2. Susan says

    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 says

      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. says

    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?

    • Lauren says

      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. says

    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!

    • Lauren says

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

      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! 😀

    • sandy says

      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 says

    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. Pam says

    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 says

      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). :-)

  7. Rene says

    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 says

      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!

  8. Linda says

    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?

  9. Uzma says

    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 says

      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%. :-)

    • Lauren says

      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.

  10. Kristen says

    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 says

      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! :)

    • Lauren says

      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.

  11. Nick says

    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!

  12. AT says

    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 says

      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 says

        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!

          • saude Abubakar says

            Please if I can’t find vi c powder here in Nigeria, can I crush white vit c in purified water please?

  13. Lindsey says

    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 says

      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!

  14. A.J. says

    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.

  15. Jean says

    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.

  16. says

    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 says

      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!

  17. Selina says

    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

  18. Candi says

    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 says

      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! :)

  19. says

    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 says

      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! :)

  20. Han says

    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?

    • Lauren says

      Hi Han,

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

  21. Diana says

    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?

    • Lauren says

      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!

  22. Diana says

    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 says

      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!

  23. Terence says

    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.

  24. donna says

    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?

  25. Mary says

    Lauren, thank you for this great post. I already make a vitamin c serum using only distilled water and Vitamin C. I make enough for my entire body. I’d love to incorporate the vitamin E as well. Can you tell me is it okay if I add a couple drops to my cerave lotion and use that after I’ve let the vitamin C serum absorb? Say 20 minutes later? It just seems easier to me to mix the oil with lotion in my hand. I make a new batch of a Vitamin C every other night and use it up. Any thoughts?

  26. Liz says

    LOVE this serum, Lauren. :) It’s the simplest and easiest recipe for homemade Vit. C serum, by far, that I’ve found.

    I had never used any kind of C serum before making this, so I started out with the 5% solution. I think the consistency is perfect. It’s a bit watery, but that little bit of oil really helps keep it together enough (after shaking) to rub into my palms then onto my face. Whatever breakouts I’ve gotten, the serum has helped in both the duration and subsequent redness/scarring. I’ve had no dryness or irritation from the serum. I had tentative plans of purchasing a manufactured serum if my skin agreed with this recipe, but I just adore the simplicity and ease of it so much I’m sticking with just this. :) I love knowing EVERYTHING that’s in it and being able to whip some up ASAP when I run out.

    And thanks for all the extra tidbits, like checking the pH of the serum, making sure to let it dry THEN apply moisturizer and how to mix it (WITHOUT metal utensils). I store my serum in an amber bottle, tucked behind a tall-backed basket in my standing bathroom cabinet, and I’ve never had any problems with it oxidizing. (I’m much too lazy to be wrapping it in foil, mixing it up every 3 days or having to go ALL the way to the kitchen after washing my face. LOL)

    (Would a pH lower than 3 reduce it’s efficacy? Besides the possible redness and drying, would the serum be any less effective at, say, a 2.5 pH?

    Bottom line: Love, love this serum. Thanks SO much for doing all the work and sharing it with your readers, Lauren. :)

  27. Siena says

    I’m excited to try this, I have mild acne and old acne scars and now 25 so figured this could be a great addition step for my skin. Just made my first batch…will let you know how I like it! Great directions, thanks! :)

  28. Liz Bordelon says

    A few more questions :-) ! Do I understand correctly that if the serum isn’t yellow the pH level would be OK? Also, I am ready for 20% but the recipe doesn’t make very much can I double or triple it and the vit c serum % will not change? Last q! Can I add a little more veg glycerine without changing the percentage? TY love all of your info :-) !!

    • Lauren says

      Hi Liz,

      Sorry for the delay, if your serum is yellow, toss it, as it is oxidizing and could do more harm than good. You should be fine doubling the recipe, but keep an eye out for oxidation. Finally, using more glycerin will dilute the percentage, as you are in turn diluting the total amount of vitamin C. Hope all that helps!

  29. Liz Bordelon says

    Ok my pH strips came so I made a new batch and the only way I could get at least a pH of 3 was to keep adding water then finally a 2 went to 3! Sorry didn’t keep track of how much will next time! Also forgot to test old serum before I threw it out will also check that next time!!!

  30. Sarah says

    Hi Lauren! I just found your website and I love it! While granted, I basically have a Pinterest problem (obsession), I just pinned a ton of your website.
    Anyway, about this serum, here’s my question.
    In the off chance forgoing oil will make my skin dry (usually not a problem), I really want to use oil. However, strangely enough, jojoba is known to make me break out. I saw you mention somewhere that you use castor oil. Have you used it on your face, and if so, what was your experience with it. Do you think I could switch the jojoba for castor and get a better (not breaking out) result? Thanks!

    • Lauren says

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for all the Pinterest love! :) For the serum, I would try grapeseed oil, as it is extremely light and not known to cause breakouts. I literally buy mine from the cooking oil section of the grocery store because it’s much cheaper that way. Castor oil will be a bit too thick for this, I think. Hope that helps!

  31. ANUP PRUSTY says

    I don’t have ph strips…can u pls help me to determine the pH level of the proportion given by you. Plss reply asap

  32. ANUP PRUSTY says

    Whenever I prepare vitamin c serum, Its pH level is around 2.5. Can u plss suggest how to increase its pH level to 3.

  33. KIM says

    Hi lauren I want to replacethe water with aloe vera juice i can do that right?

    also if I want to use vitami E powder which is the best to use and what amount?

    • Lauren says

      Hi Kim,

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a definite answer to either of your questions. I think the aloe vera would be fine, but vitamin C is fickle in the way that negative interactions with certain substances can render it ineffective. For vitamin E powder, I think TwinLab makes a dry E that you could try, but I’m not sure on the amount…probably just a tiny pinch.

  34. MJ says

    Hello! I have the ingredients and have made the serum twice–being careful to follow exact measurements and instructions. I’ve been using Vitamin C powder from Whole Foods. Each time, however, the powder does not dissolve completely. I’ve tried stirring for longer periods, allowing it to sit longer, etc. So when I apply it to my face, it feels somewhat grainy. I used a washcloth to wipe off the excess/undissolved powder. I can also see that the undissolved powder settles into the bottom of the bottle I’m using for storage. Is this normal? I’m just wondering if there is something I should do differently. Thank you!

    • Lauren says

      Hi MJ,

      The powder I use is very, very fine, to the point of resembling powdered sugar, which dissolves easily. It sounds like you may be using a larger grain vitamin C, which may be why you’re having trouble. You might try grinding what you have in a coffee grinder first and then seeing if it will mix that way! :)

    • D Roberts says

      Couldn’t rollers introduce bacteria into your serum? Even if you cleanse your face, it still retains some bacteria and that’s why dropper bottles are used instead. It keeps whatever you have made as clean as possible.

      Bacteria may be the cause of some who have had breakouts. Check if you are contaminating your serum in some way.

  35. Danielle says

    hi there =) what are your thoughts on addidng vitamin A oil as well? would that increase the potency or take away? also…I wsn’t sure what you meant by making the serum in your palm and then addding the oil. do you do that instead of storing a batch? do you make it each time you use it? I am just starting out and will make the 5% for now. how many drops from the bottle would you suggest to use? thanks so much!

    • Lauren says

      Hi Danielle,

      I’m not sure about the vitamin A…I actually have a retinol cream that I use on days when I’m not using the serum. As far as making it in my hand, if I don’t have a batch made, I will add some water, a drop of vitamin E oil, and a pinch of the vitamin C powder to my palm, mix it, and apply it. Just a ‘quick and dirty’ way to do it. To start with, I would use about a dime-sized portion and see how you do. Hope that helps!

  36. Danielle says

    Hi there =) What are your thoughts on adding vitamin A oil as well? Would that increase the potency or take away? Also…I wasn’t sure what you meant by making the serum in your palm and then adding the oil. Do you do that instead of storing a batch? Do you make it each time you use it? I am just starting out and will make the 5% for now. How many drops from the bottle would you suggest to use? Thanks so much!


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