4 Reasons Why Making Your Own Vitamin C Serum Is NOT A Good Idea

by Gio
4 reasons why you should not make a DIY vitamin C serum

“How can I make my own DIY vitamin C serum, Gio? I’m tired of spending a fortune on products that go bad before I have time to finish the bottle.”

I hear ya. Vitamin C is a skincare superhero with plenty of anti-aging superpowers. Studies show it:

But it’s finicky AF. Goes bad quickly. Costs a pretty penny. Making your own can save you a lot of money, time and hassle…

Or not?

Here’s the deal: L-Ascorbic Acid (the pure form of Vitamin C) is one of the trickiest ingredients to formulate with. You can’t just add a sprinkle of vitamin C powder to your moisturiser and expect it to work. It’s more complicated than that.

Here’s why I think a DIY vitamin C serum isn’t the answer for most people:

1. Wrong Carrier = No Antioxidant Properties

A lot of DIY recipes tell you to dissolve either vitamin C tablets or L-ascorbic acid (the pure form of vitamin C) powder in water. That’s useless.

Watching those vitamin C crystals dissolve is so satisfying and makes you think it’s working. But when you apply the mixture on your skin, vitamin C recrystallizes. Crystallized vitamin C can’t penetrate skin. And if it can’t do that, it won’t work as an antioxidant.

You could fix this by using a carrier that enhances penetration. Alcohol is the most common, but it’s drying for some people. Propylene glycol or glycerin are much better choices. But they too have their limitations.

This solution (l-ascorbic acid + glycerin or propylene glycol) would be water-soluble. That means it won’t be able to penetrate the lipid-based barrier of your skin very well.

It’s true that L-Ascorbic Acid won’t dissolve in oil, so you’re kinda stuck with a water-based solution and all its limitation. That’s why it’s important to choose a carrier that enhances penetration.

Making your own DIY Vitamin C serum isn’t just about mixing some powder with water. You need to mix them in a way that gives Vitamin C the best chance of success.

Related: Is Alcohol In Skincare Good Or Bad?

tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate vitamin C derivative

2. Wrong Ph = Irritated Skin

If you think getting the carrier right is tricky, wait till you hear this.

Because L-Ascorbic Acid is acidic, it penetrates skin better at an acidic ph (lower than 3.5). When mixed with water at a 5% concentration, L-Ascorbic Acid has a pH between 2.2 and 2.5. That means it’ll work well, right?

Not exactly. The skin’s natural pH is around 5.5 or 6.5. Using a product with a pH too low can irritate it and dry it out. That’s why most commercially available vitamins C serum are formulated at a pH between 2.8 and 3.4.

That’s low enough for vitamin C to work, but not so low to cause irritations (unless your skin is super sensitive). A homemade vitamin C serum is more likely to have a pH that’s too low and that can cause irritations.

If you decide to go down this route, have pH strips at the ready to check the pH of your serum.

Related: What The Heck Is The Acid Mantle And How Do You Repair It?

Want DIY skincare tips that really work? Subscribe to the newsletter below to receive the “5 DIY Skincare Hacks That Really Work” below:

3. Wrong Storage System = Quick Spoilage

L-Ascorbic Acid is highly unstable. It oxidises, and loses a bit of its effectiveness, every time it’s exposed to light, heat, and air. You’ll notice when your vitamin C serum has gone bad. It turns a brown.

If you want your DIY vitamin C serum to last more than a couple of days, you need to stabilise it. You can do this in two ways:

You’ve guessed it, both solutions are hard to implement at home. The best you can realistically do is make a small batch, pour it into an opaque, airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator. Even then, it won’t last you more than 3/4 days.

Are you willing to make a new batch that often? If the answer is not, a DIY vitamin C serum isn’t for you.

Related: How To Store Your Homemade Skincare Products

types of vitamin c used in skincare

4. Fewer Ingredients = Fewer Benefits

Most DIY vitamin C serums are pretty simple. L-abscorbic acid. Water. Glycerin. Done.

That’s cool. But not enough. I prefer my vitamin C serums to come packed with other antioxidants. Why?

Antioxidants work better together than alone. Studies show that pairing vitamin C with ferulic acid and vitamin E, for example, makes each antioxidant more effective and doubles photoprotection.

Sure, you can buy a bunch of antioxidants for your DIY vitamin C serum. But every ingredient you use adds a new layer of complexity to the mix. It changes the pH, may clump or just be unstable.

Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About Antioxidants

What If You’re Doing Everything Right?

Are you a DIY fanatic who loves to spend hours learning the chemistry behind homemade skincare products and wiling to splurge on a few pieces of equipment?

Great! It’ll take you some trial and error, but you can make a DIY vitamin C serum that works. Just be aware you’ll have to make a new batch every few days.

Just want to follow a random recipe online because you’d think it’d be fun? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but making your own DIY Vitamin C serum is more complicated than that. A lot of recipes you’ll find on Google or Pinterest just don’t work.

If you’re not willing to invest the time and money to make DIY skincare products the right way, do your skin a favour and buy a serum from the shops. You don’t want to buy a bottle of vitamin C, pH strips and co only to find out you can’t be bothered to mix a new batch every few days.

One more thing: how do you know your DIY vitamin C serum works? It’s difficult enough for professionals to assess how well antioxidants work. How can you tell at home?

It may just be the brightening effect is due to the acidic exfoliation vitamin C gives you. But its collagen-boosting properties? You can’t assess them at home.

Antioxidants are preventative. So if your vitamin C serum doesn’t work, you won’t find out straight away. Heck, you may be applying something for 10 years only to discover it didn’t help that much!

drunk elephant c-firma day serum

What Are The Best Vitamin C Serums?

The Bottom Line

There are many skincare products you scan easily made at home. A vitamin C serum ain’t one of them. If you’re not willing to spend the time and effort to do it right, don’t bother.

Have you ever tried to make your own DIY vitamin C serum? Share your experience in the comments below.



Lena July 10, 2015 - 8:31 pm

I really wish those serums were easily available in Germany. Shipping costs have so far stopped me from buying one of the serums mentioned above. But maybe one day… 😀

Gio July 11, 2015 - 8:48 am

Lena, oh what a shame! But maybe there is a German brand that makes one? Just look for something that has vitamin c at the beginning of the ingredient list and is packaged in an opaque, air-tight bottle. 🙂

Sarah @ Paths & Errands July 12, 2015 - 12:15 am

I love this! It’s always useful knowing how to DIY things, but even more so knowing what you just can’t replicate at home. Great explanation too!

Gio July 12, 2015 - 12:13 pm

Sarah, glad you enjoyed it. I love DIY stuff, but some things are better left to the experts!

BebeTaian July 12, 2015 - 1:45 am

I always learn so much from reading your blog! Actually, after mulling over whether or not to spend any money on ‘fancy face stuff’ for a year… I finally broke down and blew my entire ‘fun stuff’ budget for a month on Paula’s Choice products after reading one of your reviews. They’re doing this sale thing right now where the one serum I wanted was $40 + SH but if you spend $50, you get $10 off + free shipping… so it’d be $40 anyways + free shipping… so I stocked up on samples that run all of $1 or so each… and so far, it’s turned out really well. I’ve had a super-red face my entire life, a permanent “drunkard mask”. It’s genetic. Nothing has ever helped- not ‘better’ soaps, not ‘redness-reducing gentle cleansers’, not allergy meds despite having constantly inflamed sinuses… but even my husband noticed how my skin looks after only a few days of using PCs redness reducer. Worth it! I wouldn’t have even known about her serums if it weren’t for your blog. >D

Gio July 12, 2015 - 12:28 pm

Bebetaian, I am so glad they are working so well for you! So many lines are overpriced and contain little to no goodies. I love PC because every product contains actives that are proven to work, so you get your money’s worth. But it’s even better when you can take advantage of a deal like that!

Kristen July 17, 2015 - 5:10 pm

A little late on this one… Are you aware of any good Vit C serums that don’t include hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate? I have figured out that HA causes me to get more sebaceous hyperplasias. I’ve tested it out a number of times. Use HA, get a couple more, stop using it, don’t get more, use again, get more, and so on. I’ve not found anything online suggesting HA causes these, but they don’t go away, so I’m not willing to risk more.

Gio July 18, 2015 - 7:52 am

Kristen, sorry to hear HA doesn’t agree with your skin. The only vitamin c serum I know that doesn’t contain it is Medik8 C-Tetra. Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate (Day Cream) doesn’t have it either. It’s a moisturizer, but it is cheaper. Hope this helps.

Kristen July 18, 2015 - 1:23 pm

Thanks! The Medik8 Beta gel is amazing stuff, so I might have to try their C serum!

Gio July 18, 2015 - 5:20 pm

Kristen, my pleasure! Let me know how it works for you. 🙂

zarmeenahmed July 28, 2015 - 4:49 pm

thank you so much for all of thesse.i learned so much from you. I just wanted to know i am 25 years old.and I have normal to combination skin which serum should i go for enlisted above.?

Gio July 28, 2015 - 8:02 pm

Zarmeenahmed, I’m glad you found this post helpful. They all work well for normal to combination skin, so I would go with the cheapest. 🙂

Chana September 26, 2015 - 6:47 pm

Hi 🙂 can you recommend something for melasma that does not contain hidroquinona ?

Gio September 26, 2015 - 7:04 pm

Chana, have you tried SkinMedica LYTERA Skin Brightening Complex? It’s pricey, but contains lots of ingredients that can lighten skin.

Chana September 26, 2015 - 7:58 pm

Thanks 🙂 I just checked it and it’s very price 🙁
But it has ingredients that I wouldn’t use.
¿It’s something like DIY that you know it will help me ?
I don’t mind if I have to do a little batch everyday. I just don’t want all those preservatives on my skin.

Gio September 26, 2015 - 8:17 pm

Chana, if you want something cheaper, you can try a vitamin C or AHA serum, but that’ll work more slowly.

Unfortunately, no homemade concoction can treat melasma. Those ingredients are very fragile and unstable, and need to be properly formulated in a lab. Even if you had all the ingredients, you still wouldn’t be able to replicate the formula at home.

I understand you don’t like preservatives, but they’ve been used safely for decades. Since the preservative-free craze has started, a lot more products have had to be recalled from the shops because they went bad before they could even be sold, or were sold already spoiled. In small concentrations, preservatives do you no harm. Unpreserved products, on the other hand, can give you infections and irritations.

Maybe you can find a vitamin C serum without preservatives, but again, that’ll work slowly, and you’ll have to buy it often because it’ll go bad very quickly.

ERIKA March 20, 2016 - 7:01 pm


My DIY vitamin C serum
seems to be truly working. Eight hours after application, my skin is brighter, more even, freckles fade and my skin feels more spongey. I respect what you wrote and it’s wise for people to be careful with what they make & put on their skin. That said, are any of these skin care companies providing you with referrals/royalties for mentioning their products? I think it’s fair for the average consumer to be given full disclaimers if this is the case. Thank you.

Gio March 20, 2016 - 8:00 pm

Erika, it’s great that you’re getting such amazing results. Maybe you went the extra mile and took the time to learn how to formulate one properly. But I’ve seen so many people create products that don’t work that well because they think any form of vitamin c would do or don’t take ph, etc, into consideration.

As stated in my disclaimer page, I use affiliate links. So, when someone clicks on one of the links in this page and buys something, I get a few cents. We’re literally talking cents. I don’t think I made even 1 dollar from this page, so I’m not writing this to be rich.

I sincerely think that, these days, too many people are jumping on the DIY bandwagon without taking the time to research the topic properly. Doing so could harm your skin or result in a product that underperforms. In this case, buying a ready-made serum in store is the best option.

Angela Traubel September 12, 2016 - 11:19 pm

Erika, would you at all consider sharing your Vit C serum recipe? I’m not going to produce it for spelling, I’m just a 60 year old grandmother that wants to keep her skin looking as nice as possible! Thanks,

michelle September 30, 2015 - 5:23 am

Rubbish, I have been using a good homemade Vitamin c serum for about a year now, and it works amazing. Came across this looking for a longer lasting serum solution.. What a false article! Stop scaring people into buying stuff online for hundreds, when they can make it at home (if done properly) for far less.

Gio September 30, 2015 - 5:59 am

Michelle, but how do you do it properly? Have you done tests on your homemade Vitamin C serum to make sure it is at the right ph? Are you using the right concentration? The right form of Vitamin C? Have you scientifically tested its performance? Probably not. I prefer paying more for a product that guarantees results than making mine at home and discover years later is not that effective after all.

michelle September 30, 2015 - 6:05 am

It works for me, I have used ph strips once, and afterwards, I used the exact same measurements. I have noticed major difference in any lines and my skin is tight young and smooth, no ifs ands buts whats or whys? It just works because my skin had alot more fine lines and it was not tight like it is now.

It’s also preventing new ones, and sagging and any future age spots and hard sun damage. I use Vitamin c serum, and L ascorbic acid that is stabilized in the serum.
Don’t worry, It’s unnecessary to spent high dollars on something that you can make at home, for ALOT less. And takes under 10 minutes to make. And the ingredients you buy can last a year or even years.

Gio September 30, 2015 - 7:25 am

I’m glad to hear it seems to be working so well for you. But how do you know, without tests, that the changes are due to vitamin c? Does your serum contains anything else? Have you changed your diet, started exercising, or made any lifestyle changes? I’m honestly curious because I know I hard it is to create a vitamin c serum. Most of the recipes I see online aren’t any good.

michelle September 30, 2015 - 12:45 pm

That’s the thing, you’re judging all of the homemade serums you found online based on probably a few, and, or you didn’t even try it yourself and might be bitter about the Whole idea.
I do not need scientific Anything, I can see for myself the changes, you know your face better than anybody else knows it. And, yes, it’s mainly the vitamin C that is doing the anti oxidant power, see, I could turn down each and every 4 points you made easily.

Look at it this way, Vitamin C is not the only ingredients, I also have hyalauronic acid in the serum which is the worlds best moisturizer. I don’t care about scientific proof, they can’t prove ANYTHING 100% accuracy.

So I’ll leave you with this, you can waste All,of your money (like I did on the past) and try to explain (uselessly) why homemade serums don’t work and why people shouldn’t try them because YOU, had bad experiences with it, OR you can save money and make your own. but either way, Art Naturals vitamin C serum is the one to go for if you Are purchasing it. It’s the same if not better than the $100-$$ dollar stuff. They sell it on Amazon for about 11 bucks.

Don’t fool yourself. Or try to fool others, let people do what they want to do, eventually they will find out what works, and what doesn’t. Also ps….You are Supposed to use a moisturizer after ANY vitamin C serum dries. Good day

Gio September 30, 2015 - 2:18 pm

Michelle, I’m not bitter about anything. When I find a great DIY recipe that works, I’m more than happy to share it with my readers, But Vitamin C is a very fragile ingredient, and needs to be treated carefully. Most people don’t have a clue how to do that at home. In that case, it’s much better to buy an effective serum from the store than making an ineffective one at home, don’t you think?

I also trust science a lot more than you do. Yes, it’s not always 100% effective, but if you don’t trust that, then who do you trust? Quacks that make claims without anything to back them up?

You mention there’s hyaluronic acid in your serum. That hydrates skin, makes it smooth, and plumps it too. Could that be what’s really benefiting your skin and making a difference? Without a scientific test, it’s difficult to tell.

In any case, I’m happy you’ve found something that works for you.

Good day to you too!

DouDoug October 27, 2016 - 7:49 am

I’ve worked in this industry for the past decade, specifically in research and development. It’s sad to say, but the majority of these company’s have little to no quality control, let alone standards or practices within their manufacturing techniques that are much different than what someone is whipping up at home in their trusty DIY serums. The research and oversight that goes into some of these products is no different than what takes place within many supplement company’s today, sadly. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible or not worthwhile to custom design your own products at home, but yes, to do it correctly while producing something effective and stable, one would need to know some chemistry and be well versed in what’s at their disposal to use, compared to the “professional” chemicals an individual in my line of work could source. Some things which would most likely be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for just anybody to obtain. This isn’t even taking into account the equipment and technical aspects of formulating some of the newer “designer” products (as I call them). Most importantly, however, is the means in which all the various ingredients play off each other, as you pointed out…… Anyways, I’m just blabbing to myself at this point on a year old topic. I guess my point was, you get what you pay for. I’ve seen many products being sold online that are far inferior to anything I’m able to design and compound at home, some that are easily replicated, as well as many that have such unique and delicate ingredients they can only be made in a lab…… Blah blah blah, I just now remembered this was only about Vit C serums, guess I got carried away! Oh well, read my completely pointless post anyways! Danke

Gio October 30, 2016 - 10:20 pm

Doudoug, your post wasn’t pointless at all, but a useful insight into the industry. I guess the point is, you can’t generalize. There are companies who care and do everything properly and others who don’t, just like there are products that can safely be made at home and others that cannot. As for vitamin C serums, those are a bit more complicated than throwing everything in a pot and giving them a mix, which is why it’s so difficult to come across a good one these days. *sighs*

Stacey January 6, 2017 - 4:35 pm

DIY Vitamin C Serums are great, the beauty of it is your making a small amount at a time, that you’ll use for a week, maybe two and after that it’s either used up or you can throw out what’s left and quickly whip up a new batch.
Purchasing already manufactured Vitamin c serums, which you have been adamant about, can become an expensive waste, even if it is manufactured by a company that “cares” because most vitamin C serums after a few weeks oxidizes and become a free radical, which becomes damaging to your skin if used; so again after a few weeks you’ll be throwing it out, but most people don’t because for the average person its awful hard to throw away a $25 or higher half full bottle of product than it is to throw away what’s left of your DIY product.
So in closing we all agree that use of a Vitamin C serum is great for your skin. But please stop stating that the DIY version is inferior and can’t be created at home properly because that’s just isn’t true, Also, lets be fair it may be easier for you to make such a push for store bout vitamin c when I’m sure you’re receiving free product and some sort of financial gain, no matter how small it is still a personal profitable benefit to you.

Gio January 6, 2017 - 10:13 pm

Stacey, thanks for your comment. I never made a secret that I accept free products for review and use affiliate links, but trust I don’t pay my rent with those. I still have a day job. I would never promote anything I don’t genuinely believe to be of use to my readers.

It’s true that a lot of vitamin C products out there become useless after a few weeks. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and use products that have a good preservative system and are using technologies that help keep vitamin C serum stable for longer. Skin Actives offers a good one for less than $20.

On the other hand, making a proper vitamin C requires the right equipment, knowledge. etc. You can’t crush a few vitamin C pills, mix them with your moisturiser and expect it to work. Yet, that’s what a lot of people on the internet will have you believe.

Gwynnth October 22, 2015 - 6:50 am

Kudos Michelle!!
I am 49 yrs young and make my own serum as well! Works beautifully for me.

If you do enough RESEARCH you can make just about anything you set your mind to, and giving example of Vitamin C serum made with water and a tablet is just silly.


Gio October 22, 2015 - 2:07 pm

Gwyneth, I know, it’s silly to make your own vitamin c serum with just water and tablet, yet that’s just what some people on the internet are recommending. That’s the danger of doing your own research. Anyone can write anything on the internet, so it’s difficult to know who to trust. Much safer to just buy a bottle from the store.

Rosanna Marie February 27, 2016 - 4:47 pm

I’m with Gwynnth and Michelle and I’m so glad they came along to set the record straight.
Thank you Gwynnth and Michelle..
I think it’s the results that have convinced us more than anything.
When I finally started doing my own Vit C serum the results were fast and clear to see and far better than what I’d seen with Skinceuticals (which is insanely expensive). You can do whatever you like but it’s wrong to advise people to spend money on a subject you haven’t completely researched. And you can’t argue with results.

Gio March 3, 2016 - 8:43 pm

Rosanna, I have researched the topic, I assure you. Making a vitamin C serum is much harder than people think. There are so many things to think about. You can’t pick a random recipe on the internet, mix the ingredient together, and hope for the best. You need to find a teacher who knows what she’s doing, get the right ingredients, think about a good preservative system, including packaging. Most people aren’t gonna bother with that and can end up making products that harm their skin. If you’re not gonna invest the time to learn how to do things properly, it’s best to invest money in something proven to work.

Felicia March 20, 2016 - 2:30 pm

I agree with I Gwynnth, Michelle and Rosanna.
I make my own Vit C serum also a separate Hyaluronic serum, and have had awesome results.
I use my Hyaluronic Serum in the am, use my Vit C serum at night, along with my usual moisuturizer.
I mix a fresh batch every Sunday, so they’re fresh.
I spend a fraction of what I used to spend on serums, and the results have been far superior.
I’ve also incorporated facial exercise to my daily exercise routine. Bought ‘Facial Fitness’ by Patricia Goroway for $5 on Amazon. It was a used book with CD in ‘like new’ condition.
I’ve been doing all of this for almost 6 months, takes more effort but when you start seeing the results that will be all the motivation you need!
Btw, I also make a larger batch of hyaluronic serum to use with my body lotion.
I also ingest Vit C powder, DMAE and Hyularonic Acid by adding it to my daily Nutra Blast! Awesome!

Gio March 20, 2016 - 3:55 pm

Felicia, I’m glad to hear you’re having such good results. But, if you don’t mind me asking: if you do so many things for your skin, how do you know the results are due to your DIY vitamin C serum?

John S July 13, 2016 - 12:40 pm

Well done for your calm rational replies to these comments. It’s funny how some people will accept the bits of science that tell them what they want to hear…

I’m currently looking for a serum, and the Timeless one is looking good so far.

Jake July 17, 2016 - 7:23 am

If you can bake a cake, you can make a vitamin C serum. Just follow the recipe, mix the ingredients, and get a PH strip to make sure the PH is in the correct limits. It’s not rocket science — don’t be afraid people. If you have confidence in science, then you should realize that it’s just a matter of mixing the right chemicals in the right amounts. Brains > Fear !

Heather August 12, 2016 - 6:45 pm

It is very easy to test PH, and compounding ingredients is not difficult. As for preserving, half the stuff you buy with a high price tag has already began oxidizing. If you make it at home, the fresher the better. I have worked for a lot of skincare companies- a lot of their “testing” is self-funded and based on personal opinions of women- so what better way to test your product that the results you get? I make VC serum every once in awhile and my skin always looks brighter and more even- sometimes the VC serum can itch, but I find that to be the case with the high-end brands too. It is only a temporary sensation and it goes away. When I use my VC serum, that’ pretty much the only special regimen booster I use at that time, so my results are definitely attributed to the C.

Christina Valle July 9, 2016 - 8:48 pm

Hi Felicia, I’ve been reading through the comments and Im so curious to try a diy vit c serum and I saw that you alsomake your own hyaluronic acid?! Please help me out so I could make my own too..Sincerely, Aging Fast
Of u don’t want to put your recipe on third dire, you could email me at [email protected]

Patricia June 5, 2016 - 5:59 pm

Hi Michelle,
I have read thru many of the comments and I agree with you as well. When you try to pick an effective product you have to rely on comments from other users to back up the claims of the company. And who can trust corporations? I would rather try a DIY that works for the person who made it and who is unlikely to push it for profit. Having said that I would love to know your recipe for a hyaluronic acid/vitamin C serum. I would like to firm up my skin, and I also hope that it can fade my hyper pigmentation, something I have used corporate products for with little success.

Gio July 17, 2016 - 8:34 pm

Patricia, I agree we can’t completely trust corporations and anyone who is trying to sell us something. But why don’t you trust independent consumers who tried those products with good results? What’s the difference between a woman who bought a vitamin c serum in the store and tells you it works well for her and another woman who made her own vitamin c serum and tells you it works well for her? If anything, I’d be concerned about the latter. Does she understand the process of making an effective vitamin c serum? Did she buy the right kind of vitamin c, used ph strips, etc? Or did she just find a random recipe online, mixed two things together and hoped for the best? As for hyperpigmentation, that’s very difficult to treat. OTC products usually contain small amounts of active ingredients so they take ages to work. That’s because those actives are very powerful and could cause serious problems if used in large amounts without proper medical supervision.

Angela Traubel September 12, 2016 - 11:22 pm

Michelle, would you consider sharing your recipe…PLEASE!?!?

Megan August 20, 2016 - 2:20 am

I love how by asking this woman if her homemade solution has been tested, you seem to be suggesting all ‘professional’ non DIY products have been rigorously ‘scientifically’ tested. LOL. If only. The science has already been done for vitamin c and skin. We know it works and it doesn’t matter who’s making it – as long P.H is 3.5 (easy buy strips on eBay they are literally so cheap) and use the right form of vitamin c (LAA finely ground). I think this article assumes everyone is stupid.

Gio August 29, 2016 - 11:24 am

Megan, skincare products must undergo certain tests before they can be sold. For example, you need to test their stability. DIY products don’t undergo any tests at all.

Making a vitamin C serum at home may be possible, but as you pointed out yourself, it needs to be at the right Ph and you need to use the right form of vitamin C. Google DIY vitamin C serum and tell me how many recipes even mention those things? Very few.

Instead of insulting me, you DIY folks should go after those people who trick others into making an ineffective product.

People aren’t stupid. But most of them don’t have the time or dedication to learn how to make these products at home. You shouldn’t assume that just because you do, everyone else will want to. Most people want what’s convenient, which is why they often try the simplest recipes, like crushing a vitamin C tablet and adding it to a moisturizer. These don’t work. But I don’t see the authors of these articles get as much flack as I do.

sara September 20, 2016 - 7:14 pm

Actually, cosmetic products are not required to undergo any form of premarket testing, including stability or preservative efficacy testing. They are, however, liable if someone has an adverse reaction to their products and they can not sufficiently prove that their product is ‘safe’ (i.e., through stability/preservative testing).

The truth about vitamin C in cosmetics formulations is that it is so unstable and prone to oxidation that most formulas don’t actually contain biologically available and accessible forms of the vitamin. Some companies formulate with ferulic acid and vitamin e but even then it is likely to degrade beyond the concentration in the original formula. Rationally, the easiest way to gain access to vitamin c in facial care products is to use the powdered form at safe concentrations (starting out at 5%).

Unfortunately, many, many of those large corporations make patently false claims (just see the FDA warning letters issued year after year) or base their formulations (and their claims) on internally-funded/performed clinical studies-most of which aren’t double blind with large sample populations and proper controls. The truth that many cosmetic chemists and dermatologists know and cosmetics companies don’t want the public to know is that there is NO miracle in a bottle. You want short term results? Hyaluronic Acid will do that. So will CoQ10. You want real results over the long haul? Hydrate your skin, eat well and minimize sun exposure. The rest is temporary frills or short term results.

Gio September 28, 2016 - 9:58 pm

Sara, you’re right about the tests. But most companies always perform them to be on the safe side. They may want your money but they certainly don’t want to kill you or gain bad publicity!

It’s also true that a lot of vitamin C serums out there aren’t very effective. Vitamin C is so popular that most brands simply add the tiniest amount of it to their formulations. But it’s also wrong to paint all companies with the same brush. Some do work. You just need to know what to look for and store it properly.

ERIKA March 20, 2016 - 7:06 pm

My DIY vitamin C serum works really well. I have asked the author today if she receives referrals/royalties from the skin care companies that she mentions in the article.

Gio March 20, 2016 - 8:04 pm

Erika, glad that’s the case. As I have already told you, I use affiliate links from which I make cents. No one else is paying me to promote these products. I chose them myself because I think they’re some of the best on the market.

Also, I’d like to clarify that this post isn’t aimed at the DIY fanatics who take the time to learn how to make products properly and buy the necessary equipment. It’s for casual customers who find the odd recipe online and think that making a vitamin C serum is a piece of cake. It’s not and many recipes posted on blogs don’t work.

Cynthia R Rosario June 20, 2016 - 8:01 pm

Thank you I agree with you I’ve been told over and over that vitamin c does not last in bottles and a lot of the stuff companies sell the vitamin C has oxidized dlor is not working as it should because it just doesn’t last so how do I know that these people that she is telling us to get good products from hasn’t had the stuff on the shelf for two years? One of the problems with these serums and creams that you buy that cost hundreds of dollars have oxidized and have been sitting on the shelf for years and have more water than anything in the product I have read and seen many people talk about how their own vitamin C serum that they made has change thier skin. I made my own and my skin has changed and I’m going to continue doing it. I appreciate your input and it’s a good thing to consider but with those costs of those products that you’re talking about 4 pennies I can make my own and take a chance of it working I mean I’ve already spent thousands of dollars on expensive creams and serums that didn’t work or do anything that didn’t deliver and I’m done with doing that I rather just make my own work with what I’ve got so much cheaper and at least I know what I’m putting on my skin.

Gio June 25, 2016 - 4:15 pm

Cynthia, I guess it is possible to buy something that has already oxidized. That’s why it’s important to either buy the product in person, so you can see for yourself, or buy from someone with a trusted reputation or good return policy that could fix the issue.

If you prefer to do it yourself, it’s absolutely fine. I admire your dedication. It just annoys me when people make it sound a lot easier and quicker than it is. There are so many things to consider and learn to do it properly!

Mandy March 3, 2017 - 7:18 pm

I have just started making my own and Everyone had noticed a difference to my skin already. I do add vit E ,glycerin. I check the ph level with cards to make sure it’s at correct level, I make very small batches and keep in fridge.

Gio March 4, 2017 - 8:58 pm

Mandy, glad to hear it’s working well for you and that you’ve taken the time to learn how to do it properly.

Fia A October 3, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Hi Michelle!
I would like to ask you if care to share your serum recipe?
Thanks 🙂

ERIKA March 20, 2016 - 7:09 pm

If someone asked me that question on this forum, I would be suspicious. Just saying. Patents pending and mums the word?

DIY interested July 9, 2016 - 10:24 pm

Erika why would you put ill thoughts into Michelles head, nobody is trying to “steal” someone’s diy recipe and make a fortune off of it, lol…that would be quite hard with out chemists involved… we just want pretty skin too…?…then again, I can’t speak for other ppl, I can only speak for myself…it’s I’llI’experiment Fia, if I make a successful serum, you got it?

DIY interested July 9, 2016 - 10:26 pm

But nobody asked you for your recipe… Erika?

Nony October 28, 2015 - 3:57 pm

What if I dilute my moisturizer with distilled water, then add some lacsorbic acid powder and vit e, to use up at once, without keeps?

Gio October 28, 2015 - 5:22 pm

Nony, diluting anything is never a good idea. You are compromising the formula, especially the preservative system. And adding vitamin c to a lotion is more complicated than adding some powder to it. I’d just buy a properly formulated serum in the store. It’s easier and safer.

Chana November 20, 2015 - 9:42 pm

Hi Michele. ¿Can you share your recipe ?please.

Why Not? December 14, 2015 - 3:58 am

You’re saying no but tons of other people would beg to differ with you. Its kind of rude of you to just assume everyone has the money to go out and buy an expensive vitamin C serum. If you want one that’s going to work and have the correct stabilization properties, you are talking big bucks. Some of us have children and families to support and can’t afford to blow $65 on something you’re going to smear on your face. At the same time, just because we lack the funds, doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to have beautiful skin. It’s nice of you to warn people of the potential issues, but you can do so in a way that comes off less condescending. Really what do you care if people are messing up the PH balance of their skin? I feel like you just wrote this to show off how intellectual you are. I mean the name of your blog says it all.

Gio December 21, 2015 - 4:51 pm

Why not?, I’m sorry if this post sounds condescending. It wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to warn people about the dangers of making their own vitamin C serum. Most of the recipes found online don’t work, and are a waste of money.

You’re right, everyone has the right to have beautiful skin, but not everyone can afford to splurge on one. But that doesn’t mean they should use something that will likely not work, and may even hurt their skin. Price is an issue you have to address with the brands that make these serums. I’d love them to be cheaper too, but can’t do anything about it.

As for the name of the blog, I chose it because I believe that every woman is both smart AND beautiful. Society often makes us feel like we can only be one or the other (with beauty usually being considered more important), and I say that’s nonsense. Don’t you?

Heather August 12, 2016 - 7:07 pm

Your post implies that people lack the intelligence to research the compounding of a simple effective formula. Even if some people have made errors in the formulation- as you were able to easily highlight- there are simple solutions.

I’m not going to take it personal like some people are. Your lack of belief in the intellect of others is a reflection of your confidence in your own skill set. I don’t mean that to insult you, clearly- you are unaware that there are some bright people that have a knack for cracking the code of all sorts of things without professional direction.

There is a world of information at our fingertips- there are also many recipes that can be found, but even the cosmetic chemical companies where you can buy these ingredients publish recipes and instructions from their own chemists.

Anyhow, of the last 5 C serums I have purchased- I had to return all but 1 because of oxidation. One company (highlighted in your pics in the article) claimed the orange color was supposed to be that way… I know what oxidized C looks like.

Anyhow, not everyone in inclined or motivated to learn compounding- so nothing wrong with purchasing if that works better for you- but many people have the necessary skills and patience to learn- again, this type of serum is not a complex formula and the repercussions of trial and error are nominal.

Gio August 13, 2016 - 8:13 pm

Heather, you misunderstand me. I don’t doubt people’s intelligence. I doubt their willingness.

I am very aware that everyone can learn anything. If someone was serious about learning how to make their own vitamin C serum, they would soon find out the right resources they need. After a bit of trial an error, which they would see as totally worth their time, they’d be able to come up with an effective formula.

But let’s be honest here. Most people can’t be bothered. We all like the idea of making our own vitamin C serum and, if we find an easy enough recipe online, may be willing to make it. But most of those recipes never mention anything about ph and all the other things to take into consideration to create an effective formula.

And when they start to learn about it, most people will give up because it’s too much work. With that, I don’t mean to say they think it’s too difficult for their skills and intelligence. Of course, everyone’s smart enough to learn. No, I mean to say that most people aren’t passionate enough about DIY skincare to take the time to learn because they would much rather spend that time hanging out with their friends, going to movies or whatever.

Roz August 15, 2016 - 3:28 pm

Thank you so much for this article I decided not to make vitamin C serum because from what I have read you are right.

I am new at diy and I don’t care to hear other people’s opinions.

How does Obigi vitamin C serum compare to the one you recommend?
Thank you again for your article.

Gio August 15, 2016 - 8:50 pm

Roz, my pleasure!

I have mixed feelings about that one. It has two forms of vitamin C, both present in high amounts, and a penetration enhancer, so it can definitely penetrate the skin long enough to do the job.

The problem is that it contains alcohol and that could be irritating if you have sensitive skin. If yours isn’t, and you’re using an antioxidant-rich moisturizer afterwards, you shouldn’t have any problems with it.

Rochelle September 14, 2016 - 10:21 pm

Exactly, I thought the same thing reading this. I have done extensive research, from the best vitamin C crystals to use, to minimizing light and air as much as possible, and to it’s longevity once made.

We have absolutely no way of knowing if the company’s using Vitamin C in their products are taking the same precautions. I definitely prefer making my own and will always suggest that, because we have complete control of what we want.

Gio September 17, 2016 - 10:24 pm

Rochelle, well done for taking the time to do the research in order to make the best possible vitamin C serum at home.

I agree that there are lots of brands that add only a tiny amount of vitamin C to their products so they can pretend they’re selling a proper vitamin C serum. But there are also plenty of reputable companies that take the time to create vitamin C serums that really work. After all, consumers wouldn’t buy their products again if they didn’t deliver, would they?

Barbara September 12, 2017 - 1:49 pm

Hi Heather. Unlike Gio, I do think a lot of people do lack the intelligence to do the research. Or maybe Gio said it better, they lack the willingness. I had someone once recommend me a product because it was “natural”. Turning the bottle around and taking one look at the ingredients I had to inform my friend that most of the ingredients were NOT natural. Unfortunately with all the information at our fingertips, most people do not bother to read this information or more importantly, DOUBLE CHECK it. I wouldn´t underestimate the stupidity of human beings (or desperation). It´s good to have someone write an article that will make people think twice.

Tabitha May 9, 2017 - 4:04 am

to whynot? :
Seriously, is there a chip on your shoulder or what! Last time I checked, a recommendation IS NOT an assumption…The author is simply making her recommendations. Abasing her because of your own personal economic situation is a tad immature.

Although an MD, I make no claims to be an expert, I both agree and disagree with the author. Store bought products offer certain benefits over DIY products, mainly consistency in formulation, availability/convenience, testing to some degree, and they often contain a variety of ingredients that would be difficult for an individual to collect. Drawbacks include $, time elapsed from lab to shelf, etc.
I do, however, believe that it is very feasible for DIY products to be an effective alternative- to the extent I am not sure and would need to do more in-depth research on the topic. Assuming one collected the most biologically active form of C and was careful in crafting the compound, I think it should work. Again, I am not an expert in this at all, just reasoning the risks/benefits of each. Personally, I am going to attempt to make my own at first then buy a serum after I read more about the products out there!


Gio May 14, 2017 - 4:03 pm

Tabitha, I do think it’s possible to make your own DIY products at home. But a vitamin C serum is one of the most challenging because this ingredient is VERY unstable. Personally, I would recommend you start with something simpler, like a basic moisturizer and, as you become more experienced and learn more about ph, preservatives, emulsions and all the other things you need to know to make an effective product, try to do a vitamin C serum.

Why Not? December 14, 2015 - 4:06 am

Looks like they have a pretty legit lab set up in the background! This is a chemist from a cosmetic making company, telling you how to make your own vitamin C serum. Go on YouTube and you will find a plethora of doctors and nurses as well as chemists telling you how to make the serum. You are wrong and you are misinforming your readers. You can moderate your comments all you like. That goes to show that you don’t like anyone disagreeing with what you say.

Gio December 21, 2015 - 5:06 pm

Why no?, yes, there are plenty of videos online, but are they all reliable? Remember, everyone can post anything they want online. Always ask yourself if someone has an agenda (like, are they selling the ingredients to make the serum, or a book about DIY formulations, for example). Some of the recipes may indeed work, but how can consumers know which ones to trust? I’d rather pay more and be sure to use something that works than trying a random recipe I’ve found online.

I only moderate comments from first-time commenters. That’s because a lot of them are spammers. Once the first comment is approved, the next ones go straight onto the website.

And that’s the second time you made an assumption about me (the first one, that I chose Beautiful with Brains as a name because I’m conceited; the second that I refuse to publish comments that disagree with my opinion). Making assumptions without having all the facts is rude. And, in this case, your assumptions are quite insulting too. So, I have to ask you to please stop attacking me this way or I’d be forced indeed to remove your comments. Not because I disagree with your opinion (I always welcome debate when it is constructive), but because I won’t tolerate being insulted in my corner of the web. We are both adults, and can agree to disagree politely, can’t we?).

Anna May 23, 2016 - 8:29 pm

Hi Michelle my name is Anna Reyneke from South Africa thank you for the link I have just started making my own serum and hope it will also work for me as you say not everybody have money to through away oh by the way Im a 60year old granny all go well for you and your family

Gio May 24, 2016 - 10:46 pm

Anna, I hope it will work for you, too. Just do your research to make sure you are doing everything right.

Claudia August 7, 2016 - 8:11 pm

In that video, she doesn’t check the PH, no preservative…(but ph is very important…basic) be careful. at least check the ph, too low can irritate your skin (personal experience).

Gio August 11, 2016 - 2:36 pm

Claudia, sorry to hear you had a personal experience with it.

And that’s exactly my point. You can find plenty of recipes online but very few of them warn you of all the potential risks and how to avoid them. I don’t want people to find them out the hard way. That’s why I wrote this post.

Lynn December 19, 2015 - 12:23 am

I too, would like the recipe. I am currently researching C serums recipes. Thank you

Michele January 5, 2016 - 1:30 am

The reason I started making my own Vitamin C serum is because I read that the shelf life of those expensive serums is so short that they are often a waste of money. My serums turned brownish before the expensive bottle was halfway done. Now I make it in small batches and store it in amber, air tight bottles. I can’t be sure it’s working but I wasn’t sure the expensive stuff was either! now I’m really confused!

Gio January 5, 2016 - 7:38 am

Michele, it’s true vitamin c has a short shelf life, but those expensive serums you buy in store feature preservative systems that help them last longer. You can’t replicate that well at home. The only solution is to make smaller batches. Another trick is to store the serum in airtight, opaque bottles. If a vitamin c serum isn’t packaged that way, it’s not worth the money.

I know, it can take a long time to see if vitamin c works. That’s because it mainly prevents the formation of new wrinkles. But, buying from a reputable brand, like Paula’s Choice or Skin Actives (their Vitamin C serum only costs $15.00) will probably give you better results, as they’re formulated by people who know what they’re doing.

Joy January 9, 2016 - 12:20 am

Glad i read this. The only Vitamin Serum i saw here in Nigeria contains hydroquinone. No, not for me!.

Gio January 9, 2016 - 8:09 am

Joy, glad you enjoyed it. And what a shame!

Tina February 24, 2016 - 6:03 pm

Interesting and informative article. I love all the great information provided by Beautiful With Brains. I am left a little confused on this one because Beariful With Brains really gave SkinActives an excellent review for their C serum which generally has a PH around 2. This is the serum I use and really like it. It does not irritate or burn my face. With the PH being so low, and my skin having no negative reactions (i.e no dry skin or irritation), s causing more harm then good? Also, Many DIY sites provide recipes that require the use of gram scales to complete their recipe along with a nice list of ingredients (C+E w/ferulic acid) that are sure to include a good preservative along with PH adjusters and test strips). I have not tried one yet but plan to do so soon. How do you feel about DIY full scale recipes being completed at home with the use of airless pumps?

Gio February 26, 2016 - 7:17 pm

Tina, thank you for your comment. Formulating a good Vitamin C serum is very difficult indeed. That’s why it’s best left to the pros. The ph of the Skinactive serum is low, but you can add other stuff to the formula to prevent irritations. Most DIY vitamin c serum recipes I’ve seen online contain vitamin C and little else.

Well, if the recipe comes from a reputable source, you can give it a try, but, personally, I feel this is too tricky a product to make at home. Are those bottles opaque, by the way? They’d need to be, or the light would spoil the vitamin quickly.

Tina February 26, 2016 - 11:04 pm

Thank you for your feedback. Yes, the DIY sites are reputable. In fact there is one recipe that is similar to Skinceuticles formula–all the ingredients are the same aside from the preservative I believe. A gram scale must be used for precision. I agree DIY C serums must be made with caution and the PH must be accessed along with the use of a good preservative. You could easily add an Sri-irritant to the formulation if needed by adjusting the percentage of water contend = 100% overall formulation total. Also, the percentage of Ascorbic Acid needs to be measured correctly as not to exceed a 20% formulation. I tend to stick with airless solid white pumps when creating any DIY formula for better preservation.

Gio March 3, 2016 - 7:56 pm

Tina, can you share the links to those sites, please? I’d love to have a look.

You make very valid points. But those are also the reasons why I don’t recommend people make their own vitamin C serums. There are SO many things to think about, most people have no clue of. They just mix this and that together without caring about ph, preservatives etc, and end up with poor formulations that do more harm than good to the skin. Even if you’re not a chemist, you need to research this stuff properly, get the adequate equipment, etc. Lots of people are just looking for a quick and cheap fix, and aren’t gonna bother with any of that.

Tina March 6, 2016 - 2:58 pm

Gio, you’re so right! I first started on my C serum journey about six months ago frustrated with expensive C serums (Ascorbic Acid) partially oxidized upon receipt. I realized the sensitivity of Ascorbic Acid and thought to myself, there must be another way. I did see many very simple recipes out there but I was not satisfied. I began looking for recipes on Actives sites such as http://www.personalformulator.com/wvss/ which has some nice but basic recipes amongst some other Actives sites. Lotioncrafter.com is by far my favorite Actives website not only because each active is well described and pertinent information readily available, but also because Jenny (owner) provides well thought out DIY recipes and with these recipes encourages the proper tools. Upon entry of this site, look for the “formulary” page to find recipes. On that note I will add that my C serum journey ended when I discovered SkinActives C serum amongst other products, but I do plan on creating Jenny’s version of Skinscuiticles C serum at some point just to give it a try. I have made her hydrating B5 and love it. I personally use a scale and other necessary items when formulating–not costly. On a separate note, SkinActives is a wonderful site for finding the additional ingredients you must have in your favorite cream.

Gio March 8, 2016 - 7:34 am

Tina, so glad to hear you did everything properly and seriously researched this stuff and got the right equipment before giving it a go. Thanks for the links, too. I’ll check out those websites straight away.

Tina March 8, 2016 - 10:01 pm

GIO, thank you for your feedback. I love reading your updates, reviews and tips! I hope you will provide some feedback on the provided websites, especially lotioncrafter.com formulations.

Take Care, Tina

Gio March 10, 2016 - 11:01 pm

Tina, so glad you like them. Thank you for your support.

I checked them out briefly the other day, and they seemed quite good. I will have a more in-depth look this weekend, and let you know.

H March 8, 2016 - 7:10 am

O my gosh! My mom uses the same vitamin C serum (the Mad Hippie one) because I found it online and told my mom about it ! I finally got my mom to use sunscreen everyday and dictated her on what to buy to put together her simple beauty regimen on some things…Ya, I know.. it’s funny…’cause I’m her teenage daughter. Lol! 🙂 Even though I don’t use those types of serums for wrinkles and to exfoliate…resurfacing treatments… since I’m WAYYYY too young and don’t have wrinkles,hyper pigmentation…I have fun learning so when I’m wayyy older I’ll have a headstart! I like to learn just about anything beauty but obviously by far the majority of my “beauty research” is makeup, makeup tricks and looks,and products for my young skin but just to protect and nourish it.
Do you know any products you could recommend for me that would be ok for teen skin? Thx.

Have you ever heard of Beenigma? My mom found out about it from another blogger. It uses bee venom! http://www.beenigmacream.com/

My mom and I also found out about this thing called a dermaroller. You should research the science behind they work. It’s interesting but they’re SCARY looking just to warn ya.Here’s a link to a random one on amazon just to give you an idea on what they look like though I cannot say if it’s a good one or not.My mother has never gotten one but has heard good things about them. http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Kiss-Facial–Stainless-Enhanced/dp/B01AQVLAMO/ref=sr_1_15_s_it?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1457420362&sr=1-15&keywords=dermaroller

You should write and article on the appropriate age to start using pep-tides,AHA’s..all that aka “anti aging” foo foo stuff.It would be good because I heard that like if you start when you’re young like in your twenties you can destroy your skin in the long run.

Gio March 16, 2016 - 12:55 pm

H, that’s one of my fave serums. So good for the skin. You mom is lucky to have a smart daughter like you to help her out with her skincare. I bet her skin is much better now! And I like your approach to beauty. There’s no point in starting with retinol, vitamin c, etc, when you’re too young, although you don’t want to leave them till you start seeing wrinkles cos then it’ll be too late. Most ingredients can only prevent damage.

Sure, but just to clarify, do you mean skincare or makeup products?

I heard about bee venom, but not beenigma. It’s a cool concept, but I’m not sure I’m ready to try venom just yet. lol.

I had a dermaroller used on me, and I liked what it did. I’m not sure those you can buy are that effective, but those that professionals use work.

I don’t see any reasons why starting too soon would destroy your skin, but I’ll definitely do some research. I’ll keep you posted on what I find out.

Hannah March 19, 2016 - 7:11 am


I meant skincare products. Like for example serums that aren’t really so intensive that they’re built supposedly to reverse saggy skin? Like something quite way less intense. You do a lot of reviews for skincare products but most of them I think I’m too young for. 😉

Like with antioxidants I totally agree but somethings like….retinol perhaps…. I just think would do more harm than good. Infact, retinols seem a bit controversial because they actually thin your skin out making them more prone to wrinkles in the long run.;(and I feel that I’d only use them as like a last resort for stubborn wrinkles if I was,of course,a lot older. Totally agree, though. That’s why for about a year now I’ve started wearing sun protection. I just don’t want to over do it. I’ve heard before that too many products,especially if you don’t need them all, aren’t good for your skin. 😉

Gio March 20, 2016 - 3:02 pm

I assume you don’t have acne, right? Can you also tell me what your skin type is (apologies if you have already told me, I’m operating on a few hours’ sleep) and what ingredients you’d like to avoid? That way, I can recommend the best products. In the meantime, I would start with an antioxidant serums that doesn’t contain retinoids, such as Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate. There are two versions, one for oily and the other for dry skin, so you’ll find one that suits you.

I can totally understand why you don’t want to use retinol. That’s quite powerful, so it’s best reserved for when you’re older and you need it more. It’s true that it thins the skin, but only in the beginning. After a few weeks, it can actually make it thicker, because it inhibits the production of collagen-degrading enzymes. You can learn more about it here: https://www.futurederm.com/does-retinol-thin-the-skin-and-does-vitamin-c-slow-elastin-production-and-more/

But, the very best thing you can do for your young skin is to use sunscreen every day. That will avoid A LOT of damage, so you won’t need to start using retinol until you’re much older!

Hannah March 21, 2016 - 7:16 am

My skin is oily/combo/normal to oily/dry.My skin is weird like that.90% of the time,usually it is oily around the t-zone and the rest of my face ranges from normal to a little dry. I also get a few small pimples here and there every once in awhile but is relatively pretty clear. A lot of days I just skip the foundation because my skin is usually good on its own. 🙂

Hannah March 21, 2016 - 7:15 pm

I forgot to add sodium laurel sulfate and retinal to avoid. I know they often put retinal in acne products,but I’m not desperate about my few pimples.

Gio March 26, 2016 - 10:01 pm

Hannah, sounds like you have combination skin. I don’t think you need anti-acne busters, but you may benefit from salicylic acid. It’s an exfoliant so use it in moderation. Basically, salicylic acid can penetrate into the pores and remove what’s causing the pimples.

Annie March 13, 2016 - 8:59 pm

I used to use the Skinceuticals F+E serum. That stuff oxidized within a month (mind you, i’m keeping it refrigerated). What does that say about the stability of the product?

If you’re suggesting people not use homemade serums, then be fair and suggest they not use commercial serums either. Store bought serums are equally ineffective, given the fragile nature of vitamin C.
Ole’ henrikson c-serum happens to be the worst of the lot. That stuff clogs your pores. I broke out within a night of using it. Trash. Stay away, people.

The only difference between the store bought and homemade is that the store bought serums have more preservatives in them to make them last longer on the shelf. If i’m eliminating the preservatives, that doesn’t mean my homemade serum is ineffective, it just means it has a shorter shelf life, which also means i’m making it more frequently. I have no problem with that. I would know if the vitamin C was re-crystalizing on my face. Its Not.

The color coded pH strips DO tell you at what pH your solution is at. It’s not that difficult to achieve a pH of 3.0.

Everything else is just a personal preference.

Your one-sided article was a big turn off. Next time, you should strive to present both sides of the argument with proper scientific articles. You should also look into the shelf life of ferulic acid and hyuloronic acid and then tell me why I should purchase the skinCeuticals serum.

Gio March 14, 2016 - 9:59 pm

Annie, I’m sorry this article turned you off. I saw many people starting making their own vitamin c serums by following simplistic recipes that don’t take into consideration ph, preservatives, and all the other stuff that goes into formulating a good product, and wanted to warn them about the side effects. Making a vitamin C serum is a lot more complicated than most people think, which is why, for the average consumer, buying a product in the store is a better option.

I’m sorry you had such bad experiences with store-bought products. I used vitamin C serums that lasted longer, so I’m guessing yours must have been left on the shelves a bit too long before you got it. Now, that’s a danger of buying in-store.

Ines April 5, 2016 - 3:47 pm

Annie, I hear you!!! Since I have been as scared of store bought ones than I am of getting the proper formulation/ph of DIY ones, please please give me your source of recipe, so I can finally make my own. I would not even min mixing a daily fresh batch if that’s what it takes for safety.

Annette April 15, 2016 - 10:06 am

I used the BodyShop vitamin C serum capsule, and it oxidized within two weeks. It is not worth to purchase a product supposedly formulated professionally by healthcare expert but would not last, and it did not work also on my face. i did not see any improvement on my skin.

Gio April 16, 2016 - 5:53 pm

Annette, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I never had a problem with a vitamin C serum oxidizing so soon, but if it was very old or poorly stored, it can happen. Also, TBS serums don’t usually contain enough vitamin C to work properly, which is probably you didn’t see any improvements.

It’s true that experts can formulate a product better than the average person, but, they also have to follow the company’s instructions. And, some companies just add vitamin C because it looks good and attracts customers. That’s why, when it comes to skincare, I prefer to stick with more niche brands, like Skinceuticals and Paula’s Choice, that focus on ingredients. Their products are pricier but very well made.

kidsampson April 28, 2016 - 7:43 pm

This article is pretty lazy, TBH. You make a good point about stability and pH factors in vitamin C serums but your conclusion is just, “ok so just buy one, whatever!” You don’t need a professional lab setup or sophisticated preservative systems for basic beauty DIYs if you do it correctly. You need pH strips, good hygiene, and a digital scale. There’s a ton more opportunity for spoilage in commercial cosmetics that just does not exist when you are making 1 oz at a time for yourself to use immediately, and that’s something that you do not consider.

Instead of informing your readers on how to DIY correctly, you just say they’re probably too dumb, then put up your affiliate link to a $168 serum. Not to knock you for making a buck, but this could have been a useful article for your readers and for folks who found you through your SEO (like me). Instead this was kind of just a waste of time telling me things I already know but not providing solutions. I learned more from the commenters who actually DIY things than this article, so maybe your readers aren’t as dumb as you think they are.

Gio May 1, 2016 - 6:38 pm

Kidsampson, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this article. I really regret not saying this in the introduction, but if you’ve read the comments, you already know it. This post is NOT aimed at the few of you who are so interested in DIY cosmetics that you take the time to learn how to do things correctly. It is aimed at regular people who come across a recipe online that doesn’t mention anything about ph, scales, hygiene, etc, and end up making products that are not effective.You yourself said it in your comment when you wrote “if you do it correctly. You need pH strips, good hygiene, and a digital scale.” How many online recipes have you come across that mention those? You have to agree that between following one of those crappy recipes and buying a commercial serum, the latter is the best option.

Why did I put affiliate links instead of telling people how to make their own vitamin C serum? It wasn’t to make a quick buck as I haven’t even made $1 from this post. Just because you put in an affiliate link, doesn’t mean that people are going to click on it. No, it’s simply because this is NOT an DIY blog. It’s a blog that explores the science behind beauty and the many beauty myths going around, including the one that making your own vitamin C serum is easy peasy. It’s not.

I assure you, I don’t consider my readers dumb at all. In fact, if you read the comments on this and many other posts, you’ll see that I have some of the smartest readers in the blogosphere. If I didn’t provide any solutions, like you expected, it’s because this wasn’t what I set out to do when I wrote the post. I just wanted to debunk this myth that you can mix this and that together, without care for ph, hygiene, etc, and have an effective product. The title itself doesn’t mention anything about solutions, so I’m not sure why you expected to find them here.

Noemie May 22, 2016 - 9:41 am

This post doesn’t educate people, it’s just advising people to buy more stuff. It’s the blog version of infomercial. If you want to educate people, it would be best to not endorse products, otherwise you lose your credibility, in my opinion. Unless you get freebies from them, but then state it in the article….

Gio May 24, 2016 - 11:05 pm

Noemi, I’m sorry you feel it’s not educational. I’m pretty sure that, if you found a random recipe online telling you to put some vitamin c crystals in your moisturizer, you’d feel educated to know that doesn’t work. And then, you’d want to know where you can get a product that works, which is why I added those options at the end.

I’m sorry you think that makes me lose credibility. My readers know that I’m a huge fan of vitamin c serums, and I regularly endorse these products because I love them. And, when I say these products, I mean these specific products, not some random vitamin c serums.

Yes, if people buy from the links I get a small commission (we’re talking cents here and I doubt I made even $1 from this post) but these products are faves so I’d be promoting them anyway for free. As I would add the links anyway, why not make them affiliate links?

Sarah Zamora July 31, 2016 - 7:37 pm

I have been reading these comment
s. KIDSAMPSON YOU ARE RIGHT ON TARGET..everything you said is what I was thinking…honest,truth,and exactly right on!!!your comment will steer people who read this to basic truths and facts…and Thankyou for saying basically WE are not STUPID!!!! PS..GIO TAKE SOME LESSONS FROM KID……

Gio July 31, 2016 - 7:51 pm

Sarah, I don’t think you are stupid and I apologize if I made you feel like that. On the contrary, I applaud you for learning how to make your own skincare products the proper way.

But, as you know since you’re read through the comments, most people don’t want to invest the time and money it takes to learn. They want to use a simple recipe to make their own vitamin C serum and those usually don’t work. In this case, buying a ready-made serum is the best option.

Mary May 2, 2016 - 4:23 pm

Do you have any advice/information about Vitamin C crystals (Like Cosmedix Pure C)? A lot of people have been saying they work really well, and you simply add them to whatever lotion, oil, or serum you currently moisturize with, but I’m dubious. I generally use all natural products since my skin is extremely sensitive, prone to break-outs, but I’m 34 and now have to worry about wrinkles too! Eep. Twice a week (at night) I use Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, but other than that no chemical-based products.

A few months ago I bit the bullet and spent a lot on skincare products – this was after not changing my routine for years and using bare-basics. I’ve REALLY noticed a difference! Now I feel like I should add a Vitamin C to my routine. However it’s all so over-whelming!

My current line-up is: May Linstrom Mud Honey cleanser (AM & PM), and 2-3x week exfoliate with her Clean Dirt.
Tone – Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner (Am & PM)
Karina Giving Beauty Serum (AM & PM)
In the morning I use Herbivore Botanicals Lapis oil, no other lotions.

At night I skip the Herbivore oil and use Tammy Fender Neroli antioxidant cream, followed by an organic Rosehip Oil. I also use Keihls Avocado Eye Cream am & Pm.

Anyway, I want to add a Vitamin C during the day, but don’t want to do ANOTHER serum or lotion! So I was thinking of trying these crystals which get good reviews. Do you have any thoughts?

I’ve also considered testing out Drunken Elephant C-Firma Day Serum.

Sorry for the long-winded write up and thanks for your blog/research!

Gio May 12, 2016 - 9:15 pm

Mary, I highly recommend Vitamin C. It really does wonders for the skin. But, you’re right, those crystals don’t dissolve well and so don’t work well. Vitamin C is a really fickle ingredient, so if you want to go down the DIY route, you should be prepared to buy the necessary equipment, learn about ph etc. Personally, I think going for the Drunken Elephant serum would be the easiest option.

Noemie May 22, 2016 - 9:36 am

Oh my word… Yet another article about buying products… Another article about desempowering people, doubt themselves and only trust the ” experts”. The experts don’t have your best interest in mind. They just want to make you believe all sorts of dreams, and promote retail therapy. The beauty industry makes so many women feel like shit, with their airbrushed adverts and using 16 years old to promote anti ageing creams. More articles to empower people please, no need to make them feel like they can’t do things for themselves. The truth is, they can. The products you are recommending are made on the cheap, in large quantity. Anyone can make their own potions at home, using good quality organic ingredients and feel empowered for doing so. Beauty comes from the inside… Not from buying more stuff.

Gio May 24, 2016 - 10:59 pm

Noemie, disempowering people is the last thing I want to do. I completely agree with you that the beauty industry is making women feel like shit to sell them something, and this shouldn’t be allowed. It’s just wrong. You’ll find plenty of posts on this blog addressing this and related issues.

But, that doesn’t mean that the experts never have your best interests at heart. Of course, they want you to buy their stuff, but a lot of the products are well-formulated and they work.

And, making a vitamin C serum is hard. Yes, I could have told people how to make one, but this isn’t a DIY blog. It’s a blog debunking beauty myths, like the one that says that you can buy vitamin C crystals, mix them with your moisturizer, and have a product that works. It just doesn’t work that way.

Michael May 28, 2016 - 12:28 pm

No 1. Dont eat crap. As an orthomolecular scientist, the old adage you are what you eat could never be more true when it comes to your skin. Your skin ages from the inside out not the outside in. Dont smoke. Carbohydrates age your skin, no chips, sweets, DEFINITELY NO COKE. Avoid sunlight except for 20 minutes a day. You need vitamin d generated internally from sunlight exposure. Sunscreen has very bad nano particles in it we are only just finding out about now. Dont use it. Cover up instead.

No 2. Use the L version of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid. It should be ok for up to 3 weeks providing you use pure distilled water and refrigerate immediately after making it, the normal ascorbic acid will last 5 days maximum. Just because it is clear does not mean that it hasnt started to oxidize. Vitamin c is cheap so don’t be cheap and try snd stretch its life. 1kg of the L variety shouldn’t cost anymore than $30. Only make 25ml at a time. 1 kg should last years.

Gio May 29, 2016 - 12:19 pm

Michael, thank you for your tips. I do agree with most of what you said. A healthy lifestyle definitely is the key to healthier skin. But, I don’t think we should stop using sunscreen. I haven’t seen any proof that nano particles are bad yet, and in any case, not all sunscreen contain them. Just avoid those that do if you are concerned about them.

Bruce October 27, 2016 - 11:01 am

Personally, I cannot for the life of me understand how some people still have not made the correlation of eating super clean with having perfect skin and ultimately taking years of aging off your face and entire body. The same applies to intense exercise. My wife and I follow a raw vegan food plan, and have for most our lives, and no, not the vegan types that steer clear of meat products but load up on french fries and junk food, I always love that (nor are we the emaciated, sickly looking raw food vegans). We juice pounds of veggies every morning and pretty much survive, or should I say thrive, on huge salads covered with veggies and stuffed with greens, greens, and more greens, and of course, can’t leave out our green smoothies (liquid salads). Anyways, the point is, we’re both constantly mistaken for being twenty years younger, sometimes more. I hate to sound like a self indulgent [email protected]&r, but it’s not as if we just look good for our age, while in fact, still actually looking our age. No, we’re consistently being mistaken for being 20+ years younger than we actually are. Let me tell you, it gets tiresome listening to uninformed people tell you how lucky you are to have such good genes, including those that know you and furthermore understand the super clean and active lifestyle you live. It’s as if they just cannot comprehend that idea, even after explaining it to them….. Now don’t get me wrong, a couple of the right topical products can make a nice difference, though it’ll be negligible in comparison. IMHO I think some people legitimately just don’t understand the connection, while others, IMO, may even choose to live in ignorance and denial as to the actual hard work and sacrifice that must be put in to obtain that end result……. Gosh, I’m really venting here, I must sound like a total a$$. Okay, I’ll wrap it up. The moral of the story being, these serums and elixirs, etc. only do so much, or worse, absolutely nothing, if people simultaneously lead an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. Not trying to recruit anyone to be a raw food vegan or anything, however, eating super clean with tons of veggies consisting of all the right macro and micronutrients, combined with training hard in the gym, and I guarantee you’ll see all the improvements you’re currently striving for X 100, as opposed to following some intricate topical regiment of facial products. Also detoxify your body regularly and keep your hormones balanced and at youthful levels. This is what’ll actually make a marked difference in how you look, and best of all, how you feel!!!

Gio October 30, 2016 - 10:14 pm

Bruce, totally agree with you. I’m not a raw vegan yet (sounds a bit too extreme for me), but I am trying to make better and better eating choices everyday. You’re absolutely right, lotions and potions can help, but only to a certain extent. Your lifestyle, and in particular what you eat, has a much bigger impact.

Michael May 28, 2016 - 1:37 pm

As an aside note, lotioncrafters double c serum recipe contains the following ingredient.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
Ascorbyl tretaisopalmitate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate are two names for the same molecule. The first (ATIP) is the chemical name while the second (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) is the marketing name. It is likely the marketing name was chosen to disassociate it from “palmitate” which as discussed above, is toxic to skin cells under sun exposure.

Thanks to http://feleciaroselabs.com/is-my-expensive-vitamin-c-serum-killing-my-skin/ for the above information.

Gio May 29, 2016 - 12:22 pm

Michael, thanks for your comment. As far as I know, all forms of vitamin C can make skin more susceptible to UV damage, so it’s definitely something you want to use with sunscreen or at night only.

Michael May 28, 2016 - 2:37 pm

My wifes skin care regimen.

She doesn’t eat carbs.


Witch hazel is the best cleanser toner you can get bar none. Its cheap and it works. Cleanse your skin before and after showering. Wet a cotton ball with WH and wipe your face clean. Shower. Repeat. Always remove the days and nights grime before showering with WH.

Use your L-ascorbic acid spray. Apply a micro fine mist of water based C to your face. Do not rub in or wipe off. KEEP YOYR FINGERS AWAY FROM YOUR FRESHLY CLEANED WITCH HAZEL FACE.

After 15 minutes apply wheat germ oil to seal and protect. Wheat germ oil contains natural sunscreens, amino acids and is a great moisturizer. Once again its cheap and it works.

If you use make up apply that last but remember, you are trying to protect your skin from aging. Make up contains some very nasty chemicals. Things like propylene glycol which is toxic to cells and mytocondria. Make up will kill the very thing you are trying to protect…….your skin.


First thing when you get home use WH to clean your neck and face and ears. Keep going until the cotton ball is clean. WH IS CHEAP. Shower and repeat.

Apply your C mist. Wait the 15 minutes until it absorbs into your skin.

Buy some CoQ10 capsules. Make sure your hands are clean. Cut the Q10 capsule spread a light film over your face. The longer you leave the Q10 on your face the better.

Before bed remove the Q10 with WH. Now go to bed and sleep. Q10 will leave a mark on your pillow case. If you really don’t care about that leave the Q10 on all night.

Her yearly skin care costs around $150. Women have been lied to and duped by celebrities and marketing companies for eons. My wife is 55 and her skin is as good as it was when she was 30. Al her friends now use WH, C misting, whwat germ oil and Q10. It works.

You don’t need all that crap you are being told and sold.

Gio May 29, 2016 - 12:28 pm

Michael, thanks for your comment, and I’m glad to hear your wife has found a skincare regime that works so well for her, and that’s cheap.

However, I’m concerned that she doesn’t use sunscreen. Wheat germ oil may have some sun protection properties, but it definitely does NOT work as well as sunscreen.

As for witch hazel, I’m on the fence. A lot of witch hazel is distilled in alcohol, and that’s drying to the skin. I much prefer the oil cleansing method, and mixing castor and olive oils together. Works a charm.

As for makeup containing nasty chemicals, please don’t believe the nonsense that the EWG and other illiterate organizations are spreading around. There’s nothing toxic in your cosmetics. If they were as dangerous as people say they were, then why aren’t heavy makeup users aging super fast and dying left, right, and center?

Eru December 29, 2016 - 6:30 am

“As for makeup containing nasty chemicals, please don’t believe the nonsense that the EWG and other illiterate organizations are spreading around. There’s nothing toxic in your cosmetics.”
And this comes from a person who tells others to check everything scientifically, blabla… just dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into your bubble. Do question things.
You cannot know long term effects of products when it’s released.
Let me remind you of how toxic hair dyes are, and how many women have had hair fall out from them, because of PPD. Do all women have this issue? No. Does it make it non toxic? No… Don’t get me started on Brazilian keratin hair straightening which has formaldehyde, and even if it doesn’t (they advertise it how it doesn’t contain it), it’s released by heating during the process, because that is the active ingredient lol. It’s universally known as toxic, yet it’s being produced.
Oh man I could write a book now, but seriously don’t just trust everything blindly because someone in a suit said so.

Gio December 29, 2016 - 8:58 am

Eru, thank you for your comment. When I said cosmetics, I was talking about creams and lotions. They don’t contain anything nasty. The EWG claims otherwise because they misinterpret studies. They believe that just because a substance is toxic for mice when ingested by them in incredibly high amounts it must also be toxic for us humans when applied topically in a tiny dose. It doesn’t work that way. Hope this explains my statement.

But I completely agree with you about Brazilian keratin hair straightening. That’s dangerous and should be banned.

Eru December 30, 2016 - 12:55 am

I halfway agree with you and halfway disagree. There are certain regulations in the industry so it’s not like they can put anything into products recklessly.
That being said, we do not know long term effects of chemicals, also many of them are in cosmetics and still being researched while they are on the shelves and people use it. Talking about the vitamin C serum, ascorbyl palmitate, which is often in commercial products for its stability, has already been shown to increase sun damage, and make things worse.

Many people want for their skin only edible, sure ingredients that have been used long term and if one is very concerned and want to feel safe, I think that’s probably the way to go. Maybe companies need to start responding to this need with more such products, and more affordable products. Because people are tired of this big pharma monopoly over their lives. I’ve watched a video with a doctor with a similar viewpoint as yours, while you’re just zealous over the matter, he was condescending. “You will never make a vitamin C serum, you are stupid if you think you can, MUAHAHAHAHA” (that was basically the attitude from his video)

Homemade products might have somewhat shorter shelf life, but make small batches, isn’t fresher better anyway. There are also preservatives that are natural, such as tea tree oil.

You are smart so it would be cooler you joined us in researching a good formula for homemade vit C serum instead of dissuading people, research would be a way better use of time. I don’t think you’re out for the money, but I do think that the production is not that regulated as we want to think. We think in factories and other production zones, that it’s all sterile, high quality control… there might be a few respectable brands but for the most part the quality is not at the level that we expect, especially when it comes to big companies.

Gio December 31, 2016 - 6:43 pm

I agree with you to a certain extent. Some new ingredients are tested too little before being put in cosmetics. But most of these chemicals have been around for 20 years or more. If they were dangerous, we would know. You mention ascorbyl palmitate, but all forms of vitamins C can increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Exfoliants and retinol do the same too. That’s why you either use them at night or with sunscreen. See how easy it is to make something seem more dangerous than it is? Also, it is the dose that makes the poison, Our liver and kidneys get rid of toxins for us. It’s only when these toxins are present in the body in high levels that the body can’t get rid of them properly. In trace amounts, they’re not a problem. Your body knows how to deal with them.

Using edible and natural ingredients presents a whole other set of problems. For example, plants are made of tens of thousands of compounds, Some of them are very good for us, Others are toxic, All plants contain little amounts of toxic compounds to protect themselves from predators. If you want to use the good parts without the bad parts, you need to modify them in a lab. But then, are they still natural enough for consumers? Also, you need a way to optimize their absorption by the body. You can’t put orange juice on your face and expect to benefit from vitamin C.

Do you have proof that big companies don’t make their products in a sterile environment? Personally, I think a normal kitchen would be a much more dangerous environment unless you are obsessed with cleaning and do it all the time.

No, I am not out for the money but my audience isn’t that interested in DIY. They want to know how to tell good products apart from bad products, hence this post. 🙂

Sherry May 28, 2016 - 3:45 pm

I appreciate this article, and the fact that you do your research. My experience with a homemade Vitamin C serum was that it was ineffective. I wasted money on bottles, Vitamin C powder and glycerin. It’s not cheap either, to make it yourself at home. And now I’m reading you need ferulic acid, ph strips and a digital scale to make it correctly! How is that cheaper? Anyway, I appreciate your blog, and the fact that you educate people about the scientific aspects of skincare. Some people are so fixated on “natural is better, I can do it myself,” etc., that they are unable to recognize the facts. And don’t you love how people try to discredit you in order to prove their point. Even if you were making money off of links, it doesn’t change the fact that homemade Vitamin C serums don’t work. Keep up the good work!

Gio May 29, 2016 - 12:33 pm

Sherry, thanks for your support. And sorry you had to find out the hard way how ineffective homemade vitamin c serums can be. I think, when you’re a DIY nerd and used to doing stuff yourself, you don’t realise how much effort learning about this stuff, buying the necessary equipment, and doing everything right is. Most people simply don’t have the time or inclination to do so.

Teva June 13, 2016 - 2:36 am

Gio you keep asking how all these people that make their own vitamin c serum know that it is from that and not something else. When it is all you are using and you take a before picture and three months later take an after picture. The results speak for themselves! To have hyper pigmentation for years and then start the serum, three months later it is pretty much gone. You can easily conclude what did it! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. A person Can draw conclusions for themselves. People can see it for themselves! I agree with the ones above. It is just scare tactics to keep you buying the stuff that is too expensive! I have seen many testimonials and also pictures of people that are just using vitamin c mixed with water and they have amazing results. Maybe because we are composed mainly of water it works itself into your skin.

Gio June 16, 2016 - 10:30 pm

Teva, thanks for your comment. My point is that, when it comes to skincare, there are so many variables at play (diet, exercise, skincare products, etc), it’s difficult to tell sometimes. If you take the time to learn to formulate a vitamin C serum, then you may get some results. But it’s not as easy as mixing vitamin c with water. Anyone can post anything online. How can you be sure those pictures were really the result of these serums? Not that cosmetic companies are exempt from this They are often big liars, too.

My point is, do you research. Making a vitamin C serum that works takes time, skills, and patience. If you want to invest them, go ahead. Otherwise, much better buy a ready made serum from a store.

Mia June 18, 2016 - 5:48 am

I was wondering about Vitamin C powder; is it better to make and use this than the serum?


Gio June 25, 2016 - 4:57 pm

Mia, no, I’m afraid Vitamin C powder isn’t very effective. Sorry!

Nikki June 18, 2016 - 8:36 pm

I am new here, and I actually agree with just about everything in the article. I’m all about DIY beauty, I make my own scrubs, shea butter skin cream and hyaluronic acid serum. But vitamin c really is unstable, even if you keep it in the fridge. Not that I don’t think some people have figured out what works for them, it just isn’t for me. Why would I spend money on all the stuff to make it, scales and ph strips etc. I don’t understand why everyone is so upset with you.

I bought my vitamin c serum on Amazon for $15.99, Sky Organics is the name brand. I love it, and it’s cheap enough that I can replace it without spending a ton of money. There were some on there even cheaper, still with 20% vit c plus hyaluronic acid. So it doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money to get a decent product.

Gio June 25, 2016 - 4:35 pm

Nikki, thank you for your support. And that is just my point. It’s so difficult to formulate a vitamin C serum at home. They shouldn’t be tricked into thinking that it is a lot easier than it seems.

amy June 19, 2016 - 9:53 pm

I use ph test strips and my homemade vitamin serum is so effective. Women aren’t dumb. YOu could have easily framed this as “tips to make your vitamin c serum” safe and effective. but you didn’t. I agree with the idea that this post is dis empowering. I won’t be back to this blog.

Gio June 25, 2016 - 4:07 pm

Amy, I guess I could have, but this isn’t a DIY blog. Learning how to do your own Vitamin C serum, buying all the necessary equipment, and actually making the serum every two days can be quite time-consuming. Not everyone wants to bother with them. At the very least, they’ll try mixing some vitamin c powder with water or something like that and be disappointed it doesn’t work. Don’t you think they deserve to know in advance?

C Inman Young June 29, 2016 - 6:57 pm

I am a New DIYer I started when I heard a celebrity chef say “when you make your own “sauces” YOU control what goes in and on your body”. Like food recipes there is trial and error to find what works best for You, the same is true with skin and hair care. There is no one recipe or formula that will fit all tastes, skin,and hair types. For many years I purchased my sauces in a jar with ingredients I could not pronounce or find the benefit of, now I make my own and the ingredients are of my choosing and the results are perfect for me. Not everyone can or should be a DIYer but if you are tired of paying ridiculous prices for ingredients which are suspect at best, been burned by infomercials, have drawer and cabinets filled with ineffective products.The Internet holds a world of experts, scientist, chefs, doctors, and everyday people opinions and expertise. Just google it!

Gio July 2, 2016 - 12:50 am

C Inman, thanks for your comment. I agree, there’s not an one-size-fits-all, and DIY is definitely the best choice for some people. It’s just annoying when people think it’s the only choice and make it sound easier than it actually is. But if you’re serious about it, more power to you.

John S July 13, 2016 - 7:27 pm

Isn’t it possible that these DIY serums show benefits as acid exfoliators, in which case they could appear to be working while providing none of the special benefits of Vitamin C?

Gio July 15, 2016 - 9:49 pm

John, if the are formulated at a ph that allows exfoliation, then yes it is possible.

Gio July 31, 2016 - 7:22 pm

Jake, I’m replying here because we’ve run out of space out there. The main problem is, how do you know you’ve got a good recipe? So many I’ve seen online don’t work…

Stacey August 16, 2016 - 3:09 am

You have also forgot to mention the vitamin C serum needs to be at least 20% or else it is useless. I have done my research and found many companies struggle with this as they cannot preserve it long enough. Unless the store bought serums are 20% concentrate they will ineffective.

Gio August 16, 2016 - 6:08 pm

Stacey, I think it can be a bit lower (15%) if you add vitamin E and ferulic acid to the mix as they boost one another’s effectiveness. I will have to look up the study again. But yeah, you’re right. Vitamin C must be used in a high dose or it’s useless. Thanks for the reminder.

Lisa B. August 31, 2016 - 9:45 pm

I realize I may be throwing more gas on the fire, but I just HAVE to add my 2 cents, here.

My daughter is a pharmacist, before that a pharm tech in a true compounding pharmacy (all pharmacies say they’re compounding pharmacies, but unless they’ve received additional training AND have the specialized equipment, they shouldn’t be compounding more than triple-paste). Sad to say, compounding—and that’s what we’re talking about—is NOT “just like following a cake recipe.” Each step is an opportunity to mess it up. What temp are the chemicals at each stage? What’s the ph (cannot be accurately tested with a strip) at each stage? How long did you keep it at each stage? And on and on.

At best, you send someone home with a compound that punks out in a few days (prilosec drops for babies), at worst harms or kills someone (lidocaine cream).

I am a huge diy-er—to save money, to get exactly the product I want, because something I want is unavailable to me unless I do it myself. I know I’m taking risks. My daughter says, “One of these days your face is gonna fall off, and I won’t feel sorry for you because it will be your own fault.” She’s right. Gio’s right.

I’m glad to find a site like this to help me properly do what I can, and non judgmentally (I can’t ask my daughter anymore without getting a lecture) tell me what I shouldn’t be attempting.

Glad to get that off my chest.

Gio September 2, 2016 - 12:08 pm

Lisa, thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience. Making DIY cosmetics is a lot more complicated than it seems, isn’t it? I see the appeal as you can get something customized exactly to your needs, but you can do more harm than good if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and expertise. I hope your face won’t fall off, but at least you’re aware of the risks you’re taking, and that’s the first step to try and minimize them. Stay safe.

Brown September 2, 2016 - 9:57 pm

I make my own 20% C Serum & it works great! I make only enough to last 1 week. It is stored in a darks blue eye dropper bottle in a dark cool drawer. Mine is a mix of pharmaceutical grade finely milled C, distilled water and vegetable glycerin

Gio September 4, 2016 - 12:31 pm

Brown, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad you’ve found something that works well for you.

Xoie December 17, 2016 - 10:48 pm

I just have to say here, loved this blog!! I too am an esthetician but am living in Ecuador and have little access to good skin care products that don’t break the bank. I was looking up diy vit C creams, scrubs and serum recipes and stumbled upon this site. Thank you for your scientific approach to these serums! Your right, most do it yourself era say nothing about the shelf life of vitamin c and the possible dangers. The focus is on saving a buck but nothing about the dangers.

What I can’t believe is how DEFENSIVE many of these commenters are. You would think you were stealing their customers or something! If your homemade serum works for you great! Keep using it! Why attack this blog for giving us poor newbies a heads up on what they’re up against?

Don’t pay any attention to their rude comments. Your blog is clear, conscience, informational and respectful.

Gio December 18, 2016 - 10:17 am

Xoie, thanks so much for your kind words and support. That’s exactly my point. Making your own vitamin C serum isn’t as easy as it is made out to believe. Lots of things could go wrong at any time during the process. Either take the time to learn about the science of formulating DIY products and invest in the necessary equipment or don’t bother. There’s no point in saving a few bucks if your own DIY serum doesn’t work.

MARL January 13, 2017 - 10:48 pm


Gio January 14, 2017 - 6:13 pm

Marl, I don’t think you are idiots, but I do think it’s harder than you think it is. Have you read what I wrote about L-Ascorbic Acid powder? There are so many things to take into consideration, not just the ph.

Jules January 15, 2017 - 12:36 am

Make my own. Skin looks and feels amazing. Always get comments. Cheap and not lining some pharmaceutical company.

Gio January 15, 2017 - 9:43 am

Jules, glad it’s working well for you.

Barry January 16, 2017 - 4:27 am

I don’t know if it has been asked before, but if it takes 10 years to know if a Vitamin C serum works for you, how do you know that you aren’t just blowing $162 per tiny little bottle on snake oil?

Gio January 16, 2017 - 12:03 pm

Barry, great question. That’s why I like to look at the science. If scientific studies find that a certain form of vitamin C at a certain ph formulated in a certain way to make it stable works, then I’ll fork out the money. With homemade vitamin C serums you often can’t replicate the same thing or measure the results properly.

Barry January 17, 2017 - 6:57 pm

Thanks for the answer. Do you have links to the studies that you mentioned? I can look it up on PubMed myself, but if you have the studies at hand it would save me searching for them.

Gio January 17, 2017 - 8:24 pm

Barry, there are too many links to mention them all. But I linked a few in the body of the post. You can start with those. 🙂

Barry January 17, 2017 - 8:32 pm

Hi Gio,

My apologies as I didn’t see the links in the document. I’ll have a look through those first.



Gio January 17, 2017 - 8:44 pm

No worries, Barry. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Angela January 21, 2017 - 12:45 pm

i’m usually a fan of this site, but not of this article.
1). keep vitamin c concentration under 20 percent, and irritatablity will be minimal. If you have sensitivty skin, lower the percentage and lower the amount used.
2). you can easily add vitamin e and ferulic acid at home. We have something called the internet so we can buy ingredients easily and mix them at home. No lab required (why would we if we can buy the ingredients?)
3). vitamin c is water soluble. unless you have a fat soluble form of vitamin c, it cannot penetrate lipid parts of skin barrier. we have things like vitamin e for that.
4.) to delay oxidation, make small batches in airless pumps (even most expensive ones don’t do that!), then add vitamin e with equal amounts of polysorbate 80
5). your site is full of ads for vitamin c. This article might very well be one.

Gio January 27, 2017 - 9:11 pm

Angela, I’m sorry you didn’t like this article.

1. I totally agree with you on this. 🙂
2. Because it’s not just about mixing the ingredients. You have to formulate them in a way they’re able to penetrate the skin, have a ph that makes it effective but doesn’t irritate the skin, helps the ingredients last longer…There are many things to consider.
3. If the vitamin C serum you’re making can’t penetrate the skin, what’s the point in using it? That’s why, as I said above, making a vitamin C serum is more complicated than mixing a few ingredients together.
4. That’s a great tip. But do people actually want to make their own serum every few days when they can buy one ready-made that will last more?
5. What ads are you talking about? If those in the sidebar/content, they are chosen based on what you were googling before. For example, in the sidebar I currently see an ad for Hungry House because I was looking for a restaurant that delivers at home in my area this afternoon. If you were googling vitamin C, you will see ads with vitamin C. Apart from that, I made no secret that there are affiliate links in the post but hardly anyone clicks on them. Most of the people who bother to read this article are DIYers. Ironic, isn’t it?

Michelle (Lab Muffin) March 16, 2017 - 1:28 am

I was linked to this article through a comment on a 5 minute DIY vitamin C serum I posted recently, so I thought I’d copy my thoughts over to here:

1. This is really not much of an issue. Ascorbic acid won’t dissolve in oil, so apart from a plain water solution, it will either be in a water-based serum which would have the same issues as the ones claimed, or it’ll be in the water phase of an emulsion which could perhaps trap the ascorbic acid against the skin in water droplets… but you would do the same the moment you put on any other skincare products over the serum, or when your sweat and sebum mix with the ascorbic acid on your skin. That’s how anhydrous LAA products like those from Indeed Labs and The Ordinary work.

2. Wrong pH – can be adjusted with pH strips.

3. Quick spoilage – not an issue if you remake it weekly, which is enough according to the kinetics of LAA degradation.

4. Fewer ingredients – there’s fewer benefits, but we can just use other serums for those. Having a one ingredient product has the advantage of being more versatile with where you can include it in your routine.

Gio March 18, 2017 - 7:12 pm

Michelle, thanks for your comments and clarification. I admit I’m not a fan of too simple serums. It may be more versatile but I’m the lazy kind and want as many antioxidants and goodies in there as possible. I don’t want to have to use too many products in the morning or at night to get all the benefits I want. And yes, there are solutions to all these problems, like you have kindly pointed out. I have no doubt your vitamin C serum works because I know you and your skills. 😉 But a lot of recipes out there tend to underestimate how easy it is to work with something as unstable as vitamin C. Just wanted to point out all the many things that could go wrong.

Richard March 20, 2017 - 12:35 am

Nonsense. Read the latest research. They figured out the optimum ratio of water to Vitamin C. 20% C!
Buy it cheap. $15 for 2 pounds of easily dissolved powder. Mix 4 parts water to 1 part C by weight and apply to your skin. Yes you will get a powder on your skin when it dries. But your skin will be wonderful afterwards.
Make it fresh every time. Easy
You can add a couple drops of glycerin if you like. I like just distilled water and C. Works wonders. Amazing stuff.

Gio March 22, 2017 - 11:19 am

Richard, I have read the latest research and it is more complicated than this. For example, you’re not giving even a passing thought to ph. Are you measuring it? Also, have you considered the fact that a lot of people can’t be bothered to make it fresh every time? Maybe I make it sounds more complicated than it is, but a lot of you are making it seem way easier. A lot of people have busy lifestyles and they don’t want to deal with a lot of the issues making your own vitamin C serum brings.

Richard March 22, 2017 - 3:54 pm

Au contraire. I’ve given pH much thought. I even bought and calibrated a pH meter and checked things out. Turns out when you mix powdered Ascorbic Acid and distilled water in the proper ratio that the pH is very close to perfect. Close enough that I didn’t see it necessary to mention in my previous quick comment.

And once you get things set up, it’s very easy and quick to mix up enough serum for a single application. And it’s fresher and more effective that way. Better than anything you can buy pre-mixed. And it does wonders for your skin.

thank you.

Gio March 22, 2017 - 7:20 pm

I’m genuinely glad to hear that Richard. But you’ve proved my point in a way. You take for granted that mentioning ph is not necessary. That’s because for you it works. But how many recipes are out there that don’t? This is the internet. For one person who comes up with a good recipe, there’s another who posts a crappy one. And both are copied and pasted by others everywhere else. You see the problem now?

Richard March 23, 2017 - 3:54 pm

But I didn’t come up with the recipe. It’s exactly what the researchers arrived at as the best, most effective way to apply Vitamin C topically to your skin. And they showed that the ratio of C to water wasn’t even all that critical. If your skin is too sensitive for a 20% solution a 15% or 10% or even 5% solution is still a lot better than nothing.
It’s incredibly easy and simple and cheap and safe. Way better than anything you can buy ready-made from the store. They proved it.
So simple.


Gio April 8, 2017 - 6:00 pm

Can you show me the study, please? I’m curious. 🙂

Cheryl April 30, 2017 - 4:25 am

I have used Timeless Vitamin C serum, which did oxidize at varying rates. I was able to extend its freshness by keeping a small amount, for daily use, in a separate bottle. The original bottle with remainder was put away in a cool, dark place. I had read that refrigerated C could crystallize. I now make my own from a recipe by a phd chemist, found online. She takes into account all aspects that are necessary- ph, water vs oil base, storage etc. You could have gone the extra mile by supplying your readers with the same information. The correct information. But you’ve made your point repeatedly and doubted many people’s intelligence. I cannot subscribe to this site after reading this discussion.

Gio May 5, 2017 - 7:27 pm

Cheryl, I am sorry that you have found me stubborn and inflexible. But so have many people here. You DIYers assume that everyone has your will and your time to go looking for the right information, buy the necessary equipment, make the recipe every few days… For most people, that’s way too much work. What they want is a quick fix, find a random recipe online, mix two ingredients together and take 10 years off their faces. It simply doesn’t work that way. This article was aimed at that audience, yet for some reason, it has attracted an audience of DIYers who had only to read the title to know they are on the wrong site. Nothing wrong with that, I welcome everyone on my site. But you’re not the intended audience for this piece so of course, you will find fault with it. Please, take the time to read it from the perspective of someone who thought that doing your own DIY vitamin C serum took two minutes. You might see it differently.

Cheryl April 30, 2017 - 4:42 am

I must add that you have been stubborn and inflexible.

Christopher May 13, 2017 - 6:39 pm

I find it hilarious that everyone that disagrees with you are basing it solely on personal experience. Because they themselves have made or used a DIY vitamin C serum then obviously all your arguments must be void. Of course personal experience trumps objective data. It’s also amusing that they call you stuff like stubborn and inflexible while displaying these very traits themselves.

While I do think that you can make your own vitamin C serum at home, the problems you brought up are valid. Sure people might find a way around them, but most people aren’t going to bother doing proper research before plunging into the DIY world. Most people believe preservatives are inherently dangerous and that just shows you how ignorant people really are.

So my point is this: I agree with you that MOST people shouldn’t DIY a vitamin C serum because they lack the knowledge and skills of how to do it properly. However if you educate yourself with proper research (avoiding all blogs where they use words like “toxic”, “detox”, “green”, “natural”..etc) then you’re very well on your way to make a good and stable-ish vitamin C serum.

Gio May 14, 2017 - 3:31 pm

Christopher, thanks for your well thought out comment. I write my posts based on what the science, rather than just personal experience, says, and in this case, the verdict is clear. There are so many things that could go wrong when you make your own vitamin C serum that for most people, it simply isn’t worth the hassle. With the proliferation of DIY and natural beauty websites we’re experiencing today, I thought people deserved to know the truth. But if you have the time and money to invest in learning how to make your own skincare, more kudos to you.

Echo12 May 17, 2017 - 5:48 pm

I appreciate your concerns about homemade Vit. C serum. I was curious about your chemistry background, if any. Also, I didn’t notice any sources listed so just curious as to where your info was coming from. Thanks 🙂

Gio May 21, 2017 - 10:04 am

Echo12, I don’t have a degree in chemistry, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m sure there are chemists out there who can tell you how to formulate a vitamin C serum the right way. But if you’re not a chemist, I think it’s best to leave this stuff to the professionals. I got my info from pubmed. I have linked to a couple of studies in the article.

Vee Johnson May 25, 2017 - 9:35 pm

What about mixing a small amount of solution fresh every time you use it? And also using wither vitamin C in liquid gelcap form, or crystals in capsules?
Using products in gelcaps or capsules would prevent oxidation, as would mixing fresh each time. It wouldnt be that hard to do – break open the capsule or stick the gelcap with a pin, pour out the ascorbic acid, mix thoroughly with a teaspoon or two of witch hazel and then add a few drops of glycerin
Just a thought.

Gio May 27, 2017 - 5:39 pm

Vee, that would be a better way of doing it indeed. In theory, it seems very easy. In practice, having to make it fresh every single day or so does make it difficult. I understand that for you DIYer this is not a problem, but the rest of us has better things to do with our time than making a fresh batch of vitamin C every few days. I know people who love the idea of DIY skincare until they realise how short a shelf life these products have.

Vee Johnson May 31, 2017 - 12:32 am

By the way – I think your blog is great, and your information is absolutely correct. I am frequently a DIYer but I don’t find your site offensive at all – quite the contrary, it’s very helpful. You also single out some good products in this post. The last one by Timeless (no, I dont work for them!) has excellent ingredients (I’m a medical writer and check it all out on PubMed also) and is one of the few I”ve seen in stores or online that is reasonably priced.It’s also the one that requires the most “work” ie store it in the refrigerator, don’t use past 3 months, etc. Proving what you have said all along that when it comes to vitamin C, it is not a question of just adding some to a moisturizer. Thanks again for all your research

Gio June 3, 2017 - 3:28 pm

Vee, thank you for your kind words. Vitamin C is a diva and must be handled with care. Too many people are careless with it and may end up irritating their skin or worse.

Cammila May 29, 2017 - 5:06 am

I cannot BELIEVE the heat you are taking for this post. I tell you what , I’m an all-natural health nut. I make all my own food, from grinding my own almond butter to toasting my own cereal. And motivated by a similar inclination, I’ve been trying to find a DiY way to incorporate vitamin c into my skincare routine. And after reading through the points you made here about ph testing and the necessity of something like glycerin to penetrate the lipid barrier, I was like NO THANK YOU.

There are things I have time, energy, and skill for and there are things I don’t. I can grind nuts. I can bake flourless bread. Pouring bags of ingredients into a mill, leveling off a tablespoon here or there, sure. But when it comes to being incredibly precise and exacting? Not my forte. THAT is the purpose of this post. You can be way into taking control of what you put in your body and STILL NOT BE UP TO THIS PARTICULAR TASK. Jeebus, I can barely mix the proper combo of powder and developer to highlight my own hair right.

Everybody kvetching up in here (“WAH WAH YOU’RE SCARING PEOPLE!”) seriously should do what I did and freaking google ‘DIY vitamin C serum.’ They’ll find POST AFTER GODAMN POST full of recipes that include vitamin c powder (no mention of how COURSE it might be), water, and maybe aloe. THAT’S IT. If ya’ll don’t think there’s an army of Pinterest users with my crappy fine motor skills or worse who are all crunching a Flintstones vitamin into a palmful of Oil of Olay and calling it a day, then you are freaking wrong. WE ARE THE MISINFORMED MASSES WHO NEED THIS POST. And hey, if you skincare DiYers are so positive that butterfingers like me can handle your weekly measuring , testing, and mixing schedule, then wtf are you so worried about? Clearly, if I’m up to the task, then this post won’t stop me. On the contrary, this post already lists ALL the things you’d need to research in order to try and do it right (formulation of C and carrier to pass the lipid barrier, interactions with other antioxidants, ph, etc.).

lol There’s seriously a commenter up there who’s like “I made my own vit C serum and I look great!” so you ask, “Okay, how do you know it’s the C that’s working” and she’s just like “CUZ I’M AMAZING AND ALSO I PUT HYULARONIC ACID IN THERE SO IT’S DOUBLE AWESOME.” Yeah, the whole notion that oh, gee, maybe we have no godamn way of knowing whether it’s the double awesome hyularonic acid that’s making her look so great is just flying over her head like a freaking Concorde jet.

Seriously, angry commenters, if you have a knack for precise measurements and time/energy to take all the issues for effectiveness and interactions of your ingredients into account, good for freaking you. As for me, I gotta thank Gio because however strong this community of armchair chemists are who are HAPPILY making lab-perfect vit C serum at home and loudly bitching about how this post hurts their feelings, apparently you guys aren’t great at getting the word out on how easy it is to do this job and do it RIGHT. ‘Cause up until JUST NOW, I was just mixing some camu camu powder with water every day and calling that a vitamin C serum. Because that’s what I found on the internet. All over the internet. So maybe stop whining on this post and go work on your own SEO. Anyway, thanks, Gio.

Gio June 3, 2017 - 4:01 pm

Cammilla, thanks for your comment. This is exactly what I was trying to convey with this post. People make DIY skincare, and making your own DIY serum, look easy but there are so many things you have to take into consideration. A simple Google or Pinterest search brings up so many recipes that are downright ineffective if not harmful. If you want to go down the DIY route, more power to you, but you need to have all the info to do it right – most websites don’t give it to you, putting everyone at risk.

Kudos to you for making your own food. That’s dedication! I was thinking of starting to bake my own bread too. Even in organic supermarkets, it’s so difficult to find gluten-free bread!

1 2 3

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.