Vitamin C in serums (creams and toners too) can be very good for your skin, from sun protection to fading dark spots to anti-ageing. It can even help boost collagen production. So it’s a given that most women would want to have a skin care product that contains vitamin C. The minor problem with this is that most vitamin C serums on the market are a bit pricey. Scratch that, they can be VERY pricey. Looking for alternative means to still get that ‘Vit C-goodness’ might lead you to discover guidelines for DIY or home-made Vitamin C serums online. The instructions and ingredients needed for them are so simple and easy to find that you wonder why you ever considered shelling out a lot of hard-earned cash for the ones in store.
What you need to know is that Vitamin C is a very tricky ingredient to work with and if you aren’t a cosmetic chemist, you have no business working with it. Here are the major reasons why home made vitamin c serums can be potentially irritating or just plain ineffective
1. Wrong Carrier: Most home-made vitamin c serums instruct you to put the l-ascorbic acid powder or vitamin c tablets in water. They ask you to stir or wait till its dissolved completely. Bad news: that’s almost completely pointless. Once you apply that solution to your skin, the vitamin c will crystallize back and will therefore be unable to penetrate your skin. Which means you won’t be getting any of its benefits. More detailed recipes might tell you to mix it in alcohol or glycerin which will make it water soluble, but it still won’t be able to pass through your skin barriers very well. It still won’t deliver the amount of benefits that a professionally formulated serum would.
2. Oxidation: Yes, vitamin C can ‘go bad’. Once it starts to turn yellow or brown-ish it means it’s oxidizing and is rapidly losing its effectiveness. Sunlight., air, heat and water can all destabilize vitamin c . There are different types of Vitamin C actives: l-ascorbic acid, ester C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), ascorbyl palmitate, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. L-ascorbic acid is the most effective form of vitamin c. It is also the most unstable one. To have a fully effective and safe DIY vitamin c serum made with l-ascorbic acid, you would have to make new batches of it every day or even more frequently. Properly formulated serums add anti-oxidants such as ferulic acid that have stabilizing effects or they cover the vitamin c in protective coating (microencapsulation). Also, improper storage of vitamin c affects its stability. You can’t just put it in any container you find in your house. It should be stored in dark glass bottles (and preferably in the fridge).
3. Not enough ingredients: While Vitamin C can be very effective and beneficial to the skin. It is not a miracle ingredient. Most home-made vitamin c serum recipes just contain 2 or 3 ingredients: water l-ascorbic acid and/or gylcerin. Professionally crafted vitamin c serums incorporate many other beneficial ingredients into their serums. For example, in combination with vitamin c: ferulic acid increases photoprotection, vitamin E enhances UVB protection. They also add great ingredients like oils and plant extracts.
4. The wrong PH: Our skin’s natural Ph is around 5.5. Because it is acidic, L-ascorbic acid must be formulated at pH levels less than 3.5 to enter the skin properly. Most home-made vitamin c serums will not be formulated at the right pH. When it is mixed with water at about a 5% concentration,the pH of L-ascorbic acid is somewhere around 2.2 to 2.5, which is way too low and could irritate the skin and/or sensitize it to the sun. Most commercially available serums are formulated at a ph between 2.9 – 3.4. That’s the perfect range for effective penetration.
A lot could go wrong if you try to make your own vitamin C serum in your kitchen. It’s safer for you to buy a professionally made one. There are a lot of effective serums on the market. Word of mouth and reading reviews of people with similar skin types to yours should help you choose the right vitamin c serum. This is because they vary in the vitamin c concentrations they contain and also in the other ingredients added to them.
Note: Vitamin C products do not work well for everyone. Even if formulated by the best cosmetic chemists in the world, it may still cause redness, stinging, irritation or allergic reactions for those with extremely sensitive skin.