Vitamin C serum


We will start with these 9 facts on vitamin c serum and how to make your own serum.

Everyone can put a vitamin C  and vitamin E onto their face daily because they protect against UV induced cell damage. It is this sun damage that not only causes premature aging but also skin cancers. However Vitamin C has other properties including being one of the few ingredients that has a science base to show that it reverses signs of aging to the skin.

vitamin c serum was originally used in skin care products in the form of ascorbic acid. At a 10% concentration and low ph, ascorbic acid has been shown to stimulate collagen, decrease wrinkle depth and have lightening effects on pigmentation. It was thought that a minimum 10% concentration was required but newer information indicate that lower concentration (5%) may have benefit. It is best to stay with products that have this concentration or above.

9 Facts about vitamin c serum

1. Consumer beware - not all products contain sufficient vitamin C to be of benefit Most products on the market do not have sufficient concentration to be of benefit to the skin. Many companies, keen to cash in on the market trends for antioxidants in skin care, put only miniscule amounts in and consumers unknowingly will buy a product that will be of no benefit. Unfortunately you cannot judge from the prestige or price of the product you buy, you need to look at the concentrations. See blog post on topical antioxidants.

2. Vitamin C does not work in everyone For reasons that are not yet known, Ascorbic Acid at a good concentration does not work in everyone. It may only be 60% of the population who get the age reversing benefits of vitamin C. Some people who do not respond to Ascorbic Acid however still get anti-aging benefits from the newer vitamin C derivatives. (Discussed later). Vitamin C, however is a potent antioxidant and you still should get the benefits of protection from UV induced cell damage even if it does not keep you looking younger.

3. Vitamin C in the form of Ascorbic Acid is very expensive Vitamin C is very unstable and difficult to get into a formulation this in part explains why ascorbic acid skin products tend to be very expensive.

4. Your Vitamin C Serum may oxidise before you get to put it on your skin The biggest problem with Ascorbic Acid creams and serums is that because they are unstable, they are oxidised very quickly and once it is oxidised it does not provide any benefit to the skin at all. Even in stabilised formulations there is a risk that before you get your precious vitamin C cream or serum home, it will already be useless and worse may even because more damage to your skin than good.

5. Watch for yellowing of your serum- it indicates oxidation As it undergoes oxidation the ascorbic acid takes on a yellowish tinge, so it is important to check your creams or serums before you put them on your face, and if there is any yellow discolouration, DISCARD.


There is a problem with the colour check as the first stage of oxidation is colourless, so prior to going yellow it can be in an oxidised state that cannot be detected.

6. Do not buy a vitamin c serum preparations that are tinted yellow or orange The second problem with using a colour test is that many vitamin c serums are tinted and you will not be not be able to detect if it is oxidised by visual checking. Why a company would do this is beyond me, when they know the difficulties of instability of vitamin C formulations oxidising. If you didn’t trust them you would think they are deliberately trying to mislead. Do not buy tinted formulations of vitamin C.

7. Vitamin C derivatives are more stable, less expensive and effective at lower concentrations There are newer derivatives of Vitamin C: Ascorbyl palmitate, Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, and some of these are proving as effective as ascorbic acid in collagen stimulation. Refer Smartskincare an excellent science based skin care site. These derivatives are effective in lower concentrations, are more stable and less expensive and as such may be a better choice. There is a battle among some of the big cosmetic houses as to which is most effective but the newest Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate if particularly promising, and seems to work in some people who are resistant to Ascorbic Acid.

8. There is nothing special about the base cream or serum that the vitamin C (or any other active product) is delivered in Thinking about it logically, if a product has 10% ascorbic acid in stabilised form, or 2% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (the active ingredient) then no matter what the cost it will be equally effective, as there is no base serum or cream that has properties that make it effective in anti-aging-and that is the truth.

This is illustrated with my recent comment on Boots no 7 perfect and protect - where a chain store anti-aging cream is matching up to more expensive prestige brands and winning. The reason: it is the active ingredients that has the effect, no matter what advertising trys to seduce you - REMEMBER THIS FACT.

9. You can make your own vitamin c serum There is however some ingredients that are now considered state of the art in modern skin care. Among these is a group of base ingredients that help protect the skin and maintain the intercellular network. Refer Cosmetic Cop - Paula Begoun cosmetic ingredients dictionary on natural moisturising factors. These do not have anti—aging benefit but protect the skin and assist in repair. Glycerin is one of these, other very good protectants and natural moisturisers are ceramides and silicones.

Glycerin is the one I am particularly interested in, as this next post I will give you a very simple recipe for a vitamin c serum made from glycerin and ascorbic acid you buy at the chemist store, so you can make your very own 10% ascorbic acid serum. This will cost you a fraction of what you would pay off the shelf and because you make it fresh you know it will not be oxidised and it will work.

Dr. Jo is down in Australia and they call pharmacy " local chemist store"

Make your own  vitamin c serum

The recipe makes an approximate 10% concentration of vitamin C serum, using simple ingredients you can buy from your local Chemist store. The advantages of doing it yourself – apart from the obvious – ‘it will save you a lot of money’ is that you can make it fresh, store it in your refridgerator and know that it will not have oxidised- so in fact you will get fresh active product onto your skin. It is best only to make up small quantities at a time, to ensure it is always fresh and unoxidised.

Take care- these are active ingredients At this concentration it will have a relatively low ph, and in some people this will be too irritating for the skin. If this is the case, try making a half or even quarter concentration to start with. Use this for a week or two until you know you skin is tolerating this, and then slowly increase to a higher concentration. If after you apply it, you find your skin is tingling excessively, wash off immediately.

The recipe is divided into active ingredient, the one that has been shown to stimulate collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and protect against sun damage and a simple base formula. Any product you buy over the counter with active ingredients consists of this.

Vitamin C serum Active Ingredient : 1-1.2 grams Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) (approximately 1/4 teaspoon) (The active ingredient must be L-ascorbic acid, not vitamin C tablets, or calcium Ascorbate) This can also be purchased from Skin Actives.

Base Ingredients. 5 ml glycerine (1 teaspoon) 5ml water (1 teaspoon) You should be able to buy both the L-ascorbic acid and glycerine from your chemist store.

Process. 1. Dissolve 1gram of L-ascorbic acid in 5 ml of water (preferably distilled), in small glass container using a stirrer. Make sure it is fully dissolved before proceeding to next step.

2. Add 5 ml of glycerine and mix.

3. Put in a sealable jar, (not clear glass as this allows light in, and light degrades vitamin C.) Store in cool dry place.

Voila – your own fresh vitamin c serum. Apply to skin once per day to start with (preferably at night), and increase to twice daily if tolerated.

This vitamin c serum is published to illustrate that it is the active ingredient that has benefits and to get you to challenge the notion that you need to pay a lot of money for active skin care ingredients. You must exercise caution when using this as with any product you put on your skin, if any signs of allergy or reaction develop desist immediately. In my last post I give two good sources of companies that provide products, including base creams and various active ingredients that allow you to make your own active creams at home.

 This information about vitamin c serum came from a conversation with Dr Joanne Turner and her Blog Skin Revision.

In looking for more information

I found out that plain ascorbic acid which is approximately half L-ascorbic acid and half D-ascorbic acid.

Our bodies only utilize L-ascorbic acid and easily filter out the D-ascorbic acid making plain ascorbic acid.

Here is a list of the four Vitamin C actives that you will find in skin care products.

Here is another article on the benefits of using a Vitamin C Serum. And what to look for if you are going to buy on of these serums.

vitamin c serum DIY

Vitamin c serum DIY (do-it-yourself) Questions and Answers

This great in info comes to us from Skin Actives

The one great problem with Vitamin C DIY serums and store bought serums is the short shelf life of products containing Ascorbic Acid. This has confounded the industry and led to the development of expensive alternatives. Since the clock only starts ticking when the ascorbic acid is mixed into a cream or serum, home mixers have a great advantage over manufacturers.

How to avoid the shelf life "problem" with Ascorbic Acid in DIY skin care…

Prepare an Ascorbic Acid solution fresh every morning, by simply taking a few crystals in the palm of your hand and adding a few drops of water. This is a practical, inexpensive, and effective form of using Ascorbic Acid. Or, you could use a Vitamin C derivative that is more stable and will not readily oxidize in solution, like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Ascorbyl Palmitate, depending on your serum base. Another option is to avoid water altogether, using silicones or similar chemicals as carriers.

How much Ascorbic Acid do you need in your serum?

1%, 15, 30%? The upper limit is determined by the solubility of Ascorbic Acid in water, 33 grams of Ascorbic Acid to 100 grams of distilled water. If all you want is Vitamin C activity, you don’t need much, because co-factors in enzymatic reactions are required at low concentrations and "recycled." A hint of Ascorbic Acid is all you need, but when testing was done, it was found that higher concentrations were needed for optimal results, so it is very likely that a good part of this effect is the acidity, because more Ascorbic Acid will decrease the pH of the solution.

Your vitamin c serum DIY Recipe: 15% "C Serum" with Ascorbic and Ferulic Acids and Phloretin.

For clients who prefer to formulate their own products, we adapted a popular recipe found in many blogs. We also started selling a precise Scale that allows users to get reproducibility without unnecessary anxiety (is that a full or a level teaspoon? How do I measure 3/8 of a teaspoon? Why hasn’t my ascorbic acid dissolved, etc.)

The final pH of the serum will be about 5.0. Keep the serum refrigerated, and shake well before use. Discard if the color changes, as this will indicate that ascorbic acid has oxidized to a significant extent, or after two weeks at the latest, because this serum contains no preservatives. Ferulic acid and Skin Actives Antioxidant Booster will delay oxidation of the Ascorbic Acid but will not prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

tsp: teaspoon. All measurements are approximate, unless you have a laboratory scale and can measure grams and milligrams. Use level teaspoons, NOT full teaspoons.

1 tsp ascorbic acid: 5 grams

1 tsp Sea Kelp Bioferment

1 tsp Rosehip Seed Oil

3 tsp distilled water (you can get this at the supermarket) 15 gm

1/8 tsp Ferulic Acid

1/8 tsp Phloretin

¼ tsp Skin Actives Antioxidant Booster

¼ tsp vodka or pure ethanol (NOT denatured)

½ tsp Hyaluronic Acid

Use 2 small glasses.

Glass with phase 1 (water)

Put Ascorbic Acid in glass, add water, stir frequently and let it fully dissolve. If not completely dissolved after 10 min, add a hint more of water. [This recipe uses ascorbic acid at its limit of solubility (you don’t have to)].

Glass with phase 2 (alcohol and oils suspension)

While you are waiting for the ascorbic acid to dissolve, you can proceed with the rest. Put the Ferulic Acid in the 2nd glass, pour the vodka in and stir. Now add the Sea Kelp Bioferment. Last, add the Antioxidant Booster and the Rosehip Seed Oil and stir.

When the Ascorbic Acid has fully dissolved, mix the contents of both glasses together, stir well.

Finally, add the Hyaluronic Acid, this will thicken the mix. It may take some time for the hyaluronic acid to dissolve.

 Ascorbic Acid and the vitamin c serum

Ascorbic Acid, the vitamin C we ingest with our food and multivitamins may not reach our skin in quantities high enough to do everything that vitamin C is supposed to do. Ascorbic acid (and derivatives that our body can use) protect us from free radicals like those formed during exposure of our skin to UVA and UVB radiation. Ascorbic acid is also necessary to synthesize collagen, where is required to hydroxylate the amino acid proline after synthesis of the protein. Scurvy is a syndrome of vitamin C deficiency and is related to defective collagen synthesis. Ascorbic acid is known to inhibit synthesis of melanin, probably because melanin is made by our skin in response to stress, and ascorbic acid is in the first line of defense, preventing the damage before melanin synthesis can be initiated. Ascorbic acid and its derivatives promotes wound healing, controls inflammation and reduces erythema. In short, ascorbic acid is a safe active that will bring multiple benefits to your skin, preventing future damage but also repairing past damage to your skin by age and sun.

The chemical name is Ascorbic Acid. Deficiency of Vitamin C results in scurvy, and the name “Ascorbic Acid” is derived from the Latin word for scurvy (scorbutus), a nasty illness whose (easy) fix, citrus fruit, eluded pirates and sailors until 1753.

Why is Ascorbic Acid a vitamin? Most animals can make their own vitamin C, but humans can’t, because somewhere along the line we lost a crucial enzyme required for the synthesis of Ascorbic Acid, making it an essential nutrient.

Ascorbic Acid is important for plants and animals because it works as an antioxidant. In humans and many animals it is also a cofactor in the synthesis of Carnitine and Tyrosine and is required for the synthesis of collagen.

Collagen is a protein of complex structure, very different from the peptides initially made by the ribosomes. It is composed of a triple helix, which consists of two identical chains (α1) and an additional chain that differs slightly in its chemical composition (α2). The amino acid composition of collagen is unusual for proteins, especially because of its high content of Hydroxyproline. The peptides synthesized in the ribosomes undergo many modifications of their structure before they become collagen. Among other modifications, the Proline and Lysine residues in the peptides must be hydroxylated, a process catalyzed by enzymes that require Ascorbic Acid as a cofactor. The many symptoms of scurvy result from the inability of the human body to complete the transformation of the nascent peptides into collagen because of this lack of Ascorbic Acid.

Why are “vitamin c serums” so popular?

Like for all skin care products, there is probably an important marketing component, but the relevance of Vitamin C to skin metabolism is so great that it is not surprising that Vitamin C serums actually do what they are supposed to do, a rarity in the skin care industry.

Ascorbic Acid provides important protection against damage induced by UV radiation (and the DNA mutations and cancer that may result from it), improves skin elasticity, decreases wrinkles by stimulating collagen synthesis, reduces redness, promotes wound healing and suppresses melanin synthesis.

The effect of Ascorbic Acid on collagen synthesis is apparent, and the importance of collagen for skin health is paramount. Collagen fibers give the skin resistance to strain and traction. Collagen constitutes about 70% of skin mass, but total collagen decreases about 1% per year, what may look like a small decline, but in such a major component of the skin, it will affect skin volume and its physical properties. Also, aging changes collagen structure: what was an organized pattern in young skin, in older skin collagen can turn into thick fibrils arranged in disorganized bundles. It is not “only” quantity, then, it is also quality that matters. We know that aging decreases skin thickness and elasticity, and it is likely that collagen is a good part of the answer. If we care about slowing down and reversing skin aging, we should care about collagen too.

References: Put together by Dr. Sivak’s at Skin Actives

Kameyama K, Sakai C, Kondoh S, Yonemoto K, Nishiyama S, Tagawa M, Murata T, Ohnuma T, Quigley J, Dorsky A, Bucks D, Blanock K. (1996) Inhibitory effect of magnesium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate on melanogenesis in vitro and in vivo. J Am Acad Dermatol. 34:29-33.

Kobayashi S, Takehana M, Itoh S, Ogata E. (1996) Protective effect of magnesium-L-ascorbyl-2 phosphate against skin damage induced by UVB irradiation. Photochem Photobiol. 1996 Jul; 64:224-8

Geesin JC, Gordon JS, Berg RA. (1993) Regulation of collagen synthesis in human dermal fibroblasts by the sodium and magnesium salts of ascorbyl-2-phosphate. Skin Pharmacol. 6:65-71.

Vitamin C Actives

Here are four vitamin c actives that you will find is skin care products. This information comes from Skin Actives and Lotion Crafter

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C actives)

Ascorbic acid, vitamin C, is derived from glucose and many animals can make it starting from glucose. Primates like humans can not synthesize it (we lack an enzyme in that pathway), making ascorbic acid a vitamin because we cannot make it but need it, so we have to ingest it from a source that is contains it, like orange, lemons and other fruit.

Best used after a shower or bath (skin permeability increases). Add ¼ cup of water (55mL) to half a teaspoon (1.7 g) and mix until well dissolved (it takes a few seconds)to create a solution (3%). Apply with cotton wool or similar to skin. Leave on, or rinse if it stings. Afterwards, apply a cream containing lipophilic antioxidants.

Some people prefer the C derivatives over l-ascorbic acid. If you have sensitive skin and using l-ascorbic acid burns your skin you my want to try one of these other c derivatives

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C actives)

If you want to use one of the vitamin c actives in a cream this is the type of vitamin c to use even if the cream has peptides and proteins.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)will be transformed by the skin enzymes into Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C actives), an anti-oxidant and a cofactor for an enzyme crucial in the synthesis of collagen (prolyl hydrolase). As an anti-oxidant agent, vitamin C scavenges and destroys reactive oxidizing agents and other free radicals. Because of this ability, it provides important protection against damage induced by UV radiation (and the DNA mutations and cancer that may result from it).

Vitamin c serum also improves skin elasticity, decreases wrinkles by stimulating collagen synthesis, reduces redness, promotes wound healing and suppresses cutaneous pigmentation. Because body control mechanisms limit the amount of ingested vitamin C available to skin, topical anti-oxidant therapy becomes an efficient way to target vitamin C directly to the skin. This is the "real" ester-C, a more stable form of ascorbic acid and will stimulate collagen synthesis.

10 grams is enough for 4 fl oz of cream, lotion, or gel at approximately 10% concentration (10 g in 120 mL cream). Use in your favorite cream or add to our Canvas Base Cream or a Sea Kelp Bioferment base.

Use caution when adding MAP to a cream, it can affect the texture and cause the cream to liquify. This will not affect the activity, merely change the texture. This happens because MAP has a lot of salts which cause a change in the interaction of the molecules in the cream. Mixing MAP with a Sea Kelp Bioferment base has little to no effect on texture. You can get this Sea Kelp Bioferment at Skin Actives.

When mixing you would use one quarter of a teaspoon of MAP to three teaspoons of a thicking agent.

Simple Recipe

Use 1 teaspoon of distilled water in a small glass dish with one quarter of a teaspoon of MAP (1-1.2g). To dissolve the Map you my have to heat the solution by placeing the dish into a pot of hot water. Keep mixing until the mixture becomes transparent. If it remains slightly opaque it is ok. Then mix in your thickening agent, glycerin, KY-jelly or base cream.

This is one active ingredient that it would be good to use a scale the density of the Map powder often varies.

Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C actives)

Ascorbyl Palmitate is a Vitamin C ester that is best used in formulations with an oily base. It is a great antioxidant to add to your formulation.

Esterification of ascorbic acid with a fatty acid (palmitic acid) allows it to do its antioxidant job in the oily phase. It may also help extend the life of ascorbic acid. But, don’t think that just one antioxidant will do it, you need several and varied antioxidant to help you skin eliminate free radicals formed in the course of normal metabolism and even more when there is UV light around and/or pollutants. Look for our antiox booster as a source of great antioxidants that can do their job in the oily phase. For the water phase, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, EGCG from green tea and our antioxidants enzymes will help you in the daily fight against oxygen, the essential poison!

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

This is a very stable, oil-soluble Vitamin C ester which has anti-oxidant activity, inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Topical use can mitigate the damaging effects of UV exposure. Studies have shown it to stimulate collagen production as well as clarifying and brightening the skin by inhibiting melanogenesis (the production of pigment) thereby promoting a more even skin tone. Unlike ascorbic acid, it will not exfoliate or irritate skin.

Typical Usage: 0.5-2%, up to 7%
Appearance: Clear to pale yellow viscous liquid
Storage: Store in a cool dry place, avoid freezing
Solubility: Oil Soluble

INCI: Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

Caution: Do not directly apply onto your skin. This product should be added to a formulation at the recommended usage rate.

Mix about one eigth of a teaspoonful of Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate per ounce of cream and mix thoroughly.

Vitamin C Serum

By Wayne Potter

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