Complexion Perfection How To Make C Serum

Vitamin C serum has proven benefits for the skin—and it’s dead simple to make fresh at home. (RECIPE)

Kate Blanchett


CHEAP + SUPERIOR | It’s not often that an inexpensive homemade skincare treatment is considered to be the gold standard and not a less-desirable less-effective alternative to commercial product lines. But make-it-yourself-in-a-minute vitamin C serum is equal if not superior to most moderately priced vitamin C serums, and no doubt outperforms plenty of the incredibly expensive ones, too.

What The Pros Know About Vitamin C Serum

In the smoke and mirrors world of skincare products where exaggerated claims are as common as colds, 20 years of research have led to scientific proof that vitamin C applied in concentrations of between five and 20 percent will—in most cases and over time—improve skin elasticity (and the appearance of wrinkles), lighten brown spots and brighten overall skin tone.

But here’s the rub. All antioxidants, including vitamin C, can deteriorate in the presence of air and light. Bestselling author Paula Begoun, a.k.a. the Cosmetics Cop, says, “if a product containing antioxidants does not come in airtight, opaque packaging, don’t buy it!” What she doesn’t say (maybe because she sells commercially made products, including her own, on her website) is that even if vitamin C serum comes in a container as secure as Fort Knox, when it sits around for an extended time in a bottle that gets opened and closed, its effectiveness will be at risk. Bottom line: Fresh serum is best—and nothing could be fresher than serum you make yourself.

How To Make Vitamin C Serum

Amber BottlesRecipes for making vitamin C serum abound on the internet, but my friend Vancouver graphic artist and filmmaker Doris Cheung (whose skin looks gorgeous btw) uses the following one:

1/4 tsp 100% L-ascorbic acid powder (from Xenex Labs, ordered in at Save-on Foods)
1 tsp rosewater (found at Whole Foods)
1 tsp generic glycerin (found at Shoppers Drug Mart)
1 amber-glass mixing bottle with pipette (Bach brand found at Whole Foods)

Dissolve the ascorbic acid in the rosewater. When it’s completely dissolved, add the glycerin. Use a funnel to pour the serum into a stoppered bottle. Apply serum generously to your face and neck in the morning; let it dry, and then apply your moisturizer. Store unused serum in a cool dark place. Make a new batch every few days.

One caveat. Ascorbic acid is an organic compound that consists of both L (level) and D (dextro) molecules in mirror form. The purified version of ascorbic acid—a.k.a. L-ascorbic acid (or vitamin C)—is the one that provides maximum benefit to the skin. —C. Rule


  • W

    How can I order the ascorbic acid from Save-On-Foods?

    • carolannrule

      Hi there,
      You go to the pharmacy counter and ask if they have the product behind the counter. If they don’t, they will order it in for you.
      Good luck —eds

  • Maria T

    You MUST have a cream with vitamin A in it if you are looking to bring the elasticity back to your skin, making it look and feel smooth. You also need Hyaluronic acid. Why? As we age, our body produces less and less of this important acid, affecting how moisture is stored in our skin. I use Lady Soma’s Renewal Serum because it has both those ingredients in 1 serum, and its been getting me the results I have been looking for.


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