So many viewers ask me questions about how to make their own topical vitamin c products. I’m not sure if it’s because commercially available products tend to be fairly expensive or maybe, because oral forms of vitamin c are so readily available, that it just seems logical that you should be able to make your own serum. Today I’ll give you my take.
Let's start exploring this topic with simply dissolving the crystals of vitamin c that are in this capsule or tablet, in water...
...If you put the resulting solution of dissolved vitamin c on your skin, as soon as the water evaporates, the vitamin c that was dissolved in the water will re crystallize on your skin before it can be absorbed. Since crystallized vitamin c can’t be absorbed into your skin, it can’t work as an antioxidant.
See, you need a carrier to hold the vitamin c molecule in the solution so it can penetrate into your skin cells. If you have sufficient chemistry skills to grind up vitamin c...
...and use a carrier like propylene glycol or glycerin, and you know how to calculate and measure the amount of ascorbic acid you need, you can solubilize it and mix it properly. That in theory, could yield a functioning, topical vitamin c product.
However, the problem here is that you are JUST going to have ascorbic acid, regular vitamin c, which is water soluble so it doesn't penetrate the lipid membranes of skin cells very well. Because it’s acidic, it can be irritating when applied to the skin. And lastly, the acidic form is unstable because it’s very quickly oxidized, and thereby inactivated. For those reasons, if you’re going to make a topical vitamin c product, you really want to use the ester form of vitamin c, not the acid form.
The advantages to esters are that, first, because they are fat soluble, they better penetrate the lipid based barrier of your skin. Second, because they are not acidic they tend to be less irritating. And third, the fatty groups on the esters increase the stability of the vitamin c so its not as easily oxidized and inactivated. At the end of the day, when the vitamin c ester is absorbed into the skin, it then is changed back to regular ascorbic acid, so what you’ve done is in a non irritating fashion… you’ve effected better penetration at higher levels and maintained stability by using an esterified form. Creating this is beyond the scope of most amateur chemists.
The final reason to not DIY vitamin c is that since it’s so difficult to assess the efficacy of topical antioxidants, especially at home, by using a DIY vitamin c product, while they might feel nice, you could go on for months or years wasting your time with a product that doesn’t work. So your take away today is, why take a chance on a product you don’t know and miss out on the very valuable benefits available from professionally prepared topical antioxidants.