Vitamin C is one of the most effective topical skin lighteners out there. However, commercial and store-bought Vitamin C-based skin lighteners usually contain very small amounts of this ingredient. If you find that your Vitamin C skin cream isn’t working as it claims, there’s a good chance you’re not actually getting enough of it to make a difference.
On top of the potentially small amounts of Vitamin C added by the manufacturer, Vitamin C is also not a shelf-stable ingredient—meaning it breaks down easily over time. Most creams nowadays are imported and shipped over long distances, and it’s not unusual to purchase something that was made several months ago.
Add to that several uncertainties that are beyond our control, such as the temperature the products were stored, handled and transported (Vitamin C also breaks down in heat and sunlight), and it’s no wonder why some Vitamin C creams work less effectively than advertised, or not at all.
If you want to use a Vitamin C cream on your skin, you’ll get the most value and efficacy by simply making it yourself.
This is relatively cheap, uses few ingredients and is very simple to do.
How to make your own Vitamin C serum
- Purchase some good Vitamin C powder [look for L-Ascorbic Acid or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate]
- Add a small amount of the powder to some cool water. You can use a small bottle (such as a travel-sized plastic bottle).
- Shake this mixture well.
- Dab this mixture (or serum) over the areas you want to treat.
- Keep the remaining mixture refrigerated and use up within a week at the most. If you’re not able to refrigerate the serum, keep it in a tightly closed bottle in a cool, dark place (eg in a drawer or cupboard).
If kept well, this serum should stay largely clear and may develop a slight yellowish tinge after a few days. When it starts looking distinctly yellow, it’s time to discard it and make a fresh serum to use. Because of this, it’s better to make the serum in small batches. Use a small bottle to make your serum instead of a large one.
Alternatively, you can also make your own Vitamin C face cream or body lotion by mixing the powder with one of your favorite unscented creams or lotions. It’s best to use a cream that has as few chemicals and perfumes as possible (such as a simple cold cream or a natural shea butter cream) to maintain the integrity of the Vitamin C.
A DIY (do-it-yourself) Vitamin C cream or lotion should last longer than a DIY water-based serum, but you should still discard it when the cream turns yellow. It will not be harmful, just ineffective, as the yellowness indicates that the Vitamin C has oxidized.
How much Vitamin C powder to use?
The best ratio of Vitamin C powder to water will vary depending on your skin sensitivity. Also, the skin on your face is much more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body. So you can adjust the amount depending on where you plan to apply the serum.
Start out by adding a small amount of Vitamin C powder first. Add a little more if needed. Experiment and you’ll find the best ratio for your skin.
In general, the mixture should not be so strong as to cause excessive stinging or redness when applied (a little stinging is okay and might actually help increase cell turnover and absorption).
Avoid sun exposure soon after application (try to use it in the evenings)
It’s very important to avoid sun exposure soon after applying any Vitamin C serum, as your skin will be more sun-sensitive and vulnerable to re-darkening and hyperpigmentation then. To eliminate this risk, apply the serum only in the evenings or before going to bed at night.
Where to get Vitamin C powder
You might be able to find pure Vitamin C powder from your local pharmacy or health food store. Compare prices. Vitamin C powder is relatively cheap in general.
You can also find pure Vitamin C powder online.