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I’ve been anxiously waiting to share today’s recipe. Let’s start with a little story…
Last month, Dustin purchased a surprise birthday present for me: a spa day! Dustin’s not a big gift person, so the fact that he took time to look for a naturally-minded local spa, check out spa ratings, and secretly make an appointment for me was a huge deal. I was so grateful and excited for my big spa day, until I arrived at the spa and discovered that a facial was in the package.
I’ve received facials in the past, and each experience has been less than desirable. In fact, every facial has felt like nothing more than a chance for the spa to sell me expensive beauty products. Not exactly relaxing or fun! I was super skeptical about getting a facial, but I knew the hard work Dustin went through to create the spa experience, so I decided to go through with the appointment.
A few minutes into the facial, the gentle esthetician inquired about my skincare routine, “What products do you use on your skin?” I hesitated for a few moments. I figured the relaxed environment might make my delayed response seem intentional. Should I tell her the truth? Should I mention that I make my own skincare products with simple ingredients? Friend, I was fearful to admit that I use homemade products. I was afraid of her reaction to such a radical idea…homemade beauty products. Silly, right?!
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A few minutes later, I replied, “I use a honey and aloe cleanser, followed by an apple cider vinegar toner, and then moisturizing argan and rosehip oil. I make the products at home.” The esthetician, Gen, softly voiced her encouraging words, “That’s wonderful! Those are amazing!” Suddenly, I felt comfortable to discuss skincare with Gen. She then asked about my skincare concerns, to which I replied, “I would love to do something about the scars left on my face from my past skincare issues, and the brown spots. Ugh, those brown spots that appeared with my second pregnancy.” Gen offered two solutions, which she claimed would dramatically improve my blotchy skin and scars: a Clarisonic and vitamin C serum.
I’m not typically the kind of gal that spends a lot of money on fancy products. In fact, as you know, I keep my skincare very basic: aloe, honey, castile soap, apple cider vinegar and water, and a moisturizing oil combo. But Gen knew her stuff, so I decided to act on her advice. That day I purchased a Clarisonic Mia from the spa. The more natural vitamin C serum the spa sold cost $85 for a 2 ounce bottle (yikes!!!!), so I passed on the product and decided to research a possible homemade solution.
After a few hours online, I discovered that making a vitamin C serum at home is 100% doable and pretty inexpensive compared to spa brands. I purchased vitamin C powder from my health food store, and started playing around with various ingredient combos using 90% base ingredients and 10% vitamin C powder.
To make a loooong story shorter, let’s talk about my results…
After over one month of using my Homemade Vitamin C Serum (and Clarisonic) in my regular skincare routine (my aloe and honey cleanser, toner, and moisturizing oils), the overall appearance of my skin has significantly improved! My skin feels smooth and soft. Plus, the blotchy dark spots and scars appear to be fading. Thank you, Gen, for your recommendations. And Dustin, feel free to book another spa day.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is something that’s naturally found in the makeup of our skin, particularly on the dermis and epidermis. I know, flashbacks to Anatomy and Physiology 101, right?!
Vitamin C plays an important role in skin health due to its antioxidant properties. Just think about everything our skin must work to fight against. Vitamin C aids in the repair and renewal of skin cells. This repair and renewal helps keep our skin looking youthful and healthy. From my reading, this is a natural process that’s continually occurring within the cells of our skin particularly when we sleep. Our skin is very smart. But sometimes our skin needs a bit of help, especially as we age or experience major life events like pregnancy or too much sun, so adding vitamin C to a skincare routine may help someone like myself–a gal frustrated with brown spots and scars. This post explains more about the benefits of using a vitamin c serum on the skin.
According to Gen and my online research, it’s important to apply a serum to the skin for 3 months to see noticeable results. So far, I’ve been using my Homemade Vitamin C Serum for a little over a month, and have been impressed with the results. Some sources encourage starting with a ratio of 5% vitamin C powder and 90% base (water and aloe are my “base” ingredients), then increasing to 10% vitamin C powder and 90% base, and finally 20% vitamin C power and 80% base. I’ve been consistently using the same percentage from the start, but feel free to use my ingredients and work out the math to meet your own skincare needs. My formula is roughly 16% vitamin C powder and 84% water and aloe.
Homemade Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C plays an important role in skin health due to its antioxidant properties. Just think about everything our skin must work to fight against. Vitamin C aids in the repair and renewal of skin cells. This repair and renewal helps keep our skin looking youthful and healthy.
In a small bowl, combine the vitamin C powder and filtered water. Whisk the ingredients until the vitamin C powder is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, stir in the aloe vera gel and vitamin E oil.
Pour the serum into a dark amber bottle (a funnel helps). Store the serum in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Around the two week mark you may notice the serum's pH level change*. Your serum may have a different color and consistency, depending on the vitamin C powder and aloe used to make this recipe. My vitamin C powder is pink, but many are white.
The “where to buy” links provide links to the actual products I use. As always, I recommend shopping around online and at local stores for the best prices and products you love.
I’ve played around with the recipe variations over the past month. Vitamin C serum can feel a bit dry on the skin, so I like to add the aloe and vitamin E oil to help compensate for this drying effect. I’ve also used this ratio: 1 tsp vitamin C powder, 1 TB each: water and aloe vera gel. The trick to this ratio is applying a fair amount of moisturizer before the serum fully dries on the skin since it can leave your skin feeling dry at first. I personally prefer the recipe above, with the extra aloe and vitamin E oil, but both have produced the same overall result for my skin. If your skin is irritated with my recipe then decrease the amount of vitamin C powder at first (use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon) and slowly work your way up to more, if desired.
Many sources call for using vegetable glycerin versus aloe, but I found glycerin to be very sticky on my skin. If you have glycerin on hand, it may be subbed for the aloe.
According to my research, an ideal vitamin C serum should have a pH of 3. For reference, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. I purchased a set of pH testing strips from Amazon so I can test each batch of serum. Vitamin C has a very a short life span. The serum may begin to fluctuate in pH when it’s no longer suitable for use on the skin. A change in pH may result in more harm than good when you apply the serum to your skin. So far I haven’t had any issues with pH since I make a batch of serum every 1-2 weeks. At-home pH strips are really easy to use, so if you’re interested in testing the pH, I recommend purchasing a test kit.