DIY skinceuticals: 15% water soluble C , E, ferulic serum

I have well and truly caught the DIY bug, and it’s getting very difficult to resist buying every exotic carrier oil and hydrosol, and every cutting edge peptide out there during my lunch break.

DIY Vitamin C E ferulic serum with jasmine

Last friday I made another C serum, based on Kassy’s recipe from forum. This time I used the L-ascorbic acid (water soluble) form of vitamin C, which behaves very differently from the “tetra” C from my previous DIY serum.

Why bother with a different form of C, you ask? In a nutshell, the water soluble L’ascorbic acid and the oil soluble Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate penetrate the skin through different mechanisms and some people respond to one form much better than the other, so it’s worth having a play with both of them!

Unlike Tetra C, L-ascorbic acid is a very unstable antioxidant in the presence of water, air, and UV light and this is why we are adding the vitamin E and ferulic acid (they are both potent antioxidants in their own right but they also stabilise and work synergistically with the C). This power trio is the basis of Skinceuticals’ cult product C E ferulic, and I believe Skinceuticals still has a patent on that combination.

Even with the stabilising factors, using airless pumps, and other precautions,  L-ascorbic acid will inevitably start to oxidise within 3 months or so… which is why making small batches at home each month makes so much sense rather than spending $150 on a bottle that is probably half oxidised.

note: L-ascorbic acid serums need to have a pH of less than 3.5 to penetrate the skin.

The recipe:
(based on Kassy A’s 2010 recipe from, with some tweaks by moi)

–  3 tsp Distilled H20 (has to be distilled because metal ions from tap or bottled water will react with the L-ascorbic acid)

–  1 tsp L-Ascorbic Acid (15%)- I used the ultrafine crystals from Lotioncrafters
–  1 tsp Sea Kelp Bioferment (packed with skin nutrients, the active ingredient in La Mer products)

–  1/2 tsp Macadamia Nut Oil (this enhances penetration, and is an emollient) 

–   a few drops of jasmine essential oil (because I love the smell)

–  1/2 tsp Glycerin  (humectant)

–  1/4 tsp vitamin E oil (I used Covi-ox from lotioncrafters)

–  1/8 tsp Ferulic Acid (yellow-white powder)

–  1/2 tsp Vodka (this is to dissolve the ferulic acid)

–  0.6 ml/cc Polysorbate 80 (2%, this is the emulsifier)

–  3 drops of Optiphen (preservative)

–  1 pinch Xanthan Gum (to create a gel texture)

Glass #1: (water phase)

 Add L-AA to warmed water and stir till dissolved, when that is fully dissolved then stir in Optiphen, and finally the Xanthan Gum.

Adding exactly 15mL of distilled water to L-ascorbic acid powder in shotglass #1

L-ascorbic acid solution with Xanthan Gum and optiphen.

Glass #2 (oil + emulsifying phase)

Pour vodka on top of the Ferulic acid powder and stir well, then add the glycerin.

Ferulic Acid powder in shotglass #2
2.5mL of vodka to dissolive ferulic acid.

Add the Sea Kelp Bioferment (which I’ve warmed up by standing the measuring flask in hot water until liquid) , and stir well. Add the emulsifier then finally the vitamin E oil and the macadamia oil- stirring well the whole time.

Dizzy testing out the SKB 🙂

Glass/cup #3 (You will now mix the 2 phases together)

I mix the two phases in small amounts until I get a smooth emulsion with a gel texture. Then I tested the pH and added a few drops of jasmine essential oil.
I should tell you that it took me two tries to get this recipe to work for me. The first time I added too much oil and too little polysorbate 80 everything separated, and the ferulic acid totally did NOT dissolve. Also the serum was very very watery so I decided to pick up some Xanthan gum which thickened it up nicely and also stabilised the emulsion.  Yay!
DIY C E ferulic serum setup with shotglass #2 being warmed in hot water

TA DA!!! DIY 15% Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), E, ferulic serum
note to self: must get digital pH meter, these paper strips suck ass.
TA DA!!! DIY 15% Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), E, ferulic serum

Using the serum:

I’ve used it the last few nights and although there is some tingling (it is quite an acidic formula), I didn’t get full blown stinging that some people on the forum experienced with this concentration of C.

This serum on it’s own doesn’t moisturise my skin enough so I like to put a cream on top once the serum is absorbed. My skin is feeling a bit sensitive after use, but very soft in the morning. Will update you all on how things go.

Will play a little with the ingredients in my next batch. May put in some Idebenone (the active ingredient in Prevage), and hyaluronic acid… we shall see!

Posted by on Mar 28th, 2011 in DIY Skin Care, Skincare | 37comments

37 Responses to “DIY skinceuticals: 15% water soluble C , E, ferulic serum”

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    Love your blog and the DIY recipes you’ve posted. Do you by chance offer these for sale? I’m trying to find something similar to Skinsceuticals Ferulic Acid oil that won’t cost me the life of my firstborn.

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