Detailed Vitamin C serum questions

Unknown Member
edited June 16 in Formulating
Hello everyone! I'm trying to make a DIY Vitamin C serum with Ferulic acid and Vitamin E. I'm still working on a final recipe, but this is what I have so far: 

30 ml serum - instructions and recipe taken from HolySnails blog, I modified a few ingredients with available ones for me, should last about 3 months(glass amber bottle wrapped in aluminum foil, kept in the fridge): 

  • Vitamin E (INCI: tocopherol, helianthus annuus seed oil) - 0.15gr (0.5%)
  • Emulsifier - ??gr - (??%) -> I need to choose one from that list
  • Solvent for Ferulic acid - ??gr - (??%) -> 

These are the directions for the serum: 

1. Measure out all of your ingredients.
2. Heat up a small container with warm water. (I use an old Tupperware container, and microwave some water in it for 1 minute.)
3. Pour the Ferulic Acid and Propylene Glycol into a shotglass, and put it into the water bath.
4. Stir until the Ferulic Acid dissolves completely. (It will turn from cloudy white to a clear, pale yellow.) Allow to cool completely.
5. Combine Tocopherol and Polysorbate 80, stir thoroughly. Set aside.
6. Combine Distilled Water and Sodium Lactate. You can crush the sodium lactate in the water to help dissolve it. Dissolve completely. (It will turn clear.)
7. Add L-Ascorbic Acid to the Distilled Water/Sodium Lactate (Water Phase). Stir until dissolved.
8. Stirring the Water Phase steadily, slowly drizzle in the Oil Phase (Tocopherol/Polysorbate 80).
9. Add Optiphen to the solution.
10. pH test and patch test.


My main questions about this recipe are:

1. What emulsifier should I use? This is the list of emulsifiers that are available to order in my country.
2. What preservative should I use? This is the list of preservatives that are available to order in my country.
3. What solvent should I use for the Ferulic acid? Can I use Vodka? If not, what's a better choice that I can find on elemental.eu
4. Can I use this Oly Airless bottle instead of the glass amber bottle(with glass dropper pipette)? I'm guessing something airtight would be better than a bottle that I expose to air every single time I use it.
5. Sodium lactate isn't available for me, can I replace it with something else or just remove it? 
6. Since Vitamin C is unstable in water, I can also remove water completely and that would simplify things a lot. What should I substitute it with? And how would the new recipe look like?


I was advised to use a chelating agent since I'm using floral water so I went with Gluconolactone. I also have rose water and mint water so I can use those instead of the Immortelle water. 


My expectations for this recipe:

- I want to get rid of the boxcar acne scars on my temples that are left by adolescent acne that was quite bad

- I want to get rid of the random red spots and scars left from current random cystic pimples on my face(I'm not 100% sure it's cystic acne, the pimples get fairly big, they are painful and sometimes I can drain them IF they have a white head on top). They rarely appear and usually it's manageable, but the bigger they are and the more time they spend on my face(sometimes a week), the more chances they leave behind a red, indented scar. 


A little about me: 

I'm extremely new at this(I'm not a chemist, nor do I have any background in this field), I'm trying to read up on everything and learn as much as I can. I'm trying to use ingredients that are safe and have no carcinogenic compounds. The recipe above is in no way ironclad. I am entirely flexible as long as the recipe is easy to make and the ingredients can be found on elemental.eu . I have included useful links under the ingredients' names and throughout my post so it's easier to navigate and understand the actual ingredients that I plan on using.

Basically all I want is a proper Vit C+Ferulic+Vit E serum that's safe to use and lasts a couple of months. If anything is unclear about my post, please let me know. Thank you for taking the time to read my really long post and I hope you can help me! 

Comments

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Thanks for your question. Where to begin?

    Starting with your expectations. If you really want to get rid of scars & other facial issues, don't rely on products you make yourself.  Go to a dermatologist & get a professional opinion. If you don't want to do that, at the very least buy professionally made products from large companies. These will have gone through the proper safety and efficacy testing so you can be sure they'll give you the best chance of working.

    If you are going to make your own products, lower your expectations. They may be unsafe and they probably won't work, but they also might be fine. 

    Ok, on to your questions.

    1. You don't seem to know what an emulsifier is used for. With the exception of the Vitamin E, everything in the formula is water soluble. You don't need an emulsifier.

    2. The preservative you should use are parabens / phenoxyethanol. Of the ones you linked only Cosgard would have much chance of working & I wouldn't rely on it.

    3.  Vodka would probably work as a solvent. 

    4. You could try it. But the formula might react with something in the plastic and become ineffective.

    5. Sodium lactate isn't in the formula?

    6. No you can't remove the water.

    Hope that helps.

    Again, my advice is don't make something like this yourself.  

  • EVchemEVchem Member
    edited June 17
    Can I ask why you want to go down the formulation route specifically?

    you might want to join this community or look through their posts. Lots of people on there have product recommendations for various skin types/issues.
    Honestly you'll spend less time/money with more consistent results than trying to make your own home-crafted stuff.

    Of the preservatives you want either cosguard or dermosoft. However you will need to be able to check the pH of your product reliably (no pH strips they aren't accurate enough).  You ought to get a pH meter or keep your bottles even less than 3 months.  So you see how this project will become more involved and costly. Some of the ingredients on that page aren't actually bug-killing preservatives, they are antioxidants that will do nothing to stop your product from growing mold.

    I wrote all this before I saw Perry's answer, but I agree with what he has mentioned. 
  • Unknown Member
    Perry said:
    Thanks for your question. Where to begin?

    Starting with your expectations. If you really want to get rid of scars & other facial issues, don't rely on products you make yourself.  Go to a dermatologist & get a professional opinion. If you don't want to do that, at the very least buy professionally made products from large companies. These will have gone through the proper safety and efficacy testing so you can be sure they'll give you the best chance of working.

    If you are going to make your own products, lower your expectations. They may be unsafe and they probably won't work, but they also might be fine. 

    Ok, on to your questions.

    1. You don't seem to know what an emulsifier is used for. With the exception of the Vitamin E, everything in the formula is water soluble. You don't need an emulsifier.

    2. The preservative you should use are parabens / phenoxyethanol. Of the ones you linked only Cosgard would have much chance of working & I wouldn't rely on it.

    3.  Vodka would probably work as a solvent. 

    4. You could try it. But the formula might react with something in the plastic and become ineffective.

    5. Sodium lactate isn't in the formula?

    6. No you can't remove the water.

    Hope that helps.

    Again, my advice is don't make something like this yourself.  


    Hello Perry, good to meet you! 

    I agree with you, the best course of action would be to go to a dermatologist. But honestly, I take the whole SARS-CoV-2 situation very seriously, so until the situation improves drastically, I'm going to avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals/doctors unless urgent care is needed. I will definitely buy professional products next chance I get.

    Right now, I work from home, wanted a new hobby and finally found the motivation to start taking proper care of my skin. I love DIY in general so I ordered raw materials online since I already had a recipe, but when I actually had to get down to it... well, things were a lot more complicated than they seemed at first. I know, my mistake, should've planned meticulously. So now I have these raw ingredients and definitely going the DIY route for now. In the future I will go the professional way. 

    Thank you for taking the time to address my issues. With regards to your answers, I thought I had to use an emulsifier so that Vitamin E doesn't separate from the water part. Cosgard was indeed the only one that seemed like the best of those choices, although definitely not great. Sodium Lactate was in the original formula linked in my post and was described as an important ingredient so that's why I wanted to know if it was mandatory to include it myself.

    Anyway, now I know more than I knew yesterday. And I decided that a water based formula is definitely something that I will avoid. Huge hassle, it's unstable and just not a good idea for a DIY.



    So my new approach would be an anhydrous formula. Such a solution looks much easier to make, safer, more reliable and I wouldn't have to worry about PH. Per this study the positive effects of Vitamin C can still be observed in an anhydrous solution without the hassle of an unstable water-based product. Oil seems to yield better results with collagen production compared to silicon. If I understood the process correctly, the Vit C would stay on the skin and a small percentage would dissolve in the water content of the skin.

    I would put it into a 50ml pipette amber bottle, still store in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil(just in case). Even though there's no water, I remember reading one of your posts where you pointed out that the chances of bacteria/mold forming are still not 0. So I'll also add Cosgard since it's oil soluble and seems perfect for this formulation.  
    Originally I wanted to also include Ferulic acid. I'd have to dissolve it in Propylene Glycol and if I read correctly that wouldn't be soluble in the oil. So maybe it's better if I omit the Ferulic acid for this one. Or maybe I could just suspend it along with the Vit C?  


    My new recipe for 50gr of anhydrous Vit C (oil suspension): 

    Rosehip oil (INCI: rosa moschata seed oil) - 39.45gr (78.9%)
    L-Ascorbic acid - 10 gr (20%)
    Vitamin E (INCI: tocopherol, helianthus annuus seed oil) - 0.25 gr (0.5%)
    Cosgard(INCI: benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerin, sorbic acid) - 0.3gr (0.6%) 


    Utensils:  

    -precision scale
    -100ml Berzelius glass
    -PP spatula
    -50ml amber bottle with pipette
    -minimixer(not sure if I should use this or not)


    My questions: 


    1. I'm a bit lost with the actual preparation of this. Should I mix every ingredient one by one in the Rosehip oil while vigorously mixing after each one of them? 
    2. Is the oil I chose ok for this formulation or is there a better choice that would help with Vit C penetration? 


    Let me know what you think. Thank you again for your advice, I'm really loving how much I'm learning about this field. 
  • Unknown Member
    EVchem said:
    Can I ask why you want to go down the formulation route specifically?

    you might want to join this community or look through their posts. Lots of people on there have product recommendations for various skin types/issues.
    Honestly you'll spend less time/money with more consistent results than trying to make your own home-crafted stuff.

    Of the preservatives you want either cosguard or dermosoft. However you will need to be able to check the pH of your product reliably (no pH strips they aren't accurate enough).  You ought to get a pH meter or keep your bottles even less than 3 months.  So you see how this project will become more involved and costly. Some of the ingredients on that page aren't actually bug-killing preservatives, they are antioxidants that will do nothing to stop your product from growing mold.

    I wrote all this before I saw Perry's answer, but I agree with what he has mentioned. 

    Hi there! Thanks for participating! 

    I answered why I chose the DIY route in my reply to Perry. 

    That community is actually where I'm coming from. I searched for a viable DIY serum there to no avail and moved on to Google. And here I am!  

    It would probably be cheaper to just go with professional products, but I already have the ingredients and I love DIY in general. Also, in these trying times, it's good to keep the mind busy and learning new things is the best way to do that. 

    As I mentioned in my reply to Perry, I decided to go with an anhydrous solution. Seems much simpler. What do you think? 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    For vitamin E you need a solubilizer like Polysorbate 20.
  • EVchemEVchem Member
    @promises , I think anhydrous will be a better route to go for now, though I can't say whether you'll see any miraculous effects. Rosehip oil  is very popular (and has its own purported benefits); the tocopherol will help since rosehip is prone to oxidation. The vitamin C is not going to dissolve so just be aware that you'll have to shake the container each time and it will feel like rubbing gritty oiled sand on your face.  You could always buy powdered LAA  for slightly less grit.
  • Unknown Member
    EVchem said:
    @promises , I think anhydrous will be a better route to go for now, though I can't say whether you'll see any miraculous effects. Rosehip oil  is very popular (and has its own purported benefits); the tocopherol will help since rosehip is prone to oxidation. The vitamin C is not going to dissolve so just be aware that you'll have to shake the container each time and it will feel like rubbing gritty oiled sand on your face.  You could always buy powdered LAA  for slightly less grit.
    I think the Vit C I got from The Ordinary is perfect for this as it's a fine powder. Good to know about rosehip oil! Didn't know it was prone to oxidation. Any advice on how to help that beside Tocopherol? 

    I'm glad I decided to go the anhydrous route, will see how that goes. Should the ingredients be mixed a certain way or is it a straightforward toss 'em in and mix? 
  • @promises speaking of the ordinary. They have an anhydrous formula https://theordinary.deciem.com/product/rdn-vitamin-c-suspension-30pct-in-silicone-30ml why don’t you try to replicate that instead? You’ll see they’ll use a polymer to suspend the Vit C. They do mention the gritty feeling. 

    Alternatively you can buy a liposoluble form of Vit C, like Ascorbyl Palmitate.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @promises:

    Why do you not just make a face oil using tetrahexadecyl ascorbate as your form of Vitamin C ... it is oil soluble.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Unknown Member
    @promises:

    Why do you not just make a face oil using tetrahexadecyl ascorbate as your form of Vitamin C ... it is oil soluble.
    Yeah, that was my plan at first. But sadly that type of Vitamin C is not available on the website I'm ordering from(elemental.eu) and it's actually not available in my country at all(Romania).
  • Unknown Member
    edited June 19
    @promises speaking of the ordinary. They have an anhydrous formula https://theordinary.deciem.com/product/rdn-vitamin-c-suspension-30pct-in-silicone-30ml why don’t you try to replicate that instead? You’ll see they’ll use a polymer to suspend the Vit C. They do mention the gritty feeling. 

    Alternatively you can buy a liposoluble form of Vit C, like Ascorbyl Palmitate.
    The main reason why I chose to go with oil instead of silicone is that per this study of the effects of a Vit C suspension, 'Expression of both types of collagen appeared to be higher with formulation A, the oil/wax vehicle, compared with formulation B, the silicone/oil/wax vehicle'. Although copying The Ordinary's formula doesn't sound too bad of a plan B, but still can't find Dimethicone in my country.

    Actually, was thinking of also including Ascorbyl Palmitate since it's partially soluble in oil. So something like: 

    Rosehip oil (INCI: rosa moschata seed oil) - 36.7gr (73.4%)
    L-Ascorbic acid - 10 gr (20%)

    Vitamin E (INCI: tocopherol, helianthus annuus seed oil) - 0.25 gr (0.5%)

    Vitamin A (INCI: retinyl palmitate, helianthus annuus seed oil, tocopherol) - 0.25 gr (0.5%)

    Ascorbyl Palmitate (INCIascorbyl palmitate) - 2.5 gr (5%)

    Cosgard (INCI: benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerin, sorbic acid) - 0.3gr (0.6%)
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