DIY Vitamin C Toner: Because You're Cheap And It Works

This easy formula is super-effective for acne scarring and sun damage. I'll even show you how to build your tolerance!
Publish date:
September 10, 2013
sun damage, How-To, DIY, serums, toners, vitamin c

I've been into the DIY beauty scene for years. Anytime I can utilize natural ingredients to make myself look prettier, I'm all over it; not just because it's fun and my skin/hair/nails/etc. see the benefits, but also because DIY beauty is a money-saving loophole. Yay for saving money!

One of my most favorite--and easiest--DIY beauty recipes is for a vitamin C toner and I'm telling you now: it's incredibly effective. In fact, you'll probably notice a difference in your skin immediately. It'll be softer, your complexion will be more even, acne scars will gradually fade, and your skin will overall have a more illuminated quality to it overall.

Vitamin C is also one of the most effective ingredients to combat and prevent signs of aging thanks to its ability to stimulate collagen production in a serious way.

The kicker: Your DIY vitamin C toner is even more effective than most items you can buy over the counter, and I'll tell you why.

Vitamin C is the preferred ingredient for collagen stimulation and various studies--including this one and this one--have proven its effectiveness. The problem, however, is that vitamin C is quite fickle and does not last long once integrated into serums, creams, toners and other beauty products. In short, it oxidizes quickly, especially when introduced to air or light, and therefore becomes ineffective. Womp womp.

Because of vitamin C's unstable nature, cosmetic companies simply avoid using it and instead opt for vitamin E, vitamin A (retinoids) or other scientifically manufactured anti-aging ingredients that are more costly and typically not as effective. There are a handful of companies that have developed recipes that better-stabilize vitamin C, but at the end of the day, buying these products costs more than making them yourself. Not only that, but you have more control over the vitamin C potency when you put on your kitchen science hat and DIY.

When I say potency, I'm talking about the ratio of vitamin C to your base (in this case, green tea). Now, this is really, really important, so listen up. You must acclimate your skin to vitamin C. It is an acid, after all, and a toner that's too potent can irritate your skin. Don't worry, though; getting your skin used to vitamin C is actually very simple.

The recipe I'm detailing today consists of a 5% potency, which is what you should start at if you're new to the vitamin C game. I'll also include an adjusted recipe (same ingredients, different ratios) for 10%, 15% and 20% potency. I recommend staying at each level for two to three weeks and then moving up to the next. If you notice some stinging or any weird side effects, simply revert back to the lower level and wait it out for another week. Once you hit that 20% threshold, you can stay there forever and ever and ever.

For this recipe, you'll need some vitamin C powder (more on that, soon), a sachet of green tea, distilled water, measuring spoons, a mixing bowl, cotton balls and a dark glass bottle to store the finished product.

To begin, microwave one cup of distilled water just like you're making yourself a cup of tea. Your microwave may vary, but I find that 1:30 is perfect.

Steep a bag of green tea for three to four minutes. I opted for Kusmi Tea's Detox, which consists of mate, green tea and lemon grass.

Remove the bag, place the tea in the fridge, and let it cool to at least room temperature. Your tea must be cooled before moving on or you risk ruining your vitamin C. Remember, vitamin C is more fickle than your ex.

Next, combine 1/2 tsp. of vitamin C powder with 9 tsp. of your cooled green tea. I buy my vitamin C powder at a local health store, but it's also available online. Make sure you buy 100% pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid). I recommend the finely ground powder over the crystals, which don't dissolve as well.

Mix with a clean stirring rod or spoon until all of the powder has dissolved. This will take about one to two minutes, so keep stirring.

When you're done mixing, you'll have your very own 5% potency vitamin C toner. Now, when you're ready to level up, follow these ratios:

  • 10%: 1 tsp. vitamin C powder + 9 tsp. green tea.
  • 15%: 1.5 tsp. vitamin C powder + 8.5 tsp. green tea
  • 20%: 2 tsp. vitamin C powder + 8 tsp. green tea

Store your mixture in an air-tight, dark glass bottle and then place it in a dark cupboard. The less air and light that reach your toner, the better. I just re-purposed an old cosmetic bottle, but you can also find some online and at health food stores.

It will keep for approximately one week before the vitamin C breaks down. After that week has passed, simply make another batch. Or, if you use a lot, make it on an as-needed basis.

As for application, I typically apply anywhere that gets a lot of sun exposure every other day. That includes my face, neck, arms and shoulders.

Just soak a cotton ball in the toner and then wipe it across your skin. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to mist yourself. I do not rinse off my vitamin C toner, but you're more than welcome to. Just make sure it stays on for a good 15 to 20 minutes.

A quick note: You don't have to use the green tea for your toner. Topical use of green tea has been linked to reducing sun damage and soothing inflamed skin. At the very least, it is relaxing and smells good. If you want to skip the green tea, just add plain old distilled water instead.

On a similar note, you can add glycerin to your vitamin C if you want to make a serum instead of a toner. Just replace 1 tsp. of water with 1 tsp. of glycerin. I personally dislike the slick feeling glycerin adds, but some people prefer this texture.

If you have any questions about this toner, don't hesitate to ask!