A new order of goodies recently arrived on my doorstep from New Directions Aromatics, so I’ve been spending the last few days playing with my new toys. One of the things I’ve been just itching to make ever since I placed the order was a vitamin C toner. I’d included witch hazel and some pure vitamin C in my order after reading about how good vitamin C is for your skin. It’s supposed to help with collagen production, reduce age spots (not that I have any yet, but hey, that’s not permanent), and firm things up. Groovy. It’s a key ingredient in a lot of expensive anti-aging serums, so I’ll probably experiment with one of those in the near future, enlisting my mother as my guinea pig.
I’d also ordered some solubilizer, something I’d been holding off ordering figuring I could survive without it, but now that I have it, I can’t stop thinking of uses for it. It’s a viscous liquid that allows you to easily create emulsions that are mostly water, so it’s great for things like room spray, where you want a teaspoon or so of essential oil to disperse evenly throughout half a liter of water. Is it natural, strictly speaking? Err… not really. But Skin Deep says it’s fairly safe, and I really don’t use much of it.
For this toner, I used it to disperse a bit of Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada) and essential oils of tea tree and lavender throughout. It’s definitely optional, but you should probably leave the Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada) out if you don’t have the solubilizer since Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada) is quite a thick, viscous oil and it will probably just float around as a clump. The essential oils can be somewhat effectively dispersed by shaking before use.
I love how clean and fresh my skin feels after using this toner. I like to use it after washing my face, just before I go to bed. I’ll report back on the vitamin C and see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. But for now, this toner is lovely to use, and is a great little pre-bedtime luxury. And, if you don’t have pure vitamin C, you can use some citrus juice in its place—preferably orange (it’s the highest in vitamin C out of the citruses), but lemon or lime will probably work as well. Or, better yet, crush up a vitamin C tablet and use that. Just try to choose one without too many fillers.
This recipe is really unstable (the vitamin C will oxidize and do absolutely nothing after a few days) and just generally not very good, so I no longer recommend making it!
Vitamin C Toner
80g | 2.82oz witch hazel
40g | 1.41oz aloe vera juice (or just more witch hazel)
20 drops bee propolis (optional)
¼ tsp vitamin C or 1 tbsp orange juice or 1 crushed vitamin C tablet
5g | 0.17oz solubilizer (optional)
2g | 0.07oz Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada) (optional)
10 drops tea tree essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
Combine the witch hazel, aloe vera juice, bee propolis, and vitamin C in a lidded 120mL (4 fl oz) bottle. Shake to combine.
In a small cup, stir the solubilizer, Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada), and essential oils together. Add to the bottle, cap, and shake to combine.
To use, wet a cotton pad with the toner and wipe across the face.
I would like to try this toner, however, I am allergic to tea tree oil. Can I leave it out, or replace it with something else? Thanks!
Esther—You can easily leave the tea tree oil out without effecting the toner. You could replace it with another antibacterial essential oil, like oregano or geranium, or just leave it at that!
What is the shelf life of this once you have made it??
I’d say about 2 months, but it will really depend on where you store it. I store it on my vanity in my bedroom, but my room tends to be quite cool, especially in the winter. I keep about 100mL out at a time, storing the rest in the fridge, and pulling out more as I need it. Because both vitamin C and E are antioxidants, they help prevent spoilage.
How much is a g (gram?)
One gram is equal to the weight of one cubic milliliter of water at 4° Celsius, or about 1/28th of an ounce. I’m up in Canada, so I’m used to the metric system, and I find the easy gram/milliliter conversion to be very useful when working with liquids (100g of most liquids will generally be about 100mL, so less guesswork as to how big of a container you’ll need). The fact that a gram is so much smaller than an ounce also allows me to make smaller batches of things with precision. Most electric scales will allow you to toggle between grams/kg and oz/lb—look for the “unit” button.
Here’s a link to a Gram To Ounc Calculator
Thank you Michelle.I live in Canada and still have a hard time with the metic system,when you live half your life with one system and then they switch it to another half way through,,well,,thank you government of Canada.
My favourite converter is the one google does, all you have to do is google something like “1g in oz” and it will bring up a great little converter 🙂
I’d love to try make it but Where can I buy these stuff?
I get all my ingredients from New Directions Aromatics.
Hi there, just a quick question…
I have Bee Propolis, but its a capsule and I think it has powder in it, can I use that or does it have to be liquid?
Go for it! You may want to pass the toner through a coffee filter to remain the particles if they don’t dissolve/are clumpy, but it should be great 🙂
This sounds wonderful I am going to have to try this. I used to spend a lot of money on a line of skin care that had Vitamin C. Finances have forced me to stop buying it so this is definitely on my list of things to do!
Do it! Buying the vitamin C can be a bit pricey to start with, but it’s nothing compared to paying for products that contain it, and it’s so acidic you really can’t use much at any one time (but you still get awesome benefits, of course!).
You mentioned that you would report back on the Vitamin C and let us know how it worked for your skin. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reminding me, Rebecca! I believe it really helped with acne, especially along my jawline. It’s acidity also really helps make your face feel nice and fresh after using by contributing a wee bit of chemical exfoliation 🙂 I definitely won’t be leaving vitamin C out of any toners—ever!
Thanks! Glad to hear how well it is working for you. 🙂
I made the toner today and it’s great. The bee propolis settles in the bottom of the jar though and is sort of grainy in the bottle.. I used the solubolizer. Any suggestions?
I used polysorbate 60 if that helps. Thx!
Yup… that’s because the solubilizer only works on oils, and propolis isn’t an oil. What I would recommend doing is letting it “steep” (like tea) with the propolis in the bottle, and then passing the whole lot through a coffee filter after a week or so. That should remove all the grit and give you the benefit of the propolis!
Ok – I’ll do that. Thanks!
Just an FYI, heat destroys Vit C
Thanks for the tip 🙂 Don’t boil your toner, people!
Hey there, just wondering about the solubilizer, is there an natural
one, we’re trying to keep it natural, and what’s the purpose of it
please…..If you have reading material please help….
Hi Lou—check out how I used guar gum and Turkey Red Oil in my Silk ACV Rinse—it works brilliantly to emulsify the oils into the water part and is all natural!
I want to give it a try, but I can`t really figure out whether you used the ‘Witch Hazel Distillate – Alcohol Free’ or just the regular ‘Witch Hazel Distillate’.Which one is it?
Go with the alcohol free one, you don’t want to be putting alcohol on your skin, it’s very drying!
I found some different solubilizers on theherbarie.com. One is called AquaEm and says:
The Herbarie’s AquaEm™ is a multifunctional, water-soluble, emollient blend for both body and hair care! This high performance natural source ingredient is based on coconut fatty acids and a vegetable derived polyglyceryl ester.
AquaEm™ will function as a solubilizer/emulsifier in aqueous systems to create a clear product (microemulsion) with a silky feel! It’s ideal for products such as body mist or leave-in hair conditioners. AquaEm’s water soluble, superfatting properties are perfect for bath products such as shampoo, facial cleansers, body wash, emulsifying scrubs and will provide emolliency and a conditioned after-feel without compromising foam!
Do you think this would work? Thank you for your AMAZING blog!
It sounds like it would, but I can’t say because I’ve never tried it. Pity it’s so expensive to ship to Canada—an extra $25 plus all shipping & duty fees 🙁 I would love to try it!
The Herbarie sells what she is referring to. It’s called Polysorbate 20. I order from them frequently
You mentioned crushing up a vitamin C pill if that’s all that was available. I remembered reading somewhere that the larger the pill the more filler. Another recipe to add to my midnight mixings. I’ve been using vitamin E and C on my skin for years but not in a toner.
I’m sure you’re right, Mickey—it’s likely that larger pills are for chewing, therefore they need to taste good, hence extra stuff for flavour and mouth feel and sweetness and all that. Stick to the smaller ones if you’re using it for something like this, I suppose. Do try the toner, though—it’s very refreshing on a summer day 🙂 Especially if you keep it in the fridge!
Marie, I love your blog! I looked on the website where you get your products and will have to find a similar company in the states. With the Vit C being a powder does in dissolve well? Was your toner gritty or powdery feeling?
Thanks for reading, Juanita! New Directions Aromatics does have an American branch—I’ve linked to it above in the big gray box between the comments and the blog. Vitamin C is beautifully water soluble, so it dissolves nicely with no grittiness 🙂 Enjoy!
Hi there Marie. First off I love your website and have found a few things that I think I will try in the near future including possibly this DIY toner. Yet I had a few questions for you.
1. The Witch Hazel that you used is it the regular kind or was it the alcohol free version?
2. Can any skin tone benefit from it or just a few? I have combination skin so I was curious if you think it would work for me.
Awesome, thanks for reading, Jasmine! I always use the alcohol free witch hazel as skin + alcohol isn’t that great of an idea (alcohol is very drying). I believe people with highly sensitive, very dry skin may find this toner to be a bit harsh because the Vitamin C does make it a bit acidic. However, my skin is on the dry side of average, and I just love it—I find it to be very refreshing and balancing 🙂 Let me know how your DIY adventures go!
I have just started using a Vitamin C serum that I am making myself…But in order for the vit. c to be absorbed you have to use L ascorbic powder..it has to be disolved in distilled water first I use rose water or lavender water..I cannot believe how this has almost completely faded some hormonal pigmentaion spots on my face (I am 57) plus it has made my skin so much firmer and evened the tone of my skin…..I use it at night on my clean face and then moisturize….This stuff sells for up to 80 dollars for less than 2oz…..and I make it for about 5 dollars for a 2 oz. bottle maybe even less……Love your blog and glad I am getting it in my email now…
Hey Amy! What is “L Ascorbic Powder”, and where do you get it? I know vitamin C= ascorbic acid, but that’s it. This sounds very promising and exciting! Thanks for reading & sharing 🙂
Hey Marie, I just saw this question…I get it from Amazon…It is call L ascorbic Powder….Your skin doesn’t absorb crushed vitamin C as well…the L ascorbic powder is pure and the make up of it is better absorbed by your skin…There are several recipes on the web for making a Vit. C serum, which is really good for lightening dark spots and it also activates collagen production and firms the skin…Hope this helped.
Ah, in that case it is exactly the same stuff I am using—just pure vitamin C. The MSDS sheet for what I’m using is here, and you’ll see “L Ascorbic Acid” is listed under “synonyms”. So, no big breakthrough, but that’s probably good considering how long this recipe has been online 😛
Would you mind sharing the recipe for the vitamin c serum. I am desperately trying to rid datk spots.
You might like to look at this serum recipe as well, Tara 🙂
Could you please send me your serum vitamin C recipe link
the solubilizer is an emulsifier correct? I searched for natural alternatives to that and found this list the natural, non-toxic and equally effective emulsifiers exist.
Cetearyl wheat bran glycosides
Cetearyl wheat straw glycosides
Rice bran wax
I am not sure which will work best but happen to have jojoba oil on hand so I might try that.
It is, yes—though, technically, it’s more of a dispersing agent since this recipe does not emulsify into a thickened solution.
The list you provided is an interesting one. Natural, for sure, but saying all those ingredients are “equally effective emulsifiers” is sort of like saying all flours (corn, rice, wheat, whole wheat, coconut, etc.) are all “equally effective flours”… which is to say they aren’t. They’re all different things with different strengths and weaknesses.
Most of the ingredients you listed are not complete emulsifiers. For instance, have you ever made an emulsion using beeswax? It requires a lot of blending (in a blender, you really do need that much horsepower), the addition of borax (arguably more dodgy than polysorbate 20), and a 50/50 blend of oil and water (not suitable here). Or xantham gum—it thickens the mixture (not desired for a toner), and every emulsion I’ve made with it has split in less than 24 hours.
I’m not saying none of these will work by any means, but you should take care to start small, and not be surprised if it doesn’t work. I’d definitely stay away from all the solid or thickening ones for the toner. Honestly, though, I’d just leave the polysorbate 20 out, and not try to replace it, for the trouble. The oils will separate, so just give the bottle a good, thorough shake before using.
I’m always experimenting with new ingredients and I’m trying to devise something to swap out the solubilizer for, so stay tuned, but for now, just leave it out if you find it dodgy.
Lecithin and xanthan gum is more natural product. If you are using L-Ascorbic Acid which is clear after mixing. This LAA is pretty unstable because it oxidize pretty quick. Once it turns yellow or brownish tint it is useless and no longer effective. As a thickener you can just add in a tsp of aloe vera so that it is not so liquidy. Lecithin is good emulsifier but it is yellowish in color and if you put in your Vit C toner or serum you can’t tell if it has oxidize. Furthermore, lecithin can only dissolve in oil phase. Xantham gum is natural and best way to use it is to dissolve it in a little glycerin and then add this to your water phase; this way the xanthan gum will not look gloppy and disperse well. In fact if you are making your Vit C toner. Just Vit C toner and distilled water or hydrosol is good enough. You don’t want to pack in too much stuffs and this render Vit C ineffective. Less is better in this case. Water and oil do not mix well. It is better to make a Vit C serum separate from your toner. A rose water toner will make your skin real soft.
You’re definitely right, both soy lecithin and xantham gum are natural ingredients with emulsifying properties. However, I haven’t had a whole lot of success with either of them, yet—definitely not enough to publish any recipes calling for them. I didn’t have either ingredient when I developed this recipe some 16 months ago, but once I have some success (that lasts longer than a day… that’s been my main problem so far, the emulsions always split) I’ll happily write about it and ditch the solubilizer. I always want my recipes to work before I publish them, of course 🙂
You raise a great point on the oxidization of the vitamin C. I had hoped the vitamin E (an antioxidant) would help counteract this, though without a lab it is hard to say one way or the other.
Hello again Marie,
The propolis you used in hour toner; is it a liquid, an extract…? Mine is called propolis resin and it did not mix at all :(. Let me know what yours is and where I can get it in the US if you know.
I have both propolis resin and propolis resin that’s been dissolved in alcohol. For this recipe, I used the stuff in alcohol & water. Try crushing & dissolving some of your resin in a bit of cheap vodka and go from there 🙂
I have some links here regarding preservatives and antioxidants, I really recommend reading them if you are interested in making healthy skincare products.
My preference to avoid preservatives is one of the many reasons I do not sell my skin products. If you feel like you need preservatives to feel safe, you are free to use them as desired. I have never experienced ill effects from my preservative-free products as long as I am diligent about watching for spoilage.
Have you made face wash? And or face moisturizer? If so how would I find how to make them? Thank you
Hi Susan—Yes and yes 🙂 Look to the right hand bar of the site (under the Instagram photos), or to the very top (under the logo), for navigation with all the different categories I have recipes for. There’s also a search bar above my photo in the left hand column.
I made this today and have to say it’s better than any toner I’ve spent hard earned money on!
I didn’t have aloe, so just stuck with the witch hazel and left out the vitamin E since I’m lacking solubilizer. Then I added some fresh squeezed orange juice (yes, I had to stop, go back and strain it!) and the EOs.
Because I used fresh oj, it turned orange. Was a little concerned it would make my face have an orange tint, I used it anyway. No orange tint, a lovely fragrance and felt wonderful on my freshly scrubbed face! It’s a keeper for me and I’ll most likely store it in the fridge due to the orange juice.
Oh, and all six of my dogs loved trying to lick it off my face ☺️
Thank you for sharing all of your creativeness!
Oooh, lovely! I’m so thrilled you love it 🙂 Do be careful with that OJ, though—like all citrus juices and oils it’ll be photosensitizing on your skin.
can you please make a list of all the stuff you ordered so I can get it on the way so I can start experimenting with toner. I can’t wait to make yours!
All of it? Yikes 😛 I hope you’re willing to drop a few grand 😉 (I have an ingredients problem and a several year head start). Seriously, though, you don’t need much. I have some starter shopping lists here for general DIYing. Then I’d recommend browsing my various toner recipes and seeing what I used, and making sure you order those things as well if you intend to focus on toner. I also have a starter essential oil entry here.
Hi Marie, I love your recipes! Can I substitute the French green clay for kaoline?
Hi Karen! This recipe doesn’t have any clay in it so I can’t really speak for specific applications, but in general French Green and Kaolin are a pretty good swap 🙂 The amount of water called for may change, but likely not by much.
With the Aloe Vera Juice, would a preservative be needed? I would use Liquid Germall? Your opinion please.
You’re digging up all my old, bad recipes, haha! Don’t make this, either—note added to the recipe 🙂
Do you have any new recipes with Vitamin C?
I don’t at this time, but this formula from The Acid Queen looks great!