Makeup and Mani(c) Mondays: Field Trip to Whole Foods to Make Vitamin C Serum

I went to Whole Foods to get my goods to make my Vitamin C Serum because I could not wait for Amazon to deliver. Sometimes, that’s just how things are: I’m impatient.


Here is what I paid at Whole Paycheck, I mean, Whole Foods:

Vegetable Glycerin (Earth’s Care 8 FL. OZ./236 mL) – $6.99
Essential Oil (in Jojoba Oil) in Rose Absolute (Aura Cacia .5 FL. OZ.) – $10.99 (not including retail tax)
Whole Foods Vitamin C (NT. WT 8 OZ./227 grams) – $9.99
Amber Glass Bottle – $1.99 (not including retail tax)
The total came to about $30.00.

I took a print-out of my Amazon Cart as a shopping list and to compare prices. I would have paid $27.84 on and I would have received more in product volume. The vegetable glycerin from Amazon would have yielded 16 FL. OZ. instead of 8 FL. OZ. The essential oil in my Amazon cart was Lavender Oil, 1 FL. OZ., instead of 0.5 FL. OZ. of Rose Essential Oil. Essential oils vary in price based on the type of fragrance and whether it is certified organic. Rose Essential Oil is usually more expensive than Lavender Oil. In addition to being impatient, another reason why I went to Whole Foods is because I do not know the shelf life of the goods sold on Amazon. I wanted to make sure the products I bought had a later expiry and if I had to return the products, I wanted to be able to take it back and choose another product (Oh, what drives consumer purchase patterns!)

Overall, it cost me ~$30.00 for a customizable Vitamin C Serum (I’ll keep you updated how many bottles I make in a later post), that I can adjust from 5% up to 15% or 20%, and create with an essential oil of my choice (or not at all), which is not too bad! In addition, the Vitamin C Serum that I make at home will be free of any parabens and preservatives. If you did the same, you would have control of the base products you choose to make the serum (organic, anyone?). Also, once the product begins turning in color, you’ll be able to see it, unlike other orange or pink colored Vitamin C facial products sold at a high cost. Making a new batch every week and keeping the bottle covered or refridgerated, you should not ever see it change color. Imagine the profit margins in the anti-aging market of the beauty industry!

The downside to making your own serum is that this can be time-consuming and you’ll need to make sure the products you use to make your serum do not expire. I think the upside outweighs the down.


Makeup and Mani(c) Mondays: Explaining the Free Radical Theory of Aging and Oxidation Without Getting Technical

OMG. I hated chemistry when I was younger. However, 20 years have passed and the free radical theory of aging (FTRA) is a concept that piqued my interest. Some things take time to develop. I’m blaming Oprah and her side-kick Dr. Oz.

In a nutshell, under this theory, all living things age because of free radical damage over time. Now, my long-winded, non-techincal, hopefully entertaining, explanation:

On a cellular level, our skin cells are bombarded by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms with one electron in its outershell; they are looking for another electron to make them stable. It’s like me going crazy at Nordstrom Rack in the shoe section because I found one cute Nike shoe (Nike Women’s Air Max 1 Mid Sneaker Boot WP in Deep Burgundy/Hyper Grape-Cedar-Hyper Crimson), but it’s pair is no where. This is a true story. But, please don’t judge! In hindsight, I don’t think they’re cute at all…

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Or, it’s like a co-dependent person who is looking for a friend or lover to stabilize them emotionally.

Okay, I like the shoe analogy better, so moving on…I either look for the other shoe or drop it. I look at the shelves above my eye view and below. I cannot find it.  I’m sure the other shoe is in the Size 11 section or behind the counter and I need to ask the sales person. I go on a hunt! If there are a lot of the same Nikes in my Size 7.5 section, I can pull another shoe from another pair. Oh, but then that pair has a missing shoe. Then, when the next shoe lover comes in to find her love for the same shoe, she also behaves erratically, looking for the missing shoe. This is how the Nordstrom Rack shoe section becomes a hot mess and this is how skin damage occurs under the FRTA. This is where the anti-oxidant steps in. The anti-oxidant is like the helpful sales person who brings you the extra shoe from behind the counter. Once the free radical finds its pair, usually from an anti-oxidant like Vitamin C, the free radical is no longer damaging, but totally rad (California is coming out in me).

Now imagine your entire face regenerating skin cells; you’re bound to start glowing, my already-beautiful or already-handsome friend. BUT, you need to stick to this regimen for six (6) months to see the maximum result. I know, it’s like waiting to buy ugly shoes in the Nordstrom Rack line that wraps around the store…

Makeup and Mani(c) Mondays: “Best Skincare Regimen”

My girlfriends and I had a discussion about this a few months back and it dawned on me that I need to re-think my skincare regimen after heading into my 30s. I Googled it. Yes, I did. had a “Skincare by Age” online article (You can read this if you’re interested in the “Best Skincare Regimen in Your 20s, 40s, and 50s”), so I read on. I mean, it’s OPRAH!

This is what the article author recommended:


Use an exfoliating regimen. Either use a cleasing brush with a alpha-hydroxy acid face wash or a gentle exfoliating wash several times a week. I’ve got my Clarsonic Brush and I’m usng Cetaphil. Check.

Serum & Moisturizer

Use a Vitamin C serum containing 15-20% L-ascorbic acid underneath a moisturizer with SPF 30. Um, Vitamin C Serum? What does that even do? See, below… Wait just a tick-tock (Yes, from Wicked)! Those are expensive…I know because I looked on I’m a full-time law school student, remember? Moving on, I still have my Shiseido Moisturizer with SPF 18, which I’ll use until I run out. Let me get back to the serum later…


Undereye cream. I got my Shiseido mucho expensivo eye cream my Mom gave me. Check. I also have my Retin-A Micro I’ll start using again. Check.

Sidebar: During my research for the perfect DIY Vitamin C serum recipe, I came across the Environmental Working Group (EWG site) site on oxybenzone safety issues in sunblock lotions, which led me to throw away all the sunscreen I had on hand. I got a little side-tracked.

So back to that Vitamin C serum…First the benefits, then a cool DIY… because, student budget or not, we could save a few bucks and not worry about putting free radicals on our faces, right? Here is what I found:

The benefits of Vitamin C on a 30-something face:

  • According to Oprah’s side-kick, Dr. Oz, Vitamin C will drop a decade from your face.
  • Wrinkles and sun or age spots are dimished with daily use of Vitamin C because it restores collagen and elasticity in the skin.
  • Some people will see changes as soon as 2-4 weeks. Others can see changes as late as 6-8 weeks to see a difference.
  • 6 months of daily topical application will show the maximum effects of Vitamin C.

“Best Practices” 

  • Gradually increase L-Ascorbic Acid levels to test your skin’s tolerance. Start from 5% then gradually increase the strength.
  • Use each serum for 2-6 weeks before moving up to the next step. 5% should resume for 2 weeks before moving up to 7.5% or 10%.
  • Going up in strength will tingle or sting at first. At a higher strength, if your skin continually stings, discontinue use or stay at the lower strength, until you see desired results.

The serum should remain clear in color. If the serum begins to turn yellow, orange, or brown, discontinue use and make a new batch. Many cosmetic manufacturers add orange coloring to hide the oxidation of the product. This is oxidation in process and you do not want to put damaging free radicals on your face.

Strength                   Ratio                       L Ascorbic Acid                      Water and/or Glycerin

5% Serum                   1:19 ratio                       ¼ tsp powder                                4 and ¾ tsp base

7.5% Serum                1:1 ratio of 5% and 10% Serums. See above and below

10% Serum                1:9 ratio                          ¼ tsp powder                                2 and ¼ tsp base

15% Serum                3:17 ratio                       3/8 tsp powder                              2 and 1/8 tsp base

20% Serum               1:4 ratio                          ¼ tsp powder                                1 tsp base


You should store your homemade Vitamin C serum in a small sealed glass or plastic bottle that you keep in the fridge.  If you do not have a dark colored glass container, wrap the bottle in aluminum foil so that it is protected from light.  This serum will expire after week and you will need to remake it because  L-ascorbic acid oxidizes and degrades quickly and there are no preservatives in the serum.  Apply your serum to clean skin in the morning or evening and let it sink in for 5 minutes or more before applying make up or another skin care product.