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Vitamin C and the Skin – Can I just crush up some Vitamin C Tablets?

June 1, 2009

Another question from the Australian Science Festival which got me thinking was: “Can I take Vitamin C tablets, crush them and put them onto my face?”  Sounds like the basis for a plan but would it do any good?


Ascorbic Acid is a natural Alpha Hydroxy Acid – a type of ingredient used for exfoliating the skin, boosting collagen levels and giving the skin a strength boost.

The Vitamin C tablets that we buy are usually a powdered or capsule form of Ascorbic Acid. This type of Vitamin C is water soluble and tends to be pretty unstable, quickly oxidizing into dehydroascorbic acid which is not biologically active.  To get the Vitamin C to work on the skin it needs to be put into an acidic base (around pH 2.5-3.5).  A blend of around 20% Ascorbic Acid is most likely to penetrate the skin – too little and the concentration gradient isn’t high enough.

Ascorbic Acid creams are available and are used to improve the condition of acne affected and ageing skin by increasing the skins collagen production and increasing skin strength.

So, can you make your own Vitamin C cream from crushed up tablets?  I would advice against it due to a few reasons.

1) The tablets can’t just be ground up and washed into your skin, the vitamin C has to be formulated into an appropriate base.

2) Vitamin C works at a low pH. Formulating at acid pH requires some skill and special equipment and while not impossible to do at home could end up in tears and worse still, burned skin.

3) Ascorbic Acid breaks down quickly if not formulated under the correct conditions so the resulting formulation could end up being a complete waste of money.

4) Ascorbic Acid reacts with a number of other chemicals which can be found in trace quantities in surfactants and other anti ageing actives such as peptides.

If you want to try Vitamin C out for yourself the following brands may be a good place to start  (We have not tried any of these yet so can’t give you a personal recommendation):


Complex C

Skin Ceuticals

For more information on Vitamin C and other anti-ageing vitamins read our article Toxin Busting OR have a look at our piece from January 2010 looking at the Dr Sebagh vitamin C powder vials.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2009 3:54 am

    Very very interesting post..I like this one. gotta bookmark this one.

    • cher permalink
      July 19, 2010 12:12 pm

      This is interesting … you say don’t bother to crush up vit c. I checked my little jar of powdered vit c from Aloette and it lists the only ingredient as Ascorbic Acid.. Have they added something to theirs? Because …the ingreadient listed on my bottle of vit c tablets is the exact same ingredient that Aloette lists.. So am i wasting my money buying this from Aloette??

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
        July 22, 2010 8:32 am

        Hi there Cher,
        Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are one in the same thing so don’t worry about that. The edible tablets and the powdered face stuff can still be quite different even though they contain the same chemical active. Coatings are put onto tablets to aid their digestion, these would have the effect of retarding their ability to penetrate the skin and so a coated tablet would not be as good as a specific vitamin C face powder. In addition to that the dosage could be different which could affect results. Horses for courses as they say!

      • December 5, 2015 3:03 am

        Very good question, Cher. I am still not convinced that we can’t crush our own Vitamin C tabs up and mix with maybe a little bit of lemon juice. Or make a paste out of capsules. I think that maybe the pharmacompanies do not really want us to know this

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
        January 5, 2016 12:52 pm

        I can’t see any reason why you can’t do that personally but if you want to make a commercial cosmetic product doing that it is probably going to cost you more and be less effective. I doubt the pharmaceutical companies would care what you do with the tablets once you have bought them unless it resulted in you sueing them!

  2. bessie branch permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:29 am

    cannot take large pills due to other problems can i crush vitamin c-500

  3. bananasonface permalink
    August 21, 2012 5:34 am

    One gives advice
    One adviSes (verb)

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      August 29, 2012 6:13 pm

      Why thank you. I have always been rubbish at English

  4. Arshi permalink
    September 27, 2017 11:06 pm

    Can I crush vitamin C tablet in my moisturizing lotions or cream for my face?

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      September 30, 2017 8:08 am

      If you want to you can but it won’t necessarily work. You are better to just buy Ascorbic Acid powder and pop that into your own serum to be honest. These days lots of places just sell the pure active. In a tablet it is likely to have been compounded in a mixture that might retard its efficacy AND be more expensive.

  5. Kathy permalink
    November 23, 2018 1:56 am

    Would Vitamin C drops be alright to add to moisturiser?


  1. The Australian Science Festival and Realize Beauty! « Realize Beauty
  2. Update on Topical Vitamin C Products « Realize Beauty

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