Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Phloretin CF: Which One Is Better?

by Gio
skinceuticals phloretin cf vs ce ferulic

Which Skinceuticals vitamin C serum is better: CE Ferulic or Phloretin CF?

Cos if you’re gonna spend a small fortune on a serum, you might as well get the best one right? 😉

Good news: they’re both good. It doesn’t matter which one you pick, you can’t go wrong. But I do have a fave. One of the serums does go the extra mile.

Which one? Let the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Phloretin CF battle begin:

Higher Concentration Of Vitamin C?

Both Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF use L-Ascorbic acid, the pure form of vitamin C.

This powerful antioxidant is a precious ally in the fight against premature ageing. It destroys free radicals, boosts collagen production, reduces dark and sun spots, and even hydrates skin! Impressive, isn’t it?

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic contains a whopping 15%. That’s one of the highest concentrations used in skincare.

Phloretin CF contains “only” 10%. That’s slightly less effective, but better tolerated by sensitive skin. It’s up to you to decide if the trade off is worth it.

WINNER: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

Related: Can You Use A Vitamin C Serum If You Have Sensitive Skin?

Need help creating an anti-aging routine that really works? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Anti-Aging Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).

Best Antioxidant Combination?

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic was the first serum to use vitamins C and E and ferulic acid together. That’s one of the most powerful antioxidants combinations used in skincare, and one anyone seriously bent on fighting premature aging should add to their arsenal.

Vitamin C is amazing for the skin, but it has one flaw. It goes bad quickly. Vitamin E and ferulic acid (an antioxidant that can fight three types of free radicals!) help stabilize vitamin C, so it remains effective for longer. This combination also has photoprotective properties (but that doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen!).

A 2005 study has found that incorporating ferulic acid “into a topical solution of 15%l-ascorbic acid and 1%alpha-tocopherol improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection. […] This combination of pure natural low molecular weight antioxidants provides meaningful synergistic protection against oxidative stress in skin and should be useful for protection against photoaging”.

Translation: it helps protect skin from environmental damage and prevent premature aging.

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF contains ferulic acid, but no vitamin E. It replaced it with phloretin, a flavonoid found in apples.

Phloretin has antioxidant properties as well, but can also delay the deposition of sugar deposits in the skin. Why does this matter? Sugar can harden collagen, resulting in wrinkles.

But what happens when you use it with vitamin C and ferulic acid? According to a 2008 study, the effects are very similar to those of the vitamin E, vitamin C, and ferulic acid combination:

“This study confirms the protective role of a unique mixture of antioxidants containing vitamin C, ferulic acid, and phloretin on human skin from the harmful effects of UV irradiation. Phloretin, in addition to being a potent antioxidant, may stabilize and increase the skin availability of topically applied vitamin C and ferulic acid. We propose that antioxidant mixture will complement and synergize with sunscreens in providing photoprotection for human skin.”

So, which combination is better? They’re both good, but I prefer to stick to the old vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid.

Why? Vitamin E has been studied a lot more than phloretin, so we simply have more proof of its antioxidant and photoprotective abilities.

WINNER: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

Related: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Vitamin E In Skincare

Most Hydrating?

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF lacks both glycerin and sodium hyaluronate, two humectants that draw water from the environment into the skin. They help it stay hydrated and supple all day long.

Unfortunately, Phloretin CF replaced it with denatured alcohol. Although not as irritating as once thought to be, alcohol can still dry out skin overtime, if used regularly.

So, why is alcohol used here? As a delivery system. It helps the active ingredients better penetrate the skin, so they can do their job more quickly and effectively.

It’s also very cheap. Considering how much they’re charging for this, they could’ve used a more expensive, and less damaging, penetration enhancer, don’t you think?

WINNER: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

Related: What The Heck Are Humectants And Why Should You Use Them?

Price & Availability

Both Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF are available at Dermstore. They price’s the same too: $166.00!

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Phloretin CF: Which One Should You Use?

Both Skincetuticals CE ferulic and Phloretin CF contain powerful combinations of antioxidants to help skin age slowly and gracefully. But CE Ferulic wins hands down. It’s more hydrating, and has a much better, non-drying delivery system.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Ingredients

Aqua/Water/Eau, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-23, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate.

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Ingredients

Aqua/water/eau, Dipropylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat., Ascorbic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Triethyl Citrate, Phloretin, Ferulic Acid.

Do you prefer Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Phloretin CF? Share your pick in the comments below.



Laurie August 14, 2015 - 10:14 pm

While I try to mind costs in buying skincare , Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is one product I’m willing to spend money on. No other Vitamin C serum has been as effective on my sun-damaged skin!

Gio August 15, 2015 - 5:46 am

Laurie, some products are worth the splurge, aren’t they?

Brittany C. June 8, 2017 - 12:31 am

I swear buy this stuff. I will admit that I panic every time I buy it.. but once it touches my skin… ahhhhh sweet sweet glory. Worth every penny, Laurie!

MonicaP August 15, 2015 - 12:44 am

I have tried Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and I thought it smelled terrible so I wouldn’t use it. After a year .. had to dump it .. oye, a sad waist of money.


Gio August 15, 2015 - 5:48 am

Monica, I wish they improved the smell too. But if you can get past that, the serum will take care of your skin really well.

Allison August 15, 2015 - 3:30 am

I’m with Monica. The ferulic acid scent in Skinceuticals CE Ferulic was so strong, I stopped using it. In fact, I was offered another bottle from a retailer and I turned it down! Fortunately, there are other vitamin C serums that somehow combine the ferulic acid in such a way as to minimize the smell. And their are other vitamin C serums I like better. I wasn’t aware of the other Skinceuticals serum that you contrasted it with. Very interesting.

Gio August 15, 2015 - 5:51 am

Allison, a scent can really make or break a product, can’t it? It’s great that we have so many other options these days, so we can still get the amazing benefits of this combination without putting up with a bad smell!

Kiss & Make-up August 15, 2015 - 9:27 am

I’ve actually been wondering about both of these, so this is great, thanks Gio!

Gio August 15, 2015 - 12:16 pm

Melissa, my pleasure. Glad to be of service. 🙂

Janessa August 15, 2015 - 5:20 pm

Wow, what a great in-depth comparison! I’ve used neither as they’re both too costly. I’m using Kleem’s right now and usually go about trying a new one every time I run out. There’s so many options.

Gio August 15, 2015 - 6:59 pm

Janessa, there are too many options indeed. It’s hard to stay faithful to just one product, even if it works well, isn’t it?

Emily K May 13, 2016 - 5:38 pm

This is super helpful, thank you! I love and use both, but didn’t know which made a true difference. This made it clear and easy to decide! Much appreciated!

Gio May 13, 2016 - 8:48 pm

Emily, my pleasure. Glad it helped.

Sandie June 5, 2016 - 10:41 am

Thanks for the review really helpful for me to see which one to purchase. Advice on what other products to use with CE Ferulic would be great as I’m a beginner

Gio June 10, 2016 - 1:19 pm

Sandie, I’d like to help, but I can’t. I don’t know what your needs are, what your skin type is, your budget, etc… Can you give me more information?

Liz September 17, 2016 - 4:58 am

If the CE Ferulic by SkinCeuticals isn’t in my budget right now, is there one you’d recommend under $50 that is comparable? Thanks!

Gio September 17, 2016 - 4:40 pm

Liz, have you tried Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum? It works pretty much the same way, but is much more affordable. You can read my comparison here:

VeronicaSpacey December 18, 2016 - 10:04 pm

What color is the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic supposed to be? I have read various reviews and I am quite confused whether the color of my product is acceptable or not.


Gio December 19, 2016 - 10:44 am

Veronica, it’s supposed to be a light yellow colour.

Britt June 8, 2017 - 12:33 am

How quickly does the product go bad?

Gio June 10, 2017 - 7:27 pm

Britt, I’d use it within 3 months.

Sonja February 20, 2018 - 6:34 am

Hi there! Great Article! I have oily skin, and I started using the Drunk Elephant Vitamin C serum and noticed my skin became oilier and grittier. I went to my dermatologist who really likes the product, and she looked at the ingredients and told me to avoid any products with vitamin E because it can make oily skin worse. She loves both the SkinCeutical Vitamin C products but thinks for me the Phloretin CF is better. What are your thoughts?

Gio February 24, 2018 - 10:34 am

Sonja, there’s quite a lot of vitamin E in your sebum so adding more could potentially be problematic for some skin types. Having said that, I don’t think the concentration of vitamin E in the Drunk Elephant and Skinceuticals serums is that high. It could be a combination of vitamin E and Marula oil that’s causing you problems. I do believe that CE ferulic is a better formula than Phloretin CF as there are more studying supporting its benefits. But, given the high price point, I recommend you get a sample of both of them and decide which one your skin likes the best. Hope this helps.

Sonja March 2, 2018 - 3:47 am

Thank you!

Gio March 2, 2018 - 6:07 pm

My pleasure!

Robin April 5, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Thanks so for this comparison. I recently started taking anti-aging skin care more seriously again, after a couple years of mostly using just glycolic acid and sunscreen. I break out from the CE Ferulic (even though I’m older, I’ve always been acne prone if I don’t watch my products very carefully) so I’m using Phloretin CF, which I can tolerate when followed by a Sodium Hyaluronate product (and then my favorite sunscreen, Elta MD Clear). I think Phloretin CF is typically better for acne prone skin. But I wasn’t at all sure how much effectiveness I was losing by going with the Phloretin CF or what other differences there are. Your article helped so much! Thanks again.

Gio April 8, 2018 - 11:23 am

Robin, my pleasure. Glad this helped. Phloretin CF is a great product and can definitely help with antiaging.

Snowy April 6, 2018 - 6:25 pm

Hi…I have a very dry, sensitive skin, started by using the corrective masques about a month ago it helped with the redness on my skin. Now I bought the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic and Sun screen sometimes my skin feels a bit dry do I need an extra moisturiser or what should I do. And pls advice if I Should continue with the corrective masque or not.

Gio April 8, 2018 - 4:15 pm

Snowy, I think what’s happening is that Vitamin C is drying out your skin so definitely use more moisturiser afterwards. You can keep using the mask once or twice a week if you find it helps.

ELena January 22, 2019 - 5:40 am

I have dry and sensitive skin. I’m still confused about which one should best work on my face.

I would love to try prior to buy it; is there any option to get a sample?

Is it better to use it at night or in the morning?


Gio January 24, 2019 - 8:43 pm

Elena, I’d go with Skinceuticals. Just don’t use it every day as that may be too much for sensitive skin at the beginning. Definitely go to a counter and ask for a sample. Use it in the morning.

Nita February 2, 2019 - 5:35 pm

Thank you for the comparison and it helps a lot. I have used Skinceuticals before but its pricey. I recently have found Shunly CE + Ferulic treatment. Its comparable to Skinceuticals with its ingredients. It costs about $55 at Costco and so far Im very happy with it. Also there is no scent! Have you heard about this brand?

Gio February 8, 2019 - 4:00 pm

Nita, no I haven’t heard of this brand before but glad to know it’s a good dupe for Skinceuticals. Thanks for sharing.

Freckles February 26, 2019 - 3:43 am

I was so excited to start using ferulic c e after reading so much about it. I have known about it forever but never splurged on it until recently. It broke me out so heavily over the entire face. I’m soooo dissappointed. How is that possible. My face wasnt this bad even during my teenage years. I wonder if there is anything that can be done to prevent breakouts??? I am so bummed.

Gio March 1, 2019 - 9:42 am

Freckles, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve heard a few people breakout from vitamin C even though there’s no proof in the scientific literature that it’s comedogenic. Just goes to show how individual each person’s skin is. I guess you could try a different formula with a vitamin C derivative.

Rita Sharqawi December 12, 2019 - 4:40 pm

I have combination sensitive skin with some times breakout which one should I use?thanks

Gio December 20, 2019 - 4:48 pm

Rita, I’d go with Phloretin.


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