ferulic acid antioxidant skincare benefits

Is Ferulic acid good for skin? Does your vitamin C serum has ferulic acid?

Ferul… what?! I hear ya, ferulic acid isn’t as famous as other antioxidants.  But, it’s one of Vitamin C’s BFF (the other is Vitamin E). You REALLY need to use these three musketeers of skincare together. You know what BFFs are like… If you snub one of them, the other ain’t gonna forgive you.

Vitamin C isn’t that vindictive. It’ll still help you fight wrinkles and give you a lovely glow, BUT you won’t be getting the most out of it. Nope, it holds that out until you agree to let his friend ferulic acid join in on the fun.

Here’s all you need to know about ferulic acid, why Vitamin C loves it so much, and why you should add it to your skincare routine ASAP:

What Is Ferulic Acid?

Ferulic acid (a.k,.a. hydroxycinnamic acid – yes, we’ll keep calling it Ferulic Acid to keep it simple, don’t worry) is a plant-based antioxidant. You’ll find it in the cell walls of whole grains, coffee, spinach, oranges, apples, parsley, grapes, and many other vegs and fruits. Although it can be derived from plants, the type of ferulic acid found in skincare products is usually created in a sterilised lab.

There’s only one problem. It’s pretty expensive. That’s why lots of brands leave it out of their Vitamin C serums. 🙁

Related: Can you Use Vitamin C Serums If You Have Sensitive Skin?

Have no idea how to create an anti-aging skincare routine that works? Download the “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” cheatsheet below to get started. It features product recommendations + the right application order:

Ferulic Acid Benefits: What Does It Do For Skin?

Ferulic Acid is a multitasker that benefits skin in different ways. Let me show you all of them:

Ferulic Acid Benefit #1: Powerful Antioxidant Properties

Ferulic Acid is one of the most powerful antioxidants out there. There’s a reason why I always bang on about buying products that are loaded with as many antioxidants as possible.

But, let’s start from the beginning. UV rays, pollution, and even natural processes like human metabolism and breathing generate free radicals, nasty little molecules that rob your skin of elastin (the protein that keeps your skin elastic), collagen (the protein that keeps your skin firm), cellular DNA and all that good stuff that keeps it softer, suppler, and firmer. Free radicals are the main culprit responsible for wrinkles, including crow’s feet and marionette lines.

Your skin naturally produces a certain amount of antioxidants, little superheroes that neutralise free radicals before they can start their chain of destruction. This natural supply is enough to counteract the free radicals that your body naturally produces during every day functions.

But, in this modern age, pollution, unprotected sun exposure and a diet high in processed foods and sugar (it’s literally EVERYWHERE!) speed up the production of free radicals, so that your skin alone can’t release enough antioxidants to stop the damage – hence the need for antioxidants in skincare.

Most skincare products contain one antioxidant or two. That’s NOT enough. The truth is that there are many types of free radicals and each antioxidant usually only destroys one or two of them. The more types of antioxidants you use, the more types of free radicals you destroy.

Ferulic acid is the exception. This skincare superhero goes the extra mile: it destroy three types of free radicals (superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide). That makes it even more effective than its BFF Vitamins C and E and Beta-carotene.

To recap, Ferulic Acid is good for skin because it neutralises 3 types of free radicals before they can destroy collagen and elastin. The preserved collagen and elastin helps your skin stay firm and elastic.

Ferulic Acid Benefit #2: Enhanced Sun Protection

By fighting free radicals, Ferulic Acid helps you boost sun protection and the effectiveness of your sunscreen. Don’t get me wrong here. Ferulic Acid has no in-built SPF (antioxidants usually don’t). But even the best sunscreens allow a tiny % of UV rays to penetrate your skin.

You guessed it, the few UV rays that stubbornly make it through your sunscreen barrier immediately start to generate free radicals. Enter Ferulic Acid. It’s part of the second line of defense that steps in and destroys these free radicals before they can wreak their havoc on your skin and make it sag and wrinkle.

Related: Common Antioxidants Used In Skincare

Ferulic Acid Benefit #3: It Reduces Dark Spots

Ferulic acid has one more trick up its sleeve. A 1999 study suggests that ferulic acid + vitamin E can help treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Researchers believe this combo “suppresses melanogenesis, possibly by inhibiting tyrosine hydroxylase activity in an indirect manner.” Said in a way mere mortals can understand, it prevents your skin from producing too much melanin (the pigment that gives it its colour).

Related: The Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: Which One Is The Best Alternative To Hydroquinone?

Ferulic Acid Benefits: A Recap

I know I’ve thrown a lot at you, so here’s in a nutshell all the reasons why Ferulic Acid is good for your skin:

  • Boosts the antioxidant powers of other antioxidants: When used with Vitamin C and E, it makes them more stable and, as a result, more effective.
  • Boosts sun protection: By neutralising the free radicals caused by the few UV rays your sunscreen lets through, it enhances the sun protection of the formula.
  • Prevents the formation of fine lines and wrinkles: Ferulic acid destroys free radicals caused by pollution, UV rays, and a poor diet, which can lead to wrinkles.
  • Prevents sagging skin: Free radicals destroy collagen, causing skin to sag. By neutralising free radicals before they can destroy your collagen, it keeps your skin firmer for longer.
  • Reduces dark spots: Whether you’re dealing with dark marks left behind by pimples, hyperpigmentation, or brown spots, Ferulic Acid can help reduce their appearance.
  • Reduces inflammation: UV rays and pollution can inflame the skin, leading to breakouts, redness and irritation. Ferulic acid has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that protect against that.

What Can You Use Ferulic Acid With?

Ferulic Acid is an easier mixer. It works well with pretty much every skincare ingredient. Plus, like all other antioxidants, it provides better anti-wrinkle results when paired with other antioxidants that help fight different types of free radicals.

One of the most powerful and researched antioxidant combinations is 15% Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid, to be exact), 1% Vitamin E, and 0.5% Ferulic Acid. These 3 are BFFS because they make one another more effective.

For starters, antioxidants are very unstable. They lose their effectiveness with prolonged exposure to light and air. By using different antioxidants together, these little molecules boost one another’s antioxidant properties and last longer.

There’s more. A study conducted by Duke University has found that “its [ferulic acid] incorporation into a topical solution of 15%l-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and 1%alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection to solar-simulated irradiation of skin from 4-fold to approximately 8-fold as measured by both erythema and sunburn cell formation. 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 and skin cancer.”

Translation: when used together, ferulic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E double their own sun protection properties and help you fight premature wrinkles much faster.

P.S. Ferulic Acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E help you reduce sun damage. But they are NOT a substitute for sunscreen.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Vitamin E In Skincare

the ordinary resveratrol and ferulic acid 02

How To Use Ferulic Acid In Skincare

You can use ferulic acid daily, either in the morning, at night, or both. I personally prefer to use Ferulic acid in the morning in a good Vitamin C serum to boost the effectiveness of my sunscreen. I cleanse my skin, apply my Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic acid serum and then layer sunscreen on top. Only in winter, when my skin gets drier, I’ll add a hyaluronic acid serum for extra hydration in between Vitamin C and sunscreen. Don’t forget to apply ferulic acid to your neck area as well. It needs anti-aging care to stay young, too.

What Should You Look For In A Ferulic Acid Product?

Want to add a Ferulic Acid product to your skincare routine. There are two things you need to look out for. First off, make sure your serum or moisturiser also includes Vitamin E and Vitamin C. If it has other antioxidants too, great. The point is that no antioxidant should ever play solo. The more, the merrier, remember?

Pay attention to the packaging, too. Like all antioxidants, Ferulic Acid is unstable and loses a bit of its effectiveness when exposed to light and air. For this reason, opt for opaque tubes and bottles that minimise Ferulic Acid’s interaction with its enemies, so that it lasts longer. In a jar or see-through bottle, Ferulic Acid would lose all its anti-aging powers in a matter of weeks.

drunk elephant c-firma day serum

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Ferulic Acid?

These serums all contain 15% Vitamin C, 1% Vitamin E, and 0.5% Ferulic Acid, so I’ll call them CEF serums. Just so we’re on the same page.

  • Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00): Enriched with marula oil, this CEF serum is ideal for dry skin types. Available at Cult BeautySephora and SpaceNK
  • Paula’s Choice C15 Booster ($49.00): A lightweight CEF Serum suitable for all skin types. It does what the other serums do, at a cheaper price. Available at Sephora and Paula’s Choice
  • Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00): The original CEF Serum. It has many dupes, but it still works wonders and is worth every penny. available at Blue Mercury and Dermstore

What about The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%?

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% (£7.70) contains a high dose of Ferulic Acid coupled with 3% Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes that fights free radicals and reduces inflammation. But no Vitamin C or E. For this reason, I recommend it only to those of you who are using a Vitamin C serum WITHOUT ferulic acid. By using this serum, you can add it to the mix and give your skin everything it needs. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, and The Ordinary.

Does Ferulic Acid Has Any Side Effects?

Most people can use ferulic acid safely. But, if you’re allergic to grains such as wheat, corn or barley, consult a doctor before adding ferulic acid to your skincare routine. Just in case. I also recommend you patch test the product on a small area of your skin, like your wrist, to see if it gives you a bad reaction. If it does, better know it before putting it all over your skin.

Is Ferulic Acid Safe During Pregnancy?

As long as you’re not allergic to it, it is safe to use Ferulic Acid during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and even when you’re trying to conceive. It’s a gentle anti-aging active that’ll help your skin look its best during this delicate time in your life.

I know some sources on the internet say that Ferulic Acid isn’t safe for use during pregnancy and compare it to retinol and chemical peels. But those are way harsher and stronger than Ferulic Acid. I couldn’t find any scientific studies claiming Ferulic Acid is not safe during pregnancy. But, if you’re not comfortable using it, then don’t. When in doubt, always consult your doctor.

Is Ferulic Acid Vegan?

Ferulic Acid is considered vegan because it’s derived from plant-based sources such as grain, fruits, and vegetables. But, the type used in skincare products is generally synthetically made in a lab. Still, no animals are hurt while bringing Ferulic Acid to your skin.

Who Should Use Ferulic Acid?

Unless you’re allergic to Ferulic Acid, everyone can use it. It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps you prevent premature aging, wrinkles, and sagging. If you’re serious about anti-aging and you’ve hit 25, then I recommend you add a 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E, and Ferulic Acid to your skincare routine to help your skin stay younger for longer.

The Verdict: Is Ferulic Acid Good For Skin?

Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight premature aging, prevent sun damage and may even treat hyperpigmentation. But, it’s when used together with its BFF Vitamin C and Vitamin E that it truly shines. They three musketeers makes one another way more effective in fighting premature aging and sun damage.