Just like other antioxidant serums, ferulic acid serums help prevent the formation of free radicals caused by external aggressors like UV rays and pollution. In doing so, ferulic acid serums make some of the best anti-aging serums to target hyperpigmentation and signs of aging. But an isolated ferulic acid serum is hard to come by. And in case you’re wondering why that is, there’s a good explanation.
Ferulic acid is a plant-derived antioxidant itself. But it’s usually utilized for its boosting benefits. Because it’s known to stabilize other antioxidants like vitamin C.
So if you haven’t seen any proper benefit from your vitamin C serum, the lack of a stabilizing antioxidant like ferulic acid may be the reason why.
On the flip side, ferulic acid itself is also unstable. So it needs vitamin C as much as vitamin C needs it. And if you’re not sure why stability or instability is such a huge deal, know that that’s a big part of what makes your antioxidant serum an effective one.
A stable serum means that it’s resistant to oxidation from air, light, or heat. A stable serum means that it won’t go bad prematurely, making the product completely useless after opening.
In fact, an unstable serum, say a vitamin C serum, has the potential to irritate your skin. So without even knowing it, you might even be damaging your skin.
But no worries. That’s why we have ferulic acid. So your skin can comfortably binge on antioxidants and enjoy a healthier, smoother, and brighter texture.
How To Choose a Ferulic Acid Serum
Ferulic acid is almost always paired with other antioxidants, commonly vitamin C. So when choosing a ferulic acid serum, make sure you pay enough attention to what type of vitamin C it has and what percentage it is.
Because vitamin C derivatives are gentler on the skin, they come in higher concentrations. So no need to be intimidated by that.
Generally speaking, serums that disclose the concentration of ferulic acid is more satisfying. Because that’s when you know you’re actually reaping the benefits of ferulic acid as an antioxidant in addition to as an antioxidant booster.
And that’s when you know it’s not just there to stabilize others but to actually protect your skin from free radicals.
The Best Ferulic Acid Serums
Find below the best ferulic acid serums on the market.
1. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
Pros: Targeted anti-aging treatment, patented formula, widely popular and dermatologist-favorite
This is a perfect example of pairing antioxidants to reap synergistic benefits. And in my opinion, this is the best ferulic acid serum out there because it offers all that you’d expect from it. In case you’ve skipped our guide, ferulic acid provides more than 90% stability for vitamin C and 100% stability for vitamin E. Plus, SkinCeuticals is a pioneer in formulating stable antioxidant serums. This is actually a patented formula. So it’s pretty much unrivaled.
It’s made with 15% pure ascorbic acid, which would potentially be useless if it wasn’t for ferulic acid and vitamin E. The hydrating base contains hyaluronic acid and panthenol too. Overall, the ferulic acid serum is great for treating and preventing hyperpigmentation, and fine lines from UV exposure. With continued use, you can expect radiant complexion and even skin tone.
Key Ingredients: Pure vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid
Key Benefits: Neutralizes the damage caused by free radicals, evens skin tone
Skin Type: All Size: 1 oz
2. Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum
Pros: Powder form ensures maximum stability, high vitamin C content, contains several botanical antioxidants, fragrance-free
Pure ascorbic acid is hard to come by in ferulic acid serums. Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with vitamin C derivatives, there’s no denying that ascorbic acid has its own loyal following. Because compared to its derivatives, ascorbic acid is the one with the most research behind it. So if you can afford to splurge a bit, but not as much as C E Ferulic, this is the next best thing. In addition to ferulic acid and vitamin E, the serum contains 15% pure vitamin C.
Plus, it’s as stable and fresh as it gets. Because you prepare your own serum by mixing the powder with liquid and you end up getting a liquid serum with a beautifully dewy finish. The ferulic acid serum also packs pumpkin and pomegranate enzymes, which are natural but super gentle exfoliators that remove dead skin cells. As a result, they give you smoother skin. The fragrance-free serum hydrates with hyaluronic acid and brightens with turmeric, and licorice extracts to give you a radiant and youthful look with reduced wrinkles and spots.
Key Ingredients: Pure vitamin C, ferulic acid, vitamin E, enzymes
Key Benefits: Provides major antioxidant benefits, brightens skin, gently exfoliates
Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily Size: 0.94 oz
3. Lancome Advanced Genifique Sensitive Antioxidant Serum
Pros: Non-irritating, incredibly gentle on the skin, calms skin, reduces redness Cons: Pricey
If you’re not a huge fan of vitamin C or if you have very dry skin on the sensitive side, this ferulic acid serum is for you. Because vitamin C isn’t the only big shot antioxidant to defend the skin against free radicals. And some skin types even have trouble using it as it can be irritating. This is a combination of ferulic acid and vitamin E.
But what’s great about it is that it also has a compound of Centella Asiatica. It’s anti-inflammatory and great for calming and soothing sensitive skin. So if your skin is reactive, you can prevent sun damage, ward off free radicals, and treat skin discolorations without irritating your skin. Plus, it’s super hydrating with hyaluronic acid and amino acids too.
Key Ingredients: Ferulic acid, vitamin E, Centella Asiatica
Key Benefits: Repairs free radical damage while soothing and calming the skin
Skin Type: All, including sensitive skin Size: 0.67 oz
4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum
Pros: Anti-aging, combines retinol with antioxidants, multi-action formulation great for mature skin
Cons: Not great for very sensitive skin
If you’re someone who is actively dealing with wrinkles, a retinol serum is a great investment. Much like any other potent ingredient, retinol is also difficult to stabilize. But if you want to get the most out of your product, it’s wise to ensure your product is stable and therefore effective.
This is a retinol serum made with a retinol alternative, bakuchiol. And it has ferulic acid as well as other antioxidants like quercetin and coenzymeQ10. The packaging is also resistant to oxidation. So whether it’s fine lines, wrinkles, or dark spots from years of sun damage, this is an amazing ferulic acid serum for people with mature, aging skin.
Key Ingredients: Retinol, bakuchiol, ferulic acid
Key Benefits: Increases skin turnover, stimulates collagen production, smooths skin texture
Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily Size: 1 oz
5. Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Vitamin C Power Serum
Pros: Contains gentle vitamin C derivative, high concentration ferulic acid, anti-aging and antioxidant serum for overall healthier skin
This is another ferulic acid serum for aging skin. But this is ideal for people who are not a huge fan of retinol as it can be irritating. It is made with a stable derivative of vitamin C with a concentration of 20%. It also packs 3% vitamin E, and 2% ferulic acid. The antioxidant soup is amazing for protecting healthy collagen and stimulating the formation of new ones.
The brightening serum reduces dark spots, eliminates dullness, and evens out the skin tone. As a result, it illuminates the complexion and also improves the skin texture. It has a very thin, lotion-like consistency. So if you don’t want to rely on retinol for anti-aging, this ferulic acid vitamin C serum is a great alternative.
Key Ingredients: Ferulic acid, vitamin C derivative, vitamin E
Key Benefits: Boosts collagen production, brightens skin, reduces dark spots
Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily Size: 1 oz
6. Dermadoctor Kakadu C 20% Vitamin C Serum with Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E
Pros: Contains a gentle, very stable vitamin C derivative, anti-inflammatory, brightening
This is a similar formula in that it’s also made with a vitamin C derivative, namely 3-O-ethyl ascorbate. So right off the bat, your vitamin C is already stable and ready to get to work. In case you’re not aware, this is a new but promising vitamin C derivative that effectively reduces melanin production (1) and stimulates collagen synthesis (2). Adding vitamin E and ferulic acid into the mix, the serum ensures maximum stability and efficiency. There’s one thing to know about this certain type of vitamin C derivative.
It’s both oil-soluble and water-soluble, making the serum ideal for oily and acne-prone skin types too. And not just that, the serum has a very liquidy texture too. In addition, it has EGCG, a compound derived from green tea. It’s a great antioxidant but also anti-inflammatory. And that’s helpful in targeting acne and acne scars too. So besides reducing sun damage on the skin, you can use this one for stubborn acne scars and dark spots too.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C derivative, ferulic acid, vitamin E, Kakadu plum, green tea
Key Benefits: Protects skin from free radicals, reduces sun damage and hyperpigmentation
Skin Type: All Size: 1 oz
7. The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
Pros: Affordable, minimal formula, high concentration ferulic acid
Cons: No instantly visible benefits (plumping, hydrating)
Antioxidants aren’t just for skin with existing skin damage. They’re also great for maintaining healthy skin and preventing premature aging. So if you’re trying to be preventative, you don’t need to resort to super intense and equally expensive serums. A stable antioxidant serum with UV-resistant packaging will work just fine. And for that, this is the most affordable ferulic acid serum on the market. This is a rare case where ferulic acid isn’t there to stabilize vitamin C but for providing its own benefits.
It’s combined with resveratrol. The thing you should know about resveratrol is that it’s a phenolic antioxidant that has skin-brightening benefits. So this budget-friendly formula can help with free radical damage as well as hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Oil-free, water-free, and fragrance-free, this is a minimal and potent serum too. Even though it’s suitable for all skin types, proceed with caution if you have very sensitive skin and don’t apply it on damp/wet skin.
Key Ingredients: Ferulic acid, resveratrol
Key Benefits: Combines plant-derived antioxidants to protect skin from skin aggressors
Skin Type: All Size: 1 oz
8. Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum
Pros: High potency serum, natural formula, hydrates, contains pure vitamin C
If you’re on a budget but insist on a ferulic acid serum with pure ascorbic acid, this one has been getting attention with positive reviews. It has 20% vitamin C with 1% vitamin E and 1% ferulic acid. This is, by no means, a dupe for its expensive counterparts. However, it’s one of the most affordable ferulic acid serums made with pure vitamin C as opposed to a vitamin C derivative.
It has a weightless texture, applies easily, and leaves the skin looking radiant instantly. It also has a hydrating base made with panthenol and hyaluronic acid. That way, it also has instant, though temporary, plumping effects on the skin. It’s fragrance-free and overall suitable for all skin types to boost radiance and brighten the skin.
Key Ingredients: Ferulic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E
Key Benefits: Brightens skin, revives lackluster complexion, protects skin from free radicals
Skin Type: All Size: 1 oz
9. Kiehl’s Ferulic Brew Facial Treatment Essence with Lactic Acid
Pros: Super replenishing essence, instantly beautifies skin, exfoliates without irritation, lower price per ounce
Consider this an antioxidant-rich exfoliating essence. Exfoliation itself is great for reducing discolorations and skin damage. But added antioxidants can amplify your results. This is made with lactic acid. It’s the gentle alpha-hydroxy acid that smooths out the skin texture and also has hydrating benefits for the skin.
Though the concentrations are not clear, it infuses the skin with ferulic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin C. And because it’s an essence, it’s incredibly hydrating for the skin too. It softens the look of lines and eliminates roughness with squalane, hyaluronic acid, amino acids, and glycerin.
Key Ingredients: Ferulic acid, lactic acid, vitamin C, squalane
Key Benefits: Encourages skin renewal through exfoliation, brightens, hydrates, protects
Skin Type: All, especially great for dry skin Size: 6.8 oz
10. Paula’s Choice C15 Vitamin C Super Booster
Pros: Multi-purpose booster, can be used alone or mixed with other products
Even though you can use this as a ferulic acid serum alone, this is actually a skin booster. Skin boosters are suitable for mixing in with your other products like creams and serums. In that sense, this one is a cost-effective and versatile one. So if you don’t enjoy serums, or if your skin is going through a phase where it’s sensitive, you can just mix it with your moisturizer and reduce potential irritation.
It’s 15% pure vitamin C paired with ferulic acid and vitamin E. The invisible, weightless serum is fragrance-free and also has hyaluronic acid and panthenol to effectively hydrate the skin too.
Key Ingredients: Ferulic acid, pure vitamin C, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid
Key Benefits: Evens skin tone, treats and prevents signs of aging, increases radiance
Skin Type: All Size: 0.67 oz
So these are some of the best ferulic acid serums. Overall, if you can afford to splurge, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is a patented formula with actual studies proving its benefits. If budget is a concern, you can start with Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum and see how you feel about the ingredient too.
- Chen, S. J., Hseu, Y. C., Gowrisankar, Y. V., Chung, Y. T., Zhang, Y. Z., Way, T. D., & Yang, H. L. (2021). The anti-melanogenic effects of 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid via Nrf2-mediated α-MSH inhibition in UVA-irradiated keratinocytes and autophagy induction in melanocytes. Free radical biology & medicine, 173, 151–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2021.07.030
- Hsu, J. (2013, September 27). 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid: A Stable, Vitamin C-Derived Agent for Skin Whitening. Cosmetics & Toiletries. Retrieved August 20, 2022, from https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/cosmetic-ingredients/actives/article/21835980/3oethyl-ascorbic-acid-a-stable-vitamin-cderived-agent-for-skin-whitening
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