The Best Products With Ferulic Acid
might have heard of ferulic acid and have maybe even tried a certain cult-favorite product that contains it, but how much do truly know about the skincare ingredient? There’s a reason (actually, many different reasons) why Byrdie editors wax lyrical about ferulic acid, so we turned to the experts to find out just what makes it so beloved by the masses and if it actually lives up to the hype. Dermatologists Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group and Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, founder of Entière Dermatology in NYC break it down for us below.
Keep reading to find out everything ever wanted to know about ferulic acid and more.
Type of ingredient: Antioxidant.
Main benefits: Decreases formation of fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of premature aging.
Who should use it: In general, anyone interested in an anti-aging skin regimen. Everyone can benefit from using an antioxidant to protect themselves from free-radical damage, but they can cause possible irritation, so not all antioxidants are the right concoction for each skin type.
How often can use it: It’s safe to use every day. Apply it in the morning to clean, dry skin before moisturizer and sunscreen.
Works well with: Other antioxidants, particularly vitamins C and E and resveratrol.
Don’t use with: Exfoliating acids like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids because they can alter the pH, which then changes the effectiveness of the antioxidant.
What Is Ferulic Acid?
Ferulic acid, aka hydroxycinnamic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free-radical damage from pollution, ultraviolet light, or infrared radiation, all of which accelerate skin aging. It’s found in the cell wall of plants like oats, brown rice, peanuts, and oranges, but Levin says typically hear of it associated with apples. Naturally, ferulic acid is botanically derived, but it can be created in a lab for quality control, consistency, and consumer safety. It mostly comes in a liquid form and can be found in serums, but can also be in the form of cream when packaged in a pump.
Levin says ferulic acid, an antioxidant, doesn’t repair the damage that’s already been done, but it acts as a shield to protect against free-radical formation. As Nazarian explains it, “When something tries to damage skin, it creates a certain molecule that in its active state will continue to damage and traumatize the skin around it. This will come in and basically shut it off. It neutralizes the molecules that are formed that if left alone will continue to damage tissue.”
For optimal effectiveness, ferulic acid should come packaged in a dark or opaque bottle to protect it from light and should be stored in a cool area (i.e. not a steamy bathroom). Levin adds that ferulic acid serums have a tendency to turn from its original golden orange color to a muddy brown over time, which signals that the serum has oxidized and is thus not as effective. Though they’re hard to find, she recommends shopping products that have vacuumed packaging (which dispense with a pump) when possible to prevent air from entering or escaping.
Benefits of Ferulic Acid for Skin
Ferulic acid works to stop all the damage that comes from extrinsic aging. It also does the following:
- Reduces the formation of fine lines and wrinkles: Ferulic acid protects the skin from pollution and radiation, which can lead to wrinkles.
- Reduces the potential for sagging skin: Free radicals can also cause a loss of firmness in the skin, and ferulic acid acts as a shield to protect the skin from that damage.
- Reduces inflammation: Oxidative damage can cause inflammation in the skin, which blocks pores and can lead to breakouts. Antioxidants like ferulic acid have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Reduces the formation of brown spots: Pollution and radiation cause an increase in pigmentary alteration—like sunspots—and ferulic acid works to shield the skin from that effect.
- Decreases uneven skin tone by redness: Pollution and radiation cause an increase in blood vessel formation in the skin (which leads to redness) and ferulic acid works to shield the skin.
- Minimize the dark spots from pimples: Nazarian says if using an antioxidant consistently, the anti-inflammatory properties can minimize the damage or aftereffects from a pimple, such as lingering dark spots.
- Reduce pigmentation related to melasma: Melasma is a complex chronic pigmentary condition where melanocytes are reactive to sunlight and infrared radiation (heat). Levin says the only thing we have currently to protect against infrared radiation are antioxidants (such as ferulic acid).
- Boost the effects of vitamin C and vitamin E: When used in conjunction with other antioxidants, ferulic acid has the ability to potentiate them and make them more stable.