Ready to dive into the world of a skincare superhero? We are about to discover the ferulic acid benefits in skincare – the not-so-secret weapon that is transforming faces in the skincare game.
No more decoding complicated ingredient lists or feeling lost in the beauty aisle. I am going to break it down in simple terms, so you can understand what ferulic acid is and what it is doing on your skin. Let’s get into it, and discover how this little ingredient is making big differences in the world of skincare.
What is ferulic acid?
Ferulic acid is a very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. It is very common in cosmetics, mainly as part of products indicated for face treatments.
From the chemical point of view, ferulic acid is part of a group of chemicals called hydroxycinnamic acids. It consists of a trans-cinnamic acid molecule substituted in positions 3 and 4 for methoxy and hydroxy groups respectively. It is the ferulate conjugated acid.
This ingredient protects our skin against pollution, UV radiation, free radicals, and other external aggressions.
Ferulic acid is a white powder, not very soluble in water and with a light vanilla scent. It is present in the cell walls of different plants including vegetables, pulses, fruits, cereals and seeds. However, the main ferulic acid source is rice bran (which contains 50 grams of ferulic acid per kilogram of rice bran).
In plant cell walls, ferulic acid is not available as a free form. Instead, it is bonded to some polysaccharides through an ester bond. It is normally in the form of polysaccharide esters type arabinoxylan, pectin or xyloglucan.
To obtain the free form of ferulic acid the plants go through an extraction process. The hydrolysis of the extracts obtained produces free ferulic acid.
Furthermore, synthesis in laboratories is also possible. The reaction of vanillin and malonic acid using piperidine as a catalyst yields ferulic acid.
Benefits of ferulic acid for the skin
As I already mentioned, the main properties of ferulic acid are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Hence, ferulic acid is capable of neutralising the harmful free radicals responsible for premature skin ageing.
However, ferulic acid has many other properties and benefits for the skin.
- Ferulic acid has an anti-ageing effect as it triggers collagen and elastin production.
- It is a tyrosinase inhibitor. Therefore, ferulic acid helps to reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
- It helps to lock moisture on the skin, keeping it hydrated.
- Ferulic acid helps to avoid damage produced by UV radiation. It works at different levels to produce this effect:
- Firstly, because the ferulic acid reduces thymine dimer formation, it has an anti-cancer effect
- Then, ferulic acid blocks the cell apoptosis process. We can say that apoptosis is like cell suicide.
- Finally, ferulic acid absorbs UV light at 307 nm. Therefore, UV radiation will not reach the skin.
- Ferulic acid not only triggers collagen and elastin synthesis but also pro-collagen and hyaluronic acid synthesis. In addition, ferulic acid avoids collagen degradation processes. All these effects together delay wrinkle and fine lines formation.
- This ingredient repairs and protects skin cells. It fights and inhibits free radical production.
Ferulic Acid Dose
Ferulic acid is an ingredient which is effective at very low doses. Most of the cosmetics containing ferulic acid have a concentration on that ingredient of 0.5%.
It is a very expensive ingredient because it is not easy to formulate. One of the reasons is that it shows a high pH and, therefore, can modify the cosmetics texture or even the properties of other ingredients in the formula. It is also very water insoluble and that limits the type of formulations where it can be included.
How to use ferulic acid
Ferulic acid is present in different types of cosmetic products. It is safe to use it up to twice a day. However, skincare routines should focus on preventing damage during the day and repairing it at night time. In that sense, it is better to use ferulic acid in the morning routine, as this ingredient helps to prevent skin damage.
It is present in different skincare products like:
- Day Creams/Serums. Use after cleansing the skin and before applying the moisturiser.
- Night Cream/Serum. Use as the day cream. Night cream products normally contain ferulic acid together with retinoids.
- Eye Cream. The ferulic acid concentration is lower and the eye area is more sensitive. Apply the cream with the middle finger as any other eye cream.
- Sunscreens. Ferulic acid on its own doesn’t protect the skin from the sun’s radiation. However, it increases the effectiveness of other sunscreen ingredients.
- Brightening Products. Because ferulic acid is a tyrosinase inhibitor, it is normally present in the formula of different anti-pigmentation and brightening products.
Side Effects and Negative Interactions
Ferulic acid doesn’t have any known side effects. However, it is always convenient to make a patch test the first time you use a product, mainly if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
There is no evidence of harmful interaction of ferulic acid with other ingredients. However, as with any other ingredient, stop using ferulic acid if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Skin Peeling
If any of these symptoms appear discontinue immediately the use of the product. If the symptoms don’t disappear consult your GP or pharmacist.
In contrast with the harmful effects, ferulic acid has a synergy effect with other ingredients. The synergy effect is like an additive effect. That happens when the combination of two or more ingredients produces an effect greater than the addition of the effect produced by the individual ingredients. We can describe it as 2 + 2 > 4.
In the case of ferulic acid, there is an important synergy effect between vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid. The effect produced by vitamin E and vitamin C is multiplied by two when these ingredients are together in a formulation.
When ferulic acid is also in the formula, the individual effects are multiplied by eight.
Ferulic acid has also a synergy effect with resveratrol, the longevity molecule.
Some products which contain ferulic acid
The Ordinary Resveratrol Serum 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
This serum by The Ordinary contains 3% ferulic acid and 3% resveratrol, which is another powerful antioxidant. It is an affordable product that produces amazing results. I use this product every morning and I always keep a spare. It costs only £8.90
Skinceuticals Silymain CF
This product contains vitamin C in addition to ferulic acid (0.5%). The formulation is ideal for people with oily skin. The main con is that it is extremely expensive (£165 for 30 mL)
Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester CCC + Ferulic Acid
This product is an eye cream. It is really good but quite expensive (£55.60 for 59 mL). Contains vitamin C in three different forms in addition to ferulic acid.
Pixi Vitamin C Toner
This toner is a different product formulation. The toner contains vitamin C and ferulic acid to protect and brighten the skin at the same time. It is affordable (£10 for 100 mL).
I’ve taken you on a journey from mystery ingredient to skincare superstar, and hopefully, you’re as pumped as we are about what this stuff can do.
So, what’s the takeaway? Well, if you’re on the quest for that skin glow-up, ferulic acid might just be your new BFF. It’s like the behind-the-scenes magician, working its charm to protect your skin from all the daily drama and giving you that enviable radiance.
Whether you’re a skincare newbie or a seasoned enthusiast, it’s never too late to hop on the ferulic acid bandwagon. Your skin deserves the VIP treatment, and this little powerhouse is here to deliver.
Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.