Vitamin C is well-known (and well-loved) for multiple reasons. First, there's its powerful brightening ability. No matter if you struggle with stubborn dark spots or more generalized discoloration, vitamin C can help. It inhibits melanin production, meaning it can effectively erase unevenness in the skin over time. Second, there's the antioxidant benefits. Vitamin C is, itself, an antioxidant, meaning it fights free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Translation? It prevents premature signs of aging like lines and wrinkles. Third, it can stimulate collagen production, meaning it can plump and firm the skin. So, yeah, while we can't claim that vitamin C is the total package, it certainly comes close.
Take it from Geeta Yadav, M.D., Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of FACET Dermatology. "Vitamin C plays a critical role in skincare and is one of my non-negotiables (alongside sunscreen, of course). This powerful antioxidant features myriad benefits, ranging from collagen stimulation to reduction in discoloration. It’s an essential part of any routine and will help your skin look clearer, brighter, and healthier."
Before you go douse your skin in your favorite vitamin C serum, listen up. What if we told you that vitamin C, when paired with something called ferulic acid, is even more beneficial? Yup, that's right. Combine vitamin C with ferulic acid, and you'll increase each one's benefits—we're talking more brightening, more protecting, and more anti-aging. Intrigued? We thought so. Keep scrolling to learn more about this skincare power couple.
What Is Ferulic Acid and How Does It Benefit the Skin?
According to Yadav, ferulic acid is another antioxidant that supports and enhances the effects of vitamin C. "Ferulic acid is another potent antioxidant found in many different types of plants, including grasses, grains, fruits, and flowers. I often recommend using ferulic acid in conjunction with vitamin C. These two are a great pair because they help make each other more effective when it comes to protection from UV damage, giving you more bang for your buck. Ferulic acid also helps stabilize vitamin C, which is a notoriously unstable ingredient and breaks down easily without the proper support."
Elyse Love, MD, FAAD, Board-Certified Dermatologist at GlamDerm, agrees, saying the two work best when used in tandem. "Ferulic acid increases the stability and supports the antioxidant properties of vitamin C. This synergistic relationship maximizes the potential of the vitamin C."
The best part is that there are nearly zero downsides or drawbacks to this ingredient pairing, save for irritation when used in high percentages. "For vitamin C, tolerability will depend on the form and the concentration," Love says. "L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C and is typically found in a range from 10-20%, with higher concentrations being more potentially irritating. Those with sensitive skin will benefit from stating with lower percentages and/or gentler vitamin C formulations to prevent irritation." In that case, she recommends First Aid Beauty's 10% Vitamin C Brightening Serum ($50) since it's designed for sensitive skin.
The most famous vitamin C and ferulic acid serum (and the one that basically put this ingredient pairing on the map) is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($182). Loved by skin experts, celebrities, and beauty editors alike, this serum offers the full range of benefits: it brightens dull skin, minimizes discoloration, protects against oxidative stress, and keeps premature signs of aging at bay. In a word, it's iconic.
Take it from Yadav, who says, "My favorite vitamin C and ferulic acid formula also happens to be one of the most iconic vitamin C serums on the market, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. Vitamin E is also a wonderful ingredient as it further helps to stabilize and strengthen the efficacy of vitamin C and ferulic acid. It’s pricey, but the benefits can’t be overlooked!"
Love also recommends this iconic serum. "SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is the gold standard for vitamin C formulations," she says. "It has extensive clinical testing to support its use."
If this is out of your budget, don't worry. We've got your back. Keep scrolling to see 12 more vitamin C + ferulic acid skincare products, across a variety of price points.
Shop 12 More of the Best Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Products
Love recommends this serum, which contains a whopping 20% L-Ascorbic acid (which means it's best suited for "resilient" skin types that don't tend to get irritated easily). "It’s formulated in an anhydrous formula that allows the vitamin C to remain stable for over a year," she says.
Another expensive serum, but one that's worth it in my opinion, is this one from Perricone MD. It uses vitamin C ester, which is thought to be more stable and less irritating than traditional vitamin C, making it a good option for sensitive skin types.
I think this serum is unique, because it has a triple-action formula. The first component is hyaluronic acid, which is a hydrating and plumping ingredient. The second component is a combination of vitamin C and niacinamide for brightening capabilities. The third and final component is ferulic acid for skin-protecting and anti-aging purposes. So, yeah, consider this serum as a jack of all trades when it comes to benefiting the skin.
Just like the True Botanicals booster, this can be added to an existing serum or moisturizer, or you can use it alone. Either way, it will do all the good things that vitamin C and ferulic acid do, while hydrating your skin with hyaluronic acid.
What I love most about this serum is that it uses a unique form of vitamin C, called tetrahexydecyl ascorbate. What's so special about that? It's incredibly stable. In fact, it's thought to be as much as 50 times more powerful than traditional vitamin C. That, combined with ferulic acid, makes for an effective serum.
This (on-sale!) serum combines vitamin C and ferulic acid with energizing matcha and pineapple for bright, invigorated skin. It's also oil-free, which makes it a good option for acne-prone skin types.
This serum contains vitamin C from kakadu plum, a fruit that contains one of nature's highest sources of vitamin C. There's also vitamin E, which supports ferulic acid in fending off free radicals.