A Guide to Ferulic Acid

Acids have long been a popular part of many people's skincare routines and you're probably already familiar with the well-known hyaluronic and glycolic acids.

But there's actually a third acid that you need to know about — and that's ferulic acid.

Ferulic acid is a mighty skincare ingredient that comes with all kinds of benefits.

From helping your skincare products penetrate depper to preventing dullness, acne, fine lines and wrinkles, ferulic acid is the skincare ingredient that you didn't know you needed.

Let us introduce you to the powerful ingredient that is ferulic acid and the many benefits it can offer your skin.

What is ferulic acid?

Ferulic acid is a type of antioxidant. It belongs to a group of chemical compounds called hydroxycinnamic acids, which are known for being some of the most important antioxidants for our health.

It's naturally found in the walls of plant cells and our bodies obtain it from a variety of plant-based dietary sources such as apples, grapes, parsley, spinach, tomatoes and many types of whole grains.

How does ferulic acid work?

As an antioxidant, ferulic acid comes with many inflammatory benefits. It's mainly responsible for protecting your cells from free radicals and the damage that they cause.

The antioxidant is often referred to as a 'free-radical scavenger' thanks to its ability to seek out and neutralise free radicals.

With the ability to interrupt the production of enzymes, ferulic acid can even prevent some free radicals from being created in the first place.

For this reason, ferulic acid is largely considered to be a superior antioxidant.

What are the benefits of ferulic acid for the skin?

Ferulic acid's ability to protect cells from free radicals comes with some incredible benefits for your skin.

This is because free radicals break down your skin's cells and cause significant damage to your skin's overall health and appearance.

Ferulic acid prevents this damage from occurring and promotes smoother, brighter and healthier skin.

Reduces the visible signs of ageing

Ferulic acid is a potent anti-ageing ingredient that can effectively reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

It works to protect the main skin structures from free radical damage and prevent important proteins, like collagen and elastin from degrading.

These proteins ensure that your skin stays smooth, firm and youthful-looking, with ferulic acid the surprising key to resilience and longevity.

Protect against UV radiation

Exposure to UV radiation can cause a multitude of skin issues — and it's not just skin cancer that you should be worrying about.

Too much time spent in the sun can also lead to hyperpigmentation while also seriously fast tracking the ageing of skin.

Fortunately, antioxidants like ferulic acid can protect your skin from dangerous UV rays and the associated oxidative damage.

In fact, the antioxidant is so effective that ferulic acid is sometimes even added to sunscreen to raise the SPF.

Ferulic acid's ability to prevent sun damage means that you are less likely to experience premature ageing and pigmentary issues, such as sunspots and melasma, as well.

Brightens your skin

Ferulic acid can also brighten and even your skin tone. When the antioxidant inhibits tyrosinase activity, a process that brings melanin to the surface of your skin and creates brown spots, it not only prevents visible sun damage but also brightens any existing discolouration that your skin might have.

Those who suffer from hyperpigmentation will find that adding ferulic acid to their skincare routine will make a significant difference to their complexion.

Boosts the effectiveness of other ingredients

Ferulic acid was actually first added to skincare products because of its ability to stabilise other ingredients, such as vitamin C and vitamin E.

While the ingredient is now valued for its own antioxidant properties, it's even more powerful when it's paired with other ingredients.

This is because ferulic acid can make other skincare ingredients work harder than they would on their own.

Ferulic acid effectively stabilises highly oxidative ingredients like vitamin C and increases their chance to fight free radicals.

Not to mention, ferulic acid can offer almost double the amount of photoprotection from UV rays when it's paired with vitamin C.

Does ferulic acid treat acne?

Yes, ferulic acid is an effective treatment for most types of acne. As an antioxidant, ferulic acid calms the inflammation associated with breakouts and prevents clogged pores by protecting your skin from environmental pollutants.

While helpful for active breakouts, ferulic acid can also fade older acne scars.

This is because the antioxidant possesses powerful wound healing abilities that can repair the damage left from previous breakouts.

What is the best way to use ferulic acid?

Before you start using ferulic acid, there are a few things that you should know about its use.

Topical application

Ferulic acid is best applied topically onto your skin. This is because the antioxidant maintains an exceptionally high local concentration and the ability to penetrate deeply into your skin.

When applied topically, ferulic acid also isn't affected by your skin's pH balance and can absorb into both acidic and neutral pH levels.

This means that your skin is more likely to get results from the treatment.

Find a good quality serum

Ferulic acid usually comes in liquid form and you can buy everything from ferulic acid serums and gels to moisturisers and masks.

But to get the most out of the antioxidant, a good quality serum enriched with ferulic acid is the way to go.

This is because serums are specifically designed to penetrate your skin and are usually made with a higher concentration of ingredients.

Powerhouse ingredient combinations

Considering the antioxidant's ability to boost the effectiveness of other skincare ingredients, we recommend looking for products that combine ferulic acid with other powerful ingredients.

While it's common to find ferulic acid paired with retinol, hyaluronic acid and other antioxidants, we find that the best results are from the powerful combination of ferulic acid and vitamin C. This is why we created the Software Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum.

Software's Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum
The ferulic acid works with vitamin C to fight free radicals and brighten, smoothen and rejuvenate the skin.

This is one of the most potent vitamin C serums on the market, with a dose of 15 per cent vitamin C per formula.

The ferulic acid works with vitamin C to fight free radicals and brighten, smoothen and rejuvenate the skin.

Best of all, this product packs all of the same ingredients as other well-known serums but at a fraction of the usual cost.

Where should you apply ferulic acid?

Ferulic acid should be applied to your face, neck and decolletage area. Ensure that your skin is clean and dry, then apply two to three of your chosen serum to your skin.

Once the serum is spread evenly, you can apply your moisturiser, sunscreen and any additional products that you use.

If using our Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum, it's best to use it in the morning after cleanser and before moisturiser and SPF.

Starting your day with vitamin C, ferulic acid and SPF means your skin will be protected from environmental pollutants and UV rays that you encounter during the day.

Can you use ferulic acid when breastfeeding?

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can bring up all sorts of annoying skin issues and to make matters worse, some of your usual products aren't safe to use during the pregnancy and postpartum period.

This is because your skin might absorb the ingredients and transfer them to the baby.

So, what about ferulic acid? The good news is that ferulic acid is completely safe to use when you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

In fact, products containing a combination of vitamin C and ferulic acid are often recommended by dermatologists to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

This is because a combination of vitamin C and ferulic acid can actually reduce many of the skin problems that arise during this period, including redness, inflammation, acne and melasma.

However, every pregnancy is different and you should always speak to your healthcare provider about the ingredients you're planning to use during your pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Are there any side effects of ferulic acid?

Ferulic acid is very low in toxicity and is generally considered to be safe for most skin types. It also doesn't appear to have any particular negative reactions when used with other skincare ingredients.

This means you can easily incorporate this antioxidant into your existing skincare routine.

There is, however, a small chance that some people may develop an allergic reaction to ferulic acid.

Since ferulic acid is a plant-based antioxidant, someone with an allergy to the plant that ferulic acid has been obtained from may also find that they are allergic to the antioxidant itself.

While unlikely, some people with sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea may also experience some redness or mild irritation as well.

Whether you have allergies or skin sensitivities, you should always perform a patch test of any new skincare products. If you experience any redness, swelling, rashes or hives then you should immediately stop using the product and seek medical attention.


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  1. Baldwin HE, Nighland M, Kendall C, Mays DA, Grossman R, Newburger J. 40 years of topical tretinoin use in review. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(6):638‐642.
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