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Benefits of Ferulic Acid as Part of Your Skin Care Routine

Ferulic acid can help make other antioxidant products more powerful

Older person applying skin cream to their face

Caring for your skin seems like it shouldn’t be hard. And yet the gazillions of products out there may make you think otherwise.

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One trip down the skin care aisle can have you thinking that you need a countertop full of potions if you’re doing it right.

This one keeps your skin moisturized. That one keeps away the wrinkles. This one brightens up your look.

So, when you see facial serums, powders and oils that are formulated with ingredients like ferulic acid, and claim to make your skin more vibrant, brighter and wrinkle-free, you can’t help but wonder, What is ferulic acid? Followed closely by, Is it worth it?

We asked dermatologist Taryn Murray, MD, about ferulic acid, so you can make an informed decision about how you care for your skin (preferably, without adding to the counter clutter.)

What is ferulic acid?

Ferulic acid is an antioxidant found in various plants, fruits, vegetables and some grains. Antioxidants in the foods we eat can help keep us healthy. And antioxidants in our skin care products can help keep your skin in tip-top shape.

“Antioxidants work by fighting free radicals, which are unstable molecules generated by things like UV light and pollution,” Dr. Murray explains. “When free radicals enter our body, they start an ongoing cascade of cell damage that results in inflammation, cellular aging and cell death.”

Antioxidants work to help shut down this process. They can stop the chain reaction so there’s no further damage.

If you’ve spent any time boning up on skin care, you might have heard about other antioxidants used in the beauty industry, like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, niacinamide, resveratrol and more.

So, what makes ferulic acid any different?

Unlike other common skin care antioxidants, ferulic acid is typically not sold as a stand-alone serum. It’s usually combined with another antioxidant: Vitamin C + ferulic acid. Vitamin E with ferulic acid. That kind of thing.

And for good reason: Ferulic acid helps enhance the effects of other antioxidants. It’s a kind of power-up ingredient that might make other antioxidants work even better.

“Ferulic acid has a synergistic effect with other antioxidants. So, product manufacturers often combine it with other antioxidants to boost their effects,” Dr. Murray clarifies.

And that bit of extra oomph in your skin care products may make a difference.

Benefits of ferulic acid

Think of ferulic acid as the fresh basil you add to finish off your favorite marinara recipe. Sure, the sauce would taste just fine without it. But fresh herbs can enhance the flavors in a way that makes the sauce that much better.

That’s what ferulic acid does. It adds that extra edge that makes the antioxidants it’s paired with more effective than they may be on their own.

Skin care products that combine ferulic acid with other antioxidants can help:

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Dr. Murray adds that ferulic acid may be particularly effective at preventing, rather than reversing skin damage. “There’s some evidence that vitamin C and some other antioxidants may work to reverse things like fine lines and hyperpigmentation. But ferulic acid seems to work better as a preventative measure, rather than working to undo damage that’s already been done,” she says.

With that in mind, ferulic acid may be particularly beneficial for people in their 20s or so. But it may still be useful as you age, helping prevent further damage to your skin.

The addition of ferulic acid to your vitamin C serums may also help it keep its potency for longer.

“Vitamin C is really hard to stabilize. It gets broken down and degrades easily,” Dr. Murray shares. “Ferulic acid helps prolong the shelf life of it and makes it more effective.”

How to use ferulic acid

You’ll likely know if your skin care products contain ferulic acid. They tend to include it front and center on the label.

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The nice thing about a product that includes ferulic acid is that it doesn’t add another step to your skin care routine if you already use an antioxidant product.

Use products with ferulic acid as you normally would use an antioxidant serum. That’s to say, apply to your entire face (neck and hands, too, if you’re concerned about aging skin in those areas). Use in the morning after cleansing your face. Follow it with any of your chosen spot treatments, such as acne treatments. And don’t forget to use sunscreen as the last step of your morning routine.

Should you use products with ferulic acid?

Most people can use ferulic acid without side effects. It’s not a particularly harsh ingredient, so it’s usually well-tolerated by people of all skin types.

The downside may be in cost. Products that contain ferulic acid tend to run on the pricier side. After all, you’re essentially getting two antioxidants in one. And you’ll probably see that reflected in the cost of the products.

All that said, do you need ferulic acid as part of your skin care routine? No.

Could it be a nice addition if you’re looking to get more out of your skin care routine and don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for it? Probably.

“I recommend that using an antioxidant in your skin care routine is better than not using one. But whether you need one that contains ferulic acid depends on your goals and the condition of your skin,” Dr. Murray says.

“If you’re looking to do the most good for your skin, a product containing ferulic acid could be a good choice. If you’re happy with the routine you have, there’s probably no reason you need to add it.”

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