Aging. It’s what’s happening to us with each passing moment, completely out of our control. It’s the natural process that millions of skincare products are designed to camouflage. And while there are ways to combat the signs of aging, there’s no way to stop the clock on time itself.
Anti-aging skin care often feels like more than an industry — it feels like a quest to find the latest and greatest miracle formula. Because of the hunt-like nature of the anti-aging skincare market, formulators are always developing new products and ingredients.
In recent years, there’s been an uptick in the number of serums on the market. These tiny (and often very expensive!) bottles of silky skin magic have become popular not just because they’re a passing fad. Serums are emollients, which means they contain itty bitty molecules that your skin can more easily absorb. They’re also usually packed with amazing ingredients — vitamin C, vitamin D, or vitamin E, as well as an ingredient called ferulic acid.
What is ferulic acid?
Like vitamins C and E, ferulic acid is an antioxidant. It’s commonly derived from fruit seeds, such as apples and oranges, but it can also come from corn, brown rice, whole wheats, oatmeal, pineapple, coffee seeds, and peanuts, among other sources. In its natural state, ferulic acid is responsible for helping with a plant’s self-preservation.
What does ferulic acid do for our skin?
When it’s used in skincare, ferulic acid can help to reduce the damage that free radicals do to our skin. What are free radicals? Simply put, they cause damage to the proteins, DNA and cell membranes within our skin through oxidation. This is why ingredients that prevent free radical damage are called antioxidants! Free radicals can come from fried food, alcohol, smoke, pesticides, pollution, UVA/UVB rays… the list is pretty long.
Ferulic acid may also help to prevent the signs of sun damage and many believe it can even help the skin to repair sun damage that has already happened. How? By helping to boost our skin’s regenerative properties. And, the reason we started this discussion: This all-star ingredient can also help to limit and reduce signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles.
Ferulic acid works best when it is applied to the skin and given time to absorb, which is why it’s most commonly found in products that stay on our skin, like serums and creams.
You’ll notice that ferulic acid is often paired with vitamins C and E in formuals, and this is because it acts as a stabilizer, making these other antioxidants more stable and, therefore, more effective. For instance, vitamin C can be a tricky ingredient to use because it’s highly oxidative. Ferulic acid can give vitamin C the stability it needs in order to provide all those knockout antioxidant qualities.
How do you know if there’s ferulic acid in a product?
While ferulic acid may be an unfamiliar sounding ingredient to you, it’s not one that hides in the shadows, i.e. the bottom of an ingredient list or disguised by another name.
In fact, ferulic acid is such an awesome, effective antioxidant that if a product is made with it, you’re likely going to see it in in big lettering somewhere on the front of the label.
That means the good news is that you won’t have to hunt for it.
Sadly, the bad news is that products with ferulic acid usually come with a pretty hefty price tag. If you’re willing to spluge, remember that a little bit goes a long way. Usually one or two drops of a serum are all you need for your entire face — lightly pat the serum into your skin to help promote circulation and maximize absorption.
Should I spend the money on a ferulic acid serum? In other words, who benefits from having ferulic acid in their skin care?
Anyone looking to reduce the signs of sun damage or aging is going to benefit from using a product with ferulic acid, and it’s well-loved because it’s safe for both oily and dry skin types. The one caveat is that if you have very sensitive skin, you may react to ferulic acid. If you’re unsure how your skin will respond, be sure to sample the product on a small area to see how your body reacts.