We all know the adage: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But did you know that apples — and a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains — contain a powerful anti-aging ingredient called ferulic acid? It’s the not-so-secret weapon in a host of potent skincare serums. Here’s the inside scoop on this rising star.
What is ferulic acid?
Also known as hydroxycinnamic acid, ferulic acid is commonly found in plants — where it adds structure and strengthens cell walls. It’s typically found in the seeds and leaves of a variety of plants, including:
- Grains (like corn, rice, whole wheat, oats)
- Fruits (pineapple, grapefruit, orange)
- Vegetables (beets, soybeans, spinach)
How does ferulic acid fight skin damage?
Like vitamins C and E, ferulic acid is an antioxidant. This means it can help to reduce the damage that free radicals do to our skin, by interrupting the chain reaction of oxidative stress. Skin cells are bombarded with stress-inducing chemicals on the daily, from all kinds of sources:
- Normal cell metabolism
Antioxidants like ferulic acid counteract these DNA damaging free radicals by chemically bonding with the bad guys before they can wreak havoc on your skin.
What are the benefits of ferulic acid?
While it’s not possible to prevent the aging effects of gravity and time, protecting your skin from environmental and lifestyle damage will certainly help slow down the inevitable. Here’s a rundown of how ferulic acid helps combat signs of premature aging:
- Neutralizes free radicals
- Inhibits enzymes necessary for free radical reactions
- Inhibits the production of melanin (aka melanogenesis)
- Promotes production of blood vessels (aka angiogenesis)
- Accelerates wound healing
Who can benefit from ferulic acid?
Ferulic acid is safe for both oily and dry skin types, which makes it an ideal choice for anyone looking to reduce the signs of sun damage or aging. However, the ingredient may cause irritation if you have sensitive skin, or if you’re allergic to the plant source of the acid. If you’re concerned about possible reactivity, perform a patch test prior to allover use.
Can you combine ferulic acid with other skincare ingredients?
Figuring out which potent skincare ingredients can be safely combined can be confusing. In general, it’s safe to pair ferulic acid with other antioxidants: together with vitamins C and E, it forms an all-star trio. Hyaluronic acid and niacinamide are fairly safe bets, too. It’s a good idea to perform a patch test first if using ferulic acid conjunction with retinoids, AHA’s and BHA’s.
Where can you find ferulic acid?
Because it works best when given time to absorb into skin, ferulic acid is typically added to serums and creams. Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, formulated SLMD Bright Future Vitamin C Serum with a super blend of gold standard antioxidants (including ascorbic acid, niacinamide, ferulic acid), and hyaluronic acid that visibly plumps and firms, and minimizes the appearance of pores, wrinkles, and dark spots.
Dr. Lee’s last word
When we’re talking about antioxidants, vitamin C tends to get top billing. But if ascorbic acid is the superstar, ferulic acid is the best supporting actor. This often-underrated ingredient helps to stabilize vitamin C while also increasing its photoprotection factor – helping to minimize sun damage. Together, they’re a powerhouse anti-aging duo.
—Dr. Sandra Lee