Ferulic Acid for Skin: The Many Benefits of This Powerful Antioxidant

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If you follow an anti-aging skincare routine, then it’s likely that you’re already using ferulic acid. This ingredient has been making an appearance in more and more skincare formulas, but what exactly is it, and how does it work? It’s always important to understand what you’re putting onto your skin, so let’s dig deeper to find out why ferulic acid is being labeled as the next must-have skincare ingredient.


What is Ferulic Acid?

Chemical structure of ferulic acid

Also known as hydroxycinnamic acid, ferulic acid is a plant-based antioxidant found in the cell wall tissue of certain plants. Apples, oats, and brown rice are common natural sources. However, most of the ferulic acid used in skin care products has been lab-produced to ensure consistency and quality.

Ferulic acid is most commonly available in liquid form, such as in ferulic acid serums. You’ll also often find it combined with other antioxidants – vitamins C, E, & ferulic acid work particularly well together.

What is Ferulic Acid Used For?

Ferulic acid is primarily used by the skin care industry. You’ll find it in everything from creams to ferulic acid serums.

However, research also suggests that ferulic acid has a number of health benefits, which is why it’s also available in supplement form. This way, the body can benefit from it internally, enabling it to help treat diabetes, Alzheimer’s, pulmonary hypertension, and other health conditions.

For this reason, ferulic acid is also being increasingly included in certain medications.

The food industry makes use of ferulic acid too. It is sometimes used as a preservative for fresh fruits and vegetables, to prevent them from discoloring.

The Many Benefits of Ferulic Acid for Your Skin

More studies are needed to confirm exactly how ferulic acid is able to help with medical conditions. However, when it comes to the skin, the jury is out – this is an ingredient that can boost your complexion in a variety of ways.

Neutralizes Free Radicals to Prevent Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Free radicals are your skin’s biggest enemy. These unstable molecules cause serious harm to your skin cells. They destroy protein fibers and damage cell DNA, all of which accelerate the skin aging process. Although primarily caused by UV light and infrared radiation, free radicals can also be brought on by everything from pollution to certain skincare ingredients, making them difficult to completely avoid.

Biological sample from a lab

The only way to neutralize free radical damage is through the use of antioxidants. Vitamins C and E are popular choices, but pair these with ferulic acid and you’ll have yourself an anti-aging game-changer. Ferulic acid is extremely efficient at neutralizing free radicals to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but it will fight free radicals even better when combined with other antioxidants. In fact, this is exactly what the natural ferulic acid in plant cells does – it reduces oxidative stress to protect those cells from environmental damage.

In addition to the way in which it can neutralize free radicals, ferulic acid also helps to boost collagen production. This gives the skin more support and volume from within, which not only minimizes the visible signs of aging, but also gives the skin a plumper, softer, and smoother finish.

Lightens Dark Spots

Dark spots on the skin are a sign of sun damage. Since ferulic acid is such a potent antioxidant, it not only deals with free radical damage, but also has the ability to break up clusters of excess pigmentation in the skin. This helps to lighten up dark spots to balance out the skin tone, while also brightening dull skin.

Combine ferulic acid with glycolic acid, as well as other lightening ingredients, and you’ll notice improvements in your skin even sooner.

Stabilizes Vitamins C and E

Whether you use a cream containing L-ascorbic acid or you apply a vitamin C serum every night, vitamin C is an antioxidant that just about every dermatologist would recommend. It helps with fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and general skin health, making it one that all skin types would benefit from. Vitamin E (often listed on products as alpha tocopherol) is another popular ingredient that pairs well with vitamin C.

The downside to vitamins C & E is that they’re difficult to keep stable. Air, oxygen, and moisture all cause the ingredients to oxidize, which could then lead to more harm than good when applied topically.

Fortunately, adding ferulic acid into the mix changes this. Peer-reviewed studies show that ferulic acid is able to stabilize solutions containing vitamins C and E, while also doubling their photoprotection capabilities [1].

Woman on bed in the morning

Enhances Other Antioxidants

As mentioned, antioxidants are key if you want to neutralize free radicals in your skin. This is why just about every dermatologist would recommend an antioxidant serum for those dealing with premature aging.

However, if you want your antioxidant serum to work as best as it can, look for one that contains ferulic acid. Why? Because ferulic acid acts as an enhancer – it makes antioxidants even more powerful than if they were used alone [2].

Has Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Finally, let’s quickly talk about ferulic acid’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These make the ingredient great for treating acne, especially when used along with salicylic acid. However, it can also help to reduce dark circles around the eyes, making it ideal in an eye cream.

Keeping inflammation to a minimum is also key for overall skin health. Inflammation is responsible for so much skin damage, including premature aging. Fortunately, ferulic acid works to reduce this, keeping the skin calm and balanced.

How to Add Ferulic Acid to Your Skincare Routine

No matter the type of ferulic acid product you buy, it’s important to ensure that it has been packaged in an opaque bottle. Although ferulic acid can help to stabilize antioxidants, it can still be oxidized by light. Vacuumed packaging that prevents oxygen from entering into the formula would also help to preserve that product for longer.

A Ferulic Acid Serum

A serum is the best way to deliver antioxidants to your skin. Their thin and lightweight consistency enables them to penetrate deep into your skin’s layers, where the ingredients within can then work their magic. Look for serums that combine ferulic acid with at least one other antioxidant, such as vitamin E.

Ferulic Acid Creams

Although not quite as beneficial as a serum, a cream containing ferulic acid is still worth having. Since creams are usually quite heavy, they’re more effective on surface skin cells, rather than those that lie deeper.

One thing to note – if you’re going for a cream formula, look for one that makes use of a pump dispenser, rather than an open jar. This will help to preserve the ferulic acid within for longer.

Ferulic Acid Powder

If you don’t want to add yet another step to your skincare routine, consider a ferulic acid powder. These offer ferulic acid in a pure form. They’re designed to be mixed into the other skin care products that you’re already using, whether this may be a serum or a cream.

Beauty serum skincare

What About Ferulic Acid Oral Supplements?

As mentioned, ferulic acid can also be found in oral supplements. These are definitely the way to go if you’re hoping to use the antioxidant to treat a health condition.

However, if skin care is your main focus, oral supplements aren’t as effective as topical products containing the ingredient. This is understandable, since oral supplements need to travel through the body before they reach the skin, whereas skin care products directly offer the ingredient to skin cells.

Does Ferulic Acid Have Any Side Effects?

Ferulic acid is generally safe for every skin type. However, those with sensitive skin should perform a patch test before using the ingredient for the first time, just to ensure that it doesn’t cause any irritation.

Lab-produced ferulic acid doesn’t usually cause allergic reactions either. However, if your ferulic acid has been derived directly from plant tissue, then you may have an issue if you’re allergic to the plant that it comes from. For example, those with an oat allergy could react to ferulic acid that has been extracted from oats.

Ferulic acid supplements are a different story. There haven’t been enough studies carried out to confirm its safety for nursing or pregnant women. If you fall into one of those categories, the ingredient would be best avoided for the time being.


Gorgeous blond woman

Does ferulic acid lighten skin?

Ferulic acid reduces excess pigmentation in the skin, which has a lightening effect. This is further enhanced when it is combined with other skin-lightening ingredients.

Is ferulic acid the same as vitamin C?

No. Although they are both antioxidants, ferulic acid is very different from vitamin C.

Can you use ferulic acid everyday?

Yes, ferulic acid is safe to be used every day. You could even use it twice a day with no negative effects.

Can you mix vitamin C with ferulic acid?

Definitely! Vitamin C and ferulic acid go hand-in-hand together, making it extremely beneficial if you mix the two. Effects are enhanced even further if you add in vitamin E as well.


Ferulic acid is a useful ingredient to have around. Not only does it boast powerful antioxidant properties, but the way in which ferulic acid works to enhance and stabilize other antioxidants makes it extremely valuable. No matter the skin concerns you’re dealing with, ferulic acid will most likely be able to help.


[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X1532491X
[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/ferulic-acid#skin-benefits

Avatar for Alina Jumabhoy
About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.