If there’s one part of my skin-care routine I invest the most in, it’s serums. It’s also the first step I usually recommend to friends after they’ve covered the basic dermatologist-approved skin-care routine of cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. They have a rap for oftentimes being pricey, but your skin will thank you for the highly concentrated amounts of active ingredients that’ll help deeply hydrate, smooth out uneven skin tone, and brighten your complexion. For example, since starting at Allure a few months ago, I quickly realized how immensely popular SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic is with our editors and readers — despite its high price tag of $166.
I took it upon myself to investigate whether or not C E Ferulic is worth all the hype it constantly gets and tested it out for about a month. Since stay-at-home orders were implemented, my skin has been looking duller, more discolored, and overall uneven from stress-induced breakouts, so I wanted to see if this four-time Allure Best of Beauty winner could essentially overhaul my complexion and make it look healthier (and less zombie-like).
For starters, SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic contains three key ingredients: 15 percent pure vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid), one percent pure vitamin E, and 0.5 percent ferulic acid. Like most skin-care lovers, I’m probably most familiar with vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, helps slow down signs of photoaging, and prevents dark spots from forming by inhibiting the production of melanin, says board-certified dermatologist Patricia Wexler.
Not only that, but because of its acidic nature, vitamin C also signals to your skin to “heal itself by accelerating the production of collagen and elastin,” which keeps skin firm and plump, says Howard Sobel, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist.
There are tons of vitamin C serums to choose from, but Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, recommends looking for a serum that has between 10 and 20 percent vitamin C. “Going much higher than 15 percent, you have a minimal increased risk of irritation to your skin,” she says. “And going lower than 10 percent, you risk choosing a product that isn’t as effective as it could be.”
So, C E Ferulic definitely hits that sweet spot — and my skin agrees, too. I’ve tried other vitamin C serums with lower concentrations, only to toss them aside after weeks of not seeing much change. But just a week into using this SkinCeuticals formula, I noticed my acne scars fading more quickly and a smoother, overall texture.
But what happens when you mix vitamin C with vitamin E and ferulic acid? Long story short: They all help stabilize and potentiate each other, making for a stronger and more effective skin-care cocktail. “Compounding vitamin C with another antioxidant [like vitamin E] helps preserve the stability and boost the effectiveness of the serum,” says Henry, and both vitamin E and ferulic acid help make it easier for your skin to absorb.
On top of that, ferulic acid helps stabilize both vitamins C and E and doubles the serum’s defense against photodamage. It’s also important to note that the bottle itself is darkened on purpose since light exposure is known to break down vitamin C, but I try to keep my bottle out of direct sunlight, regardless.
Less is more when it comes to such a potent serum. I only use three drops at a time, which I apply directly onto my face — so I don’t waste any product on my hands while transferring. To err on the safe side, I started off using it every other day before building up to daily use — which is what Henry recommends for sensitive skin. And as with any vitamin C products used during the daytime, applying sunscreen is a must due to increased photosensitivity. (I’ve been loving Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Moisturizer SPF 45 recently.)
As for the hefty price tag, Henry informed me that SkinCeuticals happened to be one of the first companies to come with up with this near-magical combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid in 2007, backed by ample scientific research and resulting in a “patent for stabilized ascorbic acid.” The fact that its reign continues on today makes sense to me — I’ve definitely seen a decrease in my redness since I started using it, and any acne discoloration (most recently, from a pimple in between my brows) disappears without a trace.
Henry notes that the price also depends on what your bottom line is. If you just want glowy skin, there are lots of less-pricey (and, most likely, less-concentrated) options. “If you’re really targeting fine lines, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation, C E Ferulic might be the product that is more likely to give you the significant results you desire,” she says.
Though I don’t have any fine lines (yet), my attitude is all about prevention. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic definitely had a role in brightening my complexion and reducing spotty, all-over redness, but in my opinion, glowy skin should be a bonus of maintaining a well-rounded skin-care routine — and not just reliant on one product. That said, so I have to say it’s worth the price tag after all.
You can buy SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic for $166 at dermstore.com.
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