SkinCeuticals' C E Ferulic Serum Is as Life-Changing as Everyone Says

Few skincare products seem to be as universally recommended by dermatologists, beauty editors, and your “friends with good skin” as SkinCeuticals' C E Ferulic facial serum. Tracee Ellis Ross, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hailey Bieber are just a few of the product’s celeb fans, and it can be found on just about every list of the best antioxidant serums and best anti-aging products. But although it has a massive following, it’s also a serious skincare investment at a whopping $166 per bottle. If you find yourself wondering if it’s worth the spend, don’t worry—there’s a good reason to ask that question.

Although vitamin C serums are commonly recommended in skincare routines for their brightening, protectant properties, vitamin C itself is a fairly unstable ingredient and breaks down when exposed to air and light. In other words, it could be completely useless by the time it hits your skin. But one of the many things that set C E Ferulic apart from its competitors is its amber-colored glass bottle, which helps preserve that precious vitamin C for optimal efficacy.

The packaging is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this beloved product. We tapped Claire Chang, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, for a deep dive into what makes this SkinCeuticals serum so effective and what skin types should use it. Plus, find a firsthand review (before-and-after photos included!) and product dupes that offer similar results without the steep price tag.

What Is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Face Serum?

While many serums put the focus on one ingredient, C E Ferulic marries three skin-loving actives in one amber bottle. “SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is formulated with a synergistic combination of antioxidants, including 15% pure vitamin C, 1% vitamin E, and 0.5% ferulic acid,” explains Chang. “Vitamin C has been shown in studies to help brighten the skin, reduce pigmentation, and stimulate collagen to help fight signs of aging. Vitamin C and E work together while ferulic acid can help stabilize them,” explains the derm. 

Together, vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid are a dream team against both existing and future signs of aging. “These antioxidants help protect the skin against free radicals that are caused by sun exposure and environmental pollution, helping to prevent and improve signs of skin aging and photodamage,” explains Chang.

 

Photo: Credit: Lindy Segal


Who Should Use SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic?

One reason this product is so beloved is that even though it’s potent, it’s remarkably tolerable. “I recommend this antioxidant serum for all skin types and all ages to help protect, repair, and revitalize the skin,” says Chang. Still, as with any product, there’s always a chance of irritation. “Those with sensitive or acne-prone skin may want to try a test spot before applying over the full face to make sure they do not get irritated or break out from it,” advises the derm.

Those with oily or acne-prone skin can also check out SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF, the brand’s vitamin C serum formula specifically formulated for oily skin types. Also made with 15% vitamin C and 0.5% ferulic acid, it has 0.5% silymarin, an antioxidant that prevents oil oxidation, as well as salicylic acid to help unclog pores.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Review

Before we get into the product itself, here’s a bit of background on my skin: I have combination skin that gets very dry during winter and oily during the summer. I’m also very fair and quite sensitive. When trying new products, sometimes I’ll be fine, but other times, I’ll turn bright red within seconds. Now that I’m 31, I have a pretty clear complexion, but because it’s so light, every little blemish shows—old or new. 

Here's a photo from the day before I started using SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic: 

One thing to consider when trying this serum is that it has a fairly strong medicinal, almost smoky smell. (This formula isn’t joking around.) Once you’ve applied it, the scent does dissipate after a few minutes. The consistency is almost watery—not at all greasy or lotion-like—but the dropper bottle makes it very easy to apply the recommended amount. The instructions say to apply four to five drops on your face, chest, and neck, on clean skin. One thing that’s nice is that it’s only advised for your morning routine, which stretches out how long each bottle lasts. 

Immediately after my first use, I felt like my skin looked a bit brighter, but that could have been the power of suggestion. After a few days, I noticed that the spots on my chin and forehead began to look a little fainter—and after a week, they were significantly lighter. But what I found most impressive was how my skin tone and texture changed. It looked smoother, more even-toned, and I definitely noticed a *glow.*

Here's a photo after one week of using SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic:

The verdict: If you’re on the fence and willing to spend, I wouldn’t hesitate. This serum is good. And be sure to store it in a cool, dark place to preserve the active ingredients so you don’t waste a single drop.

The Best SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Dupes

There’s no denying that $166 is steep for a skincare product. If you want similar results for less than half the cost, consider one of these alternatives…

While it touts vitamin C in the name, Drunk Elephant’s serum also contains vitamin E and ferulic acid. According to Chang, “It contains a similar combination [of active ingredients] as SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, along with pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract, but at a lower price point.” 

The derm also recommends this serum from TruSkin, saying it “brightens, revitalizes, and hydrates the skin with its formulation combining vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera.”

 

With the same three active ingredients as C E Ferulic, along with hydrating hyaluronic acid, many say this is one of the closest matches out there—and it’s less than $30.

Next: Psst—This Is My Secret to All-Over Glowing Skin for the Summer

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