Taking good care of your skin in this day and age isn’t easy. The number of beneficial skincare ingredients and substances keeps expanding, and the number of acronyms is beginning to feel endless. By now, you have undoubtedly heard of salicylic acid, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, AHAs and BHA and so on. But have you heard about ferulic acid? If you have, I hope this article will satisfy your curiosity. If you haven’t, then I hope you’ll find this article informative. Here is all you need to know about ferulic acid for the skin.
Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant derived from plants, finding use primarily in anti-aging skincare products. The most common sources of ferulic acid are found in foods such as oats, bran, rice, citrus fruits, eggplants, apple seeds and so on. But why is ferulic acid so highly sought for?
Well, as far as antioxidants go, ferulic acid is very capable of hunting down free radicals in the body and getting rid of them. Free radicals are a class of substances that cause damage to the DNA of our cells, mainly by way of inducing oxidative stress within them. But ferulic acid isn’t merely a powerful broom for free radicals. Its specific, particular benefits lie in its ability to bolster the effectiveness of other antioxidants. Mainly, ferulic acid boosts the restorative properties of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. All of this makes ferulic acid a very popular substance for the skincare industry, and it can be found in a number of anti-aging products.
Since its main function is ridding the body (and the skin) of harmful free radicals, ferulic acid is predominantly used for combating signs of aging. Typically, these include the removal of persistent sunspots, the reduction of wrinkles and the treatment of discoloration. Ferulic acid is lately being promoted as a skin lightening agent, a job it does pretty well.
As we pointed out above, ferulic acid can also be taken as a form of an oral supplement. Generally, ferulic acid supplements can be taken every day, with no side effects. Besides helping the body rejuvenate itself by aiding a number of antioxidants inside it, taking ferulic acid as a supplement can even alleviate the symptoms of people with pulmonary hypertension and diabetes.
However, if your main goal is maintaining healthy skin, taking ferulic acid as a supplement will hardly be of much help to you. It is by far the most effective when used topically, as part of the many ferulic acid skincare products available today. Why, you might ask? Let’s see what are the benefits of ferulic acid for the skin.
When used in skin creams or skin serums, ferulic acid acts as a booster for other antioxidant substances, and particularly Vitamin C. Its effectiveness increases when combined with other antioxidants.
You might have noticed that Vitamin C is another common ingredient present in tons of anti-aging skincare products. However, it’s almost never used on its own and isolated, because the molecular structure of Vitamin C prevents it from attaining a stable shelf-life. For example, Vitamin C is very vulnerable to sunlight, which breaks it down after short exposure. This is the reason why skincare products that contain Vitamin C, such as creams, gels or serums come packaged in opaque, dark, and often amber-hued bottles. The packaging acts as a protective filter that prolongs the shelf-life of the vitamin.
But this is where ferulic acid comes into play. By adding it to products that contain Vitamin C, ferulic acid makes the vitamin more resistant. The molecular structure of ferulic acid is such that it provides what scientists call “photoprotection” - meaning that it’s able to minimize damage from exposure to sunlight. This is why ferulic acid is prized so much, and why you can increasingly find it featured in products lining the shelves of cosmetic stores.
But the photoprotective properties of ferulic acid don’t end with Vitamin C. This protective ability of this acid becomes even stronger the more vitamins you throw at it. For example, a research study in 2005 found that ferulic acid doubled its photoprotective efficiency when combined with both Vitamin C and Vitamin E. This didn’t only prolong the shelf-life of the vitamins involved. The researchers remarked that combining Vitamin C and Vitamin E with ferulic acid could also prolong people’s lives, combat aging, and possibly even prevent skin cancer.
More research is needed, however. But what we know so far is telling us that ferulic acid is not just a potent antioxidant, but that it is also very efficient in protecting our bodies from excessive exposure to the sun. Additionally, it has a powerful strengthening effect on other strong antioxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin C, prolonging their shelf-life and boosting their healthy properties. But that’s not all that ferulic acid can do.
That’s right, this amazing natural substance has another trick up its sleeve. Ferulic acid is being increasingly used in skincare products, especially those aimed at producing skin lightening effects. In 1999, scientists discovered that ferulic acid combined with Vitamin E could prevent, and even revert hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin. When used in tandem, the researchers found, Vitamin E and ferulic acid can indirectly inhibit the production of melanin by stopping the production of tyrosine hydroxylase, a rate-limiting enzyme.
With the inhibition of the production of the melanin pigment in the body (called melanogenesis), ferulic acid and Vitamin E can prevent hyperpigmentation and other types of discoloration of the skin. This is why ferulic acid is found in so many skin lightening products.
While you probably already have ferulic acid floating about your body, the topical application of the substance on the surface of your skin might produce unpleasant reactions. This is especially likely for people with sensitive skin, who might experience a variety of side effects when using a product that contains ferulic acid on their skin. Reactions typically include a sense of itching, your skin becoming red or flaking off, and in rare cases even getting a rash or an outbreak of hives.
In order to avoid any side effects when using ferulic acid topically, it’s always wise to perform a patch test before using the product as intended. A patch test is a way to find out how your skin will react when it comes into contact with a substance or a product. Or, even a plant - for example, lemon juice can often cause irritation in some people since it has a high level of acidity. (It transforms into a base once it becomes processed by the body.)
A patch test is very simple and easy to perform. First, choose a small area of your skin where you will test the substance, product or ingredient. Then, apply a small amount of the substance or product you are testing over this small patch of skin (that’s why it’s called a patch test). In order for the skin to really have time to react to the substance, it’s preferable to wrap the area with a bandage, and wait for anywhere between 24 to 48 hours.
Of course, in the case of unpleasant sensations on your skin (such as burning or intense itching), you should remove the bandage and wash the area with soap and water. But sometimes, your skin takes longer to react. If you don’t feel much, leave the bandage covering the substance you are testing over your skin for a day or two, then gently remove it.
If you see no redness, flaking, or you felt no itching, soreness, pain or tingling, then you should be good to go - ferulic acid is safe for you to use. Your skin likes it. However, if you experience unpleasant and persistent side effects, you should desist immediately and forget about using that product. It also won’t hurt if you scheduled an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist for additional advice.
Ferulic acid is a powerful natural antioxidant that’s best used in tandem with other antioxidants. Besides boosting the shelf-life of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E when it’s combined with them, ferulic acid also acts as a reflector for the sun’s harmful UV rays. Additionally, studies have found that when ferulic acid is combined with Vitamin E, it can suppress the production of melanin, decreasing the rate of hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the skin. This ability of ferulic acid can make it useful in treating discoloration. Due to these properties, ferulic acid is often used in skin lightening and anti-aging products, and according to many - to great effect.
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.