What Ferulic Acid Can Do For Your Skin

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 04, 2021
3 min read

Ferulic acid is one of those ingredients you often see listed on skincare products. But do you know what it is and what it does? It’s a powerful anti-aging tool that may protect against skin cancer as well. Learn what ferulic acid can do for your skin.

Ferulic acid is a chemical found naturally in a lot of plants, such as tomatoes, apples, and rice bran. Researchers have found that it’s a powerful antioxidant that can prevent cell damage all over the body. Studies show ferulic acid can help with inflammatory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It’s also a potent anti-aging ingredient in skincare products.

‌‌Experts call ferulic acid a free-radical scavenger, which means it finds damaging free-radicals and neutralizes them. Free-radicals are molecules that attack cells in your body and damage them. In your skin, free-radical damage leads to wrinkles and other signs of aging. It can also make your skin more susceptible to cancer.

‌‌ Antioxidants like ferulic acid can stop the destructive action of free radicals. It prevents cell damage, which slows down the visible aging process. It also provides some protection against cancer-causing UV damage to skin cells.

You can find ferulic acid in various skincare ingredients, particularly serums or creams. They’re meant to be applied directly to the skin once or twice a day. Some experts suggest using ferulic acid in the morning so you can get all the sun protection benefits of the ingredient. You should still use sunscreen in addition to ferulic acid products.

You may see ferulic acid listed with other active ingredients in some products. It’s often paired with vitamins C and E. Those vitamins are also antioxidants. Ferulic acid strengthens their effects while providing skin benefits on its own.

Ferulic acid isn’t an ingredient that repairs skin or changes how it looks right now. It can prevent future damage, but it can’t reverse the skin damage you already have. 

Applying ferulic acid every day won’t minimize wrinkles or lines. There are other effects that you can expect from regular use of ferulic acid, including:

  • Slowing the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Reducing the amount of skin damage means that skin will look younger longer.
  • Preserving skin firmness. Cell damage can make skin look loose or saggy. Ferulic acid may keep skin looking firmer.
  • Reducing inflammation. Inflammation can lead to breakouts. Ferulic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties may prevent pimples and reduce the appearance of discoloration from acne.
  • Reducing redness. Ferulic acid prevents the appearance of new blood vessels under the skin. Your skin will have fewer visible veins and less redness.
  • Fading and preventing dark spots. Ferulic acid protects skin from the discoloration that comes from sun exposure or a genetic tendency for dark spots. It can also help to reduce the appearance of spots you already have.

One thing ferulic acid is good for is limiting damage from the sun. Studies show that it protects the skin from the effects of UV rays. In particular, it prevents the kind of cell mutations that can lead to skin cancer.

You should not replace your usual sunscreen with ferulic acid. It won’t have the same effects as sunblock, though it can enhance its effectiveness. Experts suggest using a broad-spectrum sunscreen as well as ferulic acid for the best sun protection.

Skin irritation. Most people can safely add ferulic acid to their skincare routine. Some people use it twice a day, but others find it’s better to only apply it once. It can be mildly irritating to some people’s skin.

Storage. You should protect ferulic acid from heat, sunlight, and oxygen. Look for products that come in dark glass containers that shield the serum inside from direct sunlight. Store the products in a cool place, not in a bathroom that regularly gets warm and steamy.

Oxidation. Keep an eye on the color of any ferulic acid products. It will change color as it’s exposed to oxygen. If you notice that it has changed from a light golden hue to a darker brown color, that means it has oxidized and is no longer effective.

If you have questions about adding ferulic acid to your skincare regimen, ask your doctor. They can tell you if ferulic acid is a good ingredient for you to use.