Since Skinceuticals launched CE Ferulic serum a few years ago, a lot of brands have tried to come up with alternatives that promise the same benefits but at a fraction of the cost. One such brand is Timeless. Their 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum contains the same active ingredients of the Skinceutical’s best-selling product. But does it work as well?
L-Ascorbic Acid is the most common form of Vitamin C used in skincare. It is a powerful antioxidants that can fight free radicals and boost collagen production. A 2008 study has also shown that l-ascobic acid can reduce transepidermal water loss and increase moisture content in the skin, thus helping to keep it hydrated. Like that weren’t enough, it has skin-lightening properties that can help reduce dark and sun spots.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? So, what’s the catch? There are two. One: l-ascorbic acid is very unstable and degrades, becoming ineffective, quickly when exposed to light and air. Luckily, both products are packaged in air-tight, opaque bottles that will prevent its spoilage.
Two: l-ascorbic acid can cause irritations in some people, especially those with sensitive skin. To avoid this, try using the serum only 2 or 3 times a week, and, if your skin can take it, increase frequency gradually. Concentrations also matter. The Timeless serum contains a higher amount of l-ascorbic acid (20% vs 15%), so if your skin is sensitive, Skinceuticals would be a better option.
It also is a powerful antioxidant that works even better when used with Vitamin C. They are network antioxidants that can enhance the beneficial properties of one another. In addition, a 1996 study has found this combination has photoprotective properties (Vitamin C works better against UVA while Vitamin E against UVB rays) that can help prevent sun damage. They shouldn’t be used as a substitute for sunscreen, but in conjunction with it to enhance its effectiveness.
Ferulic Acid is another powerful antioxidant. It helps prevent the formation of wrinkles by fighting three types of free radicals: superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide. Very powerful on its own, it is even more effective when used with Vitamins C and E. A 2005 study has found that “its incorporation into a topical solution of 15%l-ascorbic acid and 1%alpha-tocopherol improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection. [...] This combination of pure natural low molecular weight antioxidants provides meaningful synergistic protection against oxidative stress in skin and should be useful for protection against photoaging”.
Ferulic Acid may even help treat hyperpigmentation. According to a 1999 study, it “suppresses melanogenesis, possibly by inhibiting tyrosine hydroxylase activity in an indirect manner.” However, people who are allergic to grains such as wheat, corn, or barley, should consider a doctor before using products with ferulic acid to avoid negative reactions.
Ethoxydiglycol & Propylene Glycol
Both Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum have very lightweight textures. That’s due to Ethoxdiglycol and Propylene Glycol, two alcohols that thin out formulas. They can also enhance the penetration of active ingredients into the skin.
But wait, isn’t alcohol bad for skin? Well, both products contain enough antioxidants to neutralize any potential side effects of alcohol. But what Propylene Glycol? isn’t that used as anti-freeze? Yes, but in 100% concentrations. In skincare products it is used in lower, safe, doses.
Further considerations on the formulas
Both products contains the same active ingredients and work well at fighting premature signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. They also have some moisturizing properties. Both serums contain the humectant (a substance that attracts water from the environment into the skin) Sodium Hyluronate, which can hold up to 1000 times its wight in water and works well both in high and low humidity conditions. But Skinceuticals CE Ferulic also contains another humectant, glycerin.
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Ingredients:
Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth 23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate
Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum Ingredients:
Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Fragrance.
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic retails at a whopping $153.00! If you’re interested in trying it, I recommend you buy it at Amazon, where it is currently offered at a 35% discount. Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum, which costs only $24.95, can be purchased at Timeless Skincare.
The Bottom Line
Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum is a great alternative for those who want the same benefits of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic but at a lower cost. But, because it contains more Vitamin C than Skinceuticals, it is more likely to cause irritations in people with sensitive skin. For those, Skinceuticlas, despite its high price tag, would work better.
Have you tried these serums? If so, what do you think of them?