Which vitamin C serum should I use?
That’s a question I get asked A LOT! I guess I have it coming. I sing the praises of vitamin C at every opportunity, and often review serums loaded with it. Of course, people are curious to know what my favourite one is!
Thing is, I don’t have an absolute favourite. There are so many I like (and a few I don’t). What I end up using often depends on availability and price (the only caveat: vitamin C must be high on the ingredient list, or there’s no point getting it). I often recommend others do the same.
But when a reader recently asked me whether she should get Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Skinceuticals Phloretin CF, I didn’t hesitate. One is far, far superior to the other. But which one? Let’s find out:
Higher Concentration Of Vitamin C?
Both Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF use ascorbic acid, the pure form of vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant is a precious ally in the fight against premature ageing. It destroys free radicals, boosts collagen production, reduces dark and sun spots, and even hydrates skin! Impressive, isn’t it?
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic contains a whopping 15%. That’s one of the highest concentrations used in skincare. Phloretin CF contains “only” 10%. That’s slightly less effective, but better tolerated by sensitive skin. It’s up to you to decide if the trade off is worth it.
Winner: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic
Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid VS Vitamin C + Phloretin + Ferulic Acid: Which Combination Is More Powerful?
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic was the first serum to use vitamins C and E and ferulic acid together. That’s one of the most powerful combinations used in skincare, and one anyone seriously bent on fighting premature ageing should add to their arsenal.
Vitamin C is amazing for the skin, but it has one flaw. It goes bad quickly. Vitamin E and ferulic acid (an antioxidant that can fight three types of free radicals!) help stabilize it, so it remains effective for longer. This combination also has photoprotective properties (but that doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen!).
A 2005 study has found that incorporating ferulic acid “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”.
Skinceuticals Phloretin CF contains ferulic acid, but no vitamin E. It was replaced by phloretin, a flavonoid found in apples. Phloretin has antioxidant properties as well, but can also delay the deposition of sugar deposits, which harden collagen as we age, in the skin.
But what happens when you use it with vitamin C and ferulic acid? According to a 2008 study, the effects are very similar to those of the vitamin E, vitamin C, and ferulic acid combination:
“This study confirms the protective role of a unique mixture of antioxidants containing vitamin C, ferulic acid, and phloretin on human skin from the harmful effects of UV irradiation. Phloretin, in addition to being a potent antioxidant, may stabilize and increase the skin availability of topically applied vitamin C and ferulic acid. We propose that antioxidant mixture will complement and synergize with sunscreens in providing photoprotection for human skin.”
So, which combination is better? They’re both good, but I prefer to stick to the old vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid. Why? Vitamin E has been studied a lot more than phloretin, so we simply have more proof of its antioxidant and photoprotective abilities.
Winner: almost a tie, but I prefer Skinceuticals CE Ferulic
Skinceuticals Phloretin CF lacks both glycerin and sodium hyaluronate, two humectants that draw water from the environment into the skin. They help it stay hydrated and supple all day long.
Worse, Phloretin CF contains denatured alcohol. Although not as irritating as once thought to be, alcohol can still dry out skin overtime, if used regularly. This is not bad just for dry or sensitive skin, but for oily skin as well. If it gets too dry, your skin may be tricked into thinking it’s not producing enough oil, and will pump out even more!
So, why is alcohol used here? As a delivery system. It helps the active ingredients better penetrate the skin, so they can do their job more quickly and effectively. It’s also dirty cheap. Considering how much they’re charging for this, they could’ve used a more expensive, and less damaging, penetration enhancer, don’t you think?
Winner: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic
More inexpensive and easily available?
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Ingredients
Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth 23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate
Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Ingredients
Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Alcohol Denaturated, Ascorbic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Triethyl Citrate, Phloretin, Ferulic Acid
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic VS Phloretin CF: Which One Should You Use?
Both Skincetuticals CE ferulic and Phloretin CF contain powerful combinations of antioxidants to help skin age slowly and gracefully. But CE Ferulic wins hands down. It’s more hydrating, and has a much better, non-drying delivery system.
Have you tried Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and/or Phloretin CF? Which one do you prefer?