Ferulic acid: a natural compound with many benefits

An antioxidant that's beneficial both in our diet and our skincare routine
Ferulic acid, a compound with many benefits for our skin and our overall health

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

If you’re a skincare aficionado, you probably know that Ferulic acid is a powerhouse anti-aging ingredient. But what you may not know is that it’s equally good for our health when we eat foods that are rich in it. So, in this post I will discuss the benefits of Ferulic acid both in our diet and skincare products. 

After all, no skincare regimen is complete without good nutrition!

2. What is Ferulic acid?

Ferulic acid is a compound that’s present in cereal grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It belongs to a class of polyphenols that are called phenolic acids. Like many other polyphenols in our diet, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be good for our health. Ferulic acid is also a popular skincare ingredient with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and skin lightening properties.

3. Ferulic acid-rich foods

Most whole-grain cereals contain Ferulic acid: oats, rice, rye, barley, wheat and corn are all good sources. Wheat bran is especially rich in Ferulic acid, but corn is its best source. Actually, popcorn has one of the highest concentrations of Ferulic acid! Popcorn is essentially a whole-grain food and it’s a very healthy snack, unless it’s drenched in oil and salt.

Ferulic acid in cereal grains is present mainly in the bran and the aleurone. (The aleurone is the layer in the kernel that’s under the bran.) These parts are removed in refined grains. This means that you won’t get a good amount of Ferulic acid from white bread or white rice. 

Ferulic acid is also found in many fruits and vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits, pineapples and bananas are all good sources. But bamboo shoots are the best vegetable source of Ferulic acid by far.

Generally, Ferulic acid has high bioavailability: it is absorbed efficiently enough into our bodies so that it can have a positive effect on our health. 

You will probably see more obvious benefits on your skin by applying products with Ferulic acid topically. But skincare should always be supported by a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including Ferulic acid.

4. Benefits of Ferulic acid in our diet

Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It protects against oxidative stress in a variety of ways. Because of its antioxidant properties, Ferulic acid has been shown to offer the following benefits:

Should you take a supplement with Ferulic acid?

You will get a good amount of Ferulic acid through your diet if you eat whole-grain cereals, fruit and veg daily. But it may be worth investing in a supplement with Ferulic acid if you have one of the above-mentioned conditions. The benefits of Ferulic acid supplementation have been proven by various studies.

However, supplements are not a substitute for a balanced diet. As their name implies, they are meant to be used as an adjuvant therapy. Ferulic acid is only one of the thousands of phytochemicals that may be good for our health. A proper plant-based diet provides us with an assortment of nutrients that act synergistically. 

5. Benefits of Ferulic acid in skincare

Ferulic acid is a buzzworthy skincare ingredient with various potential benefits: 

  • overall antioxidant protection
  • Protection from UVA and UVB light
  • reduction of hyperpigmentation
  • reduction of inflammation


Ferulic acid is unlikely to cause irritation and other side-effects. It may even soothe existing irritation thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. The recommended percentage in skincare products is 0.5 to 1%. The highest concentration I’ve seen is 3%.

Some studies were conducted on animals and human fibroblasts (a type of skin cells) rather than actual humans. But personally, I’m convinced that Ferulic acid is a top-notch ingredient that all of us should incorporate in our skincare regimen.

6. Ferulic acid for skin aging

Ferulic acid is well known for its photoprotective properties: it reduces damage from UVA and UVB light. This means that it protects both from photoaging and sunburn. 

This is why Ferulic acid may be particularly beneficial when applied in the morning. It can be an ingredient either in your sunscreen or in products that you use under your sunscreen. Ferulic acid may even increase the SPF of your sunscreen. 

Ferulic acid isn’t just a photoprotective agent. It can defend the skin against all kinds of environmental aggressors. It may even stimulate Collagen and Hyaluronic acid production. So, if you can’t use Ferulic acid in the daytime, you will still get plenty of benefits by applying in the evening. 

Ferulic acid and vitamin C

Ferulic acid is often found in products with Vitamin C, which also has photoprotective properties. Research has shown that they boost each other’s effectiveness

Ferulic acid is also known to stabilize Ascorbic Acid (the acidic form of vitamin C that’s found in fruit and veg). Simply put, it helps Ascorbic acid retain its potency for longer.

If your vitamin C serum isn’t formulated with Ferulic acid, you can just pair it with a different product that contains it. Most forms of Vitamin C will do the trick, in my opinion: Ascorbic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate and Ethyl Ascorbic acid are all great choices.

7. Ferulic acid for hyperpigmentation

As a photoprotective antioxidant, Ferulic acid helps prevent sun-induced hyperpigmentation. 

But it can also tackle existing hyperpigmentation: it inhibits Tyrosinase activity, an enzyme that plays a key role in the production of melanin. By suppressing Tyrosinase activity, Ferulic acid promotes both prevention and reduction of hyperpigmentation from the sun, acne and various other causes.

Combination with other skin lightening compounds

There are other compounds that inhibit Tyrosinase activity, such as Resveratrol, Vitamin C and Alpha-Arbutin. These compounds act synergistically, so it’s a good idea to combine them. You’ll see more benefits compared to using Ferulic acid exclusively.

It is also highly recommended to combine Ferulic acid with Niacinamide. Niacinamide isn’t a Tyrosinase inhibitor, like Ferulic acid. It has a different mode of action against hyperpigmentation. This makes Ferulic acid and Niacinamide a power couple: they complement each other’s powerful action against dark spots.

8. Ferulic acid for skin inflammation

Ferulic acid and inflammatory skin conditions

Oxidative stress and inflammation are closely linked. That’s why many antioxidants, including Ferulic acid, have anti-inflammatory action that soothes irritated skin. If you have atopic dermatitis or inflammatory acne, you may see benefits from using skincare products with Ferulic acid.

In a study, Ferulic acid improved atopic dermatitis in mice. It soothed irritation and it reduced scratching too. Ferulic acid doesn’t have the typical side-effects of topical corticosteroids. That’s why it has potential as an active ingredient in topical medications for atopic dermatitis. 

Ferulic acid also yielded good results as a treatment for inflammatory acne in a clinical trial. 

Chances are that topical Ferulic acid can alleviate other inflammatory skin conditions too, such as psoriasis and rosacea. 

Ferulic acid for sunburn

I suspect that Ferulic acid could be useful as an after sun treatment too. Its anti-inflammatory action has the potential to soothe sunburn. Plus, it will reduce the oxidative stress from unprotected sun exposure. We shouldn’t get sunburnt in the first place, obviously! But if the worst comes to the worst, try mixing a Ferulic acid serum with an aloe vera gel and apply it on the affected areas.

9. Ferulic acid chemical peels

A lesser-known fact about Ferulic acid is that it’s an effective peeling agent. In a trial, a 12% Ferulic acid significantly improved hyperpigmentation around the eyes of the volunteers. It was less effective than a 20% Glycolic acid peel, but it also had fewer side-effects. 

In another trial, a 14% Ferulic acid peel was tested for its action against photoaging. It improved hydration, elasticity and hyperpigmentation. It was even more effective when followed with microneedling sessions. 

To learn more about microneedling, please check my two posts on microneedling devices and benefits from this procedure.

You may be wondering whether your serum with Ferulic acid could have a peeling effect. I don’t think so. The concentrations of Ferulic acid in anti-aging products are probably too low to do that. Plus, chemical exfoliants need to be formulated within a specific pH range to work. 

However, I suspect  that Ferulic acid will become a popular peeling agent in the future, both for at-home and in-office peels. Its gentle peeling action, coupled with its anti-inflammatory properties, sound ideal for sensitive skin.

10. Ferulic acid product recommendations

Ferulic acid has proven benefits for the skin and our overall health. Below you’ll find some products with Ferulic acid that I highly recommend.

If you buy from one of my affiliate links, you won’t incur any additional charges and I will just earn a very small commission that will help this blog to keep going. 

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic acid 3%

If you wish to experiment with Ferulic acid, start with this inexpensive serum. It contains 3% Ferulic acid, the highest concentration I’ve seen in cosmetics. It also contains 3% Resveratrol, which works in tandem with Ferulic acid against oxidative damage and brown spots. 

It’s very affordable and a little goes a long way. Two-three drops are enough for the face (I use two). So don’t skimp on it: use it on your neck and upper chest area too. Or even your hands.

There are no other active ingredients in its formula, but at this price, who cares? You can easily layer it with other products.

Personally, I use it once daily in the morning under sunscreen for enhanced photoprotection. If you’re fighting hyperpigmentation, combine it with products with Niacinamide and Vitamin C. 

By the way, I read in a review on Makeupalley that it works great as an antiperspirant. Who’d a thunk it?! I guess it will come in handy if I run out of Noxzema!

Buy from Beauty Bay

Buy from Lookfantastic

Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Serum

This serum is on the expensive side, but it’s worth the money, if you can afford it. It’s formulated with a high concentration of 2% Ferulic acid. It also includes a whopping 20% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. This is a lipid-soluble form of vitamin C that’s less prone to oxidation than Ascorbic acid.

 Other beneficial ingredients include 3% Vitamin E, Sodium Hyaluronate, and Turmeric, Ginseng and Ginger extracts. 

Peter Thomas Roth has an eye cream in the Potent-C line too, but trust me, this serum is gentle enough to be used around the eyes. 

Buy from Beauty Bay

Buy from Lookfantastic

Buy from Skinstore (best for US byers)

Source Naturals Trans-Ferulic Acid, 250 mg

As I mentioned above, Ferulic acid supplements have various potential health benefits. However, they are surprisingly hard to come by, and I’ve no idea why. As far as I know, only Source Naturals manufactures a Ferulic acid supplement and it’s often out of stock on Iherb.

If you manage to get hold of it, I believe it’s one of those supplements that are worth taking, especially if whole-grains are not your cup of tea. Ferulic acid is supposed to be good for muscle fatigue after exercise, so I may give it a shot if gyms reopen in my lifetime!

Buy from Iherb

Buying from Iherb

Iherb ships from the US. So, unless you live in the US, I suggest you keep the cost of your order to a minimum to avoid those dreaded customs charges! Unless you choose shipping with a courier that includes these charges.

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Have you experienced any benefits from Ferulic acid in your diet or your skincare routine? Leave a comment below!

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Hi, I’m Tassos and I’m the creator of Skinchat.  Read more.