Regimen Lab Skincare Encyclopedia ?

Ferulic Acid

*Preliminary Lab Notes* - Full Entry Under Development

Ingredient Profile

Common Name: Ferulic Acid
INCI: Ferulic Acid
Source: Rice, Wheat, Oats
Ferulic Acid Molecule

kligman ingredient evaluation

Penetration: Under analysis
Biochemical Mechanism: Under analysis
Level of Evidence: Under analysis

Regimen's Take

Ferulic Acid, a molecule found in coffee and related to caffeic acid (part of caffeine), is an antioxidant that has particularly noted for its ability to absorb UV and specifically prevent redness from UVB. Specifically, it works by preventing the release of pro-inflammatory factors (e.g. nitric oxide) that result from UV damage. In skincare products, it's commonly used to stabilize Vitamin C and has been studied to show synergistic effects when used with alpha tocopherol. It also has antiaging benefits that stem from it's ability to inhibit collagen-degrading MMPs (matrixmetalloprotienases).


  • Ferulic Acid should be in skincare products at a pH of 3.0 to allow proper absorption into the skin.
  • No single antioxidant can tackle the whole UV damage/ inflammation / etc. process - so it's best to look for Ferulic Acid (like any antioxidant) in combination with other antioxidants

The full Regimen Lab Skincare Encyclopedia Entry for Ferulic Acid is in development. Check back in a few weeks for an update!

What is Ferulic Acid?

Ferulic acid ([E]-3-[4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-phenyl] prop-2-enoic acid) belongs to the phenolic acids group which are secondary metabolites of varying chemical structures and biological properties. Ferulic acid is a free radical scavenger, but also an inhibitor of enzymes that catalyze free radical generation and an enhancer of scavenger enzyme activity. 


Ferulic acid is most commonly found in whole grains, spinach, parsley, grapes, rhubarb, and cereal seeds, mainly wheat, oats, rye, and barley.

How it works?

The antioxidant potential of FA can usually be attributed to its structural characteristics. FA, because of its phenolic nucleus and unsaturated side chain can readily form a resonance stabilized phenoxy radical, which accounts for its potent antioxidant activity. Any reactive radical colliding with FA easily abstracts a hydrogen atom to form phenoxy radical. This radical is highly resonance stabilized since the unpaired electron may be present not only on the oxygen but it can be delocalized across the entire molecule. Additional stabilization of the phenoxy radical is provided by the extended conjugation in the unsaturated side chain. This resonance stabilization accounts for the effective antioxidant potential of FA. Moreover this phenoxy radical is unable to initate or propagate a radical chain reaction, and its most probable fate is a collision and condensation with another ferulate radical to yield the dimer curcumin. Such coupling may lead to a host of products, all of which still contain phenolic hydroxyl groups capable of radical scavenging. The presence of a second phenolic hydroxyl group substantially enhances the radical scavenging activity due to additional resonance stabilization and o-quinone formation.

Other benefits?

Ferulic acid shows an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial activity, anticancer, and antidiabetic effects. It is widely applied in skin care formulations as a photoprotective agent (sunscreens), delayer of skin photoaging processes, and brightening component

Clinical trials - Caffeic Acid and Ferulic Acid Inhibit UVA‐Induced Matrix Metalloproteinase‐1 through Regulation of Antioxidant Defense System in Keratinocyte HaCaT Cells. - Pretreatment of Ferulic Acid Protects Human Dermal Fibroblasts against Ultraviolet A Irradiation.;year=2014;volume=4;issue=4;spage=203;epage=213;aulast=Ambothi - Ferulic acid prevents ultraviolet-B radiation induced oxidative DNA damage in human dermal fibroblasts. - Ferulic acid, a phenolic phytochemical, inhibits UVB-induced matrix metalloproteinases in mouse skin via posttranslational mechanisms. - Ferulic acid antioxidant protection against hydroxyl and peroxyl radical oxidation in synaptosomal and neuronal cell culture systems in vitro: structure-activity studies. - A comparison of skin delivery of ferulic acid and its derivatives: evaluation of their efficacy and safety. - A topical antioxidant solution containing vitamins C and E stabilized by ferulic acid provides protection for human skin against damage caused by ultraviolet irradiation. - Ferulic Acid Stabilizes a Solution of Vitamins C and E and Doubles its Photoprotection of Skin.

The Skincare Encyclopedia aims to improve public understanding of the biology and chemistry of skincare. The Encyclopedia is rooted in core scientific principles and extensive research, in many cases in collaboration with the authors of the original studies referenced. This is a project of Regimen Lab, maintained by a group of multidisciplinary scientists, MDs, and researchers.