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I haven’t bought a beauty product in 11 years. Not a single shampoo, eye cream, body wash or lipstick (I would hate me, too). But there is one product I actually do, honest-to-goodness purchase: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.
The superpowers of this yellowy, antioxidant serum are legendary, and the secret sauce is not so secret. It’s right there in the name. Vitamin C helps brighten skin, fade dark spots, stimulate collagen, and neutralise free radical damage caused by environmental exposure. Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory, moisturising and skin barrier-strengthening properties. Then there’s the ferulic acid, which helps stabilise both vitamins C and E. Phew.
Just a few drops every morning, under sunscreen, and a glowier, plumper complexion is practically guaranteed.
Here’s where I tell you the cost: an eye-watering $195 for a 30ml bottle. But it works, dammit. I dare you to find a beauty editor, expert or enthusiast who doesn’t agree. The only dispute concerns the scent, which has been likened to hot dog water, baked beans, or a sweaty sports bra.
I actually don’t mind the scent, and if you’re anything like me – needle-averse, would rather spend time and money on skincare than makeup – it’s a small price to pay for the results. I developed adult acne in my 30s, and C E Ferulic (plus oral medication and prescription vitamin A) totally transformed my skin, by fading acne scars and giving me the kind of clear, smooth complexion I dreamed about.
My love for this product runs so deep, I’m part of a WhatsApp group that started specifically as an ode to C E Ferulic. It was a safe space where my fellow Ferulic fanatics and I could do a happy dance whenever a new bottle landed on our desks, and commiserate when we finished a bottle or accidentally dropped one.
My love for this product runs so deep, I’m part of a WhatsApp group that started specifically as an ode to it.
The group includes former InStyle and Gritty Pretty beauty editor Hayley D’Onofrio, who was introduced to the serum by celebrity skin whisperer Melanie Grant. “It gives the kind of glow that I would have previously only attributed to Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, and evened out my dull and lackluster skin tone, so much so that people started asking me what I was using,” she effuses.
Our third member is Sarah Tarca. Hayley and I were beauty editors at the same magazine publisher when former Girlfriend magazine editor Sarah joined the beauty circuit.
As she remembers, “I’d come off the back of nine years at a teen magazine, so I could reel off exactly what worked for zits, but knew nothing about what was appropriate for my age and ageing skin. My beauty friends told me the only product I needed was SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. I started using it and soon had people telling me I looked ‘so well’. It was addictive. I looked dewy and fresh, and more like the teenagers I’d been writing about for years.”
I started using it and soon had people telling me I looked ‘so well’. It was addictive.
My most recent convert is whimn beauty editor Ash Austen. “After three months, I can hand-on-heart say this stuff is a total game changer, and I can’t realistically see a time when I’ll stop – house deposit be damned.”
In a world of #FakeNews, C E Ferulic is backed by actual scientific data. Since launching in 2005, study after study has confirmed its magic, which boils down to a super precise formula. Namely, the combination of three specific ingredients. Because while vitamins C and E are amazing on their own, the former is water-soluble and works best on surface levels, while the latter is oil-soluble and can travel deeper into the dermis, so they’re even more powerful when paired together. Meanwhile, ferulic helps stabilise the vitamins so they remain effective.
Then there’s the potency; A concentration of at least 10 per cent pure vitamin C is required to see real results, and this one has 15 per cent. And finally, the serum has an acidic pH lower than 3.5, which is the ideal environment for optimum delivery of vitamin C to the skin.
SkinCeuticals has a patent on the formula, so no other company has been able to replicate it – although one may have tried. Late last year, SkinCeuticals owner L’Oreal sued Drunk Elephant for patent infringement over its C-Firma Day Serum, a very excellent – and, at $122, slightly cheaper – alternative to C E Ferulic, and the only other beauty product I have actually purchased (ok, so I told a slight fib earlier). L’Oreal have since dismissed the case, but still: #Drama
Here’s my final pitch to you: I don’t know anyone who has tried this serum and regretted it. You won’t, either, but if your mortgage repayment is due, here are three under-$100 serums worth trying.
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, $9.80, includes hydrating, fine-line-filling hyaluronic acid, for even more plumping goodness.
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, $62, has 15% vitamin C and is another product that regularly makes the journey from the beauty cupboard to my bathroom.
La Roche-Posay Redermic Vitamin C10 Serum 30, $69.99, pairs 10% vitamin C with salicylic acid to dissolve dead skin cells, and is safe for sensitive skin.
Photography by Edward Urrutia