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9 best SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupes in 2024

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If you’ve ever looked into buying a Vitamin C serum for your skincare routine, you’ll no doubt have heard of the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum. No doubt you’ll have also balked at the exorbitant price tag and wondered if there are any good SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupes out there that cost much less. I’m here to tell you the good news; there are! 

C E Ferulic is a cult favorite serum which people love using to help them fight the signs of aging and strengthen their skin. I have tried it in the past and loved the brightening effect it gave my rather dull and dry skin. I want to use a Vit C serum every day in my morning routine because it’s a highly recommended ingredient in the quest for good skin. 

A huge amount of scientific research went into formulating the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic serum to actually be effective on and in the skin, and there’s no doubt that it’s both a really popular and effective product. 

However the main issue with CE Ferulic is the very steep price tag, and this is the only reason I won’t be buying it again. 

This SkinCeuticals serum retails for $182 USD for 30ml / 1 fl oz of product.

Clearly this means it’s a very expensive skincare product. 

When you also consider that the Vitamin C is unstable by nature and CE Ferulic becomes less effective over time, this becomes an even more difficult price to stomach. 

Fortunately, you can find a good SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupe for a lot less money. I’ve been testing out lots of similar Vitamin C serums looking for a worthy dupe. I firmly believe that you don’t need to splash that much cash on this beauty product, as awesome and groundbreaking as it is, because you can now get SkinCeuticals Vitamin C dupes that have a very similar ingredients list and won’t completely blow your beauty budget. Here are my top picks to get that C E Ferulic glow for less. 

What does C E Ferulic do for your skin? 

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum is an effective antioxidant serum which helps to:

  • minimize the appearance of fine lines
  • reduce dark spots
  • counteract dullness
  • build more collagen to protect the skin from incurring further environmental damage
skinceuticals c e ferulic vitamin c serum
Image: SkinCeuticals

It harnesses the synergistic power of l-ascorbic acid (pure form Vitamin C), Vitamin E and ferulic acid in a formula which is capable of entering into the skin to work its magic

Why is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic so effective?

Not all Vitamin C serums are created equal, and there are multiple reasons that SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum is considered the gold standard. 

C E Ferulic is formulated at the correct percentages of active ingredients and has the right pH level to maximize the anti-aging capabilities of Vitamin C. 

This serum is also able to stabilize Vitamin C long enough for it be used as a skincare product. 

There are a few different forms of Vitamin C, and the type which is most effective at improving the look of skin is l-ascorbic acid (sometimes just called ascorbic acid). 

In its natural state, l-ascorbic acid is a white powder. In a serum like C E Ferulic, l-ascorbic acid is mixed with water so that it is readily-available to penetrate the skin. 

The problem with this, however, is that once mixed with water and exposed to light and oxygen l-ascorbic acid starts to degrade (oxidize) and become less effective. 

To help counteract this instability and to increase the effectiveness of the serum, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ingredients include:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) which is within the optimal percentage for the most effective results
  • 1% alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E) – an antioxidant which works synergistically alongside Vitamin C to make it up to 8x more effective in the skin
  • 0.5% ferulic acid which helps lower pH for better absorption and increase the stability of the l-ascorbic acid
  • a pH level of 2.5 to 3.0 so that the skin is able to absorb the product
  • a dark glass container to slow down degradation of the l-ascorbic acid by sunlight

What ingredients does a SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic dupe need to have?

To be a good SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupe, a product needs to have a similar pH level, ingredient list and protective packaging.

To be specific, the best C E Ferulic dupe will have:

  • an l-ascorbic acid percentage of between 10% and 25% which is when it is most effective in the skin
  • pH of between 2 and 4 to get maximum absorption from l-ascorbic acid
  • the same key ingredients (Vitamin E and ferulic acid) to increase the effectiveness of the Vitamin C
  • packaging which helps to slow down the natural oxidization of l-ascorbic acid
  • water-based formula to make the l-ascorbic acid readily available for absorption 

The best SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupes

As we have seen above, C E Ferulic has a blend of active ingredients which all work together to harness the anti-aging power of Vitamin C. It has years of research behind it and lots of claims about how effective it is which make it the most coveted Vitamin C product out there. 

However, it is possible to find other Vitamin C skincare products with similar formulations of active ingredients that can give you very similar results. I’ve researched and tried a lot of alternatives that have a very similar formulation, and in some cases pretty much exactly the same, as SkinCeuticals Vitamin C serums. 

Here are the best dupes and alternatives on the market if C E Ferulic is out of your beauty budget. As an added bonus, there are lots of cruelty free options listed below too (SkinCeuticals is sadly not cruelty free). 

1. Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

timeless skinceuticals c e ferulic dupe
Image: Timeless Skin Care

This water-based Vitamin C serum is often called the best SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupe and it is just a fraction of the price. I do really like this one. It has:

  • 20% l-ascorbic acid
  • 1% Vitamin E
  • 1% ferulic acid
  • a pH level of 2.4
  • an opaque bottle with an airtight pump

The packaging helps to keep out light and air, both of which contribute to the degradation of l-ascorbic acid, and therefore helps keep the product fresh for longer. 

Pros:

  • also contains sodium hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid) which is great for increasing the hydration levels within the skin
  • cruelty free, fragrance free and suitable for vegans
  • has a watery texture which is quickly and easily absorbed

Cons:

  • the higher percentage of l-ascorbic acid means it is a little stronger than C E Ferulic so you may want to avoid this if your skin is on the more sensitive side 
  • not easy to find in the UK or EU

Price: $26.95 for 30ml / 1 fl oz

This is a really good serum which has such a thin texture so it doesn’t interfere with any of my other skincare. It doesn’t pill or cause makeup to slide off either. I love it!

2. Geek and Gorgeous 101 C-Glow Serum

c e ferulic dupe from geek and gorgeous
Image: Geek and Gorgeous

This is a less well-known C E Ferulic dupe which deserves a lot more recognition. It’s the serum I’m using now, and I just can’t fault it.

Geek and Gorgeous’ antioxidant-rich Vitamin C serum has such similar ingredients to SkinCeuticals and yet comes at a much, much lower price point. It has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a smaller percentage of Vitamin E
  • a pH of 3.2 to 3.4
  • an opaque bottle

To help keep this product fresh for as long as possible, you can also buy a smaller empty bottle with dropper to decant some into. This means you don’t have to keep opening the original bottle every day, introducing more oxygen into the product. 

I bought the smaller bottle at $1.80 to decant the product in to, and it lasted a good three months before I saw any sort of discoloration happening with the product. I keep both bottles in a skincare fridge and this has really extended the freshness of the serum.

Pros:

  • also contains dimethyl isosorbide, an emollient which helps increase the absorption of the product’s active ingredients
  • cruelty free, vegan-friendly and fragrance free
  • made in batches every week to ensure it is as fresh as possible when it reaches the customer

Cons:

  • because this product is made in small batches, shipping may take longer than it does with other brands. However, I found my delivery came in just over a week after I ordered it.

Price: $13.90 for 30ml / 1 fl oz

This is my favorite from this list, and I will definitely be repurchasing this soon.

3. Maelove The Glow Maker

maelove the glow maker vitamin c serum
Image: Maelove

Maelove’s Vitamin C serum is one of the best-selling options when it comes to C E Ferulic dupes. This product has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • Vitamin E and ferulic acid in undisclosed amounts
  • a pH level of 3.2
  • an opaque dropper bottle 

Pros:

  • vegan and cruelty free
  • 100 day returns policy 
  • added botanical extracts like soothing aloe vera and the antioxidant grape seed extract

Cons:

  • the percentages of Vitamin E and ferulic acid are not known

Overall I really enjoyed using this serum. The texture is quite fluid and it doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind, so it almost completely disappeared on my skin which is really want I want from a Vitamin C serum. Maelove is a contender for the top spot for sure!

Price: $32.95 for 30ml / 1 fl oz

4. HSGN Pure 15% Vitamin C E Ferulic Acid Serum

korean skinceuticals c e ferulic dupe
Image: HSGN

If you’re looking for the Korean version of SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic then this is it. HSGN is the top pick from this list if you love K-beauty brands, and I love how affordable this one is. This serum has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • 0.1% Vitamin E
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a pH level between 3.0 – 3.5
  • a dark glass bottle 

Pros:

  • contains a cocktail of other antioxidants like camellia extract, resveratrol and brightening yuja seed extract
  • cruelty free and vegan
  • comes in a smaller bottle (15ml) which is good if you want to use it up before it oxidizes

Cons:

  • products are shipped out from Korea so may take longer to arrive

HSGN also have a stronger Vitamin C serum called the Pure 20% Vitamin C E Ferulic Acid Ampoule which has 20% l-ascorbic acid.

Price: $19.95 for 15ml / 0.5 fl oz

5. Dr Brenner Vitamin C Serum

skinceutical ce ferulic dupe from dr brenner
Image: Dr Brenner

Marketed as a SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupe with a much lower price tag, this serum from Dr Brenner is a really good budget-friendly option. It has:

  • 20% l-ascorbic acid
  • 1% Vitamin E
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a pH level of 3.2
  • a dark glass bottle

The key ingredients are very similar to the SkinCeuticals formula, with the main difference being that the concentration of l-ascorbic acid is higher. This is good news if you want even stronger antioxidant benefits from your products and your skin is able to handle the stronger formula. 

Pros:

  • also contains the hydrating ingredient hyaluronic acid
  • cruelty free, vegan, reef safe and fungal acne (malassezia) safe
  • made in batches every two weeks to keep the products as fresh as possible 

Cons:

  • it has a stronger Vitamin C content than SkinCeuticals so may irritate sensitive skin types

Price: $24.99 for 30ml / 1 fl oz

6. Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

paula's choice c15 booster
Image: Paula’s Choice

A very popular SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupe, the potent ingredients in this Paula’s Choice serum work in the same way to give you a brighter complexion. This product has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • 1% Vitamin E
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a pH level of 3.0
  • an opaque jar to keep out light

Pros:

  • active ingredients in the same concentrations as C E Ferulic
  • cruelty free
  • contains hydrogenated castor oil which soothes and hydrates skin

Cons:

  • more expensive than some other C E Ferulic dupes

You’re able to mix this booster serum with other skincare but I just applied it directly on to dry skin to make sure it was fully absorbed and wasn’t diluted by moisturizer or SPF. I like this one, but the price isn’t the cheapest on this dupe list so I would gravitate towards another brand in future to save some money.

Paula’s Choice also have a great dupe for SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore and a dupe for Sunday Riley’s Good Genes.

Price: $55 for 20ml / 0.67 fl oz

7. DRMTLGY Vitamin C E + F

dupe for skinceuticals ce ferulic from DRMTLGY
Image: DRMTLGY

This is an ever-popular serum which has hundreds of positive reviews from customers online, many of whom compare it to SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum. DRMTLGY’s Vitamin C serum has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • 1% Vitamin E
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a pH level between 2.2 and 3.2
  • a dark glass dropper bottle 

Pros:

  • contains the synthetic peptide acetyl octapeptide-3 which is claimed to help reduce the look of wrinkles
  • cruelty free
  • also contains hyaluronic acid and hydrogenated castor oil

Cons:

  • more expensive than some other C E Ferulic dupes

Price: $69 for 30ml / 1 fl oz

I loved using this serum. I found it really effective at brightening my skin overall, and did see some lightening of pigmentation I have from previous sun damage. In a pinch I would repurchase this, but it is expensive compared to some of these other products and as I’m currently really loving the Geek and Gorgeous serum which is a lot cheaper, I will likely stick with that one. This one, however, is an excellent option and it’s much, much cheaper than SkinCeuticals.

8. Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum

drunk elephant c-firma vitamin c serum
Image: Drunk Elephant

This is a really popular alternative to C E Ferulic. Although it is still on the pricey side, Drunk Elephant’s Vitamin C serum is still much less expensive than the coveted C E Ferulic serum. C-Firma has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • 1% Vitamin E
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a pH level of 2.5
  • opaque packaging, with the added benefit of you mixing the product yourself

Pros:

  • contains lots of additional ingredients with added skin benefits, like exfoliating pumpkin ferment and the antioxidant pomegranate extract
  • cruelty free
  • you mix l-ascorbic acid with the serum base when you are ready to use the product, ensuring its freshness. It should then last for 6 months

Cons:

  • more expensive than other SkinCeuticals dupes
  • it has a stickier texture than C E Ferulic

I loved the ability to mix the two formulas together to keep the product as fresh as possible, but was not a fan of the stickier texture. I do love more of a watery Vitamin C serum and found this to not sink in as well as the others. It’s also pricier.

Price: $78 for 28ml / 0.94 fl oz

9. Brandefy Skin 15% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum

brandefy c e ferulic alternative
Image: Brandefy

This SkinCeuticals Vitamin C dupe has a higher pH level than C E Ferulic. Whilst still effective, it is less acidic so may be better for sensitive skin. This Vitamin C serum has:

  • 15% l-ascorbic acid
  • Vitamin E (in an unknown percentage)
  • 0.5% ferulic acid
  • a pH level of between 3.7 and 3.9
  • a dark colored dropper bottle

Pros:

  • contains propanediol, a humectant which is more gentle on the skin than propylene glycol (the humectant used in SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic)
  • cruelty free
  • 100 day returns policy

Cons:

  • has a tackier finish than SkinCeuticals

Price: $49 for 30ml / 1 fl oz

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is popular for a good reason, and that is that it really works at brightening the skin tone and improving your skin’s complexion over time. 

However, in these dupes you can find a good serum which uses pure Vitamin C combined with ferulic acid and Vitamin A to get very similar results, and for a lot less money. 

My top picks are the alternatives from Timeless, Maelove and Geek and Gorgeous. They are very similar in formulation, gave me good results and are much cheaper.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding SkinCeuticals as a brand and Vitamin C serums in general. 

What does a Vitamin C serum do for your skin?

Vitamin C, and in particular its most effective form l-ascorbic acid, is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes harmful free radicals. These are destructive molecules which are produced in your skin because of external aggressors like sun damage, smoke, stress and pollution. 
Free radicals break down your collagen and elastin, leading to signs of premature aging like dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and sagging. 
Vitamin C not only neutralizes free radicals, preventing them from destroying your collagen, but also helps your skin to produce more collagen so it’s stronger and less prone to signs of aging. 
The result of using a good Vitamin C serum is firmer, smoother and brighter looking skin. 

How to make Vitamin C serum last longer

L-ascorbic acid degrades (oxidizes) when in contact with both light and the oxygen in air. It goes from clear in color to a darker orange, and this shows you when it has become less effective.
You can slow down this degradation by keeping it in an opaque glass bottle and out of sunlight. Store it in a cool, dark place or in the fridge. 
To stop too much air entering the bottle, try decanting small amounts of your Vitamin C serum into smaller bottles to keep air out of your main bottle. 

​Why is SkinCeuticals so expensive?

SkinCeuticals is medical-grade skincare that uses high quality ingredients in their products. One of the reasons their Vitamin C serum is so expensive is because the brand pioneered the research into the synergistic relationship between l-ascorbic acid, Vitamin E and ferulic acid. The result was a more stable delivery of 15 percent Vitamin C at a pH level that can actually be absorbed by the skin. 
However, there are now lots of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic dupes that use the same ingredients in similar percentages, which are all much more affordable. 

​Is SkinCeuticals owned by L’Oréal?

The brand SkinCeuticals was acquired by L’Oréal in 2005. SkinCeuticals is not a cruelty free brand and neither is L’Oréal, and they both sell their products in mainland China where animal testing is required by law. 

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Melissa Jane Lee

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