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Age spots no more: ferulic acid, vitamin C and a pinch of bathroom chemistry

Is a Solution for:
Cellulite, Stretch Marks, Sagging Skin
September 1, 2008 Reviewed by Marta 20 Comments
I am feeling quite pleased with myself. I have demonstrated patience (not a virtue associated with me), thrift (even less) and a smattering of ingenuity. What's more it's bloody well worked. The result is an effective age spot fader that I - partly - concocted in my own bathroom.

It all started a few weeks ago when I researched ferulic acid. I discovered that it is found in the cell walls of plants and is an antioxidant that zaps at least three types of free radical: ‘superoxide’, ‘hydroxyl radical’, and ‘nitric oxide’ - according to a 2002 Japanese study. But what really got me interested was a Duke University study that found that mixed with vitamin C or E, it renders both more powerful.

So I splashed out (egged on, as I recall, by Mike) a whole $9 at Skin Actives on tiny bottle of ferulic acid. It arrived with a note saying it had to be added to one ounce of a potion of my choice. But what? It sat on my desk for a week before I came up with an idea. I had an almost full one ounce bottle of Somme Serum ($82) that I had tried but somehow failed to engage with.

The point about the Somme is that it is a potent shot of vitamin C and not much else. In fact, the C in question is ascorbyl methysilanol that is particularly (and unlike some other Cs) stable. This allows it to be time-released by Somme's 'molecular dispersion technology' (whatever that is).

Anyway, I dumped in the ferulic acid, gave it a good shake and put an experimental dab on my right hand. No smoke appeared, nor did hair start to sprout (look, I haven't resorted to bathroom chemistry before and was, understandably, nervous) and so I kept on dabbing. Three weeks later, I have visibly reduced some very stubborn 'freckles' on my hand.

I thoroughly recommended finding a good source of C and adding in ferulic acid for a thrifty DIY hyperpigmentation solution that really seems to work.

Ingredients in Somme (before I added in the ferulic acid)

Water, ascorbyl methysilanol, SD alcohol 40, Molecular Dispersion Technology (MDT5), xanthan gum, orange extract, palma rosa extract, lime extract, lavender extract, oak moss extract, galbanum extract, diazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, tetrasodium EDTA
  • August 24, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Charlie - yes you can.

  • August 24, 2011

    by Charlie

    Can I just buy L-ascorbic acid in fine powder form and mix it into my daily serum or moisturizer, like Philosophy's C-booster?

  • June 20, 2011

    by Doug

    For do-it-yourselfers interested in a simple, effective, inexpensive and elegant recipe for a vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid serum, there is a detailed youtube video that describes how to make one here:

  • June 6, 2009

    by Nina

    Mask of Pregnancy, otherwise known as Melasma. I have had melasma for about ten years now. It is on both sides of my face but on one side it is darker and bigger.

    I have tried soooo many different face creams, nothing has worked. I have also had peels, did not improve. I have read on this website about the Vitamin C but have not tried it. The problem I have is that I have a very oily T-zone so I really cannot put something heavy on my face because I start to breakout. Any suggestions from anyone out there?

  • January 9, 2009

    by Laura

    Thanks, Marta! I'll do that.

  • January 9, 2009

    by marta

    The only way to be sure would be to email Skin Actives. In my experience, the lovely Dr Hannah will give you prompt advice.

  • January 8, 2009

    by Laura

    O.K. I have my Truth Serum and a bottle of ferulic acid from skinactives. Trouble is, I don't have a tiny vial - it's rather large. The instructions that came with mine say to add 1/2 teaspoon to Canvas base cream and mix. Is this enough of the ferulic acid added to one ounce of Truth Serum to chase away my age spots? I've decided to go after them ferociously, and have purchased the Three Little Wonders plus the Ole Henriksen serum specifically for reduction of hyperpigmentation - Ya think I'm over-doing it? :). In addition to a few very light age spots, I have a noticeable spot about 1/3 inch in diameter that I believe is called "mask of pregnancy." I used a too-strong hydroxy-acid treatment on it years ago which caused it to scab and scar - arg! so now it's darker than it was.

  • October 10, 2008

    by marta

    <p>Absolutely. Just be careful: the whole phial of ferulic is meant for a 1oz jar of cream. So you should literally use a little drop. Let us know how you get on.</p>

  • October 10, 2008

    by synergie

    <p>I mix the powder into a couple of squirts of the white tea serum on my hand before smooshing it together and then slathering on. So I'm hoping that keeps the potency! Can I add a drop of ferulic to that?</p>

    <p>I'm on my way over to take a look at what you came up with. Thank you, you rock!</p>

  • October 10, 2008

    by marta

    <p>So this is what I believe happens. Vitamin C ascorbic acid starts out as a crystalline powder. At this stage it is stable, its when you add it to something - particularly water (the base for most creams) that it becomes unstable. It is also affected by pH balance and temperature.<br />
    You inspired me to pull together some vit C and E creams, so see today,s posts.</p>

  • October 10, 2008

    by synergie

    <p>Does that go for the C-Boost Powder as well? I thought that the powder form kept it from breaking down more than if it were incorporated into a cream. Well, that was my theory anyway :-) I just grabbed the white tea since it was handy and I like the texture. I was hoping that the powder mixed into a squirt or two of the white tea would maintain its potency and the ferulic acid might enhance that. </p>

    <p>I would appreciate your recommendations. I happened upon your site the other night and I'm quite enjoying it :-)</p>

  • October 9, 2008

    by marta

    <p>The problem with Philosophy is that the vitamin C is ascorbic acid - a fairly week form that is unstable (it starts to evaporate as soon as you open the jar). The Origins has relatively small doses of vitamin e and c. So I don't think there is much there for the ferulic acid to enhance. But if you've been happy with the results so far, the ferulic will only help. </p>

    <p>I'll put together a round up of some good Vitamin C and E creams that can be used as bases for the ferulic acids.</p>

  • October 9, 2008

    by synergie

    <p>You have me intrigued. I've been experimenting with Philosophy's Vitamin C powder added to Origins White Tea serum, do you think adding ferulic acid might boost it some more? (I'm attempting to fade a tan and any possible sun damage I acquired over the past two years.)</p>

    <p>TIA,<br />

  • September 18, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Thank you! And let us know how it works out for you.</p>

  • September 17, 2008

    by Jen

    <p>Hi <br />
    I love your site and happy to find honest insight into the confusing world of skincare etc... I wanted to mention that I use a version of this from Skinceuticals Serum 20 Aox and it is very expensive so I am glad to find a cheaper alternative. <br />
    Keep up the good work and great info!</p>

  • September 2, 2008

    by Mike626

    <p>If you experiment whilst wearing your Q-Link, I think you will actually begin to age backward.</p>

  • September 2, 2008

    by Jen Hill

    <p>What a wonderful mad scientist beauty story! I love it.</p>

    <p>I am also an instant fan of your site. Love your style and am hooked!</p>

  • September 2, 2008

    by marta

    <p>Perhaps if I experiment whilst wearing my Q-Link.....</p>

  • September 2, 2008

    by Melissa Sebastien

    <p>Brilliant and impressive resourcefulness! Can't wait to try! I have straight ferulic and call it "liquid gold"--I once spilled a 1/2 a bottle of it on the counter and painstakingly siphoned it up and put what I could salvage back in the bottle! <br />
    Melissa<br /></p>

  • September 2, 2008

    by Mike626

    <p>Now, be brave. </p>

    <p>Add some glucosamine and niacinamide. </p>

    <p>Go on, you know you want to.</p>

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