6 Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Alternatives That Cost Less Than $35

All will help boost your skin’s overall glow.

The best Skinceuticals C E Ferulic dupes you can buy for less than $35.
Getty Images/ fabio formaggio / 500px

Countless vitamin C-spiked beauty formulas can help protect and brighten your skin. Among them, the $166 cult-favorite elixir from Skinceuticals has become a household name for skin care aficionados and industry experts alike. Why? First of all, vitamin C can be a tricky ingredient to work with: There are various forms, some of which aren’t very stable when put into a beauty product. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., Skinceuticals is so popular because it gets this part right. To boost the effects of vitamin C, she points to the product’s inclusion of both vitamin E and ferulic acid: “Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that works synergistically with vitamin C and also helps moisturize, and ferulic acid is another antioxidant that enhances the benefits and stability of vitamins C and E,” Garshick explains. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo, M.D., adds that ferulic acid actually helps prevent your vitamin C from oxidizing so it remains potent.

For the vitamin C itself, the Skinceutcals serum uses L-ascorbic acid, a form celebrity facialist Natalie Aguilar considers the gold standard. “Ascorbic acid is tested and true,” she tells Bustle. “The combination of it with vitamin E and ferulic acid creates advanced protection against damage caused by harmful free radicals and UVA/UVB rays, and the synergistic antioxidant combo naturally helps brighten the skin, minimize wrinkles, and restore firmness.” But if the price tag feels steep, Aguilar and Garshick say you can find similar formulations that are essentially Skinceuticals C E Ferulic dupes on the shelves if you don’t want to spend over $100 on your vitamin C serum.

“More and more great vitamin C options have become available that have been shown to be stable and effective, and may be more affordable options,” says Garshick. When selecting a vitamin C serum, first look at the concentration of vitamin C. “In general, the concentrations range from 10 to 20%,” says Garshick, nodding to Skinceuticals’ 15%. “Formulations greater than 20% can be irritating.”

Be sure to also keep your skin type in mind when looking for a serum. “While many vitamin C options can be used by all skin types, often L-ascorbic acid is effective for normal to oily skin,” says Garshick. “Those with dry or sensitive skin, however, may do better with other forms that may be less irritating, like magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.” One last thing to keep in mind: reading a product label won’t tell you everything, as there are a multitude of factors that go into a product’s effectiveness that you won’t be able to glean, from ingredient sourcing to stability. At the end of the day, it’s all about what will work for your skin, and it may take some trial and error before you find the perfect vitamin C serum for you.

With all that in mind, keep scrolling to shop Skinceuticals C E Ferulic alternatives, all of which cost less than $35.

For A Hydrated Glow

Both Garshick and Aguilar love this vitamin C formula from Maelove. “Aside from vitamin C, E, and ferulic acid, it also has hyaluronic acid, aloe, and magnolia, making this serum extra-nourishing with long-lasting hydration,” says Aguilar. “I love that it’s oil-free, vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and is a complete luxury vitamin C serum without the luxury markup.”

For Sensitive Skin

For a simple formula that does the radiance-boosting trick, Aguilar is a fan of this one from Timeless Skin Care — especially because it comes in an airtight bottle, which decreases its exposure to oxygen and keeps it more stable for longer. It contains 10% vitamin C plus vitamin E and ferulic acid, making it a good choice for sensitive skin types.

For Extra Brightening

Acure’s vitamin C serum includes ferulic acid to enhance its skin-protective benefits. On top of the antioxidant duo, it also contains pineapple extract, papaya, and matcha, all of which boost the product’s brightening effects on your skin.

For A Soothing Option

Though this serum doesn’t rely on ascorbic acid for vitamin C, it uses tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate — a super-stable form of the antioxidant that has the same pigmentation-reducing prowess. Vitamin E, ferulic acid, bakuchiol (a plant-based retinol), and bisabolol (a humectant) balance its transformative formula that works to improve your complexion.

The Drugstore Buy

Just waltz into your local drugstore to snag this brightening serum: It contains vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E plus moisturizing hyaluronic acid, making it a true steal.

For Improved Radiance

Naturium’s Vitamin C Complex features two of the three core ingredients of the Skinceuticals formula: ascorbic acid and vitamin E. To take its brightening effects up a notch, it also includes papaya, mango, and pineapple extracts to work its complexion-boosting powers.

Studies referenced:


Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Marina Peredo, M.D., board-certified dermatologist

Natalie Aguilar, celebrity facialist