Vegan Diet Causing Skin Problems? Here’s How to Fix Them!

fruits and vegetables on a vegan diet for good skin

When you started your vegan diet you were promised eternal health and vibrant young skin. And what you got was problematic skin that is dry, dull and is breaking out constantly. I’m going to tell you some possible reasons for this and how you can fix them!

First off, congratulations on going vegan if you’ve just started! And to those who’ve only developed skin problems after months or years of being on the diet, stick around, because there could be some simple reasons behind it.

When I started eating super healthy, my skin cleared up so well, I would frequently get compliments from people. I don’t think my skin was perfect, but it was far better than it had been. But at some point, I ran into problems while on a vegan diet and I found the solution.

Reasons for skin problems on a vegan diet

Below are a few of the main reasons why you might be experiencing some issues while on a vegan diet.

1. It’s a detox reaction

This is for those who’ve just started a vegan diet, this is mainly for you. Have you ever heard the phrase: “it gets worse before it gets better”?

What I’ve noticed over the years with my own personal experience and many other vegans, is that problems can sometimes get worse when you start the diet, and then you start to heal.

Remember, when you lose weight, you are releasing all the toxins into your bloodstream from fat cells and this can overwhelm the body’s ability to remove them fast enough.

People with candida and lots of bad bacteria in their gut may experience an issue as manifest as the body’s microflora begins to shift.

This can cause a ‘die-off’ reaction and often will manifest as breakouts due to increase number of toxins and inflammation.

This problem usually resolves itself within a few weeks to months.

2. You’re low on Zinc

I’ve already talked about my own experience with acne and zinc deficiency after being on a vegan diet in a previous post. For a while, it had me confused until I figured out why I was getting acne again.

A plant-based vegan diet can be very high in copper and this competes with zinc. A vegan diet tends to be low in zinc as it is, even without this issue.

Acne also happens to be one of the main symptoms of zinc deficiency. I and many others have had success in treating acne after going vegan by just taking a regular zinc supplement.

If you’ve been on a vegan diet for a while, this is one of the first things I would try supplementing. You should notice the effects within a week or two but give it at least 3 months.

3. Lacking omega 3

Vegans don’t eat fish, and this is one of the best sources of omega 3 for humans. Not many people eat seaweed, and only a few vegans may opt for products high in ALA which can be converted to EPA.

Depending on how restrictive the diet is, this may be one of the reasons for a dry, dull, and rough skin on a vegan diet.

If you want to get a natural healthy glow then consumer products which contain more ALA like avocado, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds etc.

Algal oil is also another great source of omega 3 (EPA and DHA) and can be found in a variety of different vegan omega 3 supplements.

You should start noticing a difference within weeks.

4. Not getting enough protein

Did you know your skin was made out of protein? Of course, you did. You need to get a good amount of essential amino acids on a vegan diet to help build healthy looking skin.

The second reason why protein restriction may cause skin thinning on a vegan diet is that IGF-1 has decreased too much. IGF-1 is important for cell proliferation, and the skin is one organ in the body which is constantly changing and remodeling.

Vegan diets tend to naturally reduce calories and also reduce protein intake. This has been shown to significantly reduce IGF-1 in humans. For people with lower baseline levels of IGF-1, it may drop it too low and cause negative physiological effects.

It’s relatively easy to increase protein on a vegan diet, but there are also vegan shakes available.

5. You’ve become too sensitive

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence from vegans who’ve adhered to their diet long term that they become more sensitive to chemicals in everyday skin products and household detergents for cleaning clothes.

Look at what products you’re using whether it be skin serums, makeup, or cleansers even, and look out for any suspect ingredients.

It could also be that since going on a vegan diet, some products are just too harsh now. If you’re using retinoids, maybe try vitamin C serums.

Try being a bit more gentle on your skin. Skin products are fine (I use them myself), but pick good quality products.

6. Low in Vitamin B12

Every vegan on the planet should be taking a vitamin B12 supplement without question. Studies have consistently shown that vegans cannot get enough B12 from diet alone and must supplement it. Yes, it’s good to be natural, but it’s not good to be silly.

Low vitamin B12 can cause skin lesions, hyperpigmentation, lack of pigmentation, pale skin and other abnormalities in the skins general appearance.

Find out which is the best B12 supplement here.

7. You’re low in Iron

If your skin looks dry, damaged, and pale, it could be a sign that you’re running low on Iron stores. Iron is crucially for carrying oxygen to the cells around the body. Other symptoms you may notice are itchy skin which you feel like scratching a lot.

Plant-based vegan diets do tend to contain a lot of iron, but it’s non-heme iron and it’s harder for the body to absorb.

Women on a vegan diet are at greater risk of iron deficiency and it’s recommended that at least get frequent blood tests.

8. You’re vegan but your diet sucks

vegan skin

You’ve made the jump to a vegan diet but all you’re eating is vegan junk food (yup, there’s a lot of it!).

Many foods are vegan, even fries are vegan. But they aren’t exactly great for your skin or your health.

If you’re eating processed foods on a vegan diet, it’s all the same, it’s processed and probably bad.

You should be eating a diet which is mainly comprised of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. If you do this, your skin will really thank you for it and you’ll be far healthier.

Also, eating too much fruit which is high in sugar and cause massive blood sugar swings can cause acne. Try to limit these foods and focus more on fruits like berries.

9. Hormone fluctuations

There are many plant foods, herbs and such which can have significant effects on the body’s hormones. Some may help regulate hormones, but some may suppress hormones and then when you stop eating them, you get a reflexive reaction where testosterone spikes and causes a breakout.

Certain types of products in the environment can also negatively affect hormones in the body.

10. You’re getting too much sun

You’ve got a new sexy body and looking amazing, and want to show it off. It’s summertime after all!

That’s awesome, but did you know that UV rays are one of the main causes of skin aging?

Protecting your skin on a vegan diet will give you far better results and keep you looking much younger.

Protect your skin by being sensible with sun exposure and protecting your skin and using a high SPF sunblock

A vegan, plant-based diet, cannot undo all the sun damage and neither can it make you superhuman and stop sun damage from occurring – even with all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’re getting.


A vegan diet can help keep your skin young and beautiful if you eat well and look after it. I know many vegans who literally look decades younger than their age because they’ve also looked after their skin. A vegan diet does not have to result in bad skin, but it can if you make some of these common mistakes.

Beta Glucan Benefits for Skin Care

The skin is one the body’s most important organs and also the largest. It protects your body from pathogens, toxins, injury and other things which would certainly kill you if you didn’t have this barrier between what makes up your body and the outside world. Beta Glucan is one thing we can take internally or apply on our skin to prevent skin aging and enhance our immune system and skin’s healing capacity.

Did you have oatmeal today? If you did, then you have consumed a certain type of beta-glucan which has been shown to lower cholesterol, boost immunity and lower blood glucose. These beta glucans have also been found to have a number of positive and beneficial effects on the skin.

What are Beta Glucans?

Beta-glucans have been studied for decades because of their remarkable and beneficial effects on human health. Most people who get beta glucan are most likely to be getting it from oats. It is found in the cell-wall of cereals like oat and barley but can be found in other food sources in smaller amounts.

Beta-glucans can also be found in bacteria and fungi, but these have different properties than oat beta glucans.

They typically consist of glucose polymers with a backbone of 1-3 beta-glycosidic bonds and different variation of side chains: Oat beta glucans having (1-4)-d-glucopyranose units which are separated every 2-3 units be single beta glucan (1-3) glucose units.

Beta-glucans derived from yeast and fungi typically have a (1,3) β-backbone with a small number of (1,6) β-linked side chains.

Oat beta-glucans are more well known for their healthy-heart promoting effects by lowering glucose and cholesterol. Beta-glucans derived from yeast and fungi tend to be effective in modulating the immune system.

Each type of beta-glucan can have amazing and diverse physiological effects on the human body with some overlapping beneficial effects. Ideally, one would want to include both them in their diet and supplement regimen.

What benefits do beta glucans provide for skin health?

As already mentioned, beta glucans significantly improve the immune system and its response to pathogens. But not only does it help boost immunity to eradicate both fungal and bacterial infections of the skin, it can also modulate the immune system so that it doesn’t reactive to harmless things which may cause an allergic response.

By improving the skins innate capacity to deal with an onslaught of pathogens in an effective and timely manner, you also create a better environment within the skin for self-renewal and repair.

Stimulating immune cells like macrophages and other types of cells can help remodel the skin to prevent permanent scarring and degradation of the structure and moisture balance of the skin.

Beta glucans have also been found to boost collagen synthesis, which results in fewer signs of aging like fine lines and crows feet.

In summary, beta-glucan can improve the skin in a few ways

  • Improve immunity and barrier function of the skin to keep out harmful pathogens
  • Modulate the immune system so it does not overreact to harmless substances
  • Improve clearance of toxins, debris and scar tissue to improve skin regeneration
  • Accelerate the healing of infections and burns
  • Protect and reverse some of the effects of sun damage
  • Increase skins resistance against chemicals which may harm the skin

Now that you know the key benefits of beta-glucans on skin health, you might be interested in learning about some of the research which has been done over the years. So let’s take a look at some of the evidence behind these claims.

The evidence behind Beta Glucan

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read some of the evidence behind these amazing claims before going out and rubbing some oats on your face or buying some kind of product which contain beta glucans.

Beta Glucan for skin aging

Oat beta glucan, due to its structure had been identified as a candidate to treat skin conditions, including fine lines and wrinkling.

So in 2005, a paper was published that that beta-glucan (0.5%) in a solution at a dose of 5mg per cm2 was able to penetrate into both the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (inner-layer) of the skin.

In the study, they looked at the effects of oat beta-glucan on signs of aging such as fine-line and wrinkles and looked to observe if there were any improvements of a short period of just 8 weeks. The study included 27 subjects.

Remarkably, even though treatment was short, there was a significant reduction in wrinkle depth, height and overall roughness of the skin. [1]

In another study, researchers looked at the effect of Saccharomyces cerevisiae extract (SCE) which is an ingredient used in some skin care formulations to improve skin texture and wrinkling.

Volunteers applied the cosmetic formulation to their skin and were asked if they had noticed any improvements. Skin patch testing was also performed.

Only patients receiving (SCE) noticed improvements in better skin texture, skin brightness, and skin microrelief. Meaning, the structure of the skin had improved, and thus SCE may useful in preventing fine lines and skin wrinkling. [2]

Beta Glucan for treating burns

We all cut cuts and bumps, and normally the skin heals pretty nicely. However, burns can be quite serious, and it’s important to manage them correctly for optimal healing and have a good cosmetic outcome.

Beta glucan, due to their immune system modulating effects may be useful in the treatment of burns according to one study performed in children.

In 1997, doctors used a beta glucan collagen treatment for partial thickness burns. There were different types of injury: scald (61%), flame (37%) and contact (2%).

The average age of the patient was just 5.5 years with an average surface area burn of 9.3%.

Beta-glucan helped to reduce significantly the need for changing of dressings and also improved the ability of patients to do therapy and return to their normal daily activities much sooner than would be normal without this type of dressing containing beta-glucan [3].

In animal studies, beta-glucans (ingested orally) has been shown to reduce tissue damage and burn-induced oxidative damage because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Combined with beta-glucans ability to dramatically increase macrophage activity in the injury site, this results in better healing with fewer cosmetic issues [4].

And finally, in the ‘Journal of Wound Care,’ a 2017 study looked at the effect of beta-glucan on patients who had ‘hard-to-heal’ wounds.

26 of the original 39 patients completed the 12-week study and showed significant improvements in wound closure. Seven of the 26 had their wounds fully heal, and 8 others had their wounds decrease by 50% in size.

One downside of the study is that there was no control group. So further research needs to be done to see if indeed beta glucan is more effective than standard protocol or placebo. [5]

Beta Glucan for photoprotection

Beta Glucan applied directly to the sun may help prevent DNA damage with sun exposure. Although the study was done in cell lines, we know that beta-glucan can effectively penetrate into the dermis and therefore is likely to be beneficial when applied topically.

The study showed that continuous application of beta-glucan from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and barley was able to reduce DNA damage by as much as 87.5%! [6]

Should you use it on your skin?

From looking at the evidence, it appears that more data is needed on the efficacy of beta-glucan on skin aging. We know far more about the healthful effects of consuming beta-glucan from our diet than we do for applying it topically to the skin.

Evidence does suggest that beta-glucan may improve skin moisture, fine lines, texture and other signs of aging in humans. It may also help improve skin healing, but since the clinical trials lacked controls, it’s too early to say for definite.

I personally take a beta glucan supplement and regularly eat oatmeal. I also use a product skin care product which contains Saccharomyces. For me, it’s too difficult to say whether or not these have had an additive effect on my skin, because there are too many products that I use.

That being said, it doesn’t appear that beta-glucan is harmful to the skin whether ingested orally or applied directly to the skin. All evidence so far points to a beneficial and anti-aging effect.

How Long Does a Vitamin C Serum Take to Work

Skin serum bottle

When trying to fix your skin, you’re going to need ample amount of patience. And depending on how deep the damage and problems are, the time it can take for a good vitamin c serum to correct skin problems can vary significantly.

There is a wide range of vitamin C serums on the market today, some of them are fantastic, while others are not-so-great, and may even be damaging to the skin.

What I’m saying is, you get what you pay for.

There are budget serums like this one which includes a form of vitamin C which is stable, and I would recommend these over a cheap L-ascorbic serum (read more). For a premium serum, I recommend checking out Skinceuticals.

I personally go for more premium products for my skin, but I’d encourage you to experiment for yourself to see what works for you and if you think the premium serums are worth it.

I personally think that they are because of the results I’ve had from using them for almost a decade.

Main factors in determining how fast vitamin C will correct skin damage

There are many factors which come into play when looking at the time it will take for you to see a significant benefit from applying a vitamin C serum to your face.

  1. The type of vitamin C, the concentration used, and other ingredients in the serum
  2. How deep the damage goes will significantly change the time needed for vitamin C serums to work
  3. Your age: younger skin is able to bounce back more easily than older skin
  4. How consistent you are with your skincare regimen
  5. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, and drugs will decrease the effectiveness of treatment
  6. Your diet may also play a role in the ability of your skin to regenerate

As you can see, there are many variables which will both alter the effectiveness of vitamin C and also change the length of time that it will take before you see a significant benefit.

However, there have been a number of studies looking at vitamin C in treating different skin condition such as:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Aging skin
  • Acne
  • Melasma
  • Age Spots
  • General redness

Most studies appear to show that vitamin C is able to help improve the skin in as little as 4 – 12 weeks and improvements continuing for up to a year or more after the start of treatment.

In order to give you an idea of what to expect, let’s have a look at a few studies using vitamin C on the face.

Study 1

In 2002, a double-blind study involved just 10 patients and looked at the effectiveness of a vitamin C containing 10% ascorbic acid on skin aging.

In short, the study showed that by 12 weeks, those who had vitamin C applied to their skin had significant improvements in photoaging scores and also an improvement in skin wrinkling.

Collagen synthesis was also increased in those who used vitamin C, whereas there was no change in the subjects given the placebo. [1]

Study 2

In 2003, a lower concentrate (5%) vitamin C serum was tested on healthy female volunteers. The study was a double-blind, randomized trial, and subjects were followed and evaluated at the start of the study, 3 months, and then at 6 months.

By the end of the study, patients had subjectively noticed significant improvements in their skin.

Biopsies confirmed these improvements by showing a significant increase in density of skin microrelief and a decrease in deep furrows.

Researchers noted that there was structural evidence from biopsies which showed elastic tissue repair in the subjects that were using the topic vitamin C serum. [2]

Study 3

In this study, researchers opted to use a much higher concentration (25%) of L-Ascorbic acid to treat a condition called melasma.

Forty patients were treated over a period of just 16 weeks and each of the patients was assessed every 4 weeks to look for improvements in pigmentation.

By the end of the study, patients had experienced significant improvements in their quality of life, and vitamin C was determined to be an effective treatment for melasma. [3]

Study 4

Nineteen volunteers who presented with mild to moderate photodamaged skin were enrolled into a study to see the effect of a serum containing ascorbic acid on improving skin health.

The study lasted 3 months and subjects were graded on a 0-9 scale. By the end of the 3 months, patients who received the vitamin C treatment demonstrated significant improvements.

The photographic assessment of subjects showed 57.9% greater improvement than the control group in things like wrinkling, skin roughness, skin tone etc. [4]

Vitamin C type and concentration

L-Ascorbic acid has been shown to be effective up to 20% concentration. Many vitamin C serums that you’ll come across usually have between 10-20% concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid.

If you opt for a higher concentration, you will likely see effects more quickly, especially with regards to improving complexion, skin evenness, and fine lines.

Higher concentrations are usually fine for most people, but sometimes you will feel a bit of a sting when first applied. This lasts no more than a second and usually goes away after a few applications.

For speedy results, for at least 15% – 20% concentration of ascorbic acid.

If you’re opting for a budget serum, then I would advise going for 20% sodium ascorbyl phosphate. You can find a good choice of products here.

How bad is the damage?

If you are 20-40 years old: you will be more likely to experience significant improvements in a short period of time.

As per the studies, it’s always recommended that you give it at least 4 weeks before judging whether or not it’s working.

You should notice major improvements within 12-24 weeks. You will notice that your skin becomes softer, lines fade, hyperpigmentation fades, and redness decreases.

If you are 40 or older: you’re likely to have suffered a lot more damage from the sun, environment, and biological aging.

Skin doesn’t bounce back as easily as you get older, so be prepared to give it a bit more time before you’re able to see a benefit of using a vitamin C serum.

That being said, studies have shown significant improvements in photodamage, skin wrinkling, and a boost in collagen synthesis within 3 months.

I’d recommend that you give it a year or so to experience the full effect of applying vitamin C to your skin.

Superficial damage

The top layer of skin, minor cuts, minor acne marks and such will be the first thing to be improved by vitamin C serums.

A decrease in spots, freckles and other marks will be noticeable within about 1-3 months.

Deeper problems

If you have hyperpigmentation that is deep (you may notice a blueish color) then I’d recommend going with something like phloretin CF, for deeper penetration into the dermis.

This type of damage can take a very long time to heal. Also, when damage is deeper in the skin, you may see things get worse before they get better. This is very important to know.

Using laser treatment in combination with vitamin C would be the best bet if you want fast results.

Some people experience something called post-inflammatory erythema (PIE), and it’s common in people who’ve experienced acne. This is where blood vessels remain dilated at the site of injury and can take months or years to resolve.

Vitamin C serums will have very little to no effect on PIE. Lasers or time is the best treatment.

Superficial red marks from acne are easily treated with ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

Being consistent

One of the ways you can ensure fast results is to just simply having a solid skincare regimen that you stick to day in and day out.

When vitamin C is absorbed into the skin, most of it cannot be washed off. The effect of vitamin C can last a few days but gradually wears off.

To achieve maximum concentrations of vitamin C in the skin, you want to make sure that you use it every day, in addition to using a sunscreen. If you do use a sunscreen, vitamin D levels will drop, so you might want to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.

Using other products may also enhance the effect of vitamin C, such as moisturizers, exfoliating your skin to remove the dead skin cells.

Eat a healthy diet

If you think that you can just fix up your skin from the outside, you’d be wrong.

Eating healthily will help rejuvenate the skin by providing the necessary vitamins and minerals for the skin to repair.

Fruits and vegetables are abundant in antioxidants which can help combat free radical damage and inhibit inflammation which is damaging to the skin.

Eating healthy fats will also contribute to a healthy glow and combat skin dryness.

In conclusion

  • Give it at least 4-12 weeks to start making a difference
  • If you’re older than 40, give it a bit more time
  • Make sure you eat healthily to speed up improvements
  • Be consistent and use sunscreen every day when applying vitamin C
  • It can take up to one year or more before seeing maximum benefits
  • Use every day to prevent or slow down reappearance of skin problems

Everyone who wants to keep their skin young and healthy should consider using a good vitamin C serum. Did you know Shakira credits the use Vitamin C serums for her youthful looks?

For anyone who is looking to prevent and protect their skin from the harmful effects of the environment and aging, these serums should be a staple of your skincare regimen.

Fortunately, for those who hadn’t started using vitamin C early in life, you can still benefit from its ability to reverse some photodamage and signs of aging.


1. Double-blind, half-face study comparing topical vitamin C and vehicle for rejuvenation of photodamage.

2. Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo.

3. Clinical efficacy of 25% L-ascorbic acid (C’ensil) in the treatment of melasma

4. Use of topical ascorbic acid and its effects on photodamaged skin topography.

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF vs CE Ferulic

Best Skin Serum: Phloretin CF or CE Ferulic Acid?

Since around 2009 I’ve been a huge fan of Skinceuticals products. In fact, I’ve used almost nothing but Skinceuticals from the time my friend introduced me to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic almost 10 years ago. Since that time, I’ve also experimented with Phloretin CF, and experienced some great results. Because I’ve used both for a long time, I thought I’d compare Phloretin CF and CE Ferulic.

Both are good quality vitamin C serums for the face, and both are excellent choices depending on your skin type and your personal needs.

My friend suggested that I tried using vitamin c on my skin to help me with some minor skin issues after suffering years of acne. And the results within just a few months were quite amazing – basically, it worked better than anything I had ever used previously.

Ever since that time I started using CE Ferulic, I’ve been a loyal customer of SkinCeuticals and will probably continue to use them for a long time to come.

Below are some of the main reasons why I tell people to choose Skinceuticals if they’re looking for good quality skincare.

  • Skinceuticals ingredients and products are tested for their effectiveness in clinical trials
  • Many dermatologists recommend Skinceuticals brand for various skin conditions
  • I’ve never once experienced a negative reaction to SkinCeuticals products
  • Skinceuticals products include high quality and mostly has natural ingredients
  • I’ve had great results from over 80% of the products I’ve used

If Skinceutials are too expensive, check out my article on good cheap Vitamin C serums.

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF vs CE Ferulic: which is better?

holding bottles of ce ferulic and phloretin cf Which one is better depends on your skin type and also the time of year it is. I’ll frequently switch things up in my skin care routine over the course of the year.

Here’s what I do: In the winter I opt for CE Ferulic and in the summer I choose to use Phloretin CF.  Both are good serums and I like them for different reasons. I’ll elaborate more on that later in the post.

A look at Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

This was the first good skincare serum that I used and I used it for many years before trying anything else. It really did make a huge difference to the way my skin looked back in 2009, and it cleared up a lot of minor freckles and hyperpigmentation that I developed from the sun and years of acne.

I also received a lot of compliments from people for the first time in years after about 3 months of using it. It wasn’t just me who started to notice the difference, but other people wondered what I was doing to my skin to make it look so good and healthy.

I believe that it’s CE Ferulic which has helped keep my skin looking young for this long. Of course, diet is important, but it’s better to slow down aging from the inside and from the outside.

Suitable for skin types: Dry, normal, and sensitive skin

Recommended to treat: Aging skin, discoloration, dehydrated, and sensitized skin

How long does each 30 ml bottle last: If used only on the face, it lasts 6-7 months when stored in the refrigerator.

 See current price and reviews

Benefits of using CE Ferulic and its ingredients

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic contains a few different active ingredients which help make it a powerful anti-aging and corrective skin serum for a number of different skin conditions.

Has a high concentration of (stabilized) Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid) – 15%

The most effective form of vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid, and once it’s properly stable in a skin serum, it’s able to penetrate to the dermis to boost collagen, protect your skin from free radical damage, and act as a mildly effective sunscreen.  Vitamin C is also effective for up to 3 days after it penetrates the skin. Many studies have been done on low and high concentrations of vitamin C, and they consistently show that it is a good anti-aging ingredient for the skin and helps reduce the early signs of aging.

Contains Vitamin E  (1%) in the form of alpha-tocopherol

Alpha-tocopherol and Vitamin C work together to fight free radical damage and undergo ‘redox cycling’ –  enabling vitamin E to continue to provide benefits in protecting against damage in the skin from the environment. The inclusion of vitamin E also helps the serum spread across the face better because it’s got a more oily quality. Although it’s not so bad that it ends up blocking pores. As someone who is prone to get blocked pores and acne, this wasn’t an issue for me.

Contains Ferulic Acid (0.5%)

Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant by itself and acts synergistically with the other ingredients, vitamin C, and vitamin E to dramatically increase the photoprotection you get from this serum. In one study they showed that adding ferulic acid to the serum increased photoprotection from 4 fold to 8 fold when they measured erythema and sunburn cell formation.

A look at Skinceuticals CF Phloretin

It’s been about 3 years or so since I started to introduce this serum into my regular skincare regimen. At first, I was a bit hesitant about it because of the high cost of the product. The last thing you want is to buy a skin serum and react badly to it.

I mean, maybe that’s fine for a regular high street brand, but CF Phloretin is often more expensive than CE Ferulic. However, due to my very positive experience in using SkinCeuticals products in the past, I went ahead and ordered it and also used the advanced pigment corrector with it (I’ll explain why later).

I noticed some interesting effects from using the serum such as decreased pore size, improved skin redness, and marks on my skin faded a lot. My skin tone looked even and my face didn’t look too oily.

Suitable for skin types: Normal, oily, and aging skin.

Recommended to treat: Acne, skin aging, hyperpigmentation, and discoloration.

Free from: Phloretin CF is also paraben, dye, and fragrance-free. This is a good thing because I am sensitive to parabens and avoid them where I can.

Downsides: The only downside is that this product contains alcohol, but it hasn’t been irritating to my skin at all. I believe they use it because it’s able to help the ingredients in the serum be absorbed more deeply into the skin to correct deeper skin problems.

How long does each 30 ml bottle last: If used only on the face, it should last approximately 6-7 months when stored in the refrigerator after use.

 See current price and reviews

Benefits of using CF+Phloretin and its ingredients

Skinceuticals CF+Phloretin is formulated a little differently than CE Ferulic which makes gives it good points, but also has a few downsides in my opinion. Which doesn’t make it a vitamin C serum, but I wish that it was formulated a little differently.

Phloretin CF was created mainly to help protect the skin from damaging environmental effects and reduce the appearance of fine lines and discoloration.

You can also choose either the serum or gel. Most people find the gel easier to use and easier to spread across the skin evenly. The gel formulation was a more recent addition to Skinceuticals product line. I personally like the normal serum, but either should just as well.

A moderate concentration of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid) – 10%

I don’t know the reason for which Skinceuticals opted to have only 10% concentration of vitamin C in their product, but I wish it were higher.

That being said, having a lower amount of Vitamin C might be indicative of a better-formulated serum which enables the vitamin C to penetrate better and deeper into the dermis for its corrective effect.

High concentration of phloretin – 2%

Phloretin is an antioxidant which is found in apples and since a few years ago has been included in many popular skin serums because it improves the effectiveness of vitamin c and improves photoprotection against UV rays by reducing inflammation, reducing sunburn cell formation and reducing the formation of thymine dymer’s – which are an indication of DNA damage.

Researchers also noted that enzymes which degrade collagen and elastin were decreased, as well as a decrease in p53 protein, which means a reduction in cell death.  See the results of the clinical study on CF Phloretin here.

Contains Ferulic Acid – 0.5%

Phloretin CF has the same amount of ferulic acid as the CE Ferulic vitamin C serum, and it’s a good thing that this was also included in this formulation, as ferulic acid has some good evidence to back up its effectiveness as a skincare ingredient.

Mid-range alternative SkinCeuticals Vitamin C Serum

The above skin serums are easily some of the best and most premium skin serums on the market, but a lot of people find the cost a bit too steep!

I personally use them because averaged out over several months, the price is manageable.

However, SkinCeuticals do offer a mid-range skin serum called Serum 15.

Serum 15 contains both Vitamin C in the form of Ascorbic acid (the most effective), and Ferulic acid to increase the stability and antioxidant power of vitamin C.

Suitable for skin types: Normal, mixed type, and oily skin.

Recommended to treat: Prevention of fine lines and wrinkles. Improves photodamage and skin discolorations.

Downsides: The only downside to this serum is that it doesn’t contain either phloretin or vitamin E. However, you can use this product with a moisturizer which contains vitamin E.

How long does each 30 ml bottle last: When used just on your face, a 30 ml bottle will last for 6-7 months. It should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent oxidation.

Editor note: I’ve never used this skin serum. I’ve only used SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF. I’m sharing this as a good alternative for people who are on a tighter budget.

See current price and reviews


How to choose between CE Ferulic and CF Phloretin

Now that you understand the main differences between the two serums, you can decide on which is best for you based on your own needs and your skin type (see above).

Wintertime skincare

In the winter I would recommend that you opt for the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic acid as this tends to be more moisturizing and less drying on your skin.

As someone who has been prone to acne in the past, CE Ferulic did not cause me to break out at all and was perfectly fine for my skin. This serum is good enough that it could replace your normal skin moisturizing lotion if needed.

In the winter and summer, I also have used (on and off) SkinCeuticals advanced pigment corrector. It goes on after I use CF Phloretin or CE Ferulic and I’ve found the ingredients from these serums and this cream complement each other well and makes the skin glow and look even better.

Summertime Skincare

During the summer I would recommend that you try out CF Phloretin because it offers unique benefits in that the ingredients are delivered my deeply into the skin and can corrective issues at a more deeper level than CE Ferulic.

I had a good experience with CE Ferulic where it did improve hyperpigmentation, but after about one year I stopped noticing any improvement. It was only after I introduced CF Phloretin into my skincare regimen that I saw some further improvement in removing marks on my skin from previous years.

In the summer there is higher humidity, you sweat more,  and most people don’t tend to experience dry skin. Therefore I recommend CF Phloretin for summer.

Here are the caveats and points to consider:

  • If you have oily skin and are prone to breaking out, go for CF Phloretin
  • If you have overly dry skin, then I would recommend you try out CE Ferulic acid as your first choice
  • If you have combination or normal skin: Either serum should be good for you. Almost everyone I’ve recommended Skinceuticals serums to have had a good experience no matter their skin type
  • If you want to reduce fine lines and discoloration/hyperpigmentation, choose CF Phloretin
  • If you want to improve deep wrinkles, lighten skin, increase firmness and get a nice glow, go for CE Ferulic

How long will it take to see the benefits?

Skinceuticals recommends that you give it at least 12 weeks to see significant improvements.

However, in my own experience, improvements can continue up to a year or beyond and will continue to protect your skin thereafter.

It’s important that you always use vitamin c serums with sun protection to get the maximum benefits.

In conclusion

Both vitamin C serums are very high quality and premium skincare products, which are supported by multiple studies in their efficacy for treating skin disorders and protecting the skin from harmful UV rays and damaging environmental effects.

Both skin products have their uses and the benefit you’ll get from either one will be significant when used even for just a few months. These vitamin C serums are able to correct photodamage, reduce fine lines, improve skin hydration, and make the skin look much healthier.

If you’ve never tried a high-end skin serum before, then it might be hard to justify the price. However, because both of these skin serums can last up to 6-7 months if you’re just using it on your face and you put it in the fridge after every use, this makes the cost of a skin serum a bit more easy to digest.

Too expensive?

If these skin serums by Skinceuticals are too expensive for you, then you can check out my article on budget serums.

I recommend that you at least try it out for one time, and if you’re like me and have a great experience, you’ll never want to stop using skin care products by Skinceuticals. I am a fan, I might be a bit biased. But it’s simply because SkinCeuticals have almost always given me great results and never caused any harm to my skin.

There are many budget vitamin c serums out there, and yes I’ve used them in the past and do use one particular serum for other areas of my body.

I hope this has been helpful in giving you the information you need to decide between either CF Phloretin or CE Ferulic. If you have any questions regarding these serums or other Skinceuticals products, please just ask in the comments. I do have a lot of experience using them.