SkinCeuticals is a brand that offers clinical skincare products that are backed by science. The story behind this brand actually started long before the company’s founding in 1997 thanks to the pivotal research performed by Dr. Sheldon Pinnell, the leading scientist behind SkinCeuticals. Here’s a fun fact about Dr. Pinnell: in 1992, he filed the very first vitamin C patent. This discovery paved the way for an entirely new skin care category: topical vitamin C.
While SkinCeuticals vitamin C serums are among the brand’s most popular products (especially SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic), this brand offers a variety of products to treat the most common skin concerns with the ultimate goal of improving skin health.
In this review, we’ll discuss the SkinCeuticals products through a scientific lens, meaning we’ll evaluate the research that supports (or doesn’t support) the ingredients that you’ll find in these products. We’ll also share some SkinCeuticals reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of these products.
Is SkinCeuticals Skincare Worth The Money?
There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that’s effective and safe.
If you’re looking for effective skincare products that skip harmful toxins, one brand we recommend is Carrot & Stick.
Carrot & Stick is committed to creating plant-derived formulas that deliver extraordinary results without relying on toxic chemicals or standard preservatives.
Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the gentle nurturing of plants with innovative science.
What’s Inside Skinceuticals Products?
Since SkinCeuticals leading scientist Dr. Sheldon Pinnell has been called the “founding father of topical antioxidants”, it’s pretty obvious that antioxidants are the key ingredients used in SkinCeuticals products. But what exactly are antioxidants? And how do they benefit your skin?
Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals. Free radicals only have one unpaired electron, which makes the free radical unstable and highly reactive. In an attempt to become more stable, free radicals will either donate their single electron to another molecule or accept an electron from another molecule.
Ultimately, this leads to a chain of events that rips electrons off all nearby molecules. This is problematic because free radicals can rip electrons off our important cellular structures, like DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, or the cell membrane, which damages the cell and may even lead to cell death.
The International Dermal Institute explains, “Antioxidants help prevent such damage by giving free radicals what they want before they attack your cells.” This is important because when oxidative damage accumulates in the skin the result is inflammation, uneven skin tone, and premature signs of aging.
One of the main antioxidants in SkinCeutical products is L-ascorbic acid, which is pure vitamin C. We’ve been hearing for years that vitamin C is the best anti-aging ingredient. It’s a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.
Vitamin C also helps fade dark spots, evens out skin tone, and increases radiance. As if that wasn’t enough, research suggests that when vitamin C is applied to the skin, it significantly reverses aging-related structural changes by influencing collagen and elastin synthesis.
Our favorite Vitamin C serum is Carrot & Stick The Defence Serum. It contains 3 distinct types of Vitamin C that work together to help fight free radical damage. We recommend using it every morning.
Another antioxidant that you’ll find in SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic and many other SkinCeuticals products is vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). What’s interesting is that the antioxidant activity of vitamin E can actually become more powerful when combined with vitamin C.
For this reason, vitamins C and E are referred to as “network antioxidants”. A publication in the journal Dermatologic Therapy explains, “because vitamin C regenerates oxidized vitamin E, the combination in a cosmeceutical formulation is synergistic – particularly in UV protection.”
As you age, your body’s production of collagen and elastin slows down. These two proteins are responsible for your skin’s structural support. As a result, the skin loses its natural plumpness and smoothness.
While collagen is necessary for maintaining youthful-looking skin, the collagen protein is too large to absorb into the skin topically. That’s why applying skin care products that contain collagen won’t provide the anti-aging benefits you’re looking for.
This is where peptides come into action. Peptides are the building blocks of protein, and they are easily absorbed into the deeper layers of skin due to their smaller size.
SkinCeuticals Tripeptide-R Neck Repair is formulated with a 2.5% tripeptide concentrate to target multiple signs of aging.
If you’re looking for a peptide serum, we recommend Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum. It contains 7 plant-based peptides to promote plumper and smoother-looking skin. It also has skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.
Retinol is the go-to anti-aging ingredient recommended by dermatologists and skin experts. It’s clinically proven to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores.
The only downside? Retinol can often lead to side effects like skin dryness, peeling, and irritation.
SkinCeuticals offers three different strengths of their retinol cream: 0.3%, 0.5%, and 1% retinol.
Use retinoids at night. We recommend this retinoid oil serum. It contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, an ingredient that provides similar benefits with less irritation.
What Are The Top 10 Best SkinCeuticals Products?
SkinCeuticals offers everything you need to create a complete skincare routine, from cleansers to serums to sunscreens and more. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 best SkinCeuticals products.
If it’s one product from SkinCeuticals that you’ve definitely heard about, it has to be C E Ferulic. A potent dose of 15% L-ascorbic acid is combined with 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) and 0.5% ferulic acid. The result? An antioxidant serum that not only protects against environmental damage caused by free radicals, but also improves the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and the loss of firmness, while brightening skin’s complexion. One word comes to mind to describe SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic: multi-tasking!
The only drawback we can see is the cost: you’ll have to dish out $166 for just one ounce of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic! And according to the SkinCeuticals reviews, some customers think it’s worth it and others disagree. One reviewer shares, “Not worth the hype, it is way too expensive for what you are getting.”
Another SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum is Phloretin CF. This triple antioxidant cocktail features 10% L-ascorbic acid, 0.5% ferulic acid, and 2% phloretin. If you’ve never heard of phloretin, it’s a flavonoid derived from apples and the root bark of fruit trees including apple, pear, and grapefruit. Phloretin neutralizes damaging free radicals, and also helps increase cell turnover, improves the appearance of discoloration, and helps other beneficial ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin.
If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation, you’ve probably tried your fair share of dark spot correctors. So is SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense really any different than the others on the market? Yes and no. After evaluating the formula, we noticed that this serum contains some pretty standard ingredients that you’ll find in many dark spot correctors, such as tranexamic acid, kojic acid, and niacinamide.
What sets SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense apart from the rest is the inclusion of HEPES, or Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?). HEPES is a synthetically-derived acid that activates natural enzymes in skin to help break the bonds that bind dead skin cells to the surface for even exfoliation. HEPES also acts as an organic buffering agent by contributing its more neutral-basic pH (7.0 to 7.6 pH) to the cosmetic solution, thereby balancing the nature of its more acidic counterparts. Ultimately, this makes the other acids found in the Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense more effective.
SkinCeuticals AGE Interrupter is a high concentration anti-wrinkle cream that is formulated to improve the visible signs of aging caused by advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Inside the SkinCeuticals AGE Interrupter formula you’ll find 30% concentration of Pro-Xylane, 4% blueberry extract, and 0.2% phytosphingosine.
Unfortunately, we have to point out that there are several ingredients in this cream that you may not want to put on your skin. First, the brand uses two types of parabens as preservatives in this product. There is still debate over whether or not the low concentration of parabens used in cosmetic products presents a harm to human health, but if you want to play it safe you should avoid using this cream. SkinCeuticals AGE Interrupter also contains a couple synthetic fragrance ingredients. While these make the product smell pleasant, they also have the potential to cause sensitization and skin irritation.
SkinCeuticals offers three different strengths of their retinol cream: 0.3%, 0.5%, and 1% retinol. It’s recommended to start with SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 if you’re a retinol newbie. Then, work your way up to higher strengths as your skin tolerates it. SkinCeuticals Retinol Cream could be a good option if you’re looking to address multiple signs of aging at once. That’s because retinol is clinically proven to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores.
Supporting your skin’s barrier is not only important for maintaining soft, moisturized skin, but also for preventing signs of aging. Think of the skin barrier as a “brick and mortar” system. The bricks are the corneocytes (dead skin cells) and the intercellular lipids (ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids) represent the mortar. Without these essential lipids, the skin barrier is weakened, just like without mortar a brick wall would be weak and unstable. The result is skin that can easily become dry and irritated, as well as prone to signs of aging like lines and wrinkles.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 helps to replenish this brick and mortar system with a patented lipid ratio of 2% pure ceramides 1 and 3, 4% natural cholesterol, and 2% fatty acids. By restoring the skin barrier, this anti-aging cream helps to improve the visible appearance of skin smoothness, laxity, pores, and overall radiance.
This silky eye cream absorbs quickly to help the skin feel instantly smoother and brighter. You can thank optical diffuses like titanium dioxide for the immediate improvement of radiance. The formula also contains ingredients to promote long term improvement in the delicate eye area, such as proxylane, blueberry extract, and a complex of flavonoids and synergistic peptides. Unfortunately, this is another SkinCeuticals product that contains parabens as preservatives.
The HA Intensifier is perfect for dry or aging skin that needs an extra dose of hydration to look smooth and youthful once again. This corrective serum is proven to amplify skin’s hyaluronic acid levels by a whopping 30 percent! If you’re even a little bit interested in skin care, you know that hyaluronic acid is the key molecule involved with skin moisture levels. Hyaluronic acid draws in and holds moisture (a lot of moisture; up to 1,000 times its weight in water). This not only hydrates skin, but also gives you a more plump, youthful look.
This oil-free moisturizer combines panthenol (provitamin B5) with hyaluronic acid to help bind moisture to the skin. It can be used alone or with a daily moisturizer to provide extra hydration, and is an ideal moisturizer for acne prone skin. One reviewer describes the benefits of SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel like this, “My skin drinks it up and feels so soft and hydrated.”
This tinted SkinCeuticals sunscreen provides broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection thanks to the combination of two mineral sunscreens: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The sheer, tinted formula is said to adapt to most skin tones without a white cast. Many SkinCeuticals reviews confirm that this sunscreen does not leave a white cast, and many reviewers share that it gives you a natural finish.
Is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Right For Me?
By now you know that SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is the brand’s most popular product. But before investing in this antioxidant serum, take a look at our summary of the most important factors to consider:
- Key ingredients? 15% L-ascorbic acid, 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), and 0.5% ferulic acid
- Skin type? Suitable for all skin types (including acne-prone)
- Texture? Lightweight liquid
- Fragrance? No
- Cruelty free? No
- Cost? $166 USD
Where to Buy SkinCeuticals Products?
SkinCeuticals products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as third-party online retailers, such as Dermstore, LovelySkin, Amazon, and more. In addition, SkinCeuticals products are sold by dermatologists and estheticians. The SkinCeuticals website has a locator so you can find a skincare professional near you that sells SkinCeuticals products.
What is The SkinCeuticals Return Policy?
The SkinCeuticals return policy states, “If for some reason you are not satisfied with your SkinCeuticals.com order, you can return it in its original packaging with the original packing slip within 30 days of purchase date. We do not process exchanges at this time.”
Is SkinCeuticals Cruelty Free?
SkinCeuticals is not cruelty-free. SkinCeuticals is owned by L’Oréal, a company that tests on animals. L’Oréal does not conduct animal testing on their products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. Since L’Oréal products are sold in China, they must test their products on animals by law.
SkinCeuticals reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive. The product with the most reviews is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, which has earned an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars after more than 1,400 customer reviews.
The positive reviews for SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic mention that it hydrates the skin and helps to fade dark spots while improving skin brightness and overall skin tone.
For example, one review says, “Can’t go a day without it. Improving discoloration and age spots daily! Wish it smelled better. But I’m happy with the results I am seeing. Packaging is great and application is easy. I would definitely recommend using a vitamin C serum ASAP!”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, mostly from customers who were disappointed that they didn’t see the results they were hoping for. And there are quite a few reviews that mention that the smell is unbearable.
For example, one review says, “After reading a lot about this online and seeing the reviews, I have to say I’m really disappointed. I feel like I’ve completely wasted my money on this because after using it for ~4 weeks, I’ve seen no difference in my skin. On top of that, the smell is unbearable. I’m not the type to actively look for scented products, but at the very least my skin shouldn’t smell bad from the products I wear. If this were a nighttime product, it might be acceptable, but as a product that is put on first thing in the morning, it’s so unpleasant to deal with the bad smell all day. The price on this was already a high barrier to making this purchase, but I thought I’d give it a chance. Definitely wouldn’t buy this again and not even sure if I want to continue using it.”
Overall, we think that some SkinCeuticals products are better than others. We would recommend avoiding the SkinCeuticals products that contain parabens and fragrance.
- Clinical formulations with evidence-based ingredients
- Many positive SkinCeuticals reviews
- High cost
- Some SkinCeuticals products contain fragrance
- Some SkinCeuticals products contain parabens
- SkinCeuticals is not cruelty free
What Are Some Alternatives to SkinCeuticals Products?
If you’re looking for skincare products to address the signs of aging, we recommend Carrot & Stick. Carrot & Stick maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in advanced skincare solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin. We recommend this serum.