A reader recently asked me about cheaper alternatives to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. After a bit of research, I discovered Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum ($21.95, PaulasChoice.com), and I am loving it, especially for the price.
What ingredients does Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum have?
It has a lot of potent antioxidants, including vitamin C (in the form of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate), vitamin E, green tea (in high concentration) and soybean extract. Vitamin C and vitamin E are network antioxidants that synergistically enhance the power of one another. Green tea is one of the most potent antioxidant sources, depending on the source from which it is derived, and soybean extract has been shown to serve as an antioxidant that also increases collagen production over time. Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum also has retinol. Although, according to dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo, retinol is 20 times weaker than the potency of prescription retinoids, retinol is still able to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increase cell turnover rate, increase skin smoothness, and increase skin’s collagen production over time (sources here).
When should Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum be used?
At night before moisturizer, and in the morning only if a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen is used. There appears to be a fairly high concentration of retinol in this product, which makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. As sun exposure is the number one cause of premature skin aging, it is highly recommended that you use this or any other retinol/retinyl palmitate/retinoid product with daily broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens. (More on sunscreen is available here.)
What about Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum in comparison to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic?
Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum is considerably cheaper than Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, and is reportedly colorant and fragrance-free. Unfortunately, Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum does not report the concentration of Vitamin C (Tetrahexadecyl Ascorbate) or Vitamin E in the product, while Skinceuticals CE Ferulic has concentrations of key ingredients that have been shown in independent studies to be effective, i.e., 15% Vitamin C (as L-ascorbic acid), 5% Vitamin E (as α-tocopherol) and ferulic acid (as a stabilizer).
To the advantage of Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum, according to Revercel.com, the form of vitamin C in the product, Tetrahexadecyl Ascorbate, is a very stable, bioavailable form of Vitamin C, which the skin uses more effectively than the ascorbic acid form. Unfortunately, no non-company-affiliated published studies have verified the effectiveness of Tetrahexadecyl Ascorbate over L-ascorbic acid.
So, which is better: Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum versus Skinceuticals CE Ferulic?
Each product gets a 9.5/10 in my book. It is mainly a matter of preference, but for the difference in money, you may want to choose Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum.
Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum contains a (reportedly) more stable form of Vitamin C and has additional antioxidants and super anti-aging retinol, but unfortunately does not report the product’s concentration of Vitamin C or Vitamin E like Skinceuticals CE Ferulic does. The product also needs to be used daily under a broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB sunscreen, for retinol makes the skin photosensitive and more susceptible to sun damage.
However, in the favor of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, the product lists its concentrations of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, but contains the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C, which becomes oxidized after exposure to heat and light over time, turning the usually-clear solution into a yellow or orange color. In addition, reports have stated that unstable Vitamin C can induce free-radical damage in the skin, so cap Skinceuticals CE Ferulic tightly after each use, and keep it in a cool, dark place.
Overall, two wonderful antioxidant serums! It is simply a matter of choice, based on the factors listed above. Happy shopping!
Ingredients in Paula’s Choice Antioxidant Serum
Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone (silicone slip agents), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant and anti-irritant), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil (plant oil/antioxidant), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (anti-irritant), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil (plant oil/antioxidant), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil (plant oil/antioxidant), Retinol (antioxidant/cell-communicating ingredient), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil (plant oil/antioxidant), Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil (plant oil/antioxidant), Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi (Bearberry) Leaf Extract (non-volatile plant extract), Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Seed Oil (plant oils/antioxidants), Astaxanthin, Tocotrienols (antioxidants), Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane (curcumin/antioxidant/anti-irritant), Tetrahydromethoxycurcumin, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxycurcumin (antioxidants/anti-irritants), Bisabolol (anti-irritant from chamomile), Stearyl Methicone (silicone skin-conditioning agent), SD-alcohol 40-2 (solvent).