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Brand Profile: How SkinCeuticals' pivotal research 30 years ago led to a Vitamin C skincare revolution

Kelle Salle
04 April 2023

SkinCeuticals has been leading the way in science-based skincare for almost 30 years. In 1994, it was one of the first companies to partner with physicians to offer skincare products in their clinics.

This was made possible with pivotal research on topical Vitamin C serums from the brand’s Founding Scientist Sheldon Pinnell, M.D, which led to a breakthrough discovery and the creation of an entirely new skincare category. On National Vitamin C day, we take an in-depth look at its story.

SkinCeuticals’ mission is to improve skin health by leading the way in terms of research and innovation through the provision of science-based skincare. Their skincare philosophy centres on three main pillars: prevent, protect and correct. The brand believes that these principles work synergistically to provide healthy looking skin and effective anti-ageing results.

Vitamin C has been hailed as one of the best ingredients for anti-ageing on the market. Before it rose to widespread popularity in the skincare space, it was used by dermatologists to address a variety of concerns to provide their patients with a smooth, even and glowy complexion.

In 1997, SkinCeuticals launched Serum 10, their first stabilised, pure L-ascorbic acid topical antioxidant product. It delivers environmental protection for all skin types and helps reduce visible signs of premature ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots.

In 2001, Dr Pinnell’s study about the formulation of a stable and effective Vitamin C serum was published in The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery, and in 2005, SkinCeuticals launched the bestselling C E Ferulic. C E Ferulic is a daytime antioxidant formulated with ferulic acid, vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (alpha tocopherol).

Almost two decades after its launch, the serum continues to be praised by skincare enthusiasts everywhere, which attests to the standard set by the brand. However, competition is fierce - not only are there a wealth of Vitamin C serums ranging different price points and formulations to choose from, the ingredient has also been infused in other skincare and bodycare products, so how are SkinCeuticals maintaining relevance in such a crowded market?

What sets C E Ferulic apart from other Vitamin C serums is its offering of triple antioxidant protection for up to 48% less oxidative damage in the skin from free radicals that are caused by UV, Ozone, pollution and metals. “Once applied, the serum is effective for a minimum of 72 hours. It improves the brightness of the skin as well as the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin C is also a cofactor for the production of collagen. C E Ferulic is also great for use during a laser procedure,” says Dr Wassim TakTouk, Aesthetic Doctor and Skin C Brand Expert. To ensure the formula is kept stable, it is tested in final packaging and according to the brand, it remains effective for 36 months and up to 6 months after opening.


SkinCeuticals’s dedication to science is remarkable - the brand has 30+ years of research, 40+ clinical studies worldwide, 25+ international dermalogical publications and 7+ US patents to its name.

Their newest in vivo study discovered that C E Ferulic reduced up to 48% less oxidative damage in the skin from free radicals caused by the interaction of UV, pollution and metals. The study is the first of its kind - the daily interactions between metals, sunlight and pollution haven’t been researched in this way, so SkinCeuticals are at the forefront of this knowledge.

To test the efficacy of the serum, the brand’s scientists developed a controlled pollution exposure system to help measure damage and protection in a robust, double blind trial. The study also addressed whether UV, pollution and metals act synergistically to cause oxidative damage.

Fifteen women between the ages of 18-40 were tested on four consecutive days, with each woman having two test zones on their back, one of which served as a control. The zones were exposed to known amounts of UV with or without pollution. The researcher and subject didn’t know whether their backs had been pre-treated with C E Ferulic or not. The results showed that daily exposure to metal rich particles with or without UV increased levels of iron in the top three layers of the skin compared to the unexposed area.

In addition to oxidative stress, excess iron can also cause cell proliferation and cell death. According to the brand, skin that is exposed to the sun can contain three times more iron than skin that’s not exposed to the sun. Through its study, SkinCeuticals wants to raise awareness of iron-induced skin damage and the importance of maintaining the skin barrier with a Vitamin C serum. Education is at the heart of everything SkinCeuticals does.

It is educating new and existing audiences on the importance of incorporating Vitamin C into their skincare routines. “All our PR and Comms activity focuses on ensuring consumers know as much as possible about Vitamin C and understand how integral it is to a skin regimen,” a representative for the brand says.

There are a variety of active ingredients taking up space in skincare so what does the future hold for Vitamin C? Skinceuticals has taken an innovative approach by addressing the modern threat from metals that it has discovered are stressing the skin and causing visible ageing. “The antioxidants from SkinCeuticals successfully neutralise damaging free radicals that come when UV and pollution interact. The new threat comes from pollution in the modern world containing iron and copper, which increases toxicity,” the brand rep says.

Skinceuticals is renowned as the first brand to stabilise Vitamin C. It is committed to innovating and researching environmental aggressors and the power of antioxidants in neutralising these free radicals. Last week, it launched a full antioxidant campaign with an influencer-first approach. “This included sampling of the antioxidant range, which gave consumers a chance to trial the product. On National Vitamin C Day (April 4), consumers will have the opportunity to purchase the full-size product using a discount code,” a brand rep says.

National Vitamin C Day events will take place at SkinCeuticals’s Soho House Farm and Harley Street clinics, where VIP customers will be invited to experience SkinCeuticals SkinScope consultations to learn about the importance of Vitamin C on skin as well as what makes their Vitamin C offering different from competitors. They will also be prescribed a Vitamin C product during their visit.

For more information about SkinCeuticals, visit its website.

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