timeless dupe for skinceuticals ce ferulic

Is Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum a dupe for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Skinceuticals made skincare history when it launched CE Ferulic, the first CEF Serum. That’s Vitamin C + Vitamin E + ferulic acid, one of the most powerful antioxidant combos you can get your hands on.

And, for a while, you could only get your hands on it by forking out $180+ on Skinceuticals. The “rascals” had patented it! But now the patent’s expired, every skincare brand worth its salt is coming out with its own version. One of the cheapest, and most popular, dupes for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum.

I get so many questions from people every week who want to know if they should you make the switch. My answer is: it depends. Making decisions only on price isn’t always good for your skin, especially if it’s sensitive. But there’s also no point in spending more for something when you could get the same thing at a fraction of the cost. Here’s all you need to know about these two Vitamin C Serums so you can make the best choice for YOUR skin:

What Do Skinceuticals CE Ferulic And Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum Have In Common?


L-Ascorbic Acid is the pure form of vitamin C. It’s the most effective. And the most irritating. Let’s start with the good. Studies show it can:

It’s quite the multitasker, isn’t it? But there’s a price to pay for all this goodness. Well, two:

  1. L-Ascorbic Acid is highly unstable: It degrades, and becomes ineffective, in a few short months. Use your bottles quickly! (P.S. You’ll know when it become useless: its turns brown).
  2. L-Ascorbic Acid can cause irritations: The higher the dose, the higher the risk (and the benefits). Especially if you have sensitive skin.

The concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid is the deal-breaker here. Skinceuticals has 15% while Timeless 20%. More isn’t always better. Especially when you have sensitive skin. The higher the dose, the faster the results – and the more likely you are to get an irritation.

Related: How To Know When Your Vitamin C Serum Has Gone Bad


Alpha Tocopherol is a form of vitamin E. It’s a powerful antioxidant that doubles up as moisturizer (it strengthens the skin’s natural barrier and reduces water loss).

Vitamin E works wonders on its own. But it’s when paired with Vitamin C that it really shines. The two are network antioxidants, a fancy way of saying they boost each other’s effectiveness.

Not only this combo helps you fight premature wrinkles better together, but it also has photoprotective properties that can help prevent sun damage (the main cause of premature wrinkles).

Related: What Does Vitamin E Do For Skin?


Ferulic Acid is an antioxidant on steroids. Most antioxidants only destroy one type of free radical. Ferulic acid destroys three: superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide. To make the most of it, use it with its best buddies, vitamins C & E.

A 2005 study shows that “its incorporation into a topical solution of 15%l-ascorbic acid and 1%alpha-tocopherol improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection. […] This combination of pure natural low molecular weight antioxidants provides meaningful synergistic protection against oxidative stress in skin and should be useful for protection against photoaging”.

Translation: 15% vitamin C + 1% vitamin E + 1% ferulic acid fights free radicals, prevents sun damage and makes the antioxidants last (and be effective) for longer. FYI, if you’re allergic to grains such as wheat, corn, or barley, consult your doctor before using products with ferulic acid.

Related: Why You Should Add Ferulic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

What Else Is In Skinceuticals CE Ferulic And Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum?

NOTE: The colours indicate the effectiveness of an ingredient. It is ILLEGAL to put toxic and harmful ingredients in skincare products.

  • Green: It’s effective, proven to work, and helps the product do the best possible job for your skin.
  • Yellow: There’s not much proof it works (at least, yet).
  • Red: What is this doing here?!


  • Aqua/Water: The main solvent in the formula, it helps other ingredients dissolve too.
  • Dipropylene Glycol: This multi-tasker acts as a synthetic slip agent, texturizer, and solvent.
  • Glycerin: A humectant that draws water from the air, increasing your skin’s hydration levels.
  • Laureth-23: It enhances the texture of skincare formula.
  • Phenoxyethanol: A common preservative that prevents the growth of bacteria in your skincare products, helping them last longer.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate: Another humectant that draws water from the air into your skin. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water! It plumps up skin and makes it softer.


  • Water: The main solvent in the product, it helps to dissolve other ingredients.
  • Ethoxydiglycol: A solvent that helps active ingredients better penetrate skin.
  • Propylene Glycol: It hydrates skin and helps active ingredients better penetrate it, so you can get results faster.
  • Polysorbate 80: It helps the oily and watery parts of a formula blend together seamlessly, thus improving texture.
  • Panthenol: A humectant that increases skin’s hydration levels while soothing irritations.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate: A humectant that attracts and binds to your skin up to 1000 times its weight in water. It makes skin softer and plumper.
  • Benzyl Alcohol: A preservative that inhibits the growth of bacteria in your skincare products.
  • Dehydroacetic Acid: A synthetic preservative that inhibits the growth of bacteria in your skincare products.


Both formulas are very simple. They give you the antioxidants your skin needs to look younger and plenty of humectants to hydrate it and plump it up. The main difference is the higher dose of Vitamin C, which we already covered. It’s better for people who want to fade stubborn dark spots, but for sensitive skin, it’s just too much.

Related: Why Hyaluronic Acid Is A Must For Dry Skin

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What’s The Texture Like?

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic has a thin, lightweight texture that absorbs immediately into your skin.

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum is very thin and lightweight too, but also a little oilier.

What’s The Packaging Like?

When it comes to Vitamin C, packaging matters. L-Ascorbic Acid is fickle and goes bad quickly when exposed to light and air. Put it in a jar and it becomes useless quickly. This isn’t something you can stock up on during a sale. Even when properly packaged, every bottle only lasts a few weeks, so buy it only when you’re ready to use it.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic comes in a tinted bottle with a dropper applicator. It makes application easy and keeps the Vitamin C stable for longer.

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum has changed the packaging to a bright yellow bottle with a pump dispenser that reduces contact with light and air as much as possible to make Vitamin C last as long as possible. Translation: it has the better packaging.

How To Use Them

Studies show that Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen. That’s why I recommend you use these serums in the morning. Apply them as close to clean skin as possible. The ideal routine is cleansing, Vitamin C serum and sunscreen. If you have dry skin, add a moisturiser in between serum and sunscreen.

Which Of The Two Should You Go For?

If you have sensitive skin, go with Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. It’s the gentler of the two.

If your skin can tolerate high concentrations of Vitamin C without problems, opt for Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum instead. It has better packaging, too.


Skinceuticals CE Ferulic: $182 at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, and Skinceuticals

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum: $25.95 at Yes Style

Is Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum A Dupe For Skinceuticals CE Ferulic?

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, 1% Vitamin E, and 0.5% Ferulic Acid 20% L-Ascorbic Acid, 1% Vitamin E, and 0.5% Ferulic Acid
OTHER INGREDIENTS Humectants (Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin) Humectants (Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol)
TEXTURE Lightweight Lightweight, a tad oily
PACKAGING Tinted bottle with a dropper applicator. Yellow bottle with a pump applicator.
PERFORMANCE Prevents wrinkles, boosts collagen, and brighten the complexion. Prevents wrinkles, boosts collagen, and brighten the complexion. It’s better at fading away dark spots.

Yes, Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum is a great dupe for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. It’s even a little more powerful (and slightly more irritating). Unless you have sensitive skin, you can switch safely.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

Aqua/Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum Ingredients

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.