Review: Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel (Vitamin C Serum)

Where to purchase: Available on the Skinceuticals Website HERE

Price: £145

Volume: 30ml

Made in: The USA

What is it?: A Serum-in-a-gel AM antioxidant containing 10% Pure Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid, 0.5% Ferulic Acid (Antioxidant) and 2% Phloretin (Antioxidant).

What does it do?: This serum aims to prevent skin damage through free radical oxidation and helps reduce skin discolouration while aiding the skin’s tone + texture.

  • It also can be used with SPF to enhance photoprotection.

Brand Description: This Vitamin C Gel neutralises free radicals (which break down collagen, thus helping prevent a loss of skin elasticity)+ helps to improve skin hyperpigmentation + Improve the skin tone to brighten the skin.

How does this differ from the C E Ferulic Serum?: That contained Vitamin E and this does not. Also this contains Phloretin (An antioxidant so it replaces the Vitamin E as antioxidants help stabilise Vitamin C), and this is in a Gel format whereas the C E Ferulic is in a watery format (this also layers much better than the C E Ferulic).

Supposedly Good for: Normal-Combination + Oily Skin Types (Those who like Gel Textures).

What I think: I agree with the above. This feels like an anhydrous (This isn’t anhydrous as this has water) gel formula and is lightweight enough to be used by oily skins.

NOTE: I think it is important to clarify, with a product like this that is not cheap, yes you can use cheaper serums/derivatives for brightening and evening the skin tone (with good results), but I do think this product has the edge when it comes to photo protection + efficacy of delivering the product into the skin with optimal use. (This is just my opinion). So what I’m saying is those worried about photo-ageing may be more interested in this than those who simply want a brightening serum.


The Price + Science: In my previous conversation with a Skinceuticals Consultant Mentioned in my C E Ferulic Review HERE – I asked them about the price and also give my thoughts behind Skinceutical’s incredible pricing.

  • Pure Vitamin C is extremely unstable and difficult to formulate. Skinceuticals were basically the pioneers of formulating and creating skincare containing Pure Vitamin C. They even have a patent (Duke Antioxidant patent) on what combination of antioxidants they can use with the specifically effective concentration of Vitamin C (Most effective is 1-20% at a pH of 2.0-3.5. Which allows the upmost and most effective delivery of Vitamin C into the skin with their formulations (so you are getting probably the most efficacious vitamin C products out there). NOTE: If you would like to understand Vitamin C Serums and Efficacy then check out my explanation in this Review). as not all of a Vitamin C product will be successfully used in the skin, so that’s why the mode of transport and how stable the ingredient is, is important.
  • I believe Drunk Elephant got in trouble as their C-Firma overstepped on this boundary, but even that product is pricey too. The closest I’ve gotten to this kind of formulation is the Timeless C E Ferulic (Review HERE) and the Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow (Review HERE). But even C-Glow had to address this parameter.

Vegan?: No

Packaging: Metal Tube with a pump and Plastic cap on top. Great sturdy packaging, prevents the vitamin C from oxidising quickly. I also like the pump mechanism (needed because this is a gel-type).

Oxidation?: It’s not said when this oxidises. But this product lasted 2-3 months and didn’t turn brown within that time). However one should smell and continue to check their Vitamin C product for any substantial browning or putrid smell. There’s a very good discord chat here with pictures.

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Directions: To be used in the ”Preventative Stage” of Skincare – you apply 4-5 pumps onto a dry face and neck (after toning). Then apply a Moisturiser and/or SPF. Skinceuticals state that their antioxidants + a broad SPF is enough to provide the most complete protection against skin aggressors and skin ageing.

How I use it: I used this in the AM right after toning/misting and before my SPF. I applied 2 pumps on the neck and 3 pumps for the face.

Key Ingredients:

10% Pure Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid). Vitamin C boosts collagen, helps fade hyperpigmentation and also boosts the UV protection of Sunblock.

2% Phloretin (an Antioxidant).

0.5% Ferulic Acid – This is an important antioxidant as it helps stabilise Vitamin C (reduces fast oxidation). It also doubles the photoprotection of Vitamin C Formulas.

Full Ingredients: Aqua/​Water/​Eau, Dipropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat, Ascorbic Acid, Undecane, Bis-Hydroxyethoxypropyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride, Tridecane, Phloretin, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone/​PEG-10/​15 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/​Polyglycerin-3 Crosspolymer, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA

NOTE: The Incidecoder / Skincarisma have a full ingredient breakdown HERE

This has water, but to be honest this product doesn’t feel watery to me. Also as you can see this has a few more emollients than humectants, so it’s got that sort of NEARLY greasy feeling to it. Silicone dominant formulation (probably to work better with the Vitamin C + Antioxidants i.e. reduce the chance of oxidation).


Texture: As you can see this has Dimethicone (Silicone) Ingredient which really influences the texture of this. It makes this easy to spread (but also the product absorbs very easily/doesn’t spread very far, so it’s not actually that easy to stretch this product to cover the whole face, ears and neck (I ended up using quite a bit of product). I really wouldn’t call this particularly hydrating or moisturising. It’s more emollient than it is hydrating though.

As you can see this has an orange colour/tint to it. The colour didn’t seem to change from beginning of use to the end of use (so this doesn’t oxidise very fast). You would know if this was oxidised if it turned Brown. This is still yellow/orangey.


Does not feel sticky or tacky when spreading. Just feels like a silicone primer.


As you can see when fully spread out, this gives a glow to the skin. It’s definitely not sticky feeling. This also doesn’t feel too oily (just think of a silicone primer). And even if I rub the skin, I don’t seem to get any balling up.

Video Swatch:

Layerability: This seems to work fine under my SPF (doesn’t ball up). I think one should be careful when wearing foundation i.e. make sure your foundation suits silicone formulas.

Stings the Eyes?: No this didn’t seem to get into or sting my eyes (but I used the AOX Eye Gel for my eyes).

Summer or Winter?: Both. This is a silicone-emollient gel so it can be used lightly in the summer or layered under a moisturising SPF in the winter.


Fragrance?: No added Fragrance / Essential oils. HOWEVER this smells so strongly of Coffee (Ferulic Acid smells like coffee).

Good Under Makeup?: It seemed to be fine. I was quite impressed that this didn’t seem to ball up (as the C E Ferulic did for me). But be careful with using foundations that don’t play well with silicone.

How long have I been using this?: I used until completion almost every AM (5-6 Pumps). This lasted me 2 (nearly 3) months. I’m sure if one was sparing, this could last 3-4 months (but be careful of oxidation. I like to use Vitamin C products quicker rather than slower so I don’t reach the oxidation point.

The Effect?: Photoprotected skin (along with an SPF). Didn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry and didn’t irritate or sting my skin. Not very hydrating or moisturising itself so dry skins may want to use a moisturising SPF on top or hydrating toner underneath. Dehydrated skins should use a hydrating toner too. This did overall help improve the tone of my skin and help with PIH.

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What I like:

  • This did help with the skin’s pigmentation (not melasma but PIH – reduces the look of blemish marks)
  • Did not irritate my skin
  • I trust Skinceuticals Vitamin C formulations so it was nice to know that this helped boost the effects of my SPF and also help prevent oxidation and photo-ageing.
  • Loved the packaging (Sturdy and good pumping mechanism. Did not feel cheap + can travel with).
  • Layered fine under my SPF

What I don’t like:

  • Not particularly hydrating and only slightly moisturising
  • Ferulic Acid smells like coffee so this smells like rubbing coffee on my face
  • Denatured Alcohol (however this can be drying only in large amounts which I’m sure is not the case for this gel).
  • I’m not a fan of silicone-heavy formulas
  • quite easy to run out due to the texture of this (I felt like I had to pump more to try and cover both the face, neck and ears fully).
  • The price (Very inaccessible to most people especially when this can help protect the skin against sun damage – should be accessible to everyone).

Overall Rating and Conclusion: 4/5 – Not my favourite texture. I would prefer a water or creamy formula instead of a silicone-heavy gel. However I can’t deny the efficacy of this product, how it did manage to layer fine under my SPF and how this has some great antioxidant ingredients. It’s so hard for me to find a good stable Vitamin C product (containing pure vitamin C and not a derivative). So as I said with the C E Ferulic Serum – a product like this is great for those who have very minimalist skincare routine and can afford a product like this and favour efficacy over anything else. I do wish Skinceutical’s Vitamin C formulations were accessible in price to everyone. I’m sure it costs a lot to research these things, to patent these formulations and to formulate, so I could imagine that that is what we’re paying for (scientific efficacy). But I feel like this is important to protect people’s skin from damage, it’s not a luxury, so I wish it was accessible in price to everyone, so that everyone can protect their skin and boost the efficacy of their SPF.

Would I repurchase?: Yes, but I do want to try other Vitamin C products from Skinceuticals.

Dupe?: I think this is an improved version of the C E Ferulic Serum in terms of texture (better layerability). However a Dupe is the DE C Firma Serum, the Geek and Gorgeous C-Glow or the Timeless C E Ferulic. I haven’t tried any other Vitamin C (Pure vitamin C) products that comes in a gel format just yet.

  • There is a Water Serum version if you don’t like the Gel HERE (But I haven’t tried it, so not sure about the layerability and if the water version balls up like the C E Ferulic did for me).

My Skin Type: I am acne prone and have slightly dehydrated combo skin. My skin is usually tight where the cheeks and eye area is and the outer parts of my face. My T zone is oily. My skin isn’t a fan of thick/heavy formulas so I opt for lightweight formulas to prevent it from clogging up. My skin doesn’t like essential oils either and I try to avoid fragrance when I can.

Disclaimer: I am a skincare enthusiast and not a skin expert. I am not qualified to give out dermatological advice. This type of advice should only be given by a medical practitioner. Upon trying / using any of the reviewed products on the blog, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings and please seek medical advice if needed.

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