Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution – Risks

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Did you know that back in the days some women used to apply radioactive powder to their cheeks?

Starting in the 20s, before the negative side effects were discovered, so called “gentle radiation” was considered a natural way to strengthen health and enhance beauty. The radiation in the powder lead to increased blood flow where applied and so provided the much coveted natural flush.


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution


The long term effects of course were horrible.

And while we today shake our heads in disbelief when reading things like that, we should probably take a step back and look at our own beauty routines once in a while. What is considered safe now might proove to be detrimental in the future. Or vice versa. The question is: What risk are we willing to take when it comes to beauty?

A very personal question. And one that I recently had to answer for myself regarding the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution.


What Dr. Dennis Gross Claims

A fast-absorbing liquid retinol serum supercharged by ferulic acid to retexture skin and visibly reduce fine lines for an instantly smoother, more even, lit-from-within glow.

Recapture your flawless complexion and youthful texture with this potent Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution. It dramatically smooths skin’s surface as it treats signs of sun damage, rough texture, wrinkles, and surface imperfections.

Vegan, cruelty free.


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution



Prize and size

One pot contains 30 ml and retails for 88 $ on the website here. There is also a “value size” that offers 60 ml and retails for 125 $.

Both come in a bottle with dropper that is dark glass.


Texture and smell

Runny and lightweight, easy to get out of the bottle. The scent is hard to describe and not overpowering. The one thing I always have to think of is Barbecue as in the McDonalds Chicken Nuggets Sauce. Slightly gross? Maybe, but what can I say: I have a passion for junk food.


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution


Application and effects

Easy to distribute, sinks in quickly and is, for a retinol/acid mixture, surprisingy gentle. My skin not once reacted, even though it is a tad more sensitive in the cold weather we had earlier this year.

And: I did notice a brightening effect. My hyperpigmentation, mainly on my cheeks from some hormonal breakouts, did fade much quicker than usual.




Favorable ingredients
  • Glycerin: Humectant, draws moisture to the skin
  • Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate: derived from azelaic acid, brightening, exfoliating
  • Ferulic Acid: antioxidant, known for stabilizing other antioxidants like Vitamin C, thus enhancing their efficacy
  • Retinol: deactivates the matrix metalloproteinases that break down collagen, increases cell turnover, and improves skin’s moisture retention
  • Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract: Inhibits melanin biosynthesis while scavenging free radicals. Rich in polyphenols that act as antioxidants.
  • Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi (Bearberry) Leaf Extract: Antioxidant, brightening, called “natural alternative” to hydroquinone
  • Morus Nigra Fruit Extract: Rich in flavonoids that inhibit Tyrosinase and thus reduce hyperpigmentation
  • Salix Alba (Willow) Bark extract: Natural source of salicylic acid and tannins
  • Salicylic Acid: BHA, great exfoliant for acneic and oily skin
  • Glycolic Acid: AHA, exfoliates dead skin cells, slightly improves collagen production
  • Mandelic Acid: gentle AHA, combats hyper pigmentation and acne
  • Hexylresorcinol: Brightening
  • Sodium Hyaluronate: Hydrating, smaller form of hyaluronic acid with deeper penetration
  • Tocopherol: Vitamin E, antioxidant
  • Panthenol: Vit. B 5, humectant, penetrates into deep layers of skin, moisturizing, antiinflammatory
  • Quercetin: Bioflavonoid, antioxidant
  • Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates: Antiinflammatory, preventing hyperpigmentation and scars
  • Ubiquinone: CoQ10, antioxidant, increases collagen and elastin production
  • BHT: Antixodant
  • Urea: Humectant, very effective
Other ingredients
  • Ethoxydiglycol: Solvent, controls viscosity
  • Propylene Glycol: Solvent
  • Lecithin: Emulsifier
  • Disodium EDTA: Binding Agent
  • PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer: Thickener
  • Polysorbate 20: Surfactant
  • Potassium Hydroxide: pH adjusting
  • Phenoxyethanol: Preservative
Unfavorable Ingredients
  • Arbutin: Releases hydroquinone which reduces hyperpigmentation by blocking melanin synthesis. Hydroquinone is banned in Europe due to severe health side effects, Arbutin seems to be less irritating, but is still considered a risk for health by the BfR.


But here, with the ingredients neatly listed, the question popped up… Arbutin. Not prohibited, but flagged as a risk for health. By a federal agency. Releasing hydroquinone, banned in the EU for adverse health effects.

Other than that: antioxidants, retinol, more brightening ingredients, AHAs, BHAs… A lovely mixture indeed, and an effective yet gentle one.


Does it live up to its claims?


All of them.


Would I repurchase?

That is the question, no?


How much risk am I willing to take?

Well, I am a huge fan of taking controlled risks. And in that case it meant really, really doing my research. Reading the actual scientific publications, the BfR statement and countless other things in terms of arbutin.

I come to the conclusion that it is safe to use (I talk about it in depth in this video here).

So the answer is: Yes!

But I think I will try something else first, The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, available for 8,90 € here. Minus the retinol it contains the same main ingredient for a fraction of the price, so great if you want to tackle hyper pigmentation on a budget!


Who do I recommend it to?

Anyone really bothered by hyper pigmentation, mainly mature or aging skins. They will benefit from the retinol, the ferulic acid and the arbutin for brightening, firming and prevention!


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
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