24 August 2019
Is The Ordinary a skincare brand that is truly luxe for less? The Ordinary has won a global following in the beauty world for offering skincare products centered around established active ingredients at affordable price points. Their no frills, no nonsense approach resonates with me. Afterall, skincare products that work don’t necessarily have to be expensive. And as I’ve covered before, some beauty trends aren’t worth the hype and dishing out top dollar for.
That said, do the skincare products from The Ordinary live up to expectations? How can you incorporate some of their products in your daily skincare routine? In this review, I’ll be sharing with my hits and misses from The Ordinary, decode the active ingredients in the products and share with you how to use them based on your skin type and conditions.
At the same time I would like to share with you the good news that The Ordinary is coming to Singapore! For all of us who’ve had to purchase The Ordinary’s products online or overseas- you can rejoice. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to meet Ms Cheryl Poon, director of Deciem for Australia and Asia (by way of Faz Gaffa-Marsh) and she shared the good news with me.
Cheryl shared that one of the reasons that Deciem (The Ordinary’s parent company) is able to keep prices pocket friendly is the choice of familiar active ingredients in their line up. You’ll find tried and tested ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C and retinoids in The Ordinary’s products but if you’re looking for more buzzy and innovative products, you’ll have to look at their premium sister line, Niod. This isn’t a bad thing after all, because The Ordinary fits the bills for people looking products with ingredients that are backed by scientific evidence. I’m all for an empirical and affordable approach to skincare, so The Ordinary coming to Singapore is a welcome addition to our local beauty and skincare scene.
Niacinamide is a multi tasking antioxidant that helps with reducing oiliness of the skin; acne and inflammation of the skin. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is one of the building blocks of ceramide, an important ingredient for keeping skin moisturised and wrinkle free.
I’ve written about on Niacinamide here and essentially, niacinamide is suitable for most skin types, including oily, acne and sensitive skin. I’ve been using The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% for 2 years now and it’s my go to when my skin is red from using retinoids, chemical peels or lasers.
Niacinamide is suitable for:
Oily skin, acne skin, rosacea, sensitive skin
Benefits of using Niacinamide:
• Reduces sebum production
• Improvement in acne
• Improved skin barrier function
• Reduces inflammation
• Anti-aging (reduces fine lines and wrinkles)
The good about The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
It works for me in keeping my oiliness and redness in check and is a very affordable product. At this concentration of niacinamide, The Ordinary’s serum is a steal. In my blogpost on Niacinamide, I reviewed a few niacinamide containing products and this one was top in my books.
The bad about The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about it, although a few people I’ve recommended this product have shared that it causes piling. This is the nature of skincare products in general, what works for someone may have a different reaction for someone else.
My verdict on The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
This serum is my current favourite for niacinamide serums and I am at my 5th bottle and counting. I like that it slows the return of my blackheads and reduces my redness and irritation from treatments when they occur. Giving this 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Azelaic acid is another multi-tasking ingredient that can help with rosacea and acne. Derived from grains, this nifty acid has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and keratolytic benefits. Research has also shown that azelaic acid can also help with hyperpigmentation such as melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne.
Azelaic acid is suitable for:
Acne and oily skin, pigmentation
Benefits of using azelaic acid:
· Unclogs pores
· Reduces acne
· Reduces inflammation and redness
· Lightens dark spots
· Evens out skin tone
The good about The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% suffices as a nice multi-tasking moisturiser. It’s thick but dries quickly to leave a smooth and matt texture which I really liked, likely due to the silicones (dimethicone is the number three in the ingredient list). This product also did not cause piling or breakouts for me.
The bad about The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
We do know that azelaic acid at concentrations of 15-20% are effective, but for lower concentrations such as The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%; there’s not much research available yet. That said, this 10% suspension is a nice starter for anyone who wishes to try out azelaic acid before moving onto a higher concentration.
My verdict on The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid is pretty decent for the price point as a value added moisturiser. I wasn’t convinced that my dark spots got better; then again Azelaic Acid also isn’t one of the first line treatments for pigmentation. It might work better for someone with acne.
I hope that The Ordinary/ Deciem will launch an azelaic acid lotion/ gel with a higher concentration in the near future. If you want to get started on azelaic acid, this is a very affordable starter. 3.5 out of 5 stars for this one.
When it comes to supercharged serums and antioxidants, one of my top choices is vitamin C. Vitamin C is another antioxidant that protects the skin against free radical damage from the sun’s UV rays and environmental pollution. Of all the topical antioxidants in skin care, vitamin C is one of the most well that is well backed by scientific evidence and data.
My blogpost All About Topical Vitamin C will explain in detail how to choose a vitamin C serum and why my choice of vitamin C in skincare is L-ascorbic acid. Most of us are used to the idea of using vitamin C/ L-ascorbic acid in serum or cream forms in various concentrations; so The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid in powder form is a novelty to me.
Vitamin C/ L-Ascorbic Acid is suitable for:
Normal and older skin; pigmentation
Benefits of vitamin C/ L-Ascorbic Acid:
● Protects against sun damage including sun burns
● Brightens dull skin
● Collagen synthesis for increased firmness and reduced fine lines
● Lightens pigmentation
Examining the science behind anhydrous L-ascorbic acid
I specifically purchased this because I wanted to try out an anhydrous form of L-ascorbic acid. Anhydrous or dry forms of L-ascorbic acid are not commonly found so it would be interesting to review this formulation and understand why Deciem chose to release L-ascorbic acid in powder form.
L-ascorbic acid is unstable in the presence of water (i.e. serums, lotions, gels and creams) and sunlight. By removing water from the compound, L-ascorbic acid has been found to be more stable and resistant to oxidation. The oxidised form of L-ascorbic acid (dehydroascorbic acid) is not as effective as the unoxidised L-ascorbic acid.
With anhydrous forms of L-ascorbic acid, you get to whip up a fresh batch of vitamin C/ L-ascorbic acid serum on demand. L-ascorbic acid is notoriously unstable, so this keeps your L-ascorbic acid as fresh and free of oxidation as can be. Sounds good right?
How to use The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
Deciem/ The Ordinary doesn’t offer much details on how to use their L-ascorbic acid powder on their website. The website simply states that their L-ascorbic acid powder should be mixed in a small amount with “other treatments” except formulations containing Niacinamide and EUK134.
As I’ve mentioned in my blogpost on topical vitamin C, there are 3 main factors that will determine the effectiveness of your vitamin C/ L-ascorbic acid serums:
1) Concentration of L-ascorbic acid- ideally 10-20% for appreciable results. Beyond a concentration of 20% is unnecessary because it can cause skin irritation without providing additional benefits to the skin.
2) pH- Having a pH of 3.5 or lower enhances the absorption of vitamin C through the skin and improves the stability of the product
3) The presence of vitamin E and Ferulic– these addition of these two ingredients increases the protection against UV induced skin damage by four fold.
An empirical and consistent way to ensure that you can achieve all three of the abovementioned factors is to measure the amount of 100% Ascorbic Acid powder and mix it with a serum or lotion containing vitamin E and Ferulic. You can estimate the pH using pH paper.
And there’s the time efficient/ lazy version that I use: estimate the amounts, mix in my palm with a finger and finally, pat on my skin. I used The Ordinary’s “Buffet” serum because I didn’t have a vitamin E and Ferulic acid formulation with me.
The good about The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
The anhydrous form of The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is a nifty way to bypass some of the instability issues of L-Ascorbic Acid serums and skincare. You also get to control the consistency, texture and concentration of the final product by choosing the base to mix the powder in.
This is a cost effective and fun to personalise a vitamin C serum for yourself. You get to experiment with using a base to mix in the L-Ascorbic Acid powder; so if you’re wanting to gradually increase the concentration of vitamin C/ L-Ascorbic Acid in your skincare to avoid skin irritation; this method of personalising your own vitamin C serum is an easy and cost effective way.
My tips for those of you wanting to try The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is to use a base containing vitamin E and Ferulic. My post on All About Topical Vitamin C will explain why. If you would like to premake batches for convenience, please remember to store your vitamin C mixture in an airtight container and refrigerate it. This is L-Ascorbic Acid afterall and it is unstable.
The bad about The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
The main problem with anhydrous forms of vitamin C is that we aren’t sure about its efficacy after it has been reconstituted. The final skincare product is the sum of all its parts and it is more complex than mixing two ingredients together to create something. As I’ve covered in one of my posts, some of the ingredients in the products may interact with each other to cause additional skin irritation or nullify each other’s effects, pH changes…etc. When you attempt to mix together products from different skincare brands where the respective manufacturers are unable to provide detailed instructions on mixing across skincare brands, we can’t be sure of the outcome.
It is also a hassle to measure out the exact amount of The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder to be mixed with the correct amount of base serum to reach a concentration of 20%; hence my time efficient but imprecise manner.
It is tempting to mix in a large amount of The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder to concoct a serum that has a higher percentage of L-ascorbic Acid. Afterall, who doesn’t love the benefits of vitamin C/ L- Ascorbic Acid? ( I could definitely use brighter skin, more collagen and lighter pigmentation anytime!) However, I would advise you to be careful with that. The few times I heaped in more of The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder, the product caused a tingling sensation on my skin even though I’ve been using 20% L-Ascorbic Acid for years now. Concentrations beyond 20% only offer negligible additional benefits and increased risk of skin irritation so don’t be greedy!
My verdict on The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder
It was fun trying The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder and the idea of personalising a serum definitely appeals to me. However, it is a lot more complex than simply mixing two products together. My skin is usually brighter when I use vitamin C (I use 20% L-Ascorbic Acid with vitamin E and Ferulic) and this effect was not as obvious with The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder. This may be due to my imprecise manner of mixing The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder so the concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid in my final concoction is imprecise.
If you would like to mix your own vitamin C serum, I would suggest choosing a base that contains both vitamin E and Ferulic. The Ordinary has a Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% serum that I would recommend using as your base to mix in the 100% Ascorbic Acid Powder.
I personally prefer my skincare products to come formulated instead of me doing this myself, so I did not repurchase this. That said,The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder is a very cost effective L-Ascorbic Acid product and you can bypass the hassle of mixing The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder daily by pre-mixing batches.
The Ordinary’s Buffet is really what its name suggests- a buffet of peptides with an array of benefits to the skin. Peptides are a common feature in anti-aging skincare especially for lifting of sagging skin. Peptides are a mixed bag of ingredients because there are so many different types of peptides available and data surrounding them so far is sparse, compared to tried and testing anti-aging ingredients like retinoids and vitamin C.
Peptides in skincare are not well understood so let’s first start with understanding what peptides are before scrutinising the different types of peptides used.
Peptides are smaller fragments of larger molecules called proteins. All of us have proteins and peptides in our skin. Collagen is a type of protein. As we age, the levels of peptides in our skin decreases.
Peptides perform a variety of tasks in our bodies. Certain peptides trigger collagen formation in the skin (collagen is important to maintain firmness and boost skin recovery); some peptides behave like botox to soften fine wrinkles and other types of peptides prevent the breakdown of collagen in the skin, thereby delaying the aging process.
Do peptides work? In vivo human studies are sparse and the clinical evidence for peptides is not as robust as other anti-aging active ingredients. The other problem with peptides is the skin’s difficulty in absorbing peptides as they are too big to pass through the skin barrier. That said, peptides can possibly be an alternative for people who find that retinoids or vitamin C irritate their skin. One of the difficulties with evaluating peptides is that there are so many peptides out there and skincare companies tend to offer a mixture of different peptides in their products, making it difficult to compare individual peptides.
Peptides are suitable for:
Normal and older skin
Benefits of using Peptides:
• Improves skin’s firmness and elasticity
• Reduces fine wrinkles
Decoding the ingredients in The Ordinary’s “Buffet”
The main peptides in The Ordinary’s “Buffet” are:
• Matrixyl 3000 peptide complex
> A common ingredient in anti-aging and anti-wrinkle skincare
> Increases collagen formation in the skin
• Matrixyl synthe’6 peptide complex
> Manufacturers claim that this boosts the production of 6 major components of the skin including collagen and hyaluronic acid
> No published evidence available to substantiate this claim yet
• SYN-AKE peptide complex
> Relaxes muscles to for anti-wrinkle effects
• Relistase peptide complex
> Slows breakdown of collagen in the skin to maintain skin firmness, according to a study from the manufacturer’s study available
> No independent studies available on this
• ARGIRELOX peptide complex
> Also said to reduce wrinkles
> Clinical evidence is also sparse
The Good About The Ordinary’s “Buffet”
It’s a light weight serum that dries quickly. I did not experience any skin irritation or reactions with The Ordinary’s “Buffet”. I also used it to mix in The Ordinary’s 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder.
The Bad About The Ordinary’s “Buffet”
This didn’t work for me. It may have made skin slightly more moisturised but I wasn’t convinced that I saw any visible improvement in my lines and wrinkles with using The Ordinary’s “Buffet”.
My Verdict on The Ordinary’s “Buffet”
To call peptides ‘topical botox’ is to give peptides far too much credit. Peptides are overrated anti-aging active ingredients.
I was a little disappointed with the lacklustre results of this product. Will be sticking to my other anti-aging actives.
Here we go again, another peptide. This one is a jazzed up version of The Ordinary’s “Buffet” serum with the inclusion of copper peptides. Saving the most complicated skincare science snippet for the last. This serum comes in a pretty shade of iris blue from the inclusion of copper peptides. The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% is the most expensive product in The Ordinary’s skincare range.
Deocoding Copper Peptides
What about copper peptides, the star ingredient in this product? Copper peptides also belong to the family of peptides. Of all the peptides, copper peptide is probably the most well evaluated. Copper peptides perform several roles including wound healing; stimulating collagen and elastin formation in the skin; anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses. Copper peptide also can be found in a variety of skincare and I reviewed a Drunk Elephant’s Shaba Complex Eye Serum in my post on Do Eye Creams Work? Some of the reported benefits of using copper peptide on the skin are reduced wrinkles, increased firmness and elasticity and skin rejuvenation.
Of all the peptides available, copper peptides are probably the best understood and researched peptides around.
Copper peptides are suitable for:
Normal skin and older skin
Benefits of using peptides and copper peptides:
• Improves skin’s firmness and elasticity
• Reduces fine wrinkles
• Reduces pigmentation
• Wound healing and skin repair
The good about The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%
It’s a lightweight serum that dries quickly. No metallic smell, no piling, no comedones or break outs out for me. The blue tint dries to a colourless finish. My skin felt a little smoother after 4 weeks. The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% also helped to reduce redness and calm my skin after using retinoids, lasers and chemical peels.
Most skincare products that contain copper peptides are expensive. The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% is an affordable formulation that’s pretty decent IMO.
The bad about The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%
Although there are anti-aging benefits with copper peptides, it is not the first line for treating signs of aging, like vitamin C and retinoids.
This is also the most expensive product in The Ordinary’s skincare range at USD$41.90.
My verdict on The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%
I like how this The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% helped to reduce some of the redness in my skin after retinoids, lasers and chemical peels because of its anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. It is a nice alternative to The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Given the difference in price points, I’d prefer to use The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.
That said, I like this product. My skin felt more moist after using The Ordinary’s “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%. It wouldn’t be my first choice for anti-aging and collagen building in the skin but I’d recommend this to people who are unsuitable to use anti-aging staples like vitamin C and retinoids.
I’ve only tried a few items from their range and I hope to evaluate their full range and their sister brands like Niod and Hylamide when Deciem/ The Ordinary arrive in Singapore and share them with you. Currently, the only brick and mortar shop for The Ordinary in Asia is in Seoul, Korea. You can also purchase products from The Ordinary via online retailers like ASOS.
Even though there were hits and misses for The Ordinary products for me, I appreciate Deciem’s focus on familiar, established ingredients with a no frills approach. Deciem isn’t the first skincare company with a scientific branding; but it probably is the first to bring this approach at an affordable price point on a global scale. My top picks from this selection that I’ve tried are The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%. The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is another tick for me, but I do hope that Deciem/ The Ordinary will increase the concentration of Azelaic acid in the future.
I also like that their products contain one or a few key ingredients and this gives customers more options in layering their skincare active ingredients. Cheryl from Deciem also shared with me that this is another one of the reasons why Deciem is able to keep prices economical.
I hope you found my review and today’s lesson on skincare science useful. Do you have any products that you love that are also affordable? Please share them with me!For more skin care related educational posts and reviews, please check out my sunscreen reviews and review on eyecreams.