I rarely do any skincare reviews, because it’s a very personal thing. A product can be fabulous or a dud depending on whom you ask. But since The Ordinary has peaked my interest, I wanted to investigate!
Who is the Ordinary?
It’s Ordinary? Is it? Tongue in cheek? You can read on their packaging: ” The Abnormal Beauty Company”. Another fun thing for me is that The Ordinary happens to be based in Canada, so I was pretty stoked to be, for once, ordering something new and exotic without paying expensive shipping, customs, or for the exchange rate (I’m looking at you, Pat McGrath).
The Ordinary is driven by science and maximum dosage: a solution based marketing strategy, rather than luxury ideals. Which explains why I had heard their name floating about, but was moot–to be honest. Being a beauty editor for 3 years does turn you into a luxury whore. And I was quite skeptical about the efficacy of any product sold to me for less than 10$. Were such low prices really quality driven? But when I started seeing some Online skincare gurus talk about it (Nadine Baggot, Caroline Hirons), I got interested. But what really seduced me into purchasing 3 of the products, was listening to Nadine Baggot interview Deciem founder, Brandon Truaxe, on her YouTube Channel. If you watch it, you might convert, too… so beware.
Brandon asks, in short, why should a beauty company spend millions on campaigns and ad pages in magazines to market the “skincare dream” of “hope in a jar” (Brandon’s own words) so they can charge you the bill in creating the fantasy, and packaging that makes you buy the product? The Ordinary wants to sell you active ingredients, with no buffers, fillers or frills and you do the work of mixing and matching the products to tailor to your skin’s needs, a sort of Bulk Barn of skincare. Which I think is a wonderful idea, in theory. In theory: we are all reading lists of ingredients and understanding how they work. In reality: people don’t have time to do research and to concoct their own potions. And it’s so easy to upset your skin while you experiment, like I did.
A WORD OF CAUTION
I don’t know about the other products, but I had a strong reaction to both active formulas. This is potent stuff. After taking the time to investigate why my face blew up, I realized I should have read more of the feedback from their Website. I found many reports of irritation and pimples from the 10% Niacinamide solution, and not just by The Ordinary. Other beauty vloggers reported similar effects from high percentage solutions of Niacinamide. It’s an active that is in many beauty products and adding a 10% solution on top might be overkill. While on the subject of overdoing it… the 30% Vitamin C suspension in silicone was also wayyyy tooo much for my skin, too. Of course, I had to get the two of the most drying products, ever–and layer them! I wreaked total havoc on my already Sahara-dry skin. I would suggest to dilute these super-strength formulas. They mention it often, but it feels like a side note.
ONE AT A TIME !
If you are already using anti-aging products, you should stop them, because of possible “too-much-of-a-good-thing” situation. If you buy more than one, try these one at a time, over a week to measure it’s effect. I just wanted to see miracle results, and piled on the products. Even if Brandon said there was no such thing, I’m still a sucker for a miracle. Don’t be that sucker either.
Vitamin C suspension in 30% silicone 6.80$CAN – 30ml
This was a controversial purchase. But the pure form of vitamin C (L-Ascobic Acid) is highly unstable and has to be kept in airtight containers when diluted in water. Being in a medium that is non-reactive… like silicone– it has a longer shelf-life. Vitamin C serums retail at 28$+++ and expire after a month. I thought: “why not give this puppy a try”. It promotes new collagen, exfoliates, is a strong anti-oxidant, and it “brightens” or reduces pigmentation from sun exposure (which I have around my mouth). On a side note, you can make your own D.I.Y. vitamin C solution by buying bulk powder at the health food store, check out Youtube 😉
The first week was a lesson in not mixing everything at once, especially because I was adding the Niacinamide solution on top of this. The first application was tingly. When I used it 3 days later, my skin was “upset”. I had to pile on the moisturizer and Extreme Onction, a local body butter that I’ve been using since October 2017, and it never broke me out. Within 4 days of using both products, I had four lovely pimples on my chin. That’s when I decided to listen to my skin an take a break. I returned to my normal routine and the pimples disappeared.
It did deliver on exfoliation: a lot of dry skin sloughed off, more than with a Glycolic acid, but I had to over moisturize my skin for two days after. It also gave a feeling of being plumper, better than with my all-natural regimen. I also found that it’s best to dilute it with a cream to a 1:1 ratio. Even using it once week, diluted, was too much. Once every two weeks is what is best for me. I get that firm feeling and soft exfoliated feel, with minimal discomfort. I don’t know if it’s the Vitamin C or the Niacinamide that has helped to ease some of the darkness around my mouth. Pigmentation is one of the hardest skin conditions to treat. I avoid using the Niacinamide a day before, and two days after, to not dry out my skin.
Niacinamide 10% (Vitamin B) + Zinc 1% 5.90$ CAD 30ml
I decided to buy this serum, because according to the “do” list on the website: it potentially can reduce pore size. I guess the promise of smaller pores made me oversight the fact that it reduces oil production in the skin. If you look at Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide booster, also claims to improve skintone, but on the Ordinary website, the product seems to be geared to “congested” skin.
For the first 3 days, I put it on day and night, around my mouth, and nose: straight from the dropper. Of course layering this over the Vitamin C wreaked havoc and made me break out. After giving my skin a break for a week and trying this on it’s own, it was still way too strong to be used twice a day! My skin would feel itchy and tight the day after. I found my skin could tolerate it once a day, if it was diluted with some toner.
My pores are pretty much the same, but they are clearer on my nose, it seems to have helped. I wanted to give it another chance, straight out of the dropper about a month into my trial…. and it still made my skin tight and itchy for the whole day! Even with the heavy moisturizer, and with all the oils I slather on to keep my skin dewy. I’ll finish the product but I won’t be repurchasing. If you have very oily skin, this might work for you, but it’s not for dry skin! Again, not sure which product helped to reduce pigmentation. But there was a slight improvement.
Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% 6.80$ – 100ml
After trying both Vitamin C and Vitamin B, I wanted to see if another active ingredient product was more suited for my dry skin. I was curious about Azelaic and Alpha Lipoic acids. Both had really good reviews on the website. Both claimed to improve skin clarity, tone and texture. Unfortunately they were out of stock of the Azelaic… So I ordered the Alpha Lipoic, which is “to brighten and to target the signs of age”–bingo! I started trying it out at about 50 days into the trial.
I was on a two week break from the Vitamin C serum, and for the first application, I decided to mix two drops with my night moisturizer (they recommend 2-3 drops for an application). I felt a slight warming and tingling. After 10 minutes, I applied my night oils and massaged them in. I could already notice that the skin was sloughing. The next morning, I still had more sloughing. I found it wasn’t as drying as Vitamin C, and had almost the same skin plumping feeling for two days after the application. I tried it a second time, and my skin was still agreeing with it.
I’m not sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me, but it seemed that my pale skin looked a bit more golden by the second day. The long winter made me a pinky-white shade, which in turn makes my pigmentation more apparent. By the second application, 6 day later, it seems to have significantly evened out my skintone by cancelling the slight redness I had all over my face. So much so, that I require less makeup around my mouth to hide the discoloration. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s less red, making the pigmentation more blended into my golden undertone, but I do think it has actually improved my yellow-ish areas around my mouth. Now, I confess: I bought it also because it had “glowing” reviews on the website! And it seems to deliver! For me, this is “my winner”. Read those reviews before buying things, that ways you will learn from other peoples mistakes.
Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (Hyaluronic Acid) 10$ – 100ml
I ordered this product with my initial purchase. The ingredients are good, although not “natural”. I couldn’t find any controversial ones in the list. It has no fragrance, and the texture has a silicon-y feel even if there isn’t any in the formula. It’s a very bare-bones moisturizer, it’s not the cheapest, nor the most expensive one on the market. I would say it’s good for normal to oily skin. To my taste, it lacked that luscious texture that makes my extra-dry skin feel dewy all day. Compared to other creams I used, by mid-day my skin would start feeling a bit dry (even with oils over it), meaning: it would start to feel like normal skin. But I do like the cream, I’ve used it on photo-shoots to revive mid-day makeup. It absorbs really fast and leaves a light coat of moisture, even though it might feel a bit thick at first.
After having tried two of the active ingredient products for at least 45 days… I can safely say that there is something to be said about a carefully formulated product. Because there is no chemist or team that poured over for months on how to match or mix ingredients. That’s why they can sell you the products at such low prices. They don’t test each one to create something that can be tolerated by most skin types, that has a nice texture, or a nice package that is well thought of, or designed. The Ordinary products give you the maximum dosage of each ingredient so you can make your own potion. That being said, I think that at this price point, they will keep on selling, because some products are definitely worth it, like the Vitamin C, or the Alpha Lipoic Acid and other acids which are sold at really low prices. Deciem also has two other ranges that have formulations and the prices start at 35$CAN, NIOD and Hylamide. It’s worth looking into if you want skincare that is more balanced.