Hello friends, I bet you have seen and heard the hype about this brand and its products and on hearing these you decided that you will not be making any decisions on these products until HoneyBadger has opined.

Thank you for being so patient, as you know I like to take my time to use and test products before then giving my assessment.

Firstly what is The Ordinary and what is its origin story?

The Ordinary is one of the brands under the Deciem umbrella, which is a Toronto-based company founded in 2013 according to their website.

The Ordinary offers skincare product using active skincare ingredients which they call “Clinical formulations with integrity”. Their products, are free of parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, benzalkonium chloride, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury or oxybenzone.

The Ordinary states that they offer a wide range of skin care products with active ingredients at the the right concentration levels for one to see an immediate effect on the skin. I am lucky enough to be a bit of a skincare geek and I know which active ingredients work for my skin issues. I decided to use the  following products to resolve these issues:

  1. Advanced Retinoid 2%
  2. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
  3. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Advance Retinoid 2% £8 – To solve my skin texture issues and for anti-ageing

This product is stated by The Ordinary to  use the next-generation of retinoid active technologies which have been shown to achieve better reduction in signs of ageing than retinol without irritation. They also stated that Advanced Retinoid 2% achieves better visible anti-ageing results than Retinol 1% with less irritation but Retinol 1% is suitable if you are looking specifically for a pure Retinol formula.

This product is a milky fluid which spreads easily. I use it at night and I find it to have an inoffensive scent which makes it non-irritating to my skin and my nose. I apply this straight after cleansing and drying my skin and applied my Vintner’s Daughter face oil after its absorption to lock in the serum. Of the 3 products I bought, this was the most effective for my skin. My skin in the morning looked fresher, smoother and more refined as my pores had all but disappeared. I used this product every other night, alternating between this and the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% £4.90 – To solve my hyper pigmentation issues and for anti-ageing.

Most of you may know that Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant and its pure form of L-Ascorbic Acid has been shown to reverse multiple signs of skin ageing while brightening the skin when applied topically.

The Ordinary’s Vitamin C product is a water-free and silicone-free formula which enables the provided 23% pure L-Ascorbic Acid to remain completely stable due to the absence of water. The system is said to be supported by the addition of dehydrated spheres of Hyaluronic Acid to offer visible surface smoothing alongside the benefits of Vitamin C. This treatment is ideally applied at bedtime.

The Ordinary makes an important note on its website that – the format of this formula is a suspension of very fine L-Ascorbic Acid powder and, as such, provides the most direct exposure of extremely high concentrations of Vitamin C topically. The company goes on to say that with such format, there are 2 important things to consider:

1) A very strong tingling but non-irritating sensation is expected during the first 1-2 weeks of use until the skin’s tolerance to such high exposure is elevated;
2) The powder exposure to the skin disallows the formula to feel like a serum, lotion or cream and each application requires a few seconds to feel absorbed by the skin. If desired, this formula can be diluted in a cream base per application to allow the skin to build tolerance over time.

Now I’m quite a hardy lass with a high pain threshold, however this product has pushed my pain boundaries farther than any other skincare product I have ever used.

Firstly on application this product feels like an exfoliator which feels bruising on the skin and means one is unable to get the product to absorb properly. A concerted effort has to be made to keep massaging the product into the skin to aid absorption, which further exfoliates the skin leaving a powdery finish.

Secondly if you combine the above with the strong tingling sensation mentioned by The Ordinary, this is quite an intense product. However, the strong tingling sensation mentioned by The Ordinary is not true, it is a fallacy; I would rather call it a strong burning sensation. Oh my goodness, did this burn, this burn is exacerbated by the exfoliation effect on initial application. Even with the application of my Vintner’s Daughter face oil over the product to aid absorption and dilute, this product kept burning. What was even more disturbing was that this burning lasted a good hour and if you keep rubbing the product into the skin to ensure full absorption, the burning can last up to  3 hours!!

I used this product every other night for 1 month consistently alternating between this and the Advanced Retinoid 2%. Now if the effect of the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% product was wondrous or spectacular, I could have taken a view on the pain,  unfortunately this wasn’t the case. The Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% is an ok product which had some effective results in helping with a few but not all of my hyper pigmentation issues, however  the results were not mind blowing.

I discovered that if I use my Missha Essence copiously before I apply the Vitamin C product there was less of a burning sensation, however this diluted the efficacy of the product for me.

Update 26/04/2017 It was noted on The Ordinary website that users skin will get used to the product after consistent and continual use which should reduce the tingling sensation. I can attest to this and my skin no longer burns on application of this product. This product has now moved this into an almost Holy Grail status for me. The oiliness of the product means I can only use it at night which is why is why it doesn’t make the HOLY GRAIL status.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 £5.90 – To solve my dehydrated skin issues and to plump up my skin

This to me was the most disappointing of the 3 products, I bet a few of you are surprised to hear me say this, I mean what is worse than a continuous burning sensation on your face, well what’s worse is an ineffective product.

The Ordinary’s website states Hyaluronic Acid (HA) can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The molecular size of HA determines its depth of delivery in the skin. This formulation combines low-, medium- and high-molecular weight HA, as well as a next-generation HA crosspolymer at a combined concentration of 2% for multi-depth hydration in an oil-free formula. This system is supported with the addition of Vitamin B5 which also enhances surface hydration.

Note: Hyaluronic Acid is found in the skin naturally but its natural function within the skin is not hydration. Many products have used HA to claim hydration benefits, but HA is too large of a molecule to penetrate the skin and instead sits on the surface and can draw moisture out of the skin making the surface feel soft and hydrated temporarily, while making you feel like you need more HA after the product is rinsed. This formula uses three forms of HA with varying molecular weights, as well as an HA crosspolymer, to offer multi-depth hydration and visible plumping without drawing water out of the skin solely to improve temporary surface hydration.

I used this product in the morning under my moisturiser and I didn’t find the promise of multi-depth hydration and visible plumping without drawing water out of the skin to be delivered.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to prove the efficacy of this product as I had to travel for work via airplane thrice in the month in which I was using this product. My forehead which has a major hydration issue looked the same if not slightly worse after these flights, regardless of the fact that I also ensured I drank a lot of water to keep internally hydrated and used a moisturising misting spray to aid this product.

Even when I wasn’t in the air I did not not see any hydrating effect from this product. The only plus point I can see with this product is that it does have an initial tightening effect, however this wears off when you apply your moisturiser, so there.

There is a lot of hype about The Ordinary products and from a few reviews of their other products which I have seen and read, the results are as mixed as mine. I think the price point is extremely appealing for most people, especially for the products that happen to be effective.

I will confer my HOLY GRAIL status on the Advanced Retinoid 2% and rate the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% as an OK, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a FAIL for me.