Are They Dupes?: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion VS Indeed Labs Retinol Reface?

by Gio
a dupe for indeed labs retinol reface

Is The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion a dupe for Indeed Labs Retinol Reface?

They’ve certainly got one thing in common: they both use TWO forms of vitamin A. The SAME two forms of vitamin A. You know how rare that is? I mean, most brands won’t give you even one… 🙄

But is that enough to consider them dupes and make the switch? Let’s find out…


Let’s face it: when you think of vitamin A, you think of retinol. It’s the OTC gold standard for antiaging. And for a good reason. Or three:

  • Antioxidant: it destroys free radicals before they can give you wrinkles and dark spots
  • Collagen booster: it makes skin produce more collagen, so it stays firmer and younger for longer
  • Cellular turnover: it speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process, fading away fine lines and discolourations

The catch? Retinol is irritating. It can cause stinging, peeling and flaking. That’s why I always tell you to start with the smallest concentration you can find and slowly work your way up.

There’s another way: microencapsulation. In plain English, pure retinol is put into small capsules that release it into the skin over a period of several hours instead than hitting you all at once.

Your skin still get its retinol fix. You don’t get the irritation. Win win.

FYI, both The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion and Indeed Labs Retinol Reface use microencapsulation. Yes!

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate

In case you’re wondering where the Granactive Retinoid in name of The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion comes from, that’s how the brand calls Hyxdroxypinacolone Retinoate.

Indeed Labs has a different nickname for it: Retinol RA (Rapid Action). That’s cos, unlike retinol, hydroxypinacolone retinoate doesn’t need to be converted to retinoic acid to work its magic on your face.

Either way, it’s the same thing: a new form of vitamin A that was developed to get all the benefits of retinol without any of the side effects.

Brands want you think they work the same way. And that may very well be true. But because Granactive Retinoid is so new, we don’t have any independent studies confirming their claims.

I’m sure it does something: all forms of vitamin A do have an effect on wrinkles, discolourations and even acne. But, until we know for certain just how effective it is, I’m glad both brands paired it with old good, tried-and-tested, retinol.

Related: Which Form Of Vitamin A Is Right For You?

What Else Do You Need To Know?

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface has a heavier silicone base. I personally love it. It makes the cream go on so smoothly and your skin feels as soft as a baby’s afterwards. But if you don’t dig silicones, it’s not for you.

On the other hand, Indeed Lab Retinol Reface has peptides that boost the production of collagen, giving you results that little bit faster.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulusion focuses more on reducing inflammation. It has bisabobol (the stuff that makes chamomile so soothing) and Tasmania pepper to calm down irritations and neutralise any potential side effects.

One more thing: I’ve tried both products and even though they have the same active ingredients, Indeed Labs Retinol Reface packs a bigger punch. 

Related: Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Full Review

Which Of The Two Should You Go For?

It depends on your needs. Go with The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion if:

  • You have sensitive skin
  • You’re still building tolerance to retinol
  • You hate the feel of heavy silicone creams

Opt for Indeed Labs Retinol Reface if:

  • You’re a retinol pro ready to go to the next level
  • Want more collagen boosters in your skincare

Related: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion Full Review


Indeed Labs Retinol Reface: £19.99 at Asos and Boots

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion: £8.00 at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique


Is The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion A Dupe For Indeed Labs Retinol Reface?

I wouldn’t say The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is an exact dupe for Indeed Labs Retinol Reface. But it’s a gentler version that will give you the same results without any peeling or irritation.

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Caprylyl Methicone, Cetyle Alcohol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Glucoside, PEG-100 Stearate, Butylene Glycol, 4-T-Butylcyclohexanol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Xanthan Gum, Glycine Soya (Soybean) Oil, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Polysorbate 80, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Retinol, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Acacia Senegal Gum, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Tocopherol

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Isoceteth-20, Behentrimonium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin

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Kat September 12, 2018 - 5:38 pm

Hello Gio! I have recently found your blog purely by accident , and boy, I am so happy it happened! I totally love the content you publish and it helped me understand what really sits inside all those pretty bottles at the drugstores. You convinced me to change my skincare routine, however I am still learning what would work the best for me. I am still not sure if I am missing something or whether I should avoid / not mix some of the ingredients- also to be absolutely honest I am afraid I will overload my 30-yr old combo skin.

So far in the mornings I am using The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2 + B5 Face Serum followed by moisturiser with 30 SPF. Evenings after cleansing I am randomly switching between using either 1) EL Advanced Night Repair (old favourite before I found your blog) followed by Vichy Liftactiv advanced filler 2) Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 3) The Ordinary – Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% followed by EUK 134 or 4) Ascorbic Acid/Ferulic Acid serum followed by moisturiser. Does it make any sense? I feel l bit like I am running in the dark and would appreciate any tips from you whether something in my current approach that is missing or too much? Thank you for all your great work and can’t wait for more posts from you 🙂

Gio September 15, 2018 - 10:32 am

Kat, thanks so much for your support. So glad my blog is helping you making sense of all this skincare stuff.

Let me tell you that I much prefer your approach of using something different every night rather than layering everything at Ince, as that can overwhelm skin.

The main change I’d make is to use Ascorbic Acid/Ferulic Serum in the morning instead of HA because the antioxidants can maximise the effectiveness of your sunscreen. But you can layer HA in between if you find your skin gets drier in the day without it.

At night, you can most definitely alternate between 1, 2 and 3 routines if you’re not comfortable using all these products at once. Alpha Lipoic Acid and EUK are great antioxidants and your skin can never get enough of those. Niacinamide + Zinc is a great product for oily skin too. And the Vichy has the retinol, which your skin needs too.

In other words, you’re using all the right ingredients. Some people prefer to layer everything at once but your approach works well too.

At the end of the day, if this skincare routine is working for you, why change it?

Marianne September 22, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Hi Gio

Absolutely love your site. Thank you so much. It just helps to make the right choice.
It has helped med so much getting the right The Ordinary product.
I dont buy skincare without consulting BWB
Love Marianne

Gio September 27, 2018 - 2:27 pm

Marianne, thank you so much for your sweet comment. So honoured to be your go-to source for skincare.


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