I love the beauty industry. I really do. I mean, I wouldn’t be a beauty blogger if I didn’t.
But… there really isn’t much integrity here.
It’s not just how we’re made to feel worthless for not looking like the photoshopped version of Faith Hill (because even Faith Hill doesn’t look like Faith Hill in real life). Or that models wear so-obviously-fake-you-can-spot-them-a-mile-off lashes on mascara ads.
It’s also the way every extract and technology is made out to be innovative or groundbreaking even when it’s old news. Or the price hikes that make you think that serum or eye cream must work better than everything else you’ve tried before even though you know deep down it won’t.
The beauty world is dangerous for the naive. And incredibly frustrating for everyone. Why can’t we just have good products that really do what they say on the tin without the outrageous price tags and even more outrageous marketing?
That’s exactly what Brandon Truaxe, founder of Deciem, thought. His latest venture is The Ordinary, a skincare brand that “brings to market effective, more familiar technologies at honourable prices.” And there’s nothing ordinary about that (although, there should be, right?).
My first (of many) forays into the brand is the Advanced Retinoid 2% (of course, I had to go for the retinoid one – retinoids are the gold standard for anti-aging), a serum made with the next generations of retinoids. And costs just £8.00.
Wait, Why Is It So Affordable? Where’s The Catch?
That’s what one of my fave skincare gurus, Caroline Hirons, asked Brandon, the founder of The Ordinary and all the other Deciem brands. His reply?
“We have applied our very standard margin % across all the products in The Ordinary. For example, very high-purity Niacinamide costs under $10 per KG and so the cost of all materials in Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is under $1 (£0.5). Most of the cost actually goes into compounding, testing (inbound and outbound) and retail costs/margins.”
Basically, they don’t inflate the prices just because they can. Thanks, Brandon!
The Next Generation Of Retinoids
Retinoids are awesome, ladies.
They’re all forms of vitamin A and they do things like:
- boosting the production of collagen, keeping skin firm
- fighting the free radicals that cause wrinkles
- increasing cellular turnover, which helps gets rid of wrinkles and dark spots
- kicking acne in the butt
But, they come with nasty side effects, like irritation, peeling and redness. That’s why you don’t go all in straight away but start small. So that your skin has time to get used to them. That’s also why scientists are working on new forms of retinoids that do all those amazing things without the annoying side effects.
The newbie The Ordinary is using is solubilized hydropinacolone retinoate, an ester of all-trans direct retinoid acid (that means that, unlike other retinoids, it doesn’t need to be converted into the active form of vitamin A into the skin).
According to the company that makes it, it works better at treating dark spots and wrinkles than all other non-prescription forms of retinoids, including retinol, but without the irritation.
I couldn’t find any independent studies confirming this. But I’ve found a couple that claim this form of vitamin A works at treating acne. And it’s a retinoid so it does help with wrinkles too. I’m just not sure it’s the best of the best like they say, that’s all.
If you prefer to stick to retinol, this serum has that one, too. It’s just delivered in a protective capsule system, so it’s gentler on the skin.
Let’s Put It To The Test: Personal Use And Opinion
The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% has a lovely lightweight and milky white texture that absorbs instantly on the skin. The scent isn’t the best (it’s fragrance-free, so you’re smelling the ingredients) but it’s so faint, I can easily put up with it.
Actually, I’d easily put up with it even if it stank really badly because this stuff does some amazing things to my skin. To be honest, I am a bit hesitant to try any retinoids at this time of the year. Now the temperatures are dropping fast, my skin tends to get drier and retinoids can dry it out even more. That’s what happened last winter.
This time, there way absolutely no dryness or irritation. I can use this serum every other day and get smoother and glowing skin without the side effects. It’s so gentle, I suspect I could use it daily.
If you’ve never tried retinoids before, I still recommend you use it only once or twice a week to get started, just in case. But this is something that even mature and sensitive skin can safely use without fear.
Ok, maybe if your skin is super super super sensitive, there may still be a tiny chance it’ll bother your skin, but it’s definitely the gentlest retinoid serum I’ve ever tried.
Yet, it works as well as all the other harsher retinoid serums. My skin now looks plumper. Its texture is smoother and more even-toned. It has a subtle glow to it. These are the immediate effects.
After a few weeks (that’s how long it takes retinoids to work their magic on wrinkles), the serum also starts to target the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and dark spots, and make them smaller.
Basically, it does everything a good retinoid serum should do. Minus the irritation. And the high price tag. Go get it, ladies!
Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping
Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.