Those of you who are in tune with the going ons in the skincare world would have come across The Ordinary – a somewhat ordinary sounding name of a new range of skincare that is so revolutionary, it’s pretty much rocked the world of skincare enthusiasts. It’s also received rave reviews online from many big names in the industry. The key reason is the price because products in The Ordinary range are very very affordably priced, for what is supposed to be very potent and effective ingredients. So affordably priced, it makes you wonder if there’s a catch.
Because they are the brainchild of the people behind Deciem, the other popular brand for effective products that don’t break the bank, I was more comfortable picking up a few pieces, sight unseen. I bought directly from the Deciem website although you can get The Ordinary in a few other places online (not retailed in Malaysia at time of publishing – please don’t ask. The info about product availability is always detailed in all my posts wherever I can, especially local availability where possible. However, I’m not a fan of product resellers or pre-orders or bulk buyers so I never recommend any. I’m all about buying directly from trusted sources, never from Instagram or Facebook and I suggest that you do the same /climbs off soapbox).
The first product I was most excited to try was The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (I’ll call it The Ordinary Vitamin C serum for short) as I’d just run out of mine and was raring to try more Vitamin C products as I find them very effective.
The Ordinary Vitamin C serum slides in at under US$10 (£5) and I was curious as a cat with its 9 lives intact. There were so many raves for the brand online – might this be my wallet’s saviour?
If you’re on Instagram, you’d know the answer to my rhetorical question. No. I actually pretty much hated the damn thing. To be honest, it was purely from a sensorial point – the texture really sucks. But I eventually got it to work, and I’m going to share with you the secret! :)
But first, I got The Ordinary Vitamin C serum in its new tube packaging. Apparently, the first generation came in a dropper bottle, that people hated. So it was eventually repackaged in a tube. I’m not sure either if it’s perfect, as the product is actually quite runny.
So, when you squeeze out the product, you have to be pretty careful to control how much you actually dispense, because you only need (and honestly, you should only be using) very little product, because of the formula.
You probably can’t tell, but this is the swatch of the product and it is fairly liquid. You only need about 1/3 of this dollop on your skin, because as I will tell you below, you will otherwise be a grease-ball.
The formula claims to be water-free and silicone-free and be in a stable suspension. The 23% refers to Pure L-Ascorbic Acid, and because Vitamin C can be drying, they added 2% Hyaluronic Acid Spheres. On paper, this sounds like quite a dream.
The Gritty Texture and greasiness
In practice, the texture is horrible to me. I’m not alone. Just look up any honest reviews online, and you’ll find everyone complaining about the texture.
While it looks like a smooth lotion when squeezed out of the tube, the moment you apply this to your skin, you will feel a gritty, sandy texture under your fingers. It almost feels like you’re rubbing fine sandpaper all over your face. If you exert pressure, it can feel a little painful. It never goes away, and it sits on your skin all day.
Added to that, I found that the formula really makes my skin greasy through the day. I use this in the morning, as the first serum on my skin after cleanser and toner. I like my Vitamin C directly on my skin and I found that no matter how little I used, it would still make my skin greasy, yet dry. It’s complicated. It looks greasy, with a shine like a beacon in the dark, yet it feels dry. I don’t know, it’s just weird.
It’s become so bad that I won’t use this serum if I have to put a good face forward, because I can’t stand how oily my face looks, even though I’m not actually oily. Alternatively, I’ll use one of my more drying foundations to try to balance it off. It’s always a challenge.
Added to the gritty texture and greasiness is the sting. Now, I use acid toners and I happily slap on glycolic acid on my face with wild abandon. Lotion P50 does not sting my skin and neither does Pixi Glow Tonic or Alpha H Liquid Gold. I’d been warned every time, but it’s always been smooth sailing. Not with The Ordinary Vitamin C serum.
They warn you on the box that you can expect a stinging sensation. And yes, I do experience it. If you have blemishes on your skin it will sting more at those areas. For me, I feel the stinging on my cheeks and around my nose and my skin actually turns a little red. It goes away, but the redness does remain. It bugged me every single time I use it, but I persevered in the name of science – ok, for the sake of trying it. The things I do! :P
The other thing I intensely dislike is the scent. To me, there is a strong metallic scent that remains on my hands after I use this, and that bugs me to no end. I always have to wash my hands after using, and I tend to use this only in the day time, because I like to use my Vitamin C serums in the day – it’s supposed to be an antioxidant and it aids sunscreen efficacy. Look it up – lots of research in this area.
How to avoid the gritty texture and sting
However, just 2 weeks ago, I unconsciously stumbled upon a cure for the terribly gritty texture and the sting on my skin – lots of moisture! Thank goodness for facial mists! :D
To combat the gritty sandpaper texture and sting of The Ordinary Vitamin C Serum, here’s how I use it:-
- After cleansing and exfoliating toner, I liberally mist my face with a facial water mist – any one will do, but get your face WET.
- Then, squeeze out a little dollop of The Ordinary Vitamin C serum, and quickly apply and massage onto your wet skin.
- You will find that the grittiness seems to melt into the water, and I don’t experience any stinging on my skin. The product also absorbs better and more quickly.
I believe the gritty texture is due to the L-Ascorbic Acid powder they say is used in the formula, suspended in the emulsion, but applying it to wet skin really really helps, and it’s the only way I can use this without wanting to throw the tube at the wall in frustration. I believe the water helps, because L-Ascorbic Acid is water soluble, and since it’s suspended in a water-free formula the water helps it dissolve. The bits of chemistry from school days did not go to waste! :P
I’m no chemist, but I hardly think that vitamin c POWDER will do very much for your skin by just sitting on it. Please feel free to tell me otherwise, but I’m sticking to my method – at least I don’t have to contend with sandpaper on my skin :P
I’d read of people patting it into their skin instead of rubbing (so it doesn’t hurt so much) or people who experience pilling but I don’t. Using it on a wet face really helps it perform more like a normal serum and I can layer products without problems after that. However, the greasiness does remain. No cure there.
What does it do?
From my limited experience with Vitamin C serums, I’ve experienced clearer skin, more even skintone and a reduction in the darkness of my existing pigmentation, and any new redness clears up more quickly. I find that with The Ordinary Vitamin C serum, I don’t notice significant changes in my skin. However, this might be due to the fact that my first serum had already worked so well. So, this was doing a maintenance job.
I did not notice any further brightening of my skin, and in fact, due to the greasiness, my skin sometimes looks dull, but my skintone seemed to remain even, after the redness goes away. Once I used the wet skin method, I experienced far less redness and it felt a little more comfortable. Only just.
I have this red spot on my chin due to picking at a recalcitrant spot, and daily use of this serum hasn’t helped fade the marks. I don’t know. I guess I just really dislike this, and I’m only trying to use up as much of it as I can before I bin it :P By way of an alternative, I particularly liked the Hylamide Booster C25 (same owners – Deciem) which isn’t too expensive, and feels far more elegant a formulation than this POS :P
IN A NUTSHELL
I don’t like this :P Ok, that’s not helpful. The Ordinary Vitamin C serum is a very affordable vitamin c serum that is water free and silicone free. The texture is quite runny, and you only need very little each time. It spreads easily, but the L-Ascorbic Powder suspended in the formula gives it a gritty texture that feels like sandpaper on skin and irritates my skin. I also experience stinging and some redness. My way of working around it is to apply it directly on wet skin. You don’t experience the gritty texture and I find that it stings less. I don’t find this particularly helpful for my skin, and it leaves my skin looking greasy all day. It is very affordable and I can see why it’s popular. But I feel the formula is inelegant and it just takes too much trouble to get it to work, with not very noticeable results. I’m not a fan.
PROS: Very affordable
CONS: Gritty texture feels like sandpaper on skin, Tube packaging tends to dispense too much product, Heavy greasy feeling and oily cast on skin all day, Strong metallic scent lingers on skin, Stings the skin so you will experience a smarting feeling especially if you have any blemishes
WHO WILL LIKE THIS: Anyone on a tight budget and wants to try a Vitamin C serum
PRICE: US$9.70 | £5 for 30ml
WHERE TO BUY: International shipping available at The Ordinary website (or Deciem), Asos, Victoria Health (I have never used this site and I can’t seem to access it when I try, but I’ve heard of people buying from there – I prefer to buy directly from Deciem or Asos)
If you’re interested as to what’s in The Ordinary Vitamin C serum, here’s the ingredient list.
As always, this is MY perception of this product. I am a fan of a bargain as much as the next person, but texture and sensorial pleasure is also very important to me. If I can’t bear to use a product because I pretty much hate it, it doesn’t matter how much or little it costs, I’d still hate it.
I did persevere long enough to find a way to get this serum to work, which I’m thankful about, because this means my US$10 doesn’t go to waste. But I now only use it on weekends or on days when I don’t need to put an immaculate face forward, because this leaves my dry skin looking like I need some serious blotting – and that isn’t flattering at all. I know this suits many peoples’ budgets, so go ahead and try it. Maybe it’ll work for you and if you hate it, go for Hylamide Boost C25 instead if you aren’t up to springing for the Dr. Brandt Power Dose :)
Have you tried this Vitamin C Serum from The Ordinary? Did you experience the same things I did?
I’d love to know how you like this, because I know many people have tried it thanks to the very affordable price tag. I’m trying a couple of other items I bought from the brand, but those will come in due course. I’d admit that as this was my first experience with the brand, I was very put off and hesitant to try the other things in my order. But I’m getting over my prejudice. Almost :P