Deciem The Ordinary Skincare Review

deciem the ordinary skincare

Today, I have a review of several products from parent company Deciem‘s new-ish skincare line, The Ordinary. All the products from the Ordinary are inexpensive; Deciem has said that the low cost is in large part owed to the fact that The Ordinary doesn’t have innovative formulas – it has “ordinary” ones.  While the formulas may be ordinary in that particular sense, offering proven ingredients in well formulated products at such low costs is unique among the skincare brands I’m familiar with. (Also, Deciem has several other brands that do have innovative formulas if that’s what you’re looking for.)

There aren’t that many reviews of the products yet, so I thought I’d throw mine out there.  I have first impressions only for some of the products, and more thorough reviews of a few.

[Ed note: Oh hey there. I haven’t blogged for a long time. I got burned out on blogging for a while, then I had a baby and moved across the country.  Now the baby is old enough that I’m starting to get some time to myself now and then, and I have the itch to blog. No promises on how often it’ll be though.]

(I purchased all of these products and this post does not contain any affiliate links.)

So: the products, going from left to right in the photo above.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) + HA
30ml for $5.80

deciem the ordinary natural moisturizing factors plus ha

The brand claims that this product offers “non-greasy . . . effective surface hydration.”

This is a very thick moisturizer, as you can see from the photo above.  It spreads easily, absorbs quickly, and leaves my skin feeling hydrated but not greasy or tacky. It works well under makeup. I haven’t used it enough to speak to any long term effects, but it is pleasant to use. I have other moisturizers I prefer but that cost more, so I’m not sure yet if I’d repurchase.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
30ml for $5.80

deciem the ordinary vitamin c suspension 23% plus ha spheres 2%

The brand describes this as a “water-free, silicone free, stable suspension”, and warns that the formula doesn’t feel like a serum, lotion, or cream.  The Ordinary offers several Vitamin C products – see their comparison chart here.

Important background information: The most common, cheapest, and most potent form of vitamin C is L-Ascorbic Acid (L-AA).  Unfortunately, L-AA is unstable when dissolved in water and requires a very acidic pH to work which can be irritating.  This is a waterless formula (which makes it much more stable than your typical L-AA serum), and I was very excited to try it.

When the brand warns that this is not cosmetically elegant, they aren’t kidding. It feels oily and a bit gritty. I can’t imagine it working under makeup even if you only use a touch, and it’s unpleasant enough that I don’t want to wear it at night either (though it might not bother you). The texture is acceptable as a mask, and my understanding of Vitamin C is that one would get some benefit from that – but frankly I’d rather use a different product, even if that product is more expensive, less powerful, and/or less stable. A product that is formulated to be effective isn’t actually doing anything for you if you don’t use it! In case it is not already clear, I would not repurchase this.

The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) 10%
30ml for $9.50

deciem the ordinary magnesium ascorbyl phosphate 10%

The brand describes this as a light cream with a high percentage of MAP, a derivative of Vitamin C.

I’ve heard good things about MAP – it’s much more stable than L-AA, doesn’t require a low (and thus potentially irritating) pH, and is still effective. This is, as described, a light cream. It absorbs quickly, adds a little (but not a lot of) moisture, and is pleasant to use. I haven’t used it consistently enough to be able to speak to the effects yet, but it seems to be a solid choice for a vitamin C product.  I’ll have to see how I feel about repurchasing once I finish the tube.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
30ml for $7.90

deciem the ordinary azelaic acid 10%

The brand writes that Azelaic Acid “brightens the skin tone while visibly improving the evenness of skin texture and reducing the look of blemishes. It is a multi-functional support ingredient for all skin types and also acts as an effective antioxidant.”

This is a light-textured cream as well. It’s a suspension, which means that the active ingredient isn’t dissolved into the cream – just evenly suspended throughout. This gives the product a powdery finish on the skin – it’s not drying or hydrating, and feels a little odd to me but not unpleasant. I’m sorry to be a broken record, but again I haven’t used this consistently enough to evaluate the brand’s claims or have a solid opinion on this.  I’ve heard good things about azelaic acid though, so I am planning to use the whole tube and see how I feel.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
30ml for $5.90

deciem the ordinary niacinamide plus zinc

This formula is intended to “reduce the look of blemishes and balance visible sebum activity.”

I have dry skin and (knock on wood) rarely break out these days. I bought this one because niacinamide is one of my favorite ingredients – it does lots of great things, including fading pigmentation. I was already using skincare with effective levels of niacinamide before subbing in this serum, so I haven’t noticed any dramatic changes – but I am still happy with this product. Initially, it has the same texture as many other hydrating essences and serums I’ve tried, but somehow it leaves my skin feeling a bit tight, sort of like there’s some kind of shrinkwrapped film over my skin.  That sounds way worse than it actually is though – I don’t mind the feeling much, and if I mix it with another serum, I don’t get that feeling at all. I would repurchase this one.

The Ordinary Alpha-Arbutin 2% + HA
30ml for $8.90

deciem the ordinary alpha arbutin

Arbutin is, as the brand says, generally  used to fade pigmentation.

I LOVE THIS. I’ve tried a lot of skincare over the years, and this is one of the few products I’ve used that has a visible result (a more even skintone). This product also has that very common hydrating serum texture (but no tight feeling), and leaves my skin feeling lightly hydrated. It layers well, and I’m already halfway through my second bottle.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%
30ml for $9.80

deciem the ordinary advanced retinoid

The brand describes this product as a “next-generation retinoid” that “avoid[s] the irritation associated with retinoid (including retinol) use while delivering better visible results against signs of ageing.”

This has a great texture – it’s a runny lotion, light and easily absorbed. I haven’t noticed any irritation, even when I use it every night. Once again, I haven’t used this for long enough to notice any effects, but retinoids are a proven product and I’m planning to use this for a few months to see how it goes. I plan to repurchase this at least once so that I can see how my skin does after using it for several months.

(I purchased all these items myself. This post does not contain any affiliate links.)

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  • Pam

    Thanks for your initial usage reviews, I’m looking forward to your reviews after you’ve used the products longer. I went to the website, but couldn’t find any info on shipping charges, do you know of a link, or can you tell me what you were charged?

    • Emi

      Shipping is free for purchases over $25, and I think it’s around $5 otherwise. I think you have to start the checkout process to see the rates (which is annoying – they should make it easier to find!).

  • Lydia R

    Welcome back! And congrats on the baby!

  • This is really helpful, thanks! I perversely want to try that Vit C now to see if I can handle the texture. Usually I’m not picky about what I put on my face before bed, but I’ve never tried anything quite like what that sounds like. Also, though, the only reputable Vit C serum I’ve really used is the Paula’s Choice one, which did nothing for me. It would be nice to know if I just don’t respond to Vit C or if it’s just that one formula in particular.

    • You can have mine if you don’t mind that it’s been used! I like to think that I’ll use it as a mask, but realistically I totally won’t. Also, I haven’t ever noticed visible results from Vit C, but that may be because I’ve never been consistent enough.

  • MakeupWithdrawal

    Welome back! Thank you so much for the review, I’ve been looking all over for in depth reviews of The Ordinary products. So I have a question – I feel like an absolute crazy person – do you smell anything from your Niaminacide + Zinc? Or any of your other products? I have the N + Z and the Hyaluronic Acid, both have this musty moth ball smell to me, which has diminished over time as I’ve used up the bottles. Asked spouse, he doesn’t smell anything. No reviews have ever mentioned it.

    • The Alpha-Arbutin has a bit of a scent – sort of soapy almost? Maybe a little musty? I don’t think I’ve noticed anything w the Niacinamide, but I also have a terrible sense of smell, so it might. I think it’s pretty common for products without any added fragrance to have a sort of weird smell – I have an unfragranced serum from an indie company that even had a warning about the smell of the ingredients!

  • Jiyoung Won

    Hi Emi! Love this post – I’ve also had great experience with the Niacinamide and Alpha Arbutin serums. I’m looking to purchase the MAP and ran into your post; I’m wondering if you’ve seen any results since you uploaded the post? I currently use Klair’s 5% Vitamin C serum and am looking to increase strength. (My concern: post inflammatory pigmentation)

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Hey there! Unfortunately I don’t have anything particularly helpful to add – I haven’t been using the MAP cream consistently. I bought one of the monthly special editions of Holy Snails Shark Sauce with 10% MAP, and having been using that instead. I can say that my hyperpigmentation hasn’t changed at all lately for whatever that’s worth. I bought supplies to DIY an oil based C serum with Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate so we shall see how that goes.