Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I don't need this: Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Yes, I just wrote a post about over-consumption in skincare, and now I'm reviewing a couple of products from one of the trendiest brands of the moment. But this is also a post about not trying to use things you I should know won't work for you me. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes, since I obviously can't.

The first of the two products I'm reviewing here is The Ordinary's Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. Emi from Project Swatch kindly gave me her tube when I expressed interest after her review, in which she found she didn't like using it because of the grittiness. For some reason I wanted to test my mettle against the unappealing texture, since I can usually stand weird products so long as I use them at night. I won't go into all of the technical details of how this product is supposed to work, but I will direct you to this excellent and thorough review of 27 products from The Ordinary. You can also read about them on Deciem's website (the company that makes The Ordinary), but I will point out that that they often make little attempt to provide really accessible information--and in fact, I think this is part of their marketing plan. Is there a word like "greenwashing" for marketing that presents everything in a very technical, scientific way, to make it sound more advanced and unique? I mean look at the product names. Broken down to basics, maybe, but hardly ordinary.

In general, vitamin C is supposed to "brighten" by fading extra pigmentation, and to prevent or repair sun damage. Here's a great explanation of antioxidant effects from Lab Muffin (still sciency, but a much better presentation than Deciem's). And here's where I went wrong. How many products do I own that claim to "brighten" skin? I don't even want to count. How many times have I actually noticed a difference in my skin as a result of using a brightening product? Rarely-to-never. I don't have hyper-pigmentation or dark spots or the usual things that brightening products are meant to brighten. And so while I don't think that it was completely useless to use this particular product, because I probably got some invisible preventative effects from the antioxidants, I didn't see any noticeable improvements in my skin while using it. That doesn't mean that it doesn't work or that you won't love it! It means I didn't need it, because I already use other good antioxidant products.

Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% and The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Left: Review of The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%; Right: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

I can tell you something about my experience of applying the Vitamin C Suspension, however, since it is an unusual product. You can read on the product page about why it feels the way it does, but I would describe the texture as feeling like a small amount of baking soda mixed into a lotion. Deciem says that it "tingles," but I would describe the sensation as more of a mild burning. I don't recommend using this stuff if you have any broken skin on your face, like a recently scabbed-over zit, because it will sting like fuck. As I hoped, the texture doesn't bother me too much. I apply a thin layer and leave it for 15-20 minutes, and then lightly apply moisturizer on top. By the time I add the moisturizer, most of the grittiness has gone away, but I still prefer to add another layer, because it's quite greasy. In fact, I can still feel the oiliness on my hands even after washing them with soap. With a more pleasant moisturizer over it, however, it feels ok while I sleep, and it washes off easily in the morning. The product itself doesn't have any fragrance when I apply it, but by morning my face smells like it has fake tanner on it, which is interesting. That smell washes off with the product. Also, if you happen to get any of it on your lips, it has a very sour taste.

My story with the Caffeine Solution is similar. I purchased this stuff myself from ($10 off with code brutallyhonestbeauty), and had it shipped to my sister in Canada along with a few other products from The Ordinary. I'd read a few brief reviews from people who said it really helped with their dark circles, but apparently I didn't pay close attention, or I would have known it wasn't likely to help me. It works by constricting blood vessels to reduce puffiness and it also reduces dark pigmentation under the eyes. My dark circles are not caused by either of those things--instead, the skin under my eyes is translucent, which makes it look purple-blue. (You can see what I mean here.) In addition, quite the opposite of puffy, my undereye area is somewhat sunken (you can see here). So in fact, I would benefit more from increased puffiness and pigment, not the opposite!

But I tried the serum anyway for about a week, since I had it, after all. I was curious. It didn't improve my dark circles, as I should have expected. I don't know if it made the sunken, shriveled skin under my eyes worse, but it certainly didn't help. Let me advise you to READ THE FUCKING PRODUCT DESCRIPTION BEFORE YOU BUY SOMETHING. Honestly, I don't think there are any products other than concealer out there that can help my ghoulish blue circles, though I'm trying some eye patches to see if they will plump up the skin temporarily (recommended by Mimi from Makeup Withdrawal).

The texture of the Caffeine Solution is lovely, by the way, in case it's the kind of thing that might be of use to you. It's a thin serum that absorbs quickly. The bottle ought to last forever, because you'll only need a drop max for each eye.

I need to stop using things simply because I'm intrigued by reviews, and think carefully about what will actually benefit my skin. I do that most of the time, but my curiosity got the better of me this time. The Ordinary is an interesting line of products, and I have a few more to test out in the coming months. It's a cheap way to try fairly basic formulations and ingredients and to rule out what doesn't work for you (I guess I've accomplished that), which can be difficult to do with more complex, often more expensive, products. I haven't done a price-per-ounce analysis here, and I might attempt one in the future, though I'm not sure exactly what would be best to compare these types of products to. Suggestions?

Have any of you have good luck with skincare from The Ordinary?

(I really would like to get up to two posts a week, instead of just one, but I haven't quite got the hang of my new schedule. Working on it!)


  1. I hated the Vitamin C because of the gritty texture. I'm pretty sure they discontinued it because they had so many complaints. I've been using the caffeine solution for a few months now and I don't know if it's changed anything, but I'm inclined to think not. Otherwise I've had good luck with their skincare! The hyaluronic acid is great and I like the lactic acid and 2% retinoid too. I've also enjoyed both the argan oil and the squalane.

    The price point makes the products really accessible, but I do agree that the technical jargon compromises that. I have a background in skincare so I can find my way around the website pretty easily, but it would be opaque for the average person. I find the associates at the Deciem stores super helpful and knowledgeable, but obviously not everyone has access to that resource. I wish they'd simplify their language in their online materials.

    1. Yes, I have been reading about skincare for years and years, and I even find myself thinking, "ok, you could have explained that better." I don't assume that everyone who reads here is like me, so I was hesitant to send them to the site.

      I have the Buffet right now, which has lots of HA in it, and it's nice so far!

  2. Personally i use it on a wet face so the particles dissolve on contact and there is no grittiness at all. The base is still pretty greasy i admit, not the most pleasant feeling. Right now I use it a few times a week on weekends when I'm not wearing make up or before my morning runs.

    Idk, i like the marketing style (better than glossier at any rate.) I think they only want to cater to the really geeky and skincare nerds who really know what they want.

    1. Oh that's a good idea! The grittiness doesn't bother me much, but that's a smart trick. Yeah, I think they were aiming for the nerdy reddit skincare people, and that was definitely successful. It just comes off a little snobby and self-righteous at times!

  3. The VitC doesn't bother me (I use it at night), and I really like the niacinamide, lactic acid, retinoid, and HA. Next time I re-up, I think I'm going to try the resveratrol + ferrulic acid.

    My biggest complaint with the Ordinary is their water/gel weight serums don't layer well with each other. Obviously, part of the savings in the line is lack of r&d $ for refined, multi-active ingredient formulas, so overall I think it's worth it. I've found I can mostly just combine the ones that don't play well, anyway (HA+niacinamide is my favorite day serum right now).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...