Best and Worst of The Ordinary Part 1

Best and Worst of The Ordinary

I’m finally doing a big overview of some of The Ordinary’s products. They have a LOT of products, and I wanted to try as many as I could, and I only have one face so it’s taken a while! I could only get through a few categories though, so I’ll probably go through the rest at some later date. I’m going …

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Interview with Deciem (The Ordinary) Chief Scientific Officer and Dr Davin Lim

deciem interview

Dr Davin Lim and I sat down with Deciem’s Chief Scientific Officer Prudvi Kaka (PK) very early one morning (well, early for me at least – Davin gets up before dawn and PK’s in Canada). What we covered: 0:53 Do you use your own products? Which ones? 1:07 What’s your skincare routine? 1:22 Who does Deciem’s formulations? 2:11 How do …

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Why I don’t recommend The Ordinary’s Niacinamide and L-Ascorbic Acid powders

The Ordinary Powder

There are a lot of The Ordinary products I really like (the Squalane Cleanser, Natural Moisturising Factors and Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution are some of my favourites), and I really appreciate the fact that they (and Deciem in general) really emphasise understanding the ingredients in skincare. But their powders are something I’ve never really been on board with. There …

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My Favourite Skincare Products of 2019 (with video)

2019 skincare favourites

Here are my favourite skincare products of the year! For 2018 I went through my empties, but this year I didn’t actually use much up (too much product testing). I started making a list of products I loved, but it ended up really long, so I limited myself to products that I discovered in 2019, and only one product from …

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Video: Interview: Deciem’s Nicola Kilner and Minh Lawton

Video Deciem Interview

I recently had the chance to talk to Deciem’s CEO and Co-Founder Nicola Kilner and Education Associate for Australia Minh Lawton – here’s the edited interview! We covered a range of topics, including how they started in the skincare industry, which Deciem products are underrated, their personal favourite products, their skincare routines, what’s coming to Deciem next year, and what it’s like …

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Facial Tan Product Review: Hylamide, St Tropez, Tan-Luxe, Hand Chemistry

Facial Tan Product Review: Hylamide, St Tropez, Tan-Luxe, Hand Chemistry

My face is naturally darker than my body despite me using a ton of sunscreen, so I’ve been fake tanning in an effort to stop me from looking like a mime artist. But now I’ve gone too far and my body is usually a shade darker. While I could just use fake tan on my face, it feels wrong to use a body product there, like I’m just asking for a breakout, plus fake tan works best right on the skin and gradual tans are usually quite thick in texture. So I’ve been testing out some lighter products purposely designed for the face instead: Tan-Luxe The Face Raspberry & Rose Self-Tan Drops, Hylamide Glow Balance Booster and St Tropez Luxe Facial Tanning Oil. For comparison, I’ve also included Hand Chemistry which I’ve reviewed before, since I mostly used it on my face.

Facial Tan Product Review: Hylamide, St Tropez, Tan-Luxe, Hand Chemistry

General notes

  • The main ingredients in self-tanners are dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and erythrulose (often referred to as fruit ketone). They work much like the browning reaction that happens when cooking food. This reaction works best at low, skin-friendly pH values.
    • Dihydroxyacetone has a bad reputation because of older versions where impure DHA caused the reaction to go more of an unnatural orange than yellow.
    • Erythrulose is a newer fake tan ingredient that’s a bit larger than DHA, so it works slower but penetrates deeper and you end up with a more gradual tan that lasts longer. (Erythrulose was developed by someone who reads Lab Muffin – hello Roland if you’re reading this!)
  • None of these are really “oils”, even when labelled as such – dihydroxyacetone and erythrulose are both water-soluble, so they’ll be in a mixture that’s mostly water.
  • Most of these contain lots of humectants to counteract the drying effect that dihydroxyacetone and erythrulose.
  • Make sure you wash your hands with soap after application! Fake tanner ingredients stick harder to dead skin, so you fingertips are really prone to staining.
  • By the same token, make sure you don’t apply these products on dry patches of skin. Either avoid those spots, or apply a moisturiser on them to prevent patchy staining.

Tan-Luxe The Face Raspberry & Rose Self-Tan Drops

Tan-Luxe The Face Raspberry & Rose Self-Tan Drops (available from TVSN if you’re from Australia) is a product that’s designed to mix in with your regular cream or serum. You can add as many drops to adjust to the shade you want.

It’s $74.95 for a 30 mL bottle on TVSN which is on the pricey side, but you also end up using less product since you’ll only be using a few (2-3) drops each time. I only ever use 2 drops max, since I don’t want to wake up like an oompa loompa (yes, it will turn you orange if you don’t proceed with caution!). It’s mixed well with all the water-based serums and moisturisers I’ve used so far, but I expect that it doesn’t work that well with oilier products.

I found that it was quite easy to stuff up while applying this and end up streaky. Make sure you mix the tan drops evenly into your cream on your hand, and make sure you also apply it very evenly.

Scent-wise, it stands up to the claim that it doesn’t smell too strongly like DHA, but it’s still detectable. The product alone has a strong raspberry scent that I found a little offputting, but once diluted into a cream it was quite nice. It contains a few nourishing ingredients – glycerin, raspberry seed oil, rose geranium oil, vitamin E and aloe vera – but the fact you only use a few drops means they aren’t as effective. Just make sure you use a good moisturiser with it.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Dihydroxyacetone, Alcohol Denat. (Alcohol), Glycerin, Erythrulose, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Silk, Caramel, Polysorbate 80, Xanthan Gum, Parfum (Fragrance), Limonene, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzoic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic Acid.

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The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 2: Niacinamide + Zinc, Buffet

The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 2: Niacinamide + Zinc, Buffet

I’ve been trying products from The Ordinary, the budget-friendly, actives-focused skincare line from Deciem that’s just launched in Australia. I posted my review of Advanced Retinoid 2% and Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% a few days ago – now, here’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 2: Niacinamide + Zinc, Buffet

A quick recap of the general notes I made on the products overall:

  • Lots of ingredients backed by scientific research
  • Only a few actives in each product (generally… Buffet is a different story), so the products give you lots of options for customising your routine
  • Dropper packaging is convenient for dispensing small amounts easily
  • No parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, benzalkonium chloride, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury, oxybenzone, alcohol, silicone, nuts; not tested on animals and vegan.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Price: $9.90 for 30 mL (prices vary on Amazon)

Good for: congested skin, hyperpigmentation (dark scars, sun spots), oily skin

Like for Advanced Retinoid 2%, there’s a big warning that this product isn’t intended for acne treatment, and to use benzoyl peroxide or tretinoin instead (they also say they don’t recommend salicylic acid, but I’m not sure why). It might be to preemptively ward off a warning about drug-like claims, but most companies do that by simply not mentioning acne, instead of making a big disclaimer. They do use “reduce the look of” and “visible” in their directions, which is definitely to avoid those drug-like claims that cosmetic products aren’t allowed to make (it’s pretty silly and outdated regulation in my opinion since consumers ignore that disclaimer and it means any company can claim anything, so I’m looking forward to the day it gets overhauled).

Niacinamide: aka vitamin B3. According to peer-reviewed studies, it does a whole bunch of everything in skincare:

  • evens out skin tone
  • improves barrier function
  • improves skin hydration
  • reduces sebum production
  • reduces acne
  • reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • antioxidant

The main side effect is that it often comes with niacin, either as an impurity in the original product, or from breakdown over time. Niacin makes your skin flush and tingle, but it’s mostly just an annoyance. There’s been some talk of niacinamide not interacting well with vitamin C, but most likely this is only relevant for products where the two are stored together for a long time, rather than when you mix them on your skin for less than a day.

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The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 1: Lactic Acid, Advanced Retinoid

The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 1: Lactic Acid, Advanced Retinoid

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just aren’t that into skincare, you’d have heard of The Ordinary by now. The newest brand from Deciem (parent company of NIOD and Hylamide) aims to bring effective skincare to the market at affordable prices.

As a skincare science nerd, it’s very exciting because many evidence-backed ingredients are very cheap, but skincare brands often price the products containing them at a premium because they work so well, and everyone else prices them high.

While some expensive brands do incorporate other technologies in their formulations that would justify the higher price, it’s really annoying as a consumer. You never know for sure how well a specific product will work for you, and no one wants to spend $70 on a product just to find out that it does nothing for your skin three months down the track. All of The Ordinary’s products are priced between $8.80 and $24.90, and you can get them online, or in-store at Myer, Priceline or the standalone Deciem stores.

The products are very plainly named according to what ingredients they contain. Interestingly, they don’t really emphasise what each product is supposed to do, so it seems like they’re targeting this line towards skincare nerds who know what they want. It makes sense,since most of the formulas contain only one or two star ingredients and are well-suited to multi-step routines, unlike the “multivitamin”-like all-in-one products aimed at a less obsessive audience who aren’t as interested in hardcore customisation.

The Ordinary Skincare Review Pt 1: Lactic Acid, Advanced Retinoid

I’ve trialed 4 products so far: Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, Advanced Retinoid 2%, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and  “Buffet”. I’ll be talking about the first two in this post, and the second two in a post later this week. But before we delve into each individual product, here are some general remarks:


All 4 products come in 30 mL droppers, which I like because it’s easy to measure out the right amount of product, but it isn’t as convenient as a pump (dropper bottles also let in more light and air than airtight pump dispensers, but I don’t think it’s an issue with these particular products – more on that later).

One annoying thing with droppers is if the product is thick and you’re not careful when replacing the dropper, the product on the dropper scrapes off onto the neck of the bottle, and you get lots of caked up product on the threads. This luckily hasn’t a problem with these products since they’re quite runny, but I’ve experienced this a lot with liquid illuminators. The labels are no-nonsense and monochromatic chic.

Excluded Ingredients

All Deciem products are free of parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, benzalkonium chloride, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury and oxybenzone, and are not tested on animals. All four The Ordinary products I’m reviewing here are alcohol-free, silicone-free, nut-free and vegan.

There isn’t evidence that all of these ingredients are harmful (parabens are safe, as is mineral oil). Silicone is a bit annoying in routines because it can make other products roll off your face, and alcohol can be drying, so it’s convenient that these products have been formulated without them. There’s specific information on each product on the website, which is handy if you have nut allergies or if you want to stick to vegan products.

The prices I’m giving here are the Australian retail prices.

Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

Price: $12.70 for 30 mL (prices vary on Amazon)

Good for: exfoliation, hyperpigmentation, congested skin, fine lines

Contains lactic acid: Lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that’s fantastic for chemical exfoliation, and due to its slightly larger size, is supposed to be less irritating than glycolic acid. This is a particularly good option for people who are prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (i.e. anyone with dark skin or hair, including light-skinned Asians). In Australia (and most other places), glycolic acid products outnumber lactic acid products 20 to 1, so this is a very welcome addition to the market.

pH: Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% has a pH of 3.60-3.80, according to The Ordinary’s website, which is low enough to be effective. The Ordinary’s site states that a higher pH would be more irritating. I’m not sure what the reasoning for this is, since lower pH is both inherently more irritating, and allows more acid to get into the skin and exfoliate…

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