The Science of Hair Products: Shampoo and Conditioner

Sulfates, fatty alcohols, silicones, preservatives… what are they doing in your shampoo and conditioner, and do you need to avoid them? Today’s post is a deep dive into some of the key ingredients in haircare products. The video version is here if you prefer that format! Note: This post is based on a video sponsored by The Ordinary, but this …

Read more

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 …

Read more

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 …

Read more

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 …

Read more

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 …

Read more

Foundation Reviews: The Ordinary, Lancôme, Thin Lizzy

Foundation Reviews: The Ordinary, Lancôme, Thin Lizzy

Here are some reviews of foundations I’ve tried from The Ordinary, Lancome and Thin Lizzy. I actually tried them a while ago but never got around to posting about them until now! For reference, my skin is NC20 and combination oily/normal. The Ordinary Colours: Coverage and Serum Coverage and Serum are The Ordinary’s foray into make-up, and like the rest of …

Read more

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.

Read more

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…

Read more