The Ordinary skincare: Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution, Azelaic Acid, and Plant-Derived Squalane

April 7, 2017
The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F ($17.80), 100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($7.90), and Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($7.90)

The Ordinary is really new to the skincare scene but has quickly caught everyone’s attention for their really straightforward and affordable products (also, cruelty-free). I have purchased 5 items from them so far but can’t try them out all of them at once, so I thought to start out I’d talk about 3 products that I’m using right now: a vitamin treatment, a direct acid, and a hydrator. Today I’m reviewing the Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F (vitamin C in a lightweight oil, $17.80), Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (multifunctional brightening treatment, $7.90), and 100% Plant-Derived Squalane (lightweight hydrator, $7.90).

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F ($17.80)

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F ($17.80 for 30 ml)

There were a couple of types of products I definitely wanted to try from The Ordinary’s line for my specific skin’s needs, and a vitamin C treatment wasn’t exactly one of them. I wanted to buy one anyways, though, because it seems to be a bit of a specialty of theirs—they make 4 different types of treatments with vitamin C, or derivatives of C, all using different active ingredients and different formulation textures. They have a full writeup entirely dedicated to explaining the differences between the 4 C treatments, as well. I’m very thankful for the guide because otherwise I really don’t know if I would have managed to figure the situation out.

So I ended up choosing this solution with ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, which is a stable, oil-soluble derivative packaged with vitamin F for a lightweight oil texture. And I mean, very lightweight, like thinner than water and fully suitable for use under makeup on my combination skin. I really didn’t know what to expect, I don’t know what vitamin F is, and it felt like a bit of a gamble because this is the most expensive of the C treatments. Though, a serum for under $20 is still quite affordable, so it’s only a relative thing.

I’ve been using this twice a day right after toner, and I really love the consistency. Just in terms of the oil texture, I actually think that this has been doing me good in terms of keeping the drier areas of my skin (particularly around my eyes) feel more hydrated, and yet because it’s so thin it sinks in within a minute or so and really just leaves the surface of my skin feeling soft, not oily. I also think I can see a difference in the evenness and tone of my skin, as I do with a good vitamin C treatment. The best C treatment I’ve tried in the past is the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, which is $48 for the same volume, and I think I would be quite happy to purchase this one from The Ordinary over and over and never touch a Truth Serum again. Those are now dollars that are very easy to save.

In terms of benefits, The Ordinary says, “Aside from the general benefits of pure Vitamin C, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmiate has been shown to offer specific skin brightening benefits.” Considering that brightness and evenness has become an increasingly high priority for me and my skincare choices, I think this is a product that’s pretty well suited for me. Other things to know about this serum is that it’s free of water, silicone, alcohol, nuts, gluten, soy, and it’s vegan. It’s dispensed with a dropper but you barely have to touch the squeezy top and the oil just drips out, it’s so thin. And the bottle is UV-protective, which I appreciate. Overall, I’m a happy camper.

Ingredients: Coconut Alkanes, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethyl Linoleate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Squalane.

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($7.90)

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% ($7.90)

The next thing I put on my skin after the vitamin C treatment is this azelaic acid formula, which is described as a multifunctional brightening treatment. Specifically, The Ordinary says, “It 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 formula offers a very high 10% concentration of high-purity Azelaic Acid in a lightweight cream-gel system.”

So you can see this addresses brightness, like the previous product, but my main interest in this is that I like to try different acids for treating my hormonal skin texture and acne issues that I’ve struggled with ever since quitting the birth control pill. I’m mostly evaluating the vitamin C treatment based on the appearance and health of my skin around my eyes, tops of my cheeks, and temple area, whereas I focus this azelaic acid more on my chin, jawline, and nose where pores, texture, and occasional breakouts bother me.

Essentially I’m trialling this as a possible substitute for my beloved Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate, which has been a mainstay in my routine for the better part of a year now, but costs $54. This azelaic acid is delivered in an interesting, slightly airy cream texture, which I’m not used to seeing from a targeted treatment but it has been working well in my multi-layered skincare routine. I find it to be a gentle product that I can use twice a day without any ill-effects (though recently I’ve been using it mainly in the evening), and while it doesn’t deliver extreme overnight results I could definitely see a difference within a couple days of using it.

I really enjoy that this works to help smooth my skin slowly but steadily. It seems to be a pretty good match for my skin, which can become quickly irritated and angry if I use products that are too strong. I don’t have great luck with super-powered spot treatments, and prefer a preventative and constant type of exfoliation. So far, I’ve found that this isn’t a miracle for my skin but it has a soothing quality on brewing acne and does make a difference in how my skin looks and feels, and how gracefully and expediently little pimples heal and fade. And for under $10, it’s insanely affordable. It’s also free of oil, alcohol, nuts, is vegan, and is described as having a pH of 4.00-5.00. Remember to use sun protection during the day, particularly when exfoliating acids are part of your routine.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Azelaic Acid, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Triethanolamine, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($7.90)

100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($7.90)

This last one is a more simple product, just a single-ingredient moisturizer. I bought this because I’ve noticed in the past that my skin has really seemed to like lotions and creams that have squalane in them, though I wasn’t entirely sure what squalane was, exactly. And I don’t recall really seeing 100% squalane sold as a standalone thing before. When I received this little bottle and tried it for the first time, I thought, “oh, ok, it’s an oil.” Except then I looked back at the website and it indicates that it’s oil-free. Well, it feels like an oil to me, anyway.

This product, I think, illustrates why The Ordinary is so much fun. For under $10 it feels so easy to try something new, learn a bit of something about skincare formulations, and figure out if your skin likes the product. For me, this one was a great little gamble, as my skin does really like this and I learned something new about a particular ingredient. Consistency-wise, I’d say this feels lighter than argan oil, and it just feels pretty normal on my skin. Not really greasy, not sticky, nothing like that. I’ve been using it as my nighttime moisturizer in place of a cream and it does feel like I’m wearing an oil throughout the night (I’m fairly generous with it) but feels much less obvious by morning and when I wake up and wash my face my skin just seems happy and balanced.

Like argan oil, or other light oils, squalane can be used all over the body, including in hair, on hands, and other areas that need some extra hydration. After I pat some on my face I also massage it down my neck, on my shoulders, and into my hands. I think I could also probably mix a drop or two into a cream and apply it that way, as well.

Ingredients: Squalane

The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%, 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F, and Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

Here’s the lineup of products that I bought altogether. The two that I have yet to try are the Argireline Solution 10% and 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil. Argireline is intended to help with “the appearance of facial areas prone to developing dynamic folds, including around the eyes and in the forehead area,” while the rose hip seed oil is another hydrator, similar to the squalane I’m currently using.

You can expect to see me review those in the future, and I also may end up making another order in the coming months and writing about even more of their stuff. While I definitely found a good handful of products to try the first time around, the brand was also out of stock of a number of things I was curious about so there’s still  plenty that I want to try in the future. I’m not necessarily someone who gets super excited about new brands and trends that sweep the internet over a short period of time, but I’m unequivocally stoked about The Ordinary and I’m so pleased that such a nerdy brand has made such a big splash. And I love that they’re affordable, cruelty-free, and very transparent about the formulations and ingredients.

Have you tried anything from them yet? I’d love to hear what you think!

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  1. I’ve tried the Alpha Arbutin, Lactic acid and a different Vitamin C suspension from them, but I’m really keen to try the Azelaic acid. I love how cheap they are, too! The squalane sounds great—single ingredient products feel so pure, and are especially handy if you’re trying to figure out what ingredients you might be sensitive to.
    Morgan recently posted…SKIN | The Ordinary skincare reviewMy Profile

    1. Hi Morgan! That’s awesome to hear, the milder lactic acid treatment is on my wishlist for the future. The vitamin C suspension sounds really interesting, too. The selection of vitamin C products from The Ordinary is a trip!

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