I’ve got a lot of respect for The Ordinary. Since it turned the beauty industry on its perfectly groomed head in 2016, I’ve stayed devoted to its cutting-edge and hard-working skincare that doesn’t take the mick when it comes to price point.
From the get-go, The Ordinary has challenged the industry by educating consumers about ingredients that were once reserved for the four walls of a dermatologist’s office. It doesn’t create products in line with trends; each innovation is considered, science-backed and a reflection of feedback from its loyal fan base.
With its latest launch, The Ordinary hasn’t created anything new but has made an existing bestseller, even better. Its iconic Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum has been reformulated to now include ceramides and an improved, non-tacky texture.
You may be thinking, why fiddle with an already phenomenally popular product? As Prudvi Kaka, Chief Scientific Officer at DECIEM puts it: there is always room for improvement.
‘At The Ordinary, we see innovation through new formulas, but by also experimenting with ingredients that have been in the skincare space for a long time. An example of this is hyaluronic acid,’ says Kaka.
Working to democratise skincare, The Ordinary’s mission has always been to bring important conversations about ingredients into the wider conversation. ‘When The Ordinary first launched, the beauty industry wasn't a stranger to hyaluronic acid, but the consumers were. The ingredient wasn’t spoken about and there was little education around it – but, since the launch of The Ordinary, we have seen an 85% increase in searches for hyaluronic acid,’ says Kaka.
What is the new Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Ceramides?
If, like me, you’re a fan of the original hyaluronic acid serum, you’re convinced that it’s a stellar product. It boosts moisture, reduces dehydration lines and smooths wrinkles, all while supporting the integrity and moisture levels of the skin barrier.
But, if you’re clued up on your skincare, you'll know that hyaluronic acid is a large molecule and, because of this, it can cause a tacky feeling on the skin. Where The Ordinary's hyaluronic acid serum excelled in its hydrating formula, it lacked in the sensorial experience.
‘By adding a new, low-molecular-weight HA into the serum, we have been able to redistribute the ratio of HA molecular weights so that it provides hydration across multiple layers of the skin without a tacky feel,’ explains Kaka.
‘Then, to make up for any loss of hydration from removing high molecular-weight HA, we brought in a ceramide blend to support the skin’s moisture barrier. This will provide instant hydration and it will also improve the skin’s elasticity and appearance of wrinkles over time,’ he adds.
As a beauty writer, I often get access to products before they reach the shelves. So, I’ve slotted the revised serum into my routine for the past few months, applying it after I cleanse and before I moisturise.
The first thing I noticed was how delicate and lightweight the serum felt on my skin compared to the old formula. I’m not one for rich textures, or the feeling of being suffocated in my skincare products, so I appreciate how quickly the serum slipped into my skin to plump and hydrate, without leaving a stickiness.
As for the results, I was surprised. I never considered how much of a difference ceramides would make to my skin. It's helped to alleviate dry patches that cling onto foundation, and I’ve also spotted a huge improvement in the uniformity of my complexion. All in all, it looks healthier and feels much more supple.
What is hyaluronic acid and what are ceramides?
The Ordinary is built on transparency, meaning its formulaic product names sound as though they’ve been plucked straight from the lab. Case in point: Does anyone want to guess what the brand’s Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% is for? I'll let that settle.
Luckily for us, hyaluronic acid and ceramides are two extolled ingredients that are a little less intimidating to decode, so let’s go into what these ingredients are going to do for your skin.
‘Hyaluronic acid (or HA for short) is associated with the skin’s ability to bind and retain water which will hydrate and plump while improving the appearance of fine lines,’ explains Kaka. It’s a polysaccharide compound, meaning it can organise itself into mesh-like structures of many sizes – from super small hydrolyzed HA to a large HA crosspolymer,’ he adds.
However, our levels of hyaluronic acid start to deplete as we age which can lead to concerns like dehydration, loss of elasticity and signs of premature aging. When used as a topical skincare ingredient, it will bind to water to keep the skin hydrated.
Then, we have the ceramides. Ceramides are lipids (or fats) that naturally occur in the top layers of the skin. They act as the glue that binds your skin cells together, working to keep a strong skin barrier and prevent moisture from escaping.
Like hyaluronic acid, our ceramide levels start to reduce as we age and, with this, we see thinning of the skin and a loss of elasticity. A lack of ceramides can also encourage a damaged skin barrier which may lead to redness, dryness, inflammation and even acne.
The Ordinary’s newly improved serum bottles up these two core ingredients to secure a strong barrier, and to perform as a preventative treatment for dehydration and premature ageing.
How should the hyaluronic acid serum be applied?
This is one of the biggest questions that polarises the skincare community: should hyaluronic acid be applied to damp skin? As discussed, hyaluronic acid attracts moisture from the air to your skin. But, depending on where you live, if HA can’t draw moisture from the environment, it’ll draw it from your skin.
To prevent this little moisture magnet from drying out the skin, it was generally advised to apply the ingredients onto damp skin to ensure the effectiveness of the hyaluronic acid is as good as it can be.
Once again, The Ordinary claps back on this claim. ‘We performed an in-house clinical study and found that there is no difference between applying hyaluronic acid onto damp or dry skin. Some may prefer to apply the serum onto damp skin for additional slip, but in terms of hydration, the benefits will be the same,’ affirms Kaka.
We can only hope that more reformulations are in the works, as this launch goes to show that tweaking existing products can be just as beneficial as creating new ones entirely.
It's an innovation to remind us that more isn’t always more, and that companies should rethink the pace at which products are churned out. Once again, The Ordinary proves that it’s far from ordinary.
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