Review: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% and Alpha Arbutin 2% + HAWednesday, November 09, 2016
I am nearly out of my first bottle of Vitamin C Suspension ($5.80) and Alpha Arbutin 2% ($8.90) from The Ordinary, a subsidiary of Deciem, and I reckon it's time for a report.
Vitamin C Suspension
Deciem claims that this is pure and stable 23% Vitamin C, an L-Ascorbic Acid powder, in this case. It's important to note that Deciem markets this product as superior to other Vitamin C serums on the market because of the absence of water, which is replaced by hyaluronic acid, squalane, and other non-silicone ingredients, and as a result makes the Suspension stable. Vitamin C is good for brightening the skin and my purpose of buying it was for my hyperpigmentation. However, it is almost impossible to use this as a spot treatment because of the consistency of the product, so I have been using it a couple different ways. Deciem says the optimal time to use this is at night, but I often use it both in the morning and at night. I must also mention that I hate hate hate the packaging and am glad to see that Deciem did something about it; it's available now in a squeeze tube instead of a dropper. The version I have leaves product all over the rim of the bottle and the dropper barely picks up any product because it's so thick. There is a scent to it; it's hard to describe, but kind plastic smelling.
Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.Method 1:
The Vitamin C Suspension can be tricky to use and if not careful, will result in the pilling of other products. It doesn't seem to enjoy being layered over other products, so I made sure that it was one of the first products I used after cleansing. The first few times I used it, I cleansed, toned, used a couple of serums, and then tried to use the Suspension. To my surprise, this resulted in pilling. The texture of the Vitamin C Suspension is quite grainy (probably because it technically a powder); great for exfoliating with your hands. So it was no wonder that the pilling occurred. I started using it first, right after cleansing, on dry skin, which drastically reduced the pilling I experienced by using it after other things, plus I really enjoy exfoliating with it. It does tingle around my nose and lips; I would say about 5% worse than Sunday Riley Good Genes. For me, the tingling has subsided a tiny bit but it still feels burny.
It's important to mention that Deciem explains that a "contradiction" to the Vitamin C Suspension is niacinamide because it may affect the purity of the Vitamin C. I did not, however, read that as it makes the Vitamin C ineffective, just that it affects the pureness of it. This was conflicting for me because Shark Sauce has niacinamide in it and I use it every day. I decided to do some more research on that to determine what it actually meant. This post from Kind of Stephen is super informative. Nevertheless, I have recently decided to skip the Shark Sauce when I use this in the mornings, just to be on the safe side.
Although I have been using the Vitamin C Suspension for over two months, I only recently started mixing it in with Valentia Night Revive Retinol Serum. Interestingly enough, the Vitamin C Suspension mixed with the retinol serum completely eliminates all pilling I experienced using the Vitamin C Suspension on its own. This means, you don't have to use the mixture first and it layers well with other products. In theory, I would expect that mixing the Suspension with retinol affects the purity of the Suspension, but I did a bit of research and apparently l-ascorbic acid (the vitamin c in the suspension) and retinol play very well together. In addition, the Valentia Retinol has vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) and E as main ingredients. Hopefully, there are no negative consequences of using two different forms of vitamin C together; I have yet to see any negative side effects. After mixing these two together, my face is left pretty greasy feeling; not the best feeling in the world, but it does feel soft and moisturized.
Alpha Arbutin 2%
Aqua (Water), Alpha-Arbutin, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Propanediol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Lactic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.The Alpha Arbutin was way more straight forward. I mostly used it as a spot treatment twice a day, which was easier to do with it's gel-like consistency. I started using this the same time I started using the vitamin C suspension, with a few caveats. Once I started mixing the suspension with retinol, I skipped the Alpha Arbutin. For the month and a half I was using the suspension on its own, the Alpha Arbutin was the next step after Shark Sauce. There were some days where I would slather it on the entire bottom portion of my face (everywhere except forehead) but I mostly used it just on my acne scars.
Again, it's important to note that Deciem states that Alpha Arbutin 2% has some degradation issues in the presence of water. Now while I let the Shark Sauce sit for a minute to dry down a bit before using the Alpha Arbutin, the word degradation makes me uneasy -- and annoyed. While the serum has water in it, the pH of the product is at 4.9. Sooooo I don't know anything about pH and skin. It's probably not very hard to find out about it but guess what? I'm lazy and I don't want to. It really aggravates me when I have to think about these things. I like convenience. I don't want to have to worry if what I put on my face will effect the pH of the previous product. My alter ego would say, it was convenient that it was so cheap now sthu and just do the extra work! Eyeroll. Nope not doing it.
Nonetheless, the Alpha Arbutin 2% is supposed to be more effective than plain old regular Arbutin and Beta Arbutin, the latter of which I am unfamiliar. Arbutin is a brightening/lightening ingredient in many of the serums used in K-beauty, which is the only place I have ever seen it.
One droplet of this is enough to use on all the spots on my face. In fact, the packaging doesn't bother me at all with this product because it's a lot lighter than the Vitamin C.
Finally, the whole point of the Suspension and the Apha Arbutin was for brightening and for lightening my acne scarring. While I really like the serums, after two months of using them, I am disappointed to see that I haven't noticed any significant lightening of my acne scars.
|Photo taken 9/14/2016; no shade on the shower cap!|
|Photo taken 11/4/2016; same old spots, and some.|
|Photo taken 9/14/2016; the big red patch on my face is a burn :( I avoided using the serums on this spot for about a week and a half. You can also see some active acne to the left of the burn.|
|Photo taken 10/28/2016; I'm conflicted about this side of my face. The area beneath the burn appears to have improved slightly, as well as the spot where the active acne lived.|
I recently wrote an I'm-so-fed-up-with-my-skin post where I said it naturally takes my skin an entire year for my hyperpigmentation to heal itself naturally... these products don't really seem to be speeding up the process. I am frustrated these days with my skin more often than not. Some days are worse than others but I will keep experimenting because I want these things gone. There also seems to be no real workaround to the issue of lightening an area of your face without lightening too much or all of it so that the hyperpigmentation is the only thing being lightened. I have recently been exfoliating a lot and I purchased Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Foaming Cleanser to help with my break outs. So far, so good. I've got my eye on his drying lotion to help with active acne.
There doesn't seem to be many in-depth reviews on the either of these, but I am keen to see what kind of experiences people are having with the suspension and other products from the brand.