Deciem The Ordinary: What are the Best Products in this Innovative Skincare Line?

Reviews, Skin Care
The Ordinary

I feel like the world worked a certain way: You booked a hotel room. You bought things at the store. You drove your own car.

And then Millennials came of age, entered the workforce, and started to create technologies. Now you book time to stay in other people’s apartments (Airbnb). You one-click order from Amazon. And you get picked up in other people’s cars.

To the people out there who love Skinceuticals, Dermalogica, and Paula’s Choice, there’s now an equivalent disruptor in our industry: Deciem. The Ordinary.

Basically, what you’re getting is high concentrations of proven ingredients, all at prices that astonish. (I should know, we manufacture some of our own products over here at FutureDerm, and they’re selling at barely above cost for us. They must be manufacturing in mass bulk over there, but that’s beside the point). What the consumer is getting is high-quality, very concentrated skincare, like a department store brand priced for the e-commerce world — I mean, $10 or less a bottle. Serious e-commerce discounting here.

Kind-of amazing. Even though they’re technically a competitor of ours, I say kudos. And will recommend lots of their products to our readers, starting with these five:

1.) Deciem The Ordinary Retinol 1%

Look, let’s face it: Retinol is the gold standard of anti-aging. I would say it’s second to none next to sunscreen. As Dr. Ranella Hirsch, M.D., former president-elect of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons, once said in an interview, “We have beautiful, profound data that shows if you use [retinoids] for 20 years, you’re going to look a lot better than someone who doesn’t.” Amen to that!

Retinol is not your typical antioxidant in that its central function is not just donating electrons to neutralize free radicals. Retinoids also work by inhibiting collagen-degrading enzymes, which researchers say may effectively preserve collagen for longer (Photochemistry and Photobiology, 2008). Think of collagen-degrading enzymes like little “Pac-Men” that circulate around in the skin, degrading your collagen. As you age, you get more and more of these enzymes, plus more types of these enzymes that are created. And retinoids can help to eliminate them, both in numbers and in type.

I recommend ordinary retinol for now, because it penetrates the skin more deeply than prescription retinoids (Toxicology and Skin Health, 2006) and has more prevalent research backing than new retinol esters, like Hydroxypinacolone retinoate or retinyl retinoate. Although the research that does exist suggests these retinol esters are potent (and you can get them in The Ordinary Advanced Retinol 2%), I am not yet convinced that they have the same effects as regular retinol.

Until then, I recommend Deciem The Ordinary Retinol 1% wholeheartedly. It’s a great product for normal and dry skin types. Those with oily/acne-prone skin may find the silicone base too hard to deal with. That said, I do love it.

Ingredients in Deciem The Ordinary Retinol 1%Cyclopentasiloxane, Caprylyl Methicone, Isoamyl Laurate, Ethyl Methicone, PEG-12 Dizmethicone/PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Propanediol, Polysorbate 20, Retinol, Isoamyl Cocoate, Tocopherol, BHA, BHT.

1. (tie) Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

Again, as I said above, Hydroxypinacolone retinoate is a new retinol ester that has a lot of promise. There has been a longstanding want in the marketplace for forms of retinoids that are gentle and less irritating than retinol, but still as effective, and suitable for over-the-counter use, and retinol esters are the answer to that.

Esters simply have a larger chemical structure than retinoids, so they take longer in the skin to be fully absorbed. However, they are active from the beginning, so they work in the skin for longer periods of time than retinol. It remains to be seen if they penetrate the skin as deeply as retinol, however.

The research thus far is limited, but promising. HPR has recently been found to be a suitable way to stave off acne (source), and it has been found to be an effective depigmenting treatment for melasma (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2014).

Whether you choose Deciem The Ordinary Retinol 1% or Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% depends on how experimental you are (and, quite frankly, how sensitive your skin is). If you’re the type who wants to go all-out, has fairly resistant (non-sensitive) skin, and enjoys trying new things, then Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% is a great idea, because it contains 1% retinol and 1% Hydroxypinacolone retinoate. Win-win, right? On the other hand, if you prefer to play it safe, you can’t go wrong with Deciem The Ordinary Retinol 1%.

Ingredients in Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Behentrimonium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

3.) Deciem The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Glossier Super Pure Serum, with active ingredients of niacinamide and zinc.

This product is basically the same thing, but a superpowered, more concentrated version. It’s great for acne, rosacea, and oily skin.

According to at least one study, niacinamide does it all: reduces fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing), and increases elasticity.

Further, according to a 2005 study by Draelos et. al., niacinamide may help alleviate some of the symptoms of rosacea by increasing hydration and barrier function of the stratum corneum (uppermost layer of the skin), and may have some anti-tumor characteristics as well. And finally, in a 1995 study by Takozaki et. al., it was reported that a 4% topical niacinamide treatment applied twice daily may help to treat acne by reducing inflammation with similar efficacy to 1% clindamycin gel. Hence, both redness and acne. Bravo, Glossier, bravo!

Use Deciem The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% with a clean diet, and you could be doing a world of good for your skin. Better yet, use it as an extra step in your existing skin care regimen for acne and/or rosacea, and you could be experiencing some really awesome effects in days to come!

Ingredients in Deciem The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%: Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Zinc PCA, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

4.) Deciem The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

It used to be that 10% was the number to aim for in vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid. Then 15%. Then someone dared to go 20%.

Now Deciem The Ordinary has outdone everyone with their 23% ascorbic acid formulation. It’s not even a mix of 15% L-ascorbic acid with 8% of a more gentle form of vitamin C, like tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. No, no, you’re getting the full monty: 23% ascorbic acid.

So why do I rank this product #4?

Simple:  As an antioxidantvitamin C isn’t as potent as vitamin E or ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) (Cosmetic Dermatology). But when vitamin C is combined with vitamin E or ubiquinone, it creates a synergistic effect that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. That’s because when one antioxidant is depleted it can essentially “borrow” an electron from the other and vice versa, helping both antioxidants work better (Cosmetic Dermatology).

However, Deciem The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% doesn’t have any vitamin E or coenzyme Q10. So this goes down to #5 on the list, even though it’s the highest concentration of vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid I’ve seen anywhere, like, ever. And for the price, if you’re a skincare maven on a budget, you may want to use this anyway and apply a vitamin E-rich moisturizer over top. Your call.

Ingredients in Deciem The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23%+ HA Spheres 2%: 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.

#5.) Deciem The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 30% in Vitamin F

Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is the newest form of vitamin C to hit the cosmeceutical market. A molecule derived from vitamin C and isopalmitic acid, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate has been shown to absorb into skin faster than any of the other forms of vitamin C tested (Clinics in Dermatology, 2008).

Aside from that benefit, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate appears to have similar collagen-rebuilding properties to other forms of vitamin C, as shown in its ability to increase UVA/UVB photoprotection and to aid in the healing of burns (Photochemistry and Photobiology, 2008; Burns, 2010; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2007). However, as you know from my constant musings on the benefits of microencapsulation, offering slow release of ingredients into the skin, sometimes you don’t want for ingredients to be mega-dosed into the skin or quickly absorbed all at once. For this reason, it makes sense that ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is associated with some irritation (contact dermatitis) in persons with sensitive skin (Contact Dermatitis, 2011).

For this reason, I recommend Deciem The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 30% in Vitamin F below the L-ascorbic acid solution, and I recommend it only for those with really resistant, non-sensitive skin. There’s also no vitamin E or coenzyme Q10 added separately.

Also, I get kind-of pissed off when a company with this much scientific integrity tries to call something “Vitamin F” (for Fatty acids), when in reality, there is no such thing as Vitamin F. Please just call it “fatty acids” and get on with it. Sigh.

Ingredients in Deciem The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 30% in Vitamin F: Coconut Alkanes, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethyl Linoleate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Squalane.

#6.) Deciem The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%

Of the three forms of vitamin C here, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is the weakest, but also the most stable in the presence of light, heat, and air. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a water-soluble form of L-ascorbic acid. According to a 1997 study in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, magnesium ascorbyl palmitate has greater stability than both L-ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate, like sodium ascorbyl phosphate. (As far as I know, no peer-reviewed published studies have compared the efficacy and stability of magnesium ascorbyl and sodium ascorbyl palmitate.)

There’s really no reason I would recommend magnesium ascorbyl phosphate over the others, except if your skin is ultra-sensitive, and/or if you take forever to use a skincare product (in which case, you don’t want it degrading on you).

Ingredients in Deciem The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%: Aqua (Water), Coco Caprylate/Caprate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Dodecane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Polyglycerol-3 Diisostearate, Polyglycerol-3 Polyricinoleate, Glycerin, Hexamethyldisiloxane, Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

Bottom Line

Amongst new brands, Deciem The Ordinary really stands out for its high concentration of scientifically-proven ingredients, amazingly low price point, and (mostly) straightforward marketing (grrr, vitamin F!). You don’t get superior delivery systems, fancy packaging, or guaranteed results, but at this price point, it’s something that every skincare guru should try. Love, love, love it.

Looking for the best skin care? FutureDerm is committed to having its customers find — and create — the best skin care for their individual skin type, concern, and based on your ingredient preferences. Learn more by visiting the FutureDerm shop

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