January 22, 2017

[Review] The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

I’m slowly but surely making my way through reviewing The Ordinary products I purchased when the brand first launched. Previously I reviewed the Niacinamide 10% Zinc 1% Blemish Serum, and I’m currently testing the 10% Lactic Acid, so if you’d like to follow along with my testing process check out my Instagram. The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% is a treatment product that offers similar benefits to retinol, but promises less/no irritating effects such as drying and peeling skin. Is this product from The Ordinary a low-cost, low-irritation retinol option worthy of praise? Let’s find out!

My Skin

Combo, acne-prone, clog-prone

I have a lot of texture and a bit of hyperpigmentation from the frequent clogs in my skin, so I mainly use a retinol/retinoid to reduce texture and pigmentation.


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.


  • glycerin: A humectant that can help to protect the skin from dehydration
  • Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate: a form of retinol said to give the same results as retinol without the irritation

 Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (abbreviated HPR), […] is an ester of Retinoic Acid and works similar to Tretinoin (Retin–A) but without the irritation. Unlike Retinoic Acid, results of the standard RIPT (Repeat Insult Patch Test) skin irritation test showed no irritation after 21 days of continual use. And because it is not a drug it can be used in cosmetic products. Results of a two week study showed that a 0.1% concentration of HPR applied topically gave a 50% improvement in skin roughness and a 40% improvement in skin surface scaling, an indicator of dryness. No irritation was evident in any of the test subjects. And unlike Retinol and other derivatives that must be converted to the biologically active form of Retinoic Acid, HPR binds directly with Retinoid receptors to initiate a response (i.e. cell proliferation and differentiation) in the skin. Think of receptor binding as turning on or off a light switch. When the Retinoic Acid binds to the receptor the light switch turns on, initiating a cellular response. By the same token, HPR is also capable of turning on the light switch, whereas, Retinol and Retinyl Palmitate must first be converted to Retinoic Acid.

  • Retinol: Aids cell turnover, good for improving texture and pigmentation.
  • Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract: Anti-inflammatory, strengthens capillaries
  • Caprylic/capric triglyceride is a coconut-derived ingredient, so you’ll want to avoid this if you’re sensitive to coconut-based ingredients


Brown glass bottle with a dropper. Functional as it protects the product from light better than a frosted glass bottle would, but I would’ve preferred an airless pump for this product to further protect it from degradation. It’s not a big issue, but it’s something I would’ve expected The Ordinary/Deciem to do with this product considering the heavy emphasis on science in their advertising for this line.

Other Product Notes:

Scent: Not fragranced, but it does smell vaguely plasticy straight out of the bottle. Not something I noticed during application.
Texture: Thin, lotion-type texture like an emulsion. Very slippery but dries matte.
Absorbency: Takes a bit of time to absorb, maybe a minute. Doesn’t play well with oils, so you’ll want to use them during a different part of your routine (am/pm). I only had issues with this pilling when I used an oil over it, but you may find that this pills in combination with some moisturizers too depending on how much oil they contain.
Caution: Use sunscreen! You should be using sunscreen daily anyway, but it’s especially important to use one when you’re using a retinol or retinoid product as these can make your skin more prone to sunburns/sun damage.

My Experience:

As promised, there was no peeling or other side effects from this product, which was especially important to me as I’ve had a bad reaction to a retinol product in the past. Unfortunately I didn’t have wow-worthy results either. I did see a bit of improvement in the texture of my skin, so I do believe this product works. However, if, like me, you’re used to something with more impressive results such as Sunday Riley Luna Oil or a prescription retinol/retinoid, I doubt you’ll enjoy this. I would only recommend this to someone on a super tight budget or someone with apprehensions about using a retinol product. I wish I had something more mid-range to recommend as an alternative, but so far the only retinol I’ve loved is Luna Oil [full review of that here if you’re interested].
The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% can be found here for $9.80 (1 oz)
Have you tried anything from The Ordinary so far? Anything from the line you want me to try? Let me know in the comments down below!
Want more skincare reviews? Come hang out with me on Instagram!
Thanks for reading!
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1 Comment

  • Differin Gel Review: How Differin Improved My Skin - Hey, it's Cristine.

    […] As always, thanks for reading! Want to see my skincare routine? Check out my Instagram. Looking for a more mild retinoid? Maybe Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil is what you’re looking for. I’ve reviewed Luna along with Good Genes (a lactic acid treatment) previously, which you can read here. If Sunday Riley is out of your budget, I’ve also reviewed the extremely affordable 2% Retinoid from The Ordinary right over here. […]

    July 17, 2017 at 7:13 pm Reply
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