Some of you may remember how I pledged – more than a year ago – that Life in a Cold Climate is not going to be one of those ‘look, here’s a new product!’ type of blogs. And I still make an effort to see the bigger picture, to test things thoroughly before recommending anything and not to think new necessarily means better. But sometimes, the news is too exciting to ignore.
You probably already know Deciem – The Abnormal Beauty Company, the owner of Hylamide and NIOD. Deciem has always been about challenging the beauty industry and doing things differently. I find it very refreshing that they focus on things that often draw people to green beauty (integrity, transparency, customer service), but without sacrificing science. They are cutting edge without seeming cold or arrogant or corporate.
I have praised some Hylamide products in the past and also mentioned NIOD. Very generally speaking, NIOD is for the serious skincare nerds – the products are complicated and often demand patience (this Caroline Hirons post is a great introduction to the brand). Hylamide is for normal people who just want something effective that doesn’t cost the earth.
Recently, Deciem launched their third skincare concept, The Ordinary. There are ten products, all relatively simple: a retionid, a Vitamin C serum, a rose hip oil, a hyaluronic acid, and so on. The shocking thing is the price: nothing costs more than 13 pounds and the cheapest product is 4.90. This is almost impossible to believe and that’s the point. The premise of the brand is that we are being charged ridiculous amounts for technologies and ingredients that are completely commonplace and that this should not be the case. If it was any other brand, I would probably doubt the claims, but Deciem has an impeccable reputation when it comes to the formulas of their products (although they hold some unconventional views and can be somewhat evangelical on occasion, but no-one is perfect).
So off I went and immediately ordered five things: Advanced Retinoid 2%; Lactic Acid 10% + HA; 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil; Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc PCA 1%. It is way too early to say anything conclusive and I will also not describe all the products in detail – the brand web site and this post do an excellent job of that. I will tell you a couple of things, however, that you might be interested in knowing before ordering any products (or not).
First of all, I love the look of the packaging, but if you hate droppers, beware. With the exception of the oil, they feel like hyaluronic products on my skin, even the ones that don’t include the ingredient. They are light, gel-like and a bit sticky – I’m no fan of stickiness, but I’ve realised it’s often difficult to avoid in really good hydrating products and in the serum stage I can live with it.
More importantly, you might be scared off by the 2% retinoid and 10% lactic acid content. I believe there is no reason to fear, unless you are allergic or very sensitive. Both products are gentle. I know I’m not the best judge of that (having elephant skin), but I’ve also followed the reactions of other users and I’ve seen no complaints. If you are still worried, there is the 5% version of lactic acid. I can also confirm that the rose hip oil is very nice and feels more expensive than it is. The arbutin and niacinamide serums are most difficult to judge at this point, as I’ve used them so little and often mixed together.
The Ordinary is a unique combination of affordability and skin geekery. The only thing not entirely accessible about these ten bottles is that you do need to know your ingredients, at least to a certain extent. There are no familiar labels like ‘day cream’ or ‘night cream’ or ‘serum’. To use The Ordinary effectively, you need to know what ingredients would benefit your skin and how to introduce these things to your routine.
Based on my very initial impressions, I believe the products are effective, although not quite as effective as my top-performing serums. But please bear in mind that my top performers cost up to 150 pounds per 30ml and their formulas are much more complex – something The Ordinary is not claiming. Considering the price and the ingredients, I think the line is certainly worth trying, no matter your engagement level with skincare. But I do see two target groups for whom this line seems particularly well suited. The first are obviously skincare enthusiasts on a budget: these people know their stuff and they know there are very few (if any) other places to get that kind of ingredients for these prices.
The other group is people like me: constantly trying new things and looking for the best products out there. The Ordinary will not replace my favourites, but I very much see a place for them in my routine as excellent basics that I would turn to when I’m between products or when something super expensive and pointless has not worked. And it’ll be very interesting to see what the reaction of other brands to Deciem’s gambit will be.
I ordered my products from Victoria Health (no affiliation), but they are also available on the brand web site. I hear the customer service is amazing.
Update: read more about The Ordinary retinoid and vitamin products here.
Update no 2: more about The Ordinary direct acids here.