Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%
The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%


77 reviews

83% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.2

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.2

Price: $$$


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.

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on 7/8/2017 4:25:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Hazel

Deciem/The Ordinary currently offer 2 retinol products (the 1% Retinol Emulsion and this one - the Advanced Retinoid 2%). The 1% is actually the stronger of the two because of the difference in ingredients (retinol vs retinoid).

I found perhaps the best review I've ever read of all The Ordinary’s products on a U.K. website called Victoria Health (

And in their words:
“There is a big difference between a retinoid and retinol, which is why the [2%] product is more gentle than the [1%] retinol despite being double the strength.
Retinoid esters (like those in the 2% product) are structurally larger, so they take longer to be absorbed into the skin, which is what makes the ingredient so non-irritating”.

Most prescription retinols come in roughly these strengths (in order of potency);

0.01%, 0.025%, 0.050% and finally the 0.1% (or 1%).

So The Ordinary’s 1% product is equivalent (in retinol strength) to the strongest of the RetinA’s, therefore if you haven't used retinols before, bear in mind you're jumping in at the very deepest end with that one, and will more than likely be flaky, peeling, red and inflamed for the best part of a week. With retinols you have to work up SLOWLY (some dermatologists advise 3-4 months on each strength).

If you're new to retinols or want something a little less aggressive this 2% is very effective but still gentle and non-irritating.

To the product itself - it's a milky fluid easily added to other products, or used alone. I use it either undiluted as a first layer, or sometimes will add 3-4 drops mixed in with my moisturiser, three or four times a week. Used either way (for me anyway) it's very gentle and I experienced no shedding, flaking or peeling whatsoever.

The Ordinary state that their 2% Advanced Retinoid is superior and less irritating than the 1%, saying:

“The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% contains two actives [and] offers a multi-fold better effect against signs of ageing than retinol, retinyl palmitate and nearly all other forms of non-prescription retinoid. Both forms of retinoid used [in the 2%] avoid the irritation associated with retinol use while delivering better visible results”.

I’ve had a very basic Aveeno Positively Radiant moisturiser sitting in the cupboard for a year that I've never liked that much. It was always too thick (though that's probably not a bad thing for winter). In trying to use it up I added some warm water and a good shake to wash down the product from inside the bottle (which vastly improved its consistency). But adding just 3-4 drops of Advanced Retinoid to it prior to each use not only gives it some muscle, but turns it into THE creamiest, most easily absorbed, beautiful and nourishing lotion (that I'm almost tempted to buy another bottle because they mix so perfectly).
This is where The Ordinary products really shine and come into their own. They “power up” other more basic formulations.

So now having used both of The Ordinary’s retinol products, it would appear (from my own experience) that the 2% is less irritating and I had no shedding at all with that product, and it's gentle enough to use every second day.
The 1% caused a full shedding 48 hours later (which is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as I know it's coming. It just takes 3 or 4 more days to resolve itself which can be a bit of a pain). Other than that I like the idea of having a simple product on hand that can initiate a mini at-home peel when I feel my skin is in need of it, so I'll keep and continue to use both.

Retinoids will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so they should only be used at night (& obviously use SPF during the day). But there's also some evidence that retinoids break down and turn toxic in sunlight (hence the dark bottles) and another reason why their use should be restricted to nighttime only.

75 of 79 people found this helpful.

on 8/13/2017 2:39:00 PM

Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

Retinol isn't an exfoliant per se, but its ability to turn over skin cells could be said to have an exfoliating-like effect.

And while it may give you peeling and flaking skin, its’ actions are different than a topical AHA or BHA chemical exfoliant.

AHA’s and BHA’s work by “un-glueing” the bonds that keep dead skin cells attached to the surface of the uppermost layer of our skin.

Vitamin A (retinols/retinoids) function very differently.
They get to work at a much deeper level to increase cell turnover, and push up new skin cells to the surface at a faster rate. What's happening biologically is “retinol binds to DNA, and immediately begins directing the skin's proteins and enzymes to do certain things - the first of which is to cast off the piled-up dead cells from your skin's surface. Normalizing that top layer causes some water loss initially, which can make skin seem drier and more irritable," and flake as old cells are cast off and new cells are pushed up.

It's the difference between applying a weed killer to your lawn which makes it initially look better when the weeds are gone, to applying a fertiliser which makes it look better because there's lots of new growth underneath.

A weed killer and a fertiliser are two different things.
As with this.
It's a different mechanism of action.

56 of 66 people found this helpful.

on 11/23/2016 11:26:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Black, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Brown

This brand has got to be the biggest game-changer in the skincare industry in decades. If you haven't heard of them yet, you better get on it because it is simply amazing! If you're looking for specific ingredients without all the fancy marketing, and with a mind-bogglingly low price point, this is absolutely for you. There are many skincare ingredients I've been meaning to try and incorporate into my regime, and this gives me the opportunity to do so.

I'm reaching a certain age in my life when my skin is starting to need a little help to look its best so I wanted to add an anti-aging component to my routine. I've heard all the benefits of retinols so when I found this gem I had to have it. From what I've learned, there are slight differences from retinols and retinoids, and there is also a difference between this formula and the traditional ones. They describe this formula to contain the "next-generation form of retinoid actives" which are supposed "avoid the irritation associated with retinoid (including retinol) use while delivering better visible results against signs of ageing". So from what I understand, although they say this formula is a 2% concentration, it can't be compared to regular retinoids with the same concentration. I personally haven't tried traditional retinoids so I can't really compare the effectiveness of both, but I can give you my opinion as a newbie.

The product has a milky consistency and smells a bit like oil. It spreads easily and absorbs quickly without being greasy. I use it after my toner, and before my moisturizer at night exclusively. On my first application, I did feel a slight tingle and warming sensation. I thought I had to remove it but the sensation did not get more severe so I left it on and had no problems (fyi I use AHA/BHAs on a regular basis so my skin may be more tolerant). I've heard so much about peeling so I was very cautious with how I used this. I started using it about twice a week, and eventually every other day, and now I use it every night and I never had any horror stories. In terms of efficacy, I did have slight/gradual purging and some dryness. I noticed some more stubborn under-the-skin bumps are surfacing, and pigmentation from acne are healing. I developed some dry patches after I started, but I was able to use my Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel to remove dead surface skin and it solved it. I initially avoided AHA/BHA products when I started this product to avoid irritation, but after about a month I reincorporated those products, and they work well together.

Its been about two months now, and my skin is still transforming but I can see a difference, and I can see what direction it is going. It hasn't helped with sun spots as much as I'd like, but it is definitely making a difference in skin texture and clarity. The clincher is that it cost under 10$CAD with free shipping, when a serum like this could easily cost 60+$ at Sephora. Nothing costs over 15$ at The Ordinary. I look forward to trying more formulations soon!

EDIT: free shipping is now on orders of 25+$ (5$ for shipping if your total is less than 25$). Not that that's bad by any means, but it used to be free regardless of purchase total which was better.

34 of 35 people found this helpful.

Age: 30-35

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Blue

I was loving retinol for years, swearing by it and even had it prescribed before it became a thing.

Only used it at night, had it build up to a stronger percentage slowly etc.

After 7 years use I started to get thinner skin. Like a lot thinner. So I contacted a (well known, very expensive) doctor who specializes in skin (not a mere dermatologist). He told me it’s a normal, should be expected, side effect of retinols and what might also have happened is the sun. Even tough I only ever wore retinols at night and wore spf 50 in the day, every day, it was not enough. He told me most girls today wear too many acids, not knowing how much might hide in all their different products, and that almost no one knows your skin gets “raw” for approx 4 days after applying retinol.

So what should be helping against wrinkles might actually cause more down the line, unless you wear a hat or like he said smear spf 50 on every 45 minutes of the day, no exception.

I know people will hate this review with a passion but like everything skin most isn’t tested decades down the line, so I wanted to give my 2 cents. Do what you will with it.

29 of 36 people found this helpful.

on 5/17/2017 8:49:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium, Cool

Hair: Blond, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

So I decided to jump on The Ordinary bandwagon after:

1. getting sick of spending my hard earned cash on average serums (Khiels midnight recovery, Aesop and Estee Lauder anyone?); and

2. seeing it on sale on AdoreBeauty.

Although it seems impossible, after two nights of using this serum I can tell it's a winner.

At first I was a bit apprehensive because of low price (hoowww do they make it so potent but so cheap?) and some reviews on here (people say it's sticky).

I won't lie, on application I did find it slightly sticky. However, this went away about 3 minutes later and the product had completely absorbed. Great.

For background, I am not an alabaster beauty. My skin is medium tone, combination/oily, uneven and generally looks terrible without makeup.

Woke up this morning and had to look twice.

My usually tired, blotchy and sallow skin looked even, plump and bright. My frown line (which is there constantly) was so much less pronounced. My makeup went on like a dream also.

This is probably the first skincare item that I have used where I have noted a substantial difference.

When I think about all the money I have wasted on expensive skincare, I cringe. Don't bother with the expensive stuff, save your cash and buy this instead!

29 of 30 people found this helpful.

on 12/20/2016 1:07:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Olive, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

I'm basically going to echo the great review below, since it's so thorough. If you haven't heard of The Ordinary, you need to check them out ASAP. VERY very very (almost obscenely - this was $9.80, what) low price points and minimal ingredients (a plus for me, since random things break me out). Not only that, but their website is crazy informative.

This is but a snippet:

"This product uses next-generation retinoid active technologies which have been shown to achieve better reduction in signs of ageing than retinol without irritation. These technologies cannot be compared directly with retinol itself in terms of concentration because they include a different retinoid molecule."

I have been using a prescription 0.5% tretinoin cream on and off for a while, and this retinoid for about 2 weeks. I've honestly seen better results with this product with absolutely zero irrritation. My skin is very used to constant chemical exfoliation though. Since I've been really upping my skin care game, the effect hasn't been DRASTIC, but I can definitely tell a difference.

I've also been using their Niacinamide/Zinc & Alpha Arbutin/HA serums as well as the Lactic Acid and I can honestly recommend them all. They even have an Azelaic acid that I want to check out...honestly, I bet I'll eventually try all their products...

Lastly, if you need a pick-me-up, the info on the Niacinamide/HA serum has a note at the bottom that I imagine a totally fed up scientist wrote while she couldn't sleep after a Breaking Bad binge. It's great lol.

If this continues to work for me, I'm going to up my review to a 5 :)


28 of 30 people found this helpful.

on 2/18/2017 2:32:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

I wanted to try this out because the price point is ridiculous and I've been wanting to add a retinoid product into my skincare routine, so this was a no-brainer. After about two months of trying this out, I have come to the conclusion that this has done absolutely nothing for my skin. I had a bit of mild purging for the first week and a half or so, but that was to be expected. After that, I was hoping to see a gradual improvement in the appearance of my skin. It never happened. On nights that I decided to skip this product, I noticed no difference compared to the nights that I did use it.

I recently started Curology, and my skincare expert actually advised me to stop using this product as it has Carrageenan, which is a level 5 on the comedogenic scale on cosDNA. Since I've stopped using this, I actually think my skin has gotten better. I really wanted to like this, but I just did not.

20 of 24 people found this helpful.

on 3/30/2017 5:55:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Dry, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

The price is amazing, of course, and the ingredients are stellar. I use the 2% (y'all, reviews have titles, review the product in the title or create a new review, for real) every other night at maximum, about 4-5 drops. No burning. It's well known that overdoing retinol will give you side effects, so if this gives you side effects because you used too much... that's because it works. Just saying. The retinol 1 % is a different product altogether and the retinoid 2% says right in the description of the product that it is next-gen, more advanced and less irritating than retinol 1%. Quote from Deciem: 'Advanced Retinoid 2% achieves better visible anti-ageing results than Retinol 1% with less irritation...'
Ingredients don't lie!

19 of 23 people found this helpful.

Age: 44-55

Skin: Normal, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Blue

OK. so I recently purchased a few items from this line. I was already using the 1% retinol and had no issues with it, so why not go a bit harder with the 2%? Anyway, this comes in a dropper bottle and the consistency and colour is like milk. It really reminds me of a product I used to use called Synergie A+ serum in feel and texture on the skin. I placed a few drops on my palm and then dotted this over my clean skin. The first thing I noticed was how quickly it dries on the skin. 3 drops did my entire face, but once you have rubbed it in, it completely absorbs. I followed up with The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factor. On initial application, I had absolutely no adverse reaction. The following morning, my skin felt completely normal and there were no reactions over night. My skin is very clear, but I am 51, so anti ageing is my ultimate goal with skincare. I am seriously impressed with this range so far. The only product that I haven't liked is the Caffeine Eye solution.

17 of 20 people found this helpful.

Age: 25-29

Skin: Oily, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

I wrote a review before but had to rewrite it as the effects of this product changed for the better. This review will be useful to those acne-prone who don't want to have all the retinoid uglies at once, and need to minimize the effects of this product, which is well-tolerated by a majority of people but will cause problems if you tend to break out a lot, or are sensitive to retinoids because you never used any before.

The first time I started using it, I applied it every other night, which is too much if you have never used retinol or retinoids before. Within days, my skin had become a very sensitive mess, and my face was covered with small, painful pimples. I wasn't too pleased and I knew I had to stick to it for several weeks, but I didn't have the time or courage to go through this. I went back to my AHAs and serums with a sigh of relief and stored this in a bag with a bunch of stuff I don't want to use/ consider to give away.

A few months later, I was PMSing and starting to get really tired of my hormonal acne, which was still bad (I don't use any specific long-term treatment). It comes and goes and makes life difficult, especially because I teach to students who are slightly younger than me and still have better skin than I do. Also, the anti-aging benefits sound very appealing. Although I don't need them right now, I'm sure I'll appreciate being preventive when I'm in my 30s. So I decided to re-introduce this product this very progressively in my nighttime routine. This is my retinoid timeline:

Week 1: 1 time /week
Weeks 2-3-4: 2 times/week
Weeks 5-6: 3 times/ week
Week 7 and after: Every other night.

3/4 drops will suffice first; you can add more after the 5th week. (I now use as much as I do a regular serum.)

At the beginning, my skin was sensitive and felt irritated. I got a few pimples, but nothing too crazy or noticeable: I just used a full coverage foundation, or heavy-duty concealer.

It felt extremely dry soon after: thirsty like never before. For reference, I'm usually super duper oily. I made sure not to use a very rich cream (they're usually too occlusive and therefore pore-clogging), but instead I started layering a hydrating serum and a face oil/ a nice moisturizer which I know doesn't clog my pores, like MV Oxygen Moisturizer. I did a lot of moisturizing masks, made sure to drink a lot, used mists and sprays, and stopped using oil-free foundations in favor of richer complexion products that were usually too dewy, like Cle Cosmetics CCC cream, or Zelens Youth Glow. Always use SPF- either replace the moisturizer/ oil with a good SPF Cream, apply some on top of it, or make sure your complexion product has SPF in it.

After a full month, I started appreciating the effects of this product. I now use it every other night. I wake up to a smooth, clearer, brighter complexion. I'm still a bit dry but not flakey, and never irritated. Also, I had to stop using AHAs so much, I now do around once a week on nights where I don't use the Advanced Retinoid 2%. I make sure to moisturize well on other nights, taking time to re-build my skin's barrier.

All in all, I think this is worth it. I have some discoloration that I hope will fade completely. I'll probably start using the Vit C cream from the same brand in the morning for added brightening benefits, and I'll try a more potent retinol product such as Shani Darden's when I'm finished with this.

16 of 16 people found this helpful.

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