The Ordinary skin vitamin c review

Product Review: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

… a great product in relation with its honest pricing – making good quality vitamin C products affordable to all.


Ingredients list: 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.

After vitamin A (retinol), vitamin C is the most well-studied anti-aging active in skincare. Made an anti-aging superstar in the recent years, vitamin C is proven to be effective when applied topically at concentrations of 15% and higher - maximum strength I've seen being 30%.

vitamin C = Collagen production booster, sun damage repairer, dark spot fader, skin tone transformer and wrinkle preventer.

The antioxidant can be an incredibly beneficial ingredient to add to skincare, but let's be honest: Vitamin C serums aren't always so easy nor enjoyable to apply. These serums tend to feel sticky and they will make your skin look super shiny if you apply too much. Apply with caution! Furthermore, I'd advise you to wait 10 mins, or even 15 mins before layering the following product. This waiting time will give your skin the time it needs to fully absorb the Vit C so you are more likely to succeed at obtaining a cute and dewy finish when layering multiple products. Plus, most other Vit C serums are pH dependent, meaning they require an environment with a pH level under 5 to be effective. In these cases, a 10 to 15 minutes waiting time allowing full absorption of the serum before applying other products is mandatory for full effectiveness. 

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension

Product claims

«Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant that brightens the skin tone and reduces the appearance of signs of aging.»

«The format of this formula is a suspension of very fine L-Ascorbic Acid powder and, as such, provides the most direct exposure of extremely high concentrations of Vitamin C topically.»

Key Ingredients

√ L-Ascorbic acid: The pure form of vitamin C, not a derivative. Therefore the most potent form of vitamin C on the market.

√ Squalane: A stable saturated oil (naturally found in the human sebum). It is a great moisturizer, as well as a source of skin-nourishing fatty acids and antioxidants.

+ Sodium Hyaluronate (HA): A "moisture-binding" ingredient, meaning that it attracts and retains water, effectively hydrating the skin. Also naturally present in the human body. 

Product Characteristics

  • Irritation Potential: High because of its strong formulation and potency. The serum tingles the skin right after being applied (don't worry, it's normal). Watch out for the eyes, it'll sting real bad if it gets in there - awful awful sensation 🙁 
  • Look & Feel:  “Gritty” texture that quickly becomes smooth when massaged on the skin. 
  • Smell:  Unscented. Light citrus scent (and taste).
  • Finish:  Tends to leave a shiny film and to make product layering more difficult. Solution: Use a tiny bit (pea-size) for your whole face. No worries, it'll be effective.
  • Packaging: Convenient opaque 30ml tube format. Make sure to always fully close the tube to protect the vitamin c from being oxidized by contact with air.
  • Pricing:  Affordable (5,80 USD)

The Ordinary skin vitamin c

My Experience with the product

It was my first time using a vitamin C product formulated this way. Before this last one, I had experienced 2 other high concentration vitamin C products: My Signature C Source by Tiam (previously sold under the name OST C20), which I used for a while, and Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster. The two previously used vit C products are serums contained in small glass bottles with dispensers. I’ve never been interested in products other than concentrated low pH serums to get my vit C for maximal effectiveness. Usually, brands incorporating the vitamin in conventional creams as a selling argument fail to create effectively potent products due to insufficient concentrations and mostly flawed formulations (high pH levels rendering Vit C ineffective, heavy silicones not allowing Vit C to penetrate the skin, bad ingredient combinations and useless vit C derivatives).

The Ordinary differs from others by offering a product containing 23% l-ascorbic acid (pure vit C) in the form of a powder, which is literally in suspension in a water and silicone free cream. I like that squalene is the second ingredient after ascorbic acid. According to the company, the fact that the product is water free makes the vit C contained non-ph dependent (meaning its effectiveness is not affected by the ph level of the product). The absence of obstructive silicones also assures maximal contact between the vitamin powder and the skin, for maximal delivery. So what you have to do is to gently rub the cream onto the skin so the powder contained dissolves in the cream, it then becomes completely smooth, as well as sticky.

Now that I’m about to finish my 30ml tube, I can confirm: It works! Without any doubt the vitamin C contained is active, and it’s delivered to the skin. I can tell it works by the way it successfully enhances my skin tone. Nourished by the vitamins, my skin takes a beautiful golden tone: it glows! This is something that will always amaze me with vit C. Now that being said, it’s been a year since I’ve completely stopped exposing myself to UV rays without wearing sun protection, at all times, rain or sun. Applying vitamin C is my new favorite way to get a cute sun-kissed/golden skin tone, instead of exposing myself to actual UV rays. Works well for me but I am super pale.

Final thoughts

So the vitamin C contained in this seemingly well-formulated product is clearly active. It’s effective. Also, at a concentration of 23%, it’s a high strength formula. It will most probably irritate your skin at some point or another.

The moisturizing ingredients contained in the formula do not diminish the irritation potential. You’ll get to see what works best with your skin! Start slowly if you are new to vitamin C: Apply just a bit. You should feel it tingle on your skin for a few seconds. Simply decrease the frequency of use or amount applied if it's too irritating.

This formula is not adapted to (very) sensitive skin at all. Even though I was reassured by its visible effectiveness, I found it to be too much of an irritant for my skin at times. The trick is really to apply the least possible, it’ll be potent enough. Plus putting too much of this thick product will give you a horribly shiny face outbalancing any possible skin tone enhancement. This has also been the case with all the vit C serums I’ve tried previously: The line between “wow my face looks so refreshed” and “omg I look like I deep-fried my face” is very fine with Vit C serums.The Ordinary skin care brand

  • Will I repurchase the product? No. I will go back to a more conventional liquid serum vitamin C product. I feel like it's easier to apply just the right amount that way. So, I ordered a new pricier Vit C serum from The Ordinary. It’s not as strong with a 15% concentration, which I think will be just enough for it to be potent without irritating my skin.

  • Would I recommend it to a friend? I wouldn’t discourage someone from trying it. I’d recommend it to someone who's looking for a high strength formula with pure vitamin C (the real stuff), but who's not ready to pay the artificially inflated prices other brands charge. The vitamin C contained here works 100%, which is great in itself. The product is simply not formulated exactly as well as other pricier products. Those other products might include vitamin C boosting ingredients in their formula (vitamin E and ferulic acid) and be less irritating or more pleasant to apply on the skin.

⇒ SCORE:  8/10

… a great product in relation with its honest pricing - making good quality vitamin C products affordable to all.


3 thoughts on “Product Review: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

  1. I end up putting this on my feet to remove the mosquito bite marks/scars lol. Its so irritating to my face.

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